On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.
Today is a Holy day for Christians. It's when we celebrate our Risen Lord and the evidence that repentance leads to the unmerited forgiveness of our sins. Belief in the Resurrection is a matter of Faith. Throughout the centuries, the Enemy has sowed doubt about this event and Unbelievers refuse to look at several lines of evidence which favor the historical truth. So I submit a few of them to you today:
Sincere Eyewitness Testimony - The first and foremost of these eyewitnesses were the Apostles. They collectively underwent an undeniable change following the post-resurrection appearances of Christ, and there were many: to Mary Magdalene in the Garden (Mark 16:9-11); to the two people going to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13); multiple appearances to the disciples (Luke 24:36-43, John 21:1-3, Mark 16:14); and to more than 500 (1 Corinthians 15:6). Immediately following Christ's crucifixion, they hid for fear of their lives, but after the resurrection, they boldly took to the streets, and to foreign lands, to boldly proclaim the resurrection --- even amid intensifying persecution. All the Apostles but one (John) were martyred because they preached the resurrection, as were many more who saw the risen Christ. They were first-person eyewitnesses.
The Conversion of Key Skeptics - The most notable among this group was Paul. By his own admission, Paul was a violent persecutor of the early Church. But after he experienced an encounter with the resurrected Christ, Paul underwent an immediate and drastic transformation to become one of the most prolific and selfless defenders of the Faith. Like many early Christians, Paul suffered impoverishment, persecution, beatings, imprisonment, and execution for his steadfast commitment to Christ's resurrection. His willingness to suffer for Christ attests to the sincerity of his belief.
The Empty Tomb - Jesus was publicly executed and buried in Jerusalem. Non-Christian historians such as Flavius Josephus, Maimonides and even the Jewish Sanhedrin corroborate this fact. How do you explain away the empty tomb when it occurred in the midst of such an antagonistic group as the Sanhedrin? If the Sanhedrin could have proven He wasn't resurrected, don't you think they would have? And if the disciples stole the body, they would have known the resurrection was a hoax, and therefore not have been so willing to suffer and die for it. And Christ couldn't have faked His death and later escaped from the tomb. Think about it! According to eyewitness testimony, He was beaten, tortured, lacerated, and stabbed. He suffered internal damage, massive blood loss, asphyxiation, and a spear through his heart. How could He have possibly survived such an ordeal, faked His death, sat in a tomb for 3 days and 3 nights without medical attention or food and water, removed the stone, escape undetected (without leaving a trail of blood), convince hundreds of eyewitnesses that He was resurrected from the dead and in good health, and then disappear without a trace?! To me, the Empty Tomb is the most credible and convincing of the arguments.
Women Were the First and Primary Eyewitnesses - In both the ancient Jewish and Roman cultures, women were regarded in low esteem. Women were on a very low rung of the social ladder in 1st Century Palestine. Given this fact, it is highly unlikely that any perpetrators of a hoax in 1st Century Judea would elect women to be their primary witnesses. If all the male disciples who claimed to see Jesus resurrected were lying and the resurrection was a scam, why did they pick the most distrusted witnesses to be at the forefront of their fraud? Do you think it's a possibility that the Gospel writers could have faithfully recorded what happened, even if it was embarrassing?
These arguments seem plausible and highly credible to me, and in my estimation, should give serious pause to any skeptics. But in the end, the human mind cannot contemplate such a miraculous event without Faith. If you are one who is trying to explain the mystery through human logic, it cannot be done. It is my sincere wish that on this Easter Sunday, you will allow the Risen Christ to make Himself known to you. Like the Faithful mentioned in this post, your life will never be the same!