Historicity of Christ

The Empty Tomb

Satanís skeptics howl over the Biblical assertion of Christís triumphant resurrection and His spoiling of their leader Satanís ultimate strongholdódeath. Unfortunately for the spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb champions of Satan, the Tomb is empty and will always be. Produce the dead corpse and Christianity crumbles!
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The Empty Tomb

Article#: 1622

When all earthly hope is gone, to most, all is gone, but not when your hope is placed in God.  This hope is not of this world.  God’s hope is eternal and easily swallows up even the dreaded ravishes of death.  II Corinthians 15:51-57:

51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The redeemed know this hope as the Blessed Hope—a glorious hope that reigns supreme over sin and the grave.  To the blood-bought, death is the doorway to the eternal, blessed hope. 

There is truly a hope for the hopeless, a hallelujah hope bigger than the world’s most dreaded circumstances, bigger than the universe—bigger, bigger, bigger!  This hope belongs exclusively to the children of God—the born-again.  Have you been born again—born a literal second time, this time of the Spirit of God?  Will today be your day of salvation?  Will today be the day the Blessed Hope becomes yours?  In the time of great trouble which will surely visit every man, the blessed hope in Christ Jesus is the anchor of the soul.  In this place, God will strengthen the heart.  Psalm 31:24:

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Make Christ Jesus your Saviour today.  Click onto "Further with Jesus" for childlike instructions and immediate entry into the Kingdom of God where the Blessed Hope lives.  NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT. 

GOD SAID, John 20:11-21:

11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

20 And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

GOD SAID, Acts 1:8-11:

8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

GOD SAID, I Corinthians 15:3-8:

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

MAN SAID: No one believes that this Jesus Christ rose from the dead—no one!

Now THE RECORD:  Jesus Christ is the center of God’s creation, He is the center of the earth and its universe and beyond, and even the center of life’s molecular structure.  He is interwoven into every page of the Holy Bible—the book of all books—from Genesis Chapter 1 to Revelation 22.  The Old Testament carries hundreds of prophecies of the coming Christ in amazing detail.  He is the only begotten Son of God; by Him God created that which you see from that which is invisible.  He is the supernatural, eternal Lord of Glory and Saviour of all who call upon His name and turn from their sin.  The life of Jesus of Nazareth on earth began in a miraculous virgin birth and ended in a miraculous resurrection from the tomb.  Between these events was marvel upon marvel.  He broke the back of Satan’s stranglehold on the sons of Adam; through Him, God made a way of escape to all who will call upon His name.  He is the Christ and the only name under heaven by which man can be saved. 

Today’s feature is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ experienced more than just a resurrection from death.  Others in the Scriptures and in world history have come back from the grave, but only to die at a future date.  This Christ arose from the grave to eternal life in His glorified body to reign for evermore.  One day soon, we—the body of Jesus Christ—will experience the same, but Jesus Christ first.  Colossians 1:18-19:

18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Satan’s skeptics howl over the Biblical assertion of Christ’s triumphant resurrection and His spoiling of their leader Satan’s ultimate stronghold—death.  Unfortunately for the spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb champions of Satan, the Tomb is empty and will always be.  Produce the dead corpse and Christianity crumbles! 

Did it really happen?  Did God raise Jesus Christ from the dead to live and reign for all eternity?  The excerpts from the research that follows shouts an emphatic YES! 

T.A. Miller, MD, surgeon and scientist, examines the evidence in his book, Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?  Several paragraphs follow:

Finally, there is not a shred of evidence in the Gospel accounts or even in historical documents outside of Scripture that the person claiming to be the resurrected Jesus was a fraud.  Likewise, in the Book of Acts, which gives a historical review of the early rise of Christianity and its spread throughout the Roman empire, the reality of the resurrection is referred to countless times, with no credible challenge to its validity.  Accordingly, we can conclude that the likelihood of the testimony of the 500-plus witnesses being wrong is so infinitesimally small as to render it beyond any reasonable doubt that the resurrection did in fact occur. 

In his book, Loving God, Charles Colson, the famed participant in the Watergate scandal who became a Christian through that experience, had these compelling observations regarding the myth theory:

Even a cursory reading of the Gospels reveals not allegory or fable, but a straightforward narrative account.  Moreover Paul, an intimate associate of the original disciples, shatters the myth theory altogether when he argues that if Jesus was not actually resurrected, Christianity is a hoax, a sham.  Nothing in Paul’s writings remotely suggests mythology. 

So, if one is to assail the historicity of the Resurrection, one must conclude that there was a conspiracy—a cover-up, if you will—by eleven men with the complicity of up to five hundred others. To subscribe to this argument, one must also be ready to believe that each disciple was willing to be ostracized by friends and family and live in daily fear of death, endure prisons, live penniless and hungry, sacrifice family, be tortured without mercy, and ultimately die—all without ever once renouncing that Jesus had risen from the dead! 

