Summary: People still respond to the fact of the empty tomb today in much the same way as did the soldiers and the women on that first Easter morning.
Four friends were talking about death. One asked the other three, "When you are in your casket and people are mourning you, what would you like to hear them say about you?" The first man said, "I’d like to hear them say that I was a fine physician in my time and a great family man." The second fellow said, "I’d like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and a school teacher who made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow." The third man replied, "I’d like to hear them say, ’Look, he’s moving!’ "
Seriously, I think I’d like to hear the words that Jesus spoke to Martha after her brother Lazarus had died. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.
Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” - John 11:25-26 (NLT).
As Christians, we believe that Easter is the Focal Point of History.
Picture a time-line with a cross in the center. The Bible tells us that every moment from Creation on has been leading up to the cross (as part of God’s eternal plan), and that every moment since is lived in light of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s very clear.
"The cross rests on the time line of history like a compelling diamond. Its tragedy summons all sufferers. Its absurdity attracts all cynics. It’s hope lures all searchers. History has idolized it and despised it, gold-plated it and burned it, worn and trashed it. History has done everything to it but ignore it. That’s the one option that the cross does not offer. No one can ignore it! You can’t ignore a piece of lumber that suspends the greatest claim in history. It’s bottom line is sobering: if the account is true, it is history’s hinge. Period. If not, it is history’s hoax. That’s why the cross is what matters." - Max Lucado -"No Wonder They Call Him Savior"
Through-out the centuries men have been divided over the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Believers have declared that our Lord’s death is the means whereby we might have deliverance from the penalty of sin and that our Lord’s resurrection is the ultimate proof of Christ’s victory over sin’s penalty - that His victory over physical death demonstrates His victory over spiritual death. Unbelievers, however, have sought to reject the fact of Christ’ death and resurrection by means of repudiation and ridicule.
Some, in their attempt to discredit the story of the cross and resurrection have suggested that Jesus didn’t really die, but that He simply "swooned." He fainted on the cross and faked out the Romans soldiers (who were experts in executing criminals through crucifixion and recognizing when people were dead).
They obviously didn’t recognize that He was still alive, or else they would have broken His legs (John 19:33). He was taken from the cross, laid in a tomb, then in the dampness of the tomb, was awakened from His fainted state, and snuck away.
Folks, it takes more faith to believe in this ridiculous theory than to accept the truth of the Biblical account.
One lady wrote in to a question and answer forum: "Dear Sir, Our preacher said on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered."
She received the following reply, "Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear thru his side; put him hi an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens."
Others have suggested that the disciples conjured up the tale about the resurrection in order to keep their movement going. The story of the resurrection, then, is nothing other than the product of a conspiracy.
Charles Colson, the former counsel of President Nixon, convicted conspirator in the Watergate scandal, writes that the Watergate cover up convinced him that Jesus was raised from the dead. He said, "There were only 8 or 10 of us in the inner circle around the president who really knew what was going on." He said, "All we had to do was stonewall for a couple of months and the Watergate scandal would be over. We had all the power and prestige of the presidency at our fingertips. And if the truth broke there would be embarrassment and perhaps a prison sentence. There was no grave danger.
Our lives were not threatened, but we could not hold the conspiracy together for more than 2 weeks. We could not contain the lie. Once prosecution was possible the natural instincts of self preservation was so overwhelming that the conspirators one by one deserted their leaders. They caved in and they stood in line at the prosecutor’s office to escape jail."