The Tomb: Empty!
The Gospel Record of the Empty Tomb
The point here is not to resolve apparent “discrepancies.” Discrepancies of how many women there were, how many angels, when Mary saw the angels, etc., do have solutions. However, the very fact that the stories are not exactly the same gives us all the more reason to believe that they are true. It is easier to fabricate a story if four different stories are exactly the same in every detail.
Read Mt. 28:1-8
• Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb early on the first day of the week.
• The women went to the tomb while the guards were still there (cf. Mt. 28:4 with 28:5).
• An angel of the Lord rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it. This was accompanied by a great earthquake.
• The guards were terrified of the angel but the angel comforted the women (Mt. 28:5).
Read Mark 16:1-8
• The two Mary’s come to the tomb in order to anoint Jesus very early on the first day of the week.
• With the guards still there and with the tomb sealed, they wonder who will roll away the stone from the tomb. The anointing of Jesus’ body had not yet taken place.
◦ They don’t appear to believe that at this point Jesus was raised from the dead.
· They would not anoint a truly alive body. [women coming to the tomb, though it’s sealed?]
◦ 16:3’s point is that the women were unable to remove the stone. It could be done, but women, being weaker than Roman men, would not have been able to.
· “The rock might be round or flat as available, but fancy tombs often had a disk-shaped rock similar to a millstone which was rolled back and forth in a channel. The channel sloped toward the opening so that it was easy to cover the hole but difficult to remove the stone and uncover it.”
• When they get there, they look and the stone had already been rolled away.
• They see an angel, who speaks
• They left the tomb hurriedly with fear.
• Women come to the tomb bringing spices
• Is the stone rolled away when they get there?
• They go in, not finding Jesus’ body.
• Mary sees the stone, leaves, tells Peter and John.
• John gets there first and stoops down and looks and sees the linen cloths. He did not go in.
• Peter went into the tomb, sees the linen cloths. Handkerchief set aside, folded.
• Then John went in after Peter saw this.
• They go home, but Mary stays outside the tomb, weeping. (Evidently, she accompanied them back to the tomb, after she reported these things.)
• She sees angels, who speak.
• Turning, she sees Jesus at the tomb.
Turn to 1 Cor. 15
Conclusions from these and other NT Facts
Fact 1: Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea.
Proof 1: 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 is very old
Jesus’ burial is attested in a very old tradition, quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5.
These verses clarify the following.
1.The terms “received” and “delivered” is typical rabbinical. In other words, Paul received this information himself.
2.The way it’s worded, as a four-line formula, makes it appear quite non-Pauline.
Because of these two facts, it is clear that he is quoting from an old tradition which he himself received after becoming a Christian. Therefore, we would do well to attempt to find out when he had received this. When did he receive the teaching?
It is likely that it goes back to when Paul visited Jerusalem three years after the resurrection. Read Galatians 1:15-18.
• So, Paul is persecuting the church immediately after the resurrection.
• Then, Paul experiences Christ on the road to Damascus.
• He does not immediately go up to Jerusalem, but to Arabia and to Damascus.
• Then, after three years, he goes to Jerusalem, where he likely received this wording.
So, he received this teaching after he came to Jerusalem.
Safely, we can say that Paul’s reception of this teaching dates within five years after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. There is no room for legend to develop in 3 to 5 years.
Proof 2: Joseph of Arimathea is unlikely to be legendary or an invention.
Joseph of Arimathea is likely to be real because he was a member of the Jewish court that condemned Jesus. Christians resented Jewish leadership for their role in Jesus death. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15. Therefore, it is improbable that Christians would invent someone from a group that is hostile to the faith. If the story is fabricated, why invent an individual from a group that’s hostile?
Proof 3: No other burial story exists.
We have no other theory of Jesus burial. No historical sources contradict the fact that Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea.
Fact 2: Unlikely sources testify that Jesus’ tomb was indeed empty on the first day of the week.