Is it really likely, then, that a deliberate cover-up, a plot to perpetuate a lie about the Resurrection, could have survived the violent persecution of the apostles, the scrutiny of early church councils, the horrendous purge of the first-century believers who were cast by the thousands to the lions for refusing to renounce the Lordship of Christ?  Is it not probable that at least one of the apostles would have renounced Christ before being beheaded or stoned?  Is it not likely that some “smoking gun” document might have been produced exposing the “Passover Plot?”  Surely one of the conspirators would have made a deal with the authorities (government and Sanhedrin probably would have welcomed such a soul with open arms and pocketbooks)! 

Take it from one who was inside the Watergate web looking out, who saw firsthand how vulnerable a cover-up is: Nothing less than a witness as awesome as the resurrected Christ could have caused those men to maintain their dying whispers that Jesus is alive and Lord. 

If the resurrection truly was a myth and this great body of witnesses had orchestrated the myth and the subsequent perpetuation thereof, all the Roman authorities and/or Jewish leadership would have had to do to disprove it once and for all would be to produce the corpse of the crucified Jesus.  After all, they knew where He was buried and had even placed a Roman guard at the tomb to prevent His body from being stolen.  Interestingly, two thousand years have elapsed and we have no documentation that such a corpse was ever produced.  [End of quotes]

John 20 speaks of the Apostle Thomas who doubted Christ’s resurrection until he himself had an encounter with the resurrected King of Glory.  Dr. Miller continues:

Thomas was never the same after this encounter.  His whole life was radically changed.  He was fully convinced that this person with whom he had associated for the previous three years was more than just a friend and teacher; he was indeed God in the flesh.  To understand the lasting effect that this event had on Thomas, one need only track the course of his life from this point forward.  In his excellent book The Twelve, C. Bernard Ruffin covers the activities of each of the disciples following the resurrection.  In the chapter about Thomas, he provides compelling evidence that this disciple devoted the rest of his life to spreading the good news of Jesus’s death and resurrection.  This evangelistic effort took him to Persia (which today would stretch from southern Turkey to Iraq and western Iran), Parthia (present-day northern Iran), and India.  In fact, Thomas is generally credited with having brought Christianity to India.  There is some evidence that Thomas also carried the Gospel to China. Most of his later life, however, was spent in India, and numerous stories have been told about the risks he took to make the Gospel known in that country.  Most evidence suggests that he was martyred on July 3, AD 72, in the town of Mylapore in southern India.  The martyrdom presumably occurred at the hands of Hindu Brahman priests who were attempting to prevent the spread of Christianity.  A tomb in Mylapore marks the site where Thomas is allegedly buried.  Interestingly, Marco Polo referred to this tomb in one of his travel diaries as Thomas’s burial site.  Of further note, Marco Polo also recounts that, after having been fatally wounded with a spear, Thomas prayed while dying, “Lord, I thank Thee for all Thy mercies.  Into Thy hands, I commend my spirit.”  Thus, Thomas the “doubter” became a person of incredible faith because he was absolutely convinced that Jesus had conquered death.  [End of quote]

Author Stephen Mansfield, in his book Killing Jesus, made an interesting statement:

The four Gospels list a number of wonders that occurred when Jesus surrendered His spirit at Golgotha.  These include the earthquake, the rending of the temple curtain, the graves opening, and the dead rising.  Some of these did not become public until after He rose from the dead.  It is beyond the scope of this book to debate the historicity of these events, but it is helpful to note that Tacitus (Histories 5.13), Josephus (Jewish Wars 6.5.3), and even the Talmud (Jer. Yoma 43c; Yoma 39b) insist that a catastrophe occurred on the day Jesus Christ was crucified and that it was somehow related to the ultimate destruction of the temple in 70 AD. [End of quote]

The following excerpts are from Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ:

That was also the assessment of Sir Lionel Luckhoo, the brilliant and savvy attorney whose astounding 245 consecutive murder acquittals earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most successful lawyer.  Knighted twice by Queen Elizabeth, this former justice and diplomat subjected the historical facts about the Resurrection to his own rigorous analysis for several years before declaring, “I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.” 

Strobel continues:

The site of Jesus’s tomb was known to Christians, Jews, and Romans, so it could have been checked by skeptics.  In fact, nobody—not even the Roman authorities or Jewish leaders—ever claimed that the tomb still contained Jesus’s body.  Instead, they were forced to invent the absurd story that the disciples, despite having no motive or opportunity, had stolen the body—a theory that not even the most skeptical critic believes today.  [End of quotes]

Grant Jeffery wrote the following in The Signature of God:

Although Christians were subjected to the most brutal and terrifying forms of torture and martyrdom, there is no record that any Christian ever declared that the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ were in error.  If they had denied the reality of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, Roman judges would have set them free.  Obviously, if any believer had known that the Biblical documents were false or in error, he or she would have made that known rather than suffer the violence of torture and death. 

