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In 1981 there was a devastating flood in central China. During the flood an ancient pagoda collapsed at Famen Temple. A few years later, archaeologists were digging through the rubble when they made a startling discovery. Sealed in a miniature stone casket, they found what they believed to be part of one of the Buddha’s fingers. It is now touring Taiwan, and was for a while on display at a mountain-top monastery. The finger was housed in a miniature golden pagoda as tens of thousands people came to pay homage to it. They burned incense and placed flowers all around the relic. One visitor said, “I was born more than 2,000 years after the Buddha, but I feel moved and touched to have seen the finger.” Some said they felt as though the Buddha was actually sitting in front of them.

How tragic. How utterly empty. People sitting before a piece of dismembered, mummified flesh feeling as though it was something special. Could the finger of the Buddha help them? Could it reach out and touch them? Could it heal them? Could it raise them from the dead?

Christians would react quite differently if someone claimed to have a preserved finger of Jesus. They would not revere it at all. In fact, if someone could find a finger of Jesus it would literally destroy the Christian faith per se. The whole Christian faith rests on the fact that there is no such finger to be found. There is no finger, no hand, no body — for Jesus rose from the dead and his body is gone and his tomb is empty.

As we come here today we are celebrating the fact that Christians believe in an empty tomb. There are no relics because Jesus was bodily resurrected from...

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