The Empty Tomb

Historical revisionism is a hot topic in today’s exploding information age. When the revision of a particular historical record reflects new discoveries of facts and evidence, a new or different interpretation may be appropriate. But when a historical account is arbitrarily rewritten without any facts or evidence behind it, to manipulate a new understanding and interpretation, it is illegitimate.

Two thousand years ago the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was immediately attacked by His enemies as a hoax. Since then, there is nothing new under the sun. The attacks continue unabated.


First, because the resurrection is essential to the gospel message: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Also because the veracity of the resurrection is the singular historical fact upon which our Christian faith rests or falls.

The Apostle Paul recognized this when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:13-18:

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Following the crucifixion of Christ, He rose again on the third day. While He “showed Himself alive . . . by many infallible proofs,” (Acts 1:3) it was just after His first appearance that some first-century history revisionists showed. Following Jesus showing Himself to Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James and Salome (Matthew 28:1-10), Matthew recorded a twisting of the resurrection fact:

Now while they were going, behold, some of the guards came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed, and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day (Matthew 28:11-15).

So the disciples took the body? Where’s the body? At that time the body of Jesus was never presented, and two millennia later, it still hasn’t been presented. That’s a problem.

Since the body has not been produced, many other theories have been concocted that attempt to explain away the New Testament account. Here’s a link to several articles answering common objections to the resurrection.

In our witness, we have a plethora of information supporting the resurrection and refuting objections pertaining to it. You can provide answers to people.

Practically speaking, we need to think not only about the information issue but the heart issue? Does someone who doesn’t believe in the resurrection actually want to find out the truth for themselves? Or have they made up their mind, and no amount of information will convince them? This is critical to resolve when conversing about the resurrection with an unbeliever.

When having a spiritual conversation, it’s essential to qualify whether someone is sincere or insincere. Some people have made up their minds to reject Jesus’ true identity and the veracity of the resurrection, and no persuasion or information will alter their point of view. While others may be open to sincerely inquire. A straightforward approach will save lots of time and energy. “Are you open to investigating the evidence for the resurrection and go wherever it takes you, including believing the resurrection and receiving Jesus?”

I’ve met people who have plainly told me in so many words, “The evidence is immaterial to me. Even if Jesus rose from the dead, I will never believe in Him.”

Conversely, I’ve met genuine seekers, open to what God reveals to them, including the veracity of the resurrection.

Years ago, I met an unsaved Jewish man named Nick through his Gentile girlfriend, a believer. When I first contacted Nick, he told me his biggest issue with believing in Jesus as the Messiah was the resurrection. Nick, who was in his sixties at the time, was open to dialogue and investigating the evidence. If he found the resurrection to be true, he would have no problem believing in Jesus. Well, an eighteen-month spiritual journey ensued. There were periodic phone calls, Scripture study sessions with Nick, and articles I sent his way. He was also doing his own research into the matter. The process culminated one day with a phone call. Nick told me over the phone that he was satisfied with the evidence for the resurrection, believed it to be true, and had trusted in Jesus as Messiah. That was a happy day. But it took eighteen months. Now that’s a journey.

Here’s a tactic you can employ with someone who is closed to the notion of the resurrection but willing to banter nonetheless. I call it the ‘what if’ game. In so many words, ask your audience, “I know you don’t believe in the resurrection, but hypothetically speaking, what if the resurrection of Jesus was actually true? What difference do you think it would or could make for mankind? To you?”

If someone will engage in this line of reasoning, it can provide a wonderful platform to extol the consequences of the resurrection for those who do believe.

Today the resurrection of Jesus is as relevant as ever. “He is alive! Hallelujah!” We who trust in our risen Savior have hope!

As we share the good news with people, may we remember to communicate the essential of the resurrection, be equipped to handle objections to it, pointing people to the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25 ), Jesus, the Risen One! Amen.

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