And if any believer had made such allegations against the Bible’s reliability, it is certain that the Roman authorities would have widely published such denials of the truth of the Gospel accounts.  Biblical statements about Christ’s death and resurrection, if called into question by His followers, would have been broadcast widely throughout the empire.  However, despite the fact that a large number of official Roman records and a much larger number of Christian writings have survived until today, we cannot find evidence of a single eyewitness to the events described in the Gospels who ever denied their truthfulness.  This fact is of outstanding importance in assessing the reliability and truthfulness of the Gospel records.  Those who were eyewitnesses to the events portrayed in the Gospels went to their deaths rather than deny the accuracy of the Biblical accounts. [End of quote]

In Strobel’s book The Case for the Resurrection, he interviewed Dr. Michael Licona and Dr. Gary Habermas, authors of the book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus.  Strobel asks:

“Then what’s the bottom line?” 

“Habermas completed an overview of more than two thousand scholarly sources on the resurrection going back 30 years—and probably no fact was more widely recognized than that the early Christian believers had real experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus,” Licona replied. 

“Even the atheist Lüdemann conceded: ‘It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’s death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.’  Now, he claims this was the result of visions, which I simply don’t believe is a credible explanation.  But he’s conceding that their experiences actually occurred.”

Licona also cited liberal scholar Paula Fredriksen of Boston University, who said, “The disciples’ conviction that they had seen the risen Christ…is [part of] historical bedrock, facts known past doubting.”

“I think it’s pretty much undeniable,” said Licona.  “And I believe the evidence is clear and convincing that what they saw was the return of Jesus from the dead.”  [End of quote]

Finally, from Strobel’s The Case for a Creator:

Professor J.P. Moreland presented circumstantial evidence that provided strong documentation for the Resurrection.  First, the disciples were in a unique position to know whether the Resurrection happened, and they went to their deaths proclaiming it was true.  Nobody knowingly and willingly dies for a lie.  Second, apart from the Resurrection, there’s no good reason why such skeptics as Paul and James would have been converted and would have died for their faith.  Third, within weeks of the Crucifixion, thousands of Jews became convinced Jesus was the Son of God and began following Him, abandoning key social practices that had critical sociological and religious importance for centuries.  They believed they risked damnation if they were wrong.  Fourth, the early sacraments of Communion and Baptism affirmed Jesus’s resurrection and deity.  And fifth, the miraculous emergence of the church in the face of brutal Roman persecution “rips a great hole in history, a hole the size and shape of Resurrection,” as C.F.D. Moule put it.  [End of quote]

Lastly, these words from H.H. Halley, of Halley’s 1135-page Bible Handbook:

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is one of the most important and best-established fact in all history.  And the story of it has come down to us through the centuries, beautifying human life with the halo of immortality; making us feel sure that because He lived again, we too shall live; making our hearts thrill with the thought that we are immortal, that we have begun an existence that shall never end; that nothing can harm us; that death is merely an incident in passing from one plane of existence to another; that whether here or there, we are His, doing the thing He has for us to do; that millions of ages after the sun has grown cold, we ourselves shall still be young in the eternities of God.

The one most exhilarating thing in the whole range of human experience is the thought that we are immortal, eternal beings.  That we cannot die.  Whatever may happen to the body, we ourselves shall live on and on and on and on.  Those of us who call Jesus our Lord and Saviour will live on for an eternity with Christ.  Those who turn their backs on the truth of Christ Word, His death, and resurrection, will live on for an eternity in hell, separated from God.  If this story of Jesus is true, life is beautiful, life is glorious, looking down an infinite and infinitely beautiful vista.

But if this story of Jesus should turn out to be a myth, then the mystery of existence is an unsolved riddle, and for humanity, there is nothing left but the blankness and blackness of eternal despair.

By all the laws of historic evidence, it is a true story.  Christ was.  Christ is.  He is a living person.  He is with His people, with guiding and protecting power, leading them on to the day of their own glorious resurrection.  [End of quote]

Jesus Christ is the center of the universe—even time is measured in His name: BC for Before Christ and AD, Anno Domini— “in the year of the Lord.”  Jesus Christ is the resurrected Lord and His tomb shall always remain empty. 

GOD SAID, John 20:11-21:

11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

20 And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

GOD SAID, Acts 1:8-11:

8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

GOD SAID, I Corinthians 15:3-8:

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

MAN SAID: No one believes that this Jesus Christ rose from the dead—no one!

Now you have THE RECORD.

 

 

References:

Authorized King James Version

Jeffrey, G., The Signature of God, Waterbrook Press, 2010

Mansfield, S., Killing Jesus, Worthy Publishing, 2013

Miller, T., Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Crossway Publishing, 2013

Strobel, L., The Case for a Creator, Zondervan, 2004

Strobel, L., The Case for Christ, Zondervan, 1998

Strobel, L., The Case for the Resurrection, Zondervan, 2010

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