Summary: Not only is it reasonable to believe that Jesus is alive it is the best possible explanation for the empty tomb
Jesus is Alive – True or False
April 11, 2004 – Easter Sunday
The idea for this message came from a series shown in Outreach Magazine and additional ideas were taken from the Jesus is Alive message by Brian Mavis.
Over the past several weeks we have been exploring the claims and the evidence for the life and death of Jesus Christ. We proved that gospel account of Jesus was reliable, valid information, the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God and the only way to God were substantiated, and the fact that Jesus was dead when He came down from the cross was proven.
Now we come to the final message of this series, Jesus is Alive – True or False. So let’s not waste any time and begin to examine some of the claims that try to explain the events of that first Easter morning.
True or False – Jesus was never buried
One theory on the resurrection is based on Roman custom to not bury those crucified. The common practice of the Roman government was to just discard the bodies of those who had been crucified and Golgotha would have made an excellent place for this because one of its functions was an open grave. However, the gospels account that the body of Jesus was claimed by Joseph of Arimathea to provide a proper burial.
John gives us further details that the preparations for the burial were quite extensive. Seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloe were purchased for the anointing of Jesus’ body. The preparation of the body would have included anointing, then spices would be added and finally the body would be wrapped in strips of linen, much like a mummy. Jesus would have then been laid in a nearby tomb because the Passover was about to begin at sundown and time was growing short. After Jesus was laid in the tomb it was closed and then sealed to provide security.
True or False – The women went to the wrong tomb
There are some skeptics that have raised the issue that the women who went to the tomb on the first Easter were at the wrong tomb. The theory is that these women were so overwhelmed with grief and given the poor light early in the morning they went to a different unused tomb and found it empty.
There are a few problems with this theory. First the women may have been in an emotional state but that would seem to only heighten the fact that they would get the right tomb. If they were going to finish the burial customs for Jesus, they would be sure to go to the right tomb.
It is also likely that these women would have been involved in the preparation of Jesus burial and would have known exactly where Jesus had been buried. They would have likely been taken to the tomb where Jesus had been laid and they would have known where to go.
The women would had to have found a new tomb, in other words they would have to gone to a tomb that would have been empty and unused, this too seems inconsistent.
So the only conclusion that could be drawn here was that the tomb of Jesus was indeed empty.
True or False – The body of Jesus was stolen
Another popular theory is that the body of Jesus was stolen by the disciples. However, there are several reasons that this theory just does not hold water.
First, the disciples were not expecting Jesus to die, in fact they thought that Jesus was going to usher in a Davidic style kingdom and the last thing that they were thinking was that Jesus was going to die. So when Jesus is crucified they were totally shocked and there would have been no motivation to steal the body.
Second, the disciples had all fled the night that Jesus was arrested and they essentially deserted Jesus. The point is that if they deserted Jesus when He was arrested they were not about to go back and steal the body because they were too afraid and too confused.
Third, the tomb of Jesus was guarded. There had been a squad of guards placed in front of the tomb to keep anyone from stealing the body of Jesus. This would have prevented the disciples from getting the body of Jesus unless they were willing to fight and overcome the guards. The disciples did not steal the body of Jesus.
True or False – Jesus is Alive
The stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty but what else do we know that points to the fact that Jesus was indeed alive?
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8