By Douglas Hoff
The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian Faith.
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christians are following a
hoax. However, it can be proved that he did indeed come forth from the
grave. Because of this, Christians have the hope (assurance) of one day
being resurrected also and enjoying eternal life in heaven with him.
Proof for the resurrection is found in the four accounts of the
Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Each writer presents testimony
regarding the empty tomb. The New Testament documents are historically
accurate accounts. Over the centuries they have been repeatedly verified
as being without error. The four accounts of the Gospel were circulated
in the first century. If they were not true or contained errors, people
would have spoken up to discredit them. Paul reminded king Agrippa and
Festus that the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection from the grave
were not done in a corner, but were well known historial facts (Acts
26:26). Since Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the tomb was empty,
the modern reader can be sure of it.
The stone door sealing the tomb of Jesus had been rolled away and
His body was gone. Who did it? There are only two possibilities. Either
Jesus was resurrected by God as the Bible says or his dead body was
removed by men. But, who among men would want to remove his body from
the tomb? None would.
Certainly the unbelieving Jews would not want to. They had
specifically requested a guard to watch the tomb. They knew Jesus had
claimed he would rise the third day. They were even afraid the disciples
would come and steal his body to make it appear he had been
resurrected. If they had removed his body, they could have shown Jesus
to be a fake by presenting his corpse to the public after the tomb was
empty on the third day. But they did not do it because they could not.
They did not remove his body.
The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb would not steal the body of
Jesus. The sepulcher had been sealed and they had been ordered to keep
it secure. Soldiers who had a man to escape while in their care would
lose their lives (cf. Acts 12:18,19; 27:42). Thus, when the body was
gone, they were fearful of what might befall them (Matt. 28:11-15).
The disciples of Jesus would not have stolen the body. Though the
guards were bribed to tell people that his disciples had taken his body,
such a story is full of holes. The guards were to say they had fallen
asleep while on duty. But, here’s the problem. How would sleeping guards
know who stole the body? They would not because they would have been
asleep! Also, consider this. How likely would it be for all the guards
to be asleep at the same time? Even if they had been asleep, would they
not have awakened when they heard someone rolling away the massive stone
that covered the mouth of the tomb? Matthew 28:1-5 shows the guards
were quite awake when an angel of the Lord rolled the stone away. When
they saw the angel they became like “dead men.” Another thing this
passage shows is that the two Marys came to the tomb at this time. Thus,
they would have seen if the guards were sleeping.
When John came to the tomb the third day and saw that it was empty,
he believed (John 20:8). It is not necessary for the modern Bible
reader to personally see the risen Christ before he can believe. The
risen Savior told Thomas, “...because thou hast seen me, thou hast
believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have
believed” (John 20:29). Belief comes by examining the credible evidence
found in the Scriptures.
Since men did not remove Jesus’ body from the tomb, the only
alternative is that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God.
- via the Nile Street Notes, the weekly bulletin of the Anna Church of
Christ in Anna, IL; R. W. McAlister preaches for the congregation and
may be contacted through the congregation's website: