Summary: Today, allow yourself to be filled with the same hope and the same strength that the early eyewitnesses to the resurrection were filled.
An Empty Tomb, Mathew 28:1-10
A woman wrote J. Vernon McGee: “Our preacher said that on Easter Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think?” McGee replied, “Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip for thirty-nine heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then see what happens.”
Today is Easter Sunday and we have gathered together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have come together to celebrate a miracle of God. A miracle upon which rests our entire faith.
Apart from the resurrection of Christ Christianity has no meaning and no power to save. If Christ is not raised from the dead then the sum of Christian thought is little more than yet another of the world’s moral philosophies.
In I Corinthians 15:13-16 the Apostle writes, “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.” (NKJV)
Today I am as excited as any child who awaits the Easter egg hunts because I get to talk about the grandest subject in the entire Bible – the resurrection of our Lord!
We are living in the postmodern era. Our times are characterized, perhaps most fully, by a general skepticism which denies that any absolute truth is either available or at the very least that absolute truth is unknowable.
There are many – even within the Church – who, for the sake of expediency, have bought into the postmodern worldview which denies miracles, denies all things spiritual, and absolutely denies that the Bible has any kind of authority in our lives.
Today, I want to take the next several minutes to offer you some insight into the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. There really is an empty tomb and a risen savior who is available to us today.
The biblical account of the resurrection is just that – an account of an actual historical event which is better documented than perhaps any other event in human history! It does not require blind faith to trust in a risen Saviour.
As believers we have good scientific and historical evidence which supports our faith. To be a spiritual person we need not walk blindly. We can embrace the whole truth of God with our minds as learn more about Christ and with our hearts as grow in our knowledge of Christ.
This morning my goal is to strengthen your faith and to help you to be better able to defend that faith as the Scriptures tell us to be prepared to give to every man an answer for the hope that is in is.
From the very beginning there have been people who doubted the resurrection. In the very next verse following today’s Scripture reading it says, “Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard 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 NKJV)
This is known right up to this day as the Stolen Body Theory. There is even a record of a debate which occurred in the second century between the early Church Father Justin Martyr in the writing known as the “Dialogue with Trypho” where Justin Martyr debates with Trypho – a Jewish philosopher – over the resurrection of Jesus.
Trypho asserts that the only valid explanation for the supposed resurrection of Jesus is that the disciples must have come by night and stolen away the body of Christ and then commenced to perpetrate the greatest hoax ever committed in all of human history!
The stolen body theory is easily dismissed on its own merits. First, it must be taken into account that the Roman guards who watched the tomb of Christ were very well trained and extremely disciplined.
For a Roman soldier to fail in an assigned task meant scourging and even death.