• Gospel records prove it. Unlikely sources are used to give primary testimony of the empty tomb.
◦ Women: the fact that the Gospels record that women discovered the empty tomb is highly significant.
· Women’s testimony was discounted in the law courts during first century Palestine.
· This is an argument in favor of the fact that women were the first to discover the tomb.
· We would expect a legendary account to have had men find the empty tomb.
· This would seem to make the story much more credible.
· Why women? Because that’s the way it really happened.
· If your enemy can substantiate your claims, you are on solid ground! If your enemy can agree with you on a point, you are much more likely to win over your listeners!
· Read Matthew 28:15. The elders and chief priests concoct the idea that Jesus’ disciples came during the night and stole the body away.
· This proves that the enemies of the faith agree that the tomb is empty! They did not laugh at the disciples and point to Jesus’ body in the tomb.
Excursion: 3 Days and 3 Nights?
My former pastor in South Carolina used to quote his former pastor saying, “You cannot get three days and three nights in between Friday and Sunday to save your soul!”
[so, if you were to use this line, what would you say is the source?]
Count the days and nights between Friday sundown and Sunday morning.
• Jesus taught it would be 3 days and 3 nights from when He died to when he was raised from the dead.
◦ Matthew 26:61; 27:40; 27:63;
• Sabbath starts sundown Friday night.
• Jesus was crucified just a few hours before the Sabbath.
◦ Mark 15:42-Mk. 16-2; Lk. 23:54
• Jesus was raised “very early” on “the first day of the week.”
How do you get 3 days and three nights from late Friday to very early Sun.? It could be Friday at 3pm at the earliest to Sunday 6am or so.
2 nights: Friday night and Saturday night
2 mornings: Saturday morning Sunday morning.
OR if you count Friday as a day…
3 days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
2 nights: Friday, Saturday
So, my former Pastor’s former Pastor is correct, right? It must not be Friday.
End of discussion…ok, moving on…but wait, is it that easy?
There are three basic views for the day of Christ’s death. They are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
The view: Jesus died about sunset on Wednesday and he arose exactly 72 hours later.
• From an exact reading of Matthew 12:40. Days as well as nights are mentioned; therefore any recognition that Jews reckoned any part of the day as a whole day ceases to be applicable. Because of the mention of three days and three nights, we must argue for 72 hours.
• Too many events to occur between Friday 3 PM and his burial at 6 PM. There are likely 20 events. It seems more likely that
◦ Jesus was buried on Wednesday evening…
◦ the body remained in the tomb during Thursday, which was the Passover Sabbath (not the Saturday Sabbath)…
◦ then on Friday the day between the Passover Sabbath and the normal Sabbath, the body was embalmed.
• Based on a single verse of Scripture. However, this is definitely a difficult verse for those who hold to a Friday crucifixion.
◦ But Jesus rose during the third day, not the fourth, which allows for fewer than 72 hours. It cannot be 73 hours. The Gospel records record that it was during the third day, for example, Matthew 16:21; 17:23; Luke 9:22; 18:33.
◦ That Jesus rose during the third day and not exactly 72 hours is allowed even though we have a literal understanding of Matthew 12:40 because the Jews reckoned any part of the day as a whole day. That is very important.
◦ Therefore, Matthew 12:40 is idiomatic. In other words, during the third day is allowed.
• If Matthew 12:40 is talking about 72 hours, Christ must have been raised from the dead no later than 6 PM on Saturday evening. Thus, he would’ve had to have stayed in the tomb until the next day when he appeared to the disciples. However, Christians celebrate resurrection on the first day of the week, not on Saturday evening.
• 20 events between 3 PM and 6 PM is not difficult when you realize that many things could’ve been done simultaneously by different people.
Conclusion: Therefore, we can conclude that Jesus was raised during the third day and not necessarily after exactly 72 hours. Thus, Wednesday is not necessary.
The view: It is also based on Matthew 12:40. The Friday view has three days but only two nights, according to this view.
