Summary: What if the tomb wasn’t empty Easter morning?
Today is Easter, Resurrection Sunday. Today we celebrate the empty tomb, Jesus victory over death, and the promise of eternal life. But what if the story had been different? Look with me at
Luke 24:1-3 "But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in------"
What if it was written “and finding his body they prepared it for burial.”? What if the resurrection had never taken place? Would just the fact that He died on the cross for our sins be enough for us to be forgiven? Would Peter and the others just return to fishing?
Certainly Saul’s life would never have been turned inside out causing him to change his name to Paul. Our calendar would be different; there would be no B.C. or A.D. There would be no New Testament, no church, and we would not have anything to celebrate.
The Apostle Paul actually faced this dilemma in Corinth. Someone was preaching that there would be no resurrection of the dead. So Paul painted a picture in 1 Corinthians 15 of life without the resurrection. And in doing so we get 8 troublesome “would bes” of the Christian life.
1) Preaching would be senseless (vs. 14)
If Jesus had not risen, what could I preach about this morning? That He was a good man who did great things? That He was a miracle worker empowered by God? That He suffered from a delusion that He was the “Son of God” so much so that He convinced himself that He could die for the sins of all mankind and come back to life? Actually there would be no preaching at all. His body would have long decayed by now and had been forgotten as all the other Messiahs of his time.
2) Faith would be useless (vs. 14)
What could we base our faith on? Romans 3:22 "We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
But if Jesus promised He would rise from the dead and did not, then where do we place our faith? And if we can not have faith in Jesus then we will not be found righteous before God." So we find substitutes. We try animal sacrifices but we read in
Hebrews 10:11 "Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins." That will not work. So we try good deeds and we read
Romans 4:1-2 Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way.
"And it is impossible to please God without faith---"
3) Witnesses would be liars (vs. 15)
1 Corinthians 15:5-8 "He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him."
Can you imagine all these people lying? What would have been gained? Sure, maybe the Twelve hoped to be on the latest circuit of talk shows. But Paul? He hated the Church, so much so it became his sole purpose to destroy it. What did he hope to accomplish? His collages ridiculed him, his family disowned him. Why would he make such a ridiculous claim if it were not true? Historical records record that 4 of these followers were crucified, 2 were beheaded, 1 was stoned to death, and another ran through by four spears. Why anyone would chose to die over a hoax? Why would they not confess to their lies to save their lives? Because they were not liars.
4) None would be redeemed (vs. 17)
As stated before, without the resurrection your faith is useless. And without faith you can not please God and you are not found righteous. Therefore you are still found guilty in your sins. Jesus dying on the cross was not enough. In fact, without the resurrection his death would have been in vain. He is described as the lamb without blemish. The “sinless, spotless lamb of God” (1 Peter 1:19)
1 Peter 3:18 "Christ suffered for our sins once for all time." He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. If there was no resurrection than He would have been just another lamb sacrificed for sin and another would have followed, followed by yet another. And our hope of redemption from the guilt of sin would have faded. And our resurrection would be non-existent.