On the Go
In our modern, skeptical age, people often wonder if Jesus really was raised from the dead. Did He really conquer death, or is this just some wild story? A search for the answer begins with the tomb in which Jesus was buried nearly 2,000 years ago.
Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and yet three days later the tomb was empty. There were several witnesses who saw the empty tomb. Some were followers of Jesus. They include Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, Salome, Peter, John, and others (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:10; and John 20:2-8). Also, some of the Roman guards undoubtedly saw that the tomb was empty.
In Acts 2, Peter boldly proclaimed to thousands of Jews that the tomb was empty. Many of them would have denied it if they could. It is an interesting fact that Jesus’ enemies of that day never denied that the tomb was empty. If the tomb were not empty, it would have been very easy for them to prove that the body was still in it.
Although the Jews did not believe Jesus was the Son of God, they did recognize the importance of His prediction that He would be raised from the dead. Therefore, they took extreme measures to prevent the disciples of Jesus from stealing His body and then claiming that He had been raised from the dead.
In Matthew 27:62-66, we find that the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate told them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb as secure as was humanly possible, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
Although they did everything in their power to keep the body of Jesus in the tomb, they failed. Matthew 28 tells us that there was a great earthquake, and an angel descended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. Some of the guards went and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. They quickly had a meeting with the elders, who were the leaders, and the only solution they could come up with was very weak, at best.
They paid the guards a large sum of money to say that Jesus’ disciples came at night and stole the body while they were asleep. To begin with, if they had fallen asleep on their watch, they would have been put to death. That is why they had to be paid a large sum of money and also be promised that if the governor heard about it, the elders would appease him and make sure they were not punished. Besides that, if they had really been asleep, how would they have known what had happened?
They began to circulate a false report, and that report was the very thing they were trying to prevent! But everywhere their lie went, one important fact also went: the tomb was empty. But that was not the only problem the enemies of Jesus had.
A vast multitude saw Jesus die on the cross. The soldiers made sure He was dead by thrusting a spear through His side. But there were numerous witnesses who saw Jesus after He was raised from the dead. There were more than five hundred people who witnessed the resurrected Christ. It is no myth! As Paul stated in I Corinthians 15:20, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Yes, Jesus really was raised from the dead!