Order of events:
1.Sunday (before Resurrection): Triumphal entry
2.Wednesday evening: Last Supper
4.Friday: Day of Holy Convocation (Passover Sabbath), no one works, Leviticus 23:7, a “Sabbath.” (cf. John 19:31, a “high day.”=an important Sabbath b/c it was during the Passover)
5.Saturday: Weekly Sabbath
• Support for two Sabbath days in a row: Matthew 28:1. Literally, it reads, “at the end of the Sabbaths.” Note the plural for Sabbath.
6.Early Sunday morning: Christ was resurrected.
This allows for Christ to have been in the tomb for three full nights and two full days as well as a portion of the third day. Taking into consideration that the Jews view a part of the day as a whole day, this may best account for the data.
1.There is no historical or grammatical evidence for a Passover Sabbath occurring before the weekly Sabbath.
• There is simply no evidence that a holy convocation is a technical “Sabbath” day. In other words, just because no one works on the holy convocation and that no one works on the Sabbath day, does not mean that the holy convocation is also a Sabbath day. That’s like saying…
Mammals are cats
All dogs are mammals
Therefore, some dogs are cats
• The Greek word for Sabbath occurs frequently in the plural, even when it refers to a single day. For example, Matthew 12:1-12 uses both the singular and the plural forms. Adherents admit that this argument is weak.
2.It is weak to make the expression “the day of preparation” refer to preparations for a Passover Sabbath on Thursday and not to preparations for the weekly Sabbath that occurs on Friday.
• Adherence to the Thursday view point to John 19:14, “the day of preparation for the Passover.” Since the Passover was Friday, to prepare for the Passover would be on Thursday. But this is unacceptable.
◦ “The day of preparation” translates one Greek word and the word always has reference to the day before the weekly Sabbath.
◦ John 19:14, therefore, teaches us that “the day of preparation of the Passover” refers to Friday as it always does.
· This does not necessarily mean that both the Sabbath and the Passover occurred the next day. It simply means that this was the day of preparation that occurred during the Passover week.
· We have no evidence that the day of preparation for the Passover is the day before the Passover. However, we clearly have evidence that “the day of preparation” is Friday.
· Read John 19:31, 42. It states in these verses that the bodies should be taken off the cross on the day of preparation so that they would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath day. They also put Jesus in the tomb on the day of preparation. This is clearly talking about Friday. The day of preparation is Friday and the Sabbath being referred to therefore is clearly the weekly Sabbath.
◦ Mark 15:42. The day of preparation is Friday.
The view: Based on Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22, Jesus rose at some point during the third day. He was buried on the evening of the day of preparation, Friday, the day before the weekly Sabbath. The women returned home and rested on the seventh day, on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, they found the tomb empty. Read Luke 24:21. Jesus was raised when it was the third day since he was crucified. Knowing that Jesus died on Friday, you would have said this on Sunday, “It is the third day since this occurred.” Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Sunday is the third day after Friday.
Admittedly, a major problem is Matthew 12:40. But this is not as difficult once we examine all the evidence.
• As we have seen, Jesus rose on the third day, not the fourth day.
• Part of the day is equivalent to the whole day. See Genesis 42:17, 18; 1 Kings 20:29; 2 Chronicles 10:5-12; Esther 4:16; 5:1; 1 Samuel 30:12, 13.
◦ These passages demonstrate that three days and three nights can refer to three days.
• **Rabbinic literature combines Jonah 1:17 with the above passages. Therefore, part of the day is equivalent to the whole day.
• Therefore, the expressions “three days and three nights”, “after three days”, “on the third day” are all equivalent.
Therefore, Matthew 12:40, when it reads “three days and three nights” does not require 72 hours nor does it require a literal number of days and nights. It is an idiomatic expression to refer to being raised “at some point during the third day.”
• First announced by the angel.
• Jesus first appears to the women as they went to tell the disciples.
• At the mountain, the 11 disciples worshipped and doubted.
• Disciples did not believe Mary
• Report of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, who told others, who also did not believe.
• Appearance to the 11 while eating. Jesus rebuked their unbelief.
• The apostles do not believe Mary.
• Appearance on the Road to Emmaus.
• By the way, should Luke 24:35 fit into our present theology of the Lord’s Supper?
• During the report of their experience by the two on the Road to Emmaus to the 11 apostles, Jesus appears in their midst.
• He offers that they examine his body.
• He eats food in front of them.
• Mary sees the resurrected Jesus.
• Jesus tells the other disciples.
• Jesus appears in the midst of the disciples on the first day of the week at evening when the doors were shut.
• He shows them His wounds.
• After eight days, Thomas sees the resurrected Jesus.
• Jesus appears to Simon, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and to others of his disciples, who were going fishing. Jesus is on the shore and works a miracle of them catching abundant fish.
• This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples.
Ok, so Jesus was raised from the dead. What does that mean?
What is Resurrection?
What are we talking about when we say Jesus was raised from the tomb?
First, some benefits:
• The resurrection completes our salvation. Jesus saves from sin and its consequences, Romans 6:23.
• It makes Christianity unique: Abraham, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, etc., all died and their bones are on earth.
• The consequences of the resurrection are enormous and nothing can compare with them. What is the greatest issue for man? The greatest issue is that he dies! I will trust no one for “eternal life” unless he can prove to me that he can conquer my problem! Can he conquer death? Jesus of course can because He did!
• Jesus continues to be “risen” today. Jesus “is risen.”
Second, let’s talk about what the resurrection of Christ is not.
1.The resurrected Christ was not a ghost. See Luke 24:36-43.
2.It is not resuscitation from death, in the sense that Lazarus was resuscitated. Lazarus would die again; Jesus would not.
3.It is not reincarnation. Jesus did not get another mortal body, but an immortal body. It was the same body given immortality.
4.It is not just immortality. The body was physical; it was not a freeing of the spirit from the body.
6.Not translation or assumption into heaven (Enoch, Elijah, Mary?, Muhammad?)
9.Not myth. That is, the resurrection is not symbolically true. It is literally true. “Sacred history” cannot be distinguished from actual history. If it did not actually happened in history, it should be called fiction, like the Easter Bunny.
10.It is not “a resurrection of Easter faith in our hearts.” Faith without the historical event to exercise it towards is ludicrous. Liberals will also say that we should have “faith in faith.” This is ridiculous. Faith in faith…in what? Faith demands an object that is not itself. It’s like saying that you have a taste for taste. Would the disciples ever change the world and die for their “faith in faith?” Hardly. They had faith in the resurrection.
Now, we will transition to arguments for the resurrection.
Disclaimer: What is the Best argument for the resurrection?
The best evidence for the resurrection is the word of God itself. 1 Corinthians 15:1ff refers to post resurrection appearances and witnesses to those appearances. These witnesses were still alive at the time of writing. Therefore, it seems that the apostles and others were able to proclaim the resurrection without fear that their claims were false. The tomb was empty!
To prove otherwise would require evidence. But there was no evidence. The Jews made up a story about the removal of Jesus body, so they knew the tomb was empty. Not only that, but the Scriptures and early church fathers teach that Peter and the other apostles died for this. Would they have died to further proclaim a fraudulent story?
Additionally, as we have noted previously, the resurrection was recorded too soon after the actual event to claim that this is legend. Literary scholars know what a legend looks like and how legends develop. There are no elaborations or additional ornamentation of details in the story as we have it in the gospels. Women discover the empty tomb and no one inventing a story would have put women as being the first to discover the tomb, again, because they were not acceptable witnesses in Jewish law courts.
As we will see, the resurrection is as well-established as any fact in history.
Facts of the Resurrection
Fact 1: Multiple individuals, small groups, and large groups experienced appearances of Jesus after his death.
1.The list found in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7. Paul specifically names individuals and provokes you to interview them.
2.Matthew Mark Luke and John, the writers of the four Gospels, give us multiple, independent attestations to these experiences.
• Luke attests to Peter’s experience.
• Luke and John attest to the 12’s experience.
• Matthew, Mark, John attest to appearances in Galilee.
• Matthew and John attest to appearances to the women.
3.Marks of historicity in the gospels.
• We have already noted the lack of legendary development in the Gospels.
• Additionally, we can observe that James, the brother of Jesus, did not believe in Jesus previous to the resurrection. Then, after the resurrection, James dies for his faith in the resurrected Jesus in the late AD 60s, according to Josephus. What would it take for you to die for your brother, even after he died?
Despite their Jewish upbringing and worldview, the disciples believed in the resurrection of Jesus.
1.Jewish teaching did not include a dying or a rising from the dead Messiah. They believed in a Messiah that would throw off Roman rule and reestablish the Davidic kingdom on earth right then and there.
2.The crucifixion shows that Jesus was accursed by God and that the Pharisees were actually right! See Deuteronomy 21:23.
3.Jewish teaching concerning the resurrection was that no one would be raised from the dead until the general resurrection at the end of the world.
Despite these three crucial teachings under which the disciples lived, they still believed in a bodily resurrection of Jesus.
Which theory best accounts for the facts and how do we know?
Which theory of what happened best explains the facts?
We have 1 theory of the empty tomb, bodily resurrection. Here we’ll discuss what accounts for the best explanations of facts as well as alternate theories of the resurrection.
How do we know what best accounts for the facts?
From: Justifying Historical Descriptions, C. B. McCullagh
6 tests help us to determine the best explanation for historical facts.
1.It must have great explanatory scope. In other words, it must be able to account for as much of the data as possible. In this case, it explains the empty tomb, why the disciples saw appearances of Jesus after his death, why they died for their belief in the resurrection, and why the faith came into existence.
2.It must have great explanatory power. In other words, does the conclusion of the facts sufficiently explain each fact? For example, why was Jesus body gone and the expert Roman guards were unable to prevent it?
3.It must be plausible. In other words, it must be reasonable. If you take into consideration the miracles that Jesus performed, his life and his claim to be God in flesh, it makes sense that he would be raised from the dead.
4.It must not require additional, unreasonable hypotheses that must be proved. The only other thing that we need to potentially show or demonstrate is that God exists. To have God in the flesh be raised from the dead is only unreasonable if God clearly does not exist.
5.It must accord with accepted beliefs. In other words, that “God raised Jesus from the dead” must not conflict with other accepted historical beliefs. This hypothesis is not in conflict with other accepted historical beliefs. Therefore, the hypothesis must stand. For example, natural resurrection. Christian’s wholeheartedly affirm that people do not naturally rise from the dead and they affirm that God raised Jesus from the dead. These are not contradictory.
6.It must be far more reasonable than any other hypotheses concerning 1-5. In other words, all the other alternative explanations throughout history must be considerably weak in comparison to the chosen hypothesis.
Well what are those other theories?
See mind map. Start with “moved”
What does the Resurrection Prove?
1.The Resurrection proves Jesus has authority over his Father’s house, Jn. 2
2.The Resurrection proves Jesus is risen from the dead
• Altogether, we have 10 separate appearances.
• Four evidences that the resurrection was physical
◦ Matthew 28:9; they took hold of his feet
◦ Peter, listening to Jesus: John 21:15-17
◦ Not spiritual, handle me: Lk. 24:36
3.The Resurrection proves Jesus is Messiah, Acts 2
• 2:23ff. Conclusion in v. 36
4.The Resurrection proves His teachings were true, e.g., John 14:6.
• And therefore demands your faith, Ro. 10:9-11.
But what if someone says…”Great, fine. But miracles are impossible [or possible, but have not happened; very unlikely to have happened] though. I don’t believe in miracles.”
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