Let’s ponder for a moment about the idea that the empty tomb is proof of the Resurrection! I’ll begin this discussion with a question: Why is the unused tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, the place where Jesus’ body was buried, significant to the authenticity of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?
And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own
new tomb which he had hewn in the rock and rolled a stone into the door of the Sepulcher. -Mark 15:46
First, we need to establish the fact that Jesus Christ truly died on that Cross. Jesus’ death was a public event verified by both Romans and Jews. Historians, not just Christians, agree there were multiple evidences that verified the death of Jesus. Logically we can assume when, for example, looking at how the Romans had no limitations in the number of lashes they could inflict on His body, while making sure each one caused agonizing pain and while continuing the floggings and the lacerations that would have torn into the underlying skeletal muscles of His bleeding flesh; all these actions would have lead to Jesus dying on that cross. The crown of thorns would have caused even
further bleeding, leading to intense dehydration.
In the words of Dr. Mark Eastman: “Jesus had not drunk since the night before, so the combination of the beatings and crown of thorns and scourging would have set into motion an irreversible process of severe dehydration and cardiorespiratory failure.”
This is documented in the four Gospels and Paul’s writings. The Scriptures describe He was crucified and died as a result of these horrors inflicted on him. Besides His being tortured, beaten, scourged, and forced to carry a heavy cross and wear a crown of thorns, nails were pounded into His wrists and feet. To make certain of his death, a large piercing spear was placed in his side so He would bleed until He died. (John 19:34) Executioners were certain because when a great spear was thrust in his side, blood and water flowed.
Because the soldiers also drove long metal nails into his wrists and feet for the purpose of holding him onto the cross, it would have caused further unspeakable pain. The word excruciating was designed to illustrate the meaning behind this word. It means “out of the cross.”
They waited six hours to take him down from the Cross. I think we can therefore agree the body of Jesus did die.
Roman soldiers knew what they were doing; you could even call them specialists in crucifixions. They did hundreds of them for the sole purpose of giving people a deterrent from breaking the law. They then went out of their way to authenticate Jesus’ death to Pilate. Pilate wanted confirmation that Jesus Christ did die. He would have demanded proof or certification of Jesus’ death before removing the body and placing him in the tomb. These soldiers were known for their fearlessness when looking at danger. They stood before His tomb, guarding it. The leaders knew if they were unable to produce Jesus’ body, they would have to hush the hundreds of witnesses who claimed to have seen Jesus after his death.
The Empty Tomb
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. -John 20: 1-10, 17-18
Jesus appeared to the women, and His disciples.
Remember, the disciples were already going into hiding for fear of their being associated with Jesus. They had to wonder that since He actually died; He may not have been who he claimed to be, the Son of God. But then it happened, Jesus appeared to them saying, “Peace be with you.”
The story of the Resurrection and the tomb of Jesus is more than just a story of faith! I don’t think Christianity would have survived and flourished starting in Jerusalem if it hadn’t been for the empty tomb!
Copyright 2018 Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh