I’ve walked by the caskets of more family members than I care to recall. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and a father. As I strolled by each coffin, I longed for their eyes to open and their voices to speak. In some cases, unfinished business lingered. I needed to speak to them. I longed to hear some of the old stories again. And this time I would pen them down somewhere. No matter how sincere my longing, none of them revived.
With Jesus, it was different…or so people claimed—then and now. “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying” (Matthew 28:6 NLT). On that first Easter morning, nobody languished inside the tomb where Jesus was laid three days earlier—except the clothes he wore.
Skeptics have given various reasons to explain the empty tomb. Some say Jesus merely swooned on the cross, and that the tomb’s coolness later revived him. Yet the guards failed to break his legs while he hung on the cross because they knew he was already dead. Others propose his disciples stole his body for fear of being embarrassed because he didn’t do what he promised: rise from the dead. Still, others say the guards confiscated his body. But why didn’t they produce it and thereby prove Jesus a delusional, lying lunatic?
Mary Magdalene was the first to see the resurrected Christ just outside the vacated grave. According to Paul, she wasn’t the only one. He appeared to Peter, James, the twelve apostles, and to more than 500 people—most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 15:6). Luke says these appearances occurred over a period of forty days before Jesus’ ascension back into heaven (Acts 1:3).
My money’s on Jesus. The evidence seems conclusive that he did what he purported he would. More importantly, his resurrection was God’s validation that everyone’s sins were paid for. He became our substitute. By faith, we appropriate his death and resurrection’s benefits: forgiveness and eternal life. Let the risen Jesus live in your heart.