We serve a living Savior!
The Empty Tomb
Although made secure by a Roman guard, the tomb was found empty by several of the women disciples, then later by several of His closest followers. In addition, the earliest writings confirm the fact that the tomb was found empty.
The Jewish religious leaders were strongly opposed Jesus and His teaching, and were prepared to go to any length to see that His body remain in the tomb because Jesus had predicted several times that He would rise again.
The disciples preached the resurrection of Jesus first in Jerusalem, not in some far off land. If the tomb had NOT been empty, they would never have been able to pull this off. Adversaries would simply have pointed to the tomb and the body within it and rejected their message.
In new testament writing there are many references to the fact of the resurrection, but NONE defending the empty tomb. Why? The answer should be obvious: this was not a point of contention -- everyone, friend and foe, KNEW the tomb was empty.
Broken Roman Seal
The seal on the tomb where Jesus was laid stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called into action to find the man or men who were responsible. If they were apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People feared the breaking of the seal. Jesus' disciples displayed signs of cowardice when they hid themselves. Peter, one of these disciples, went out and denied Christ three times. Also something pretty frightening must have happened for the Roman guards to run away from their post. This was an offense punishable by death
They couldn't have moved the body.The theory that the Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ's body is no more reasonable an explanation for the empty tomb than theft by the disciples. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was, why, when the disciples were preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem, didn't they explain: "Wait! We moved the body, see, He didn't rise from the grave"?
The disciples began preaching the message of Christ crucifixion and resurrection in the very place it had happened -- not in some distant land. If Jesus was still in His tomb, they simply could not have done this -- no one would have believed them. But as Peter began preaching, "over 3,000" souls were saved that day.
Jesus was SEEN alive over a period of weeks by many people, at many different places.
A. the women as they returned from the tomb, after having seen the angel (Matthew 28:1-10)
B. Mary Magdalene at the tomb, during her second visit to the site (John 20:10-18, Mark 16:9-11)
C: to Peter the day of the resurrection (Luke 24:34)
D. to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35, Mark 16:12-13)
E. to ten of the apostles the evening of Easter Sunday (Luke 24:36-40, John 20:19-23, Mark 16:14-18)
F. after eight days to the eleven apostles, including Thomas (John 20:26-29)
G. to some of the disciples fishing at the sea of Galilee (John 20:20-28)
H. to all of the apostles on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20)
I. to James (1 Cor: 15:7)
J. to all of the apostles on the Mount of Olives (Luke 24:50-52; Mark 16:19)
K. to 500 additional believers at one time (1 Cor. 15:6)
L. to Paul on the road to Damascus (1 Cor.15:8)
All of these people were eyewitnesses to His resurrection. They saw Him, touched Him, ate with Him, and spoke with Him.
The lives of the disciples were radically transformed. (My personal favorite!)
From cowering followers who abandoned Jesus when He was arrested, to bold proclaimers of the good news of the gospel. Nearly ALL his apostles were killed for their faith as a result. People will die for something they believe to be true, but they will never die for something they know is a lie. If they hadn't seen Jesus alive, then all of them were lying. And millions of early Christians were persecuted for proclaiming Jesus as Lord.
"This scared, frightened band of the apostles, which was just about to throw away everything in order to flee in despair to Galilee; when these peasants, shepherds, and fishermen, who betrayed and denied their master and then failed him miserably, suddenly could be changed overnight into a confident mission society, convinced of salvation and able to work with much more success after Easter than before Easter, then no vision or hallucination is sufficient to explain such a revolutionary transformation." - Jewish Rabbi Pinchas Lapide