Summary: What is the difference in Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity? Simple. Of the four major religions today only one claims an empty tomb. The resurrection is the miracle that makes a difference between a religion that is dead and one that is alive.
Why does the Resurrection matter?
History records that Abraham who is known as the founder of the Jewish faith. 2000 years before the birth of Christ. His body remains in that tomb.
History also records that in the year 483 BC that Buddha who about 80 at the time died from eating a poisonous mushroom. He was cremated and buried in India. He remains there till this day.
Again history records that in the year 632 AD the prophet Muhammed became quite ill and developed a high fever and died at the age of 62. He laid the foundation for what is now the 2nd largest and fastest growing religion in the world. Islam. Millions of Muslims still visit his tomb every year.
In Ad 33 our Savior, Jesus Christ was crucified, died and buried. On the 3rd day following His death He arose from the dead and was seen by Mary Magdalene, then other women at the tomb, to Peter, to two travelers on the road to Emmaus, to the disciples who were in a house with doors locked and then at the time of His ascension over 500 saw Him at once.
What is the difference in Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity? Simple. Of the four major religions today only one claims an empty tomb. The resurrection is the miracle that makes a difference between a religion that is dead and one that is alive.
On this day people all over the world will do one of several things. 1. Some will gather with their families for a day of relaxation. For many it is simply seen as a holiday---a day off—nothing more—nothing less. 2. Others will gather for Easter egg hunts. Children will gather eggs filled with candy and other surprises. But there are millions who will gather together to celebrate the most important event in our faith---the most important event in history and that is the resurrection of Jesus.
The apostle Paul said that without the resurrection our faith is useless and that every one of us would still be living in our sins.
Let me begin with a quick question this morning. How many of you have ever been called for jury duty? Now how many of you have actually served on a jury? This morning I want you to imagine that instead of a worship center that this is a courtroom and that each of you is seated in the jury box.
The issue that is coming before the court today is not a crime but a claim. A claim so spectacular that it will either become the downfall of Christianity or it will become the cornerstone of everything we believe. If the resurrection never happened then Christianity collapses and becomes a myth and billions of people have simply been deceived. But if it did happen it then authenticates everything Jesus did and said.
The first piece of evidence I want to bring to the jury today is EXHIBIT A. THE EMPTY TOMB. The Bible teaches that when they crucified Jesus that His body was placed in a tomb made of solid rock. His body was covered with spices weighing as much as 100 pound and then He was completely wrapped in strips of linen cloth. A huge stone estimated to weigh about 4000 pounds was then rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb.
Once this large stone was in place, a group of up to 16 Roman soldiers was assigned to secure and guard the tomb. If you have seen pictures of what this scene looked like you usually see 2 guards in miniskirts---holding a spear in their hands. But that is simply not the case. These men were tough. They were gladiators.
Matthew tells us that in addition to the Roman guard there was also a seal that was placed around the tomb. If anyone tried to break the seal---the Romans would come after them and they would be executed.
In spite of all of these precautions—a 4000 pound stone, 16 soldiers and a sealed tomb…when the people began to arrive at the tomb that morning they all saw the same thing—an empty tomb with nothing there but a blood stained burial cloth---folded neatly all by itself. We will come back to that.
Across the years many have tried to disprove the empty tomb.
Maybe the disciples stole the body and buried Him elsewhere. Not likely. Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus…3 times. The disciples hid themselves and locked the doors because they were so afraid the same thing could happen to them. That theory falls apart very quickly when you consider the disciples who were very afraid at this moment could ever have….
Overpowered 16 gladiators
Moved a 4000 pound stone
Disposed of His body