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 was placed there by the authority of Rome. It 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. Even more confusing was why the Roman guards ordered to keep watch over Jesus' tomb ran off? When they knew that doing so was punishable by death. Something pretty dramatic must have happened to scare away the bravest military men of that time.
They couldn't have moved the body.
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!)
Jesus's disciples went from cowering followers who abandoned Jesus when He was arrested, to bold proclaimers of the good news of the gospel at the risk of their lives. 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 let's not forget the millions of early Christians who were persecuted for proclaiming Jesus as Lord. If there was no resurrection and they knew it, why were they willing to die so violently?
"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
And the final evidence of Jesus's Resurrection!
LIVES TRANSFORMED: Perhaps you've seen this in your own life and in the lives of your believer family and friends, but let me tell you that for myself and my husband, our lives have been so radically changed, that I KNOW there's no power on earth that can change a heart except the power of the risen Jesus.
Both my husband and I were horrible people before we knew Jesus. Selfish, greedy, self-centered, immoral. Both of us drank heavily, both of us partied hard, both of us slept around. My husband was a Harley-riding bad boy and I was a beautiful divorcee who was looking for a good time. I'm sorry if this bursts many of your opinions of me, but that's the truth. I'm sharing this embarrassing part of my past with you so you can see for yourself, the proof that Jesus is alive! I came to my senses and turned back to God 23 years ago. My husband took a little longer, but he followed 10 years after and today we both love the Lord and serve Him with all our hearts. I've seen such a transformation in my husband, that sometimes I have to blink and make sure I'm not dreaming. He's patient, kind, selfless, understanding, supportive... all the things he never was before. We haven't argued in years. People do not change so late in life....if anything, they get worse as time goes on. Our transformation is undeniable proof that Jesus is alive in our hearts.
May you be ever convinced in the divinity of Jesus Christ, His death to pay for the punishment due us, and His resurrection in order that we, too, will some day be resurrected to eternal glory!!