The body was gone. The tomb was empty.
The angels had said, “He’s not here. He’s alive.”
But what if no one ever saw Jesus alive?
Would you still believe it? Would the testimony of the angels and a group of women convince you that Jesus rose from the dead? Or would you have a bit of skepticism…or a lot of skepticism?
I would be skeptical if there were only reports of Jesus’ being alive and no sightings of Jesus being alive. (Just another Bigfoot legend?)
Circumstantial evidence is good, but it’s hard to build a convincing argument JUST on circumstantial evidence.
The thing that takes circumstantial evidence and makes it solid evidence is eye witness accounts. In this case what validates the empty tomb and the message of the angels is the sighting of Jesus.
Jesus knew this. He knew the reality of his resurrection would be lost if he didn’t take time to show himself alive to not just one person, but to many people. Here’s him showing himself alive to the women who got up early and went to the tomb at sunrise.
Matthew 28:8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
The initial report was the tomb was empty. This intrigued Peter and John to run to the tomb to validate the empty tomb. But what solidified the evidence of the day was people seeing Jesus alive.
There could be no confusion. His body wasn’t stolen. His body wasn’t misplaced. His body was very much alive. The focus shifted from seeing the empty tomb (circumstantial evidence) to seeing the living Jesus (solid evidence).
Our faith is not based on an empty tomb. Our faith is based on a living Jesus. The message that Jesus gave the women to share with his brothers, his disciples was not “The tomb is empty” but “Go to Galilee; there they will SEE ME.”
Jesus wanted to solidify in the hearts and minds of his disciples too that he was alive.
He did this for our sake too. He wanted us to put our hope, not in an empty grave…but in the living Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
Apply: Consider the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What evidence is convincing to you of Jesus’ resurrection? What questions do you have? Let’s dialogue: email@example.com. In the message I also mentioned Lee Strobel’s “Case for Christ” to delve further into the evidence for the resurrection. Have questions? Take time to read it!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for taking time to show yourself alive not just to Mary, but to many of your followers. Each eye witness account builds my trust and confidence of the reality of your resurrection. Amen.