I am still basking in the marvelous truth of the Empty Tomb!
I once read an interesting novel, The Skeleton in God’s Closet, that tells the story of an archaeologist who discovers the grave of Joseph of Arimathea. Inside, however, is not the body of Joseph but, instead, the body of Jesus.
Of course, when the news leaks out, the world is stunned. Church attendance plummets; confusion and depression reign.
Liberal "church men" are excited, because it validates their position that it is not important that Christ literally was raised from the dead, but that the notion of "new life" is what is essential.
As it turns out, the "discovery" was an elaborate hoax contrived by a fellow archaeologist who had become embittered with Christianity. The message of the book is this: Without the bodily resurrection of Christ, Christianity is worthless.
Paul makes the same point in what is known as the Resurrection chapter. In 1 Corinthians 15:14-19, he boldly declares:
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
Frederick Buechner, in his book The Magnificent Defeat, described it this way:
We can say that the story of the resurrection means simply that the teachings of Jesus are immortal like the plays of Shakespeare or the music of Beethoven and that their wisdom and truth will live on forever. Or we can say that the resurrection means that the spirit of Jesus is undying, that He lives on among us, the way that Socrates does, for instance, in the good that he left behind him, in the lives of all who follow his great example. Or we can say that the language in which the Gospels describe the resurrection of Jesus is the language of poetry and that, as such, it is not to be taken literally but as pointing to a truth more profound than literal.
But in the case of the resurrection, this simply does not apply because there really is no story about the resurrection in the New Testament. Except in the most fragmentary way, it is not described at all. There is no poetry about it. Instead, it is simply proclaimed as a fact. Christ is risen! (Emphasis added.)
Jesus told His disciples on several occasions that He would be betrayed, condemned, and crucified – but on the third day He would be raised again to life. And that is exactly what happened.
Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again on the third day. Jesus Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
The physical resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything.
It is what separates Christianity from every other religion in the world. The burial plots of all other religious leaders are well-known and beautifully enshrined.
But Jesus' tomb is empty! It is so empty that scholars are not even certain which one is the right one.
Isn't that awesome!