Because the Tomb was empty!
That’s the answer, the question is, “Why do we follow Jesus?”
It was early in the morning of the first day of the week and the sun was just peeking over the Judean hills as the women made their way to tomb. Their eyes were red from the almost constant weeping and lack of sleep; so it was hard to even see where they were going.
Still in shock from the events of the following Friday, they carried spices and perfumes to anoint the body of Jesus, so hastily buried that late afternoon. They had hopes that the Romans left to guard the tomb might be willing to move the heavy stone from the door of the rock hued sepulcher. But when they rounded the corner and got their first look at the place, not only were the Romans nowhere to be found, but stone was moved.
The gaping entrance of the tomb was dark and ominous.
Tears began a new as an unspoken thought crossed their minds, “Someone has stolen His body.”
Upon entering the dark tomb, they found no body, just grave cloths. Suddenly, the tomb was filled with a strange light emanating from a man sitting on the spot where Jesus’ body had lain.
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” The man asked them. “He is Risen!”
This is the scene at the tomb that first Sunday morning, woman straining to understand what they were seeing and hearing. Jesus’ body gone, a man in white telling them that He is Risen and to go and tell His Disciples that their Lord is alive.
While there are many reasons we follow Jesus Christ, the Empty Tomb is at the heart of it. Because if the tomb was not empty, if Jesus had not risen from the dead, then we would not be talking about Him, worshiping Him or even know He existed.
The Church of Christ is based and finds its hope in the Risen Lord, the one time, short time occupant of that tomb. He had told His disciples many times that He would die and rise again on the third day. But until that first Sunday, they hadn’t understood it fully. They probably thought He was talking in some kind of parable, which He often had in the past. But He was telling them the truth, and that truth was revealed that morning and in the days to come, Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, just as He said He would.
Over the centuries since that wonderful morning, many have tried to explain what happened in terms other than the miracle that it was.
- The first thought of many was that the disciples had stolen the body. This is foolish, since they were all cowering in the upper room afraid for their own lives, lest the Romans or the Chief Priests take them too. And then there were those pesky Roman guards at the tomb, skilled fighters who would not be pulled from their duty without a lot blood being spilled.
- The next idea was that the Romans themselves took the body. This is even more foolish, because the whole of Jerusalem knew of Jesus’ prophecy that He would rise from the dead. So why would they even think of removing His body, it would only have validated the Nazarene’s prediction. And even if they had moved it for some strange reason, once the disciples started claiming to have seen a risen Christ, all the Romans would have had to do to end this belief in a Messiah would be to produce the body and Christianity would have died right there.
- Years later sceptics would come up with the idea that Jesus merely fainted on the cross, and that the cool air of the tomb revived Him. So let’s get this straight, a man who was beaten within an inch of His life, nail to a cross with a crown of thorns on His head, who must have been bleeding profusely and with a spear stuck in His side so that not only blood, but water gushed out, just fainted? And then without any medical help, He woke up in a dark cold tomb, moved a stone weighting 1 to 2 tons and over powered the Roman guards waiting for Him? This idea is too farfetched to be believed.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was not only seen alive after the crucifixion by His disciples, but by over 500 people. Jesus appears in locked rooms and then disappears again. He eats with His disciples, talks with them; they touch Him and walk with Him. And finally they watch as He ascends into heaven.
The evidence that Jesus died on that cross and rose from the dead three days later is refutable.
If He had not risen, the disciples would have melted away and never been heard of again. There had been several men claiming to be the Messiah who had come and gone before Jesus, but once they were dead, their followers drifted away.
The disciples really believed that Jesus rose from the dead. Many of them died horrible deaths, but not one of them recanted their belief in a risen Savior.
If the story had been made up, then they would never have had women be the first at the tomb, women at that time were not reliable witnesses. No, if they have made up the story, it would have been more logical to have some of the men be the first to discover the empty tomb, not women.
It cannot be denied that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has changed the world. We even mark our years by His birth.
The people of that first century knew that Jesus had risen, they had seen Him. All of the New Testament was written and shared within living memory of those who had walked and talked and seen Jesus. These were witnesses of His life, teachings and miracles, not to mention His resurrection.
If the stories in the Gospels had been fabricated, those who had really witnessed Christ would have stood against them. But they didn’t, because the Gospel accounts were true.
And if they are true…
- What are we to do with a Risen Jesus?
- What are we to do with the Empty Tomb there in Jerusalem?
No other religious figure in history has died and then risen from the grave. They are all dead, decayed and gone, their tombs were never empty.
When you really study, as many have, the resurrection of Christ you have to come to the conclusion that He did rise from the grave that Sunday morning.
So what do you logically do with that fact?
If every other leader of every other religion is dead and only Christ is alive then don’t you think you’d better look seriously at what He said and did while He was on earth?
If Jesus really did rise from the grave, then what we think of Him has to reflect that fact. How we think of Him has to come to terms with His being alive.
If Jesus really did rise from the grave then when He tells us that “He and the father are one,” and that “if you have seen me, then you have seen the father,” we have to pay attention.
When Jesus tells us, that “No one comes to the father except through me” we need to believe Him.
Because the Tomb is Empty!