Friday, April 6, 2012

The Empty Tomb: Four Possibilities

I've been thinking about Easter a lot lately, because I accepted an invitation to speak at a sunrise service (yawn!) so I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the empty tomb. For this, I'll reference author and pastor John Piper, who outlines four possibilities for the empty tomb.

The first possibility is that the foes of Jesus stole the body. But think about it. This makes no sense because as soon as the disciples started proclaiming the risen Lord, the enemies of Christ would have produced the body to prove that the disciples were wrong. So the first possibility doesn't work.

The second possible explanation for the empty tomb was that the disciples stole the body. Well, besides the difficulties that these fisherman would have had to overcome trained Roman soldiers to pull this stunt, would it be likely that the disciples would have been willing to risk their lives to defend something they knew was a lie? Remember, most of the disciples were persecuted and martyred for their proclamation that Jesus had risen from the dead. It is unlikely that they would have been willing to die for something they knew wasn't true.

The third possibility is that Jesus didn't really die. He was only rendered unconscious. He awoke from coma in the tomb, rolled away the stone, overcame the guards, appeared to the disciples a few times to deceive them into thinking he'd risen from the dead, then disappeared from their lives again to propagate the myth of the resurrection. Really, no one can believe this option: could a guy who'd just been stabbed and spent six hours on a cross do this?

That only leaves us with one more option: God the father raised Jesus from the dead.

Option four was predicted before the death of Christ.

Option four changes everything. Pastor Tim Keller says this: "If Jesus rose from the dead you have to accept all he said. If he didn't rise from the dead then why worry about anything he said...If Jesus rose from the dead, it changes everything."

Consider the options.

Then consider the implications for your own life.

For me, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, my whole life is a sham, based on a lie. I've based everything on this: Jesus was not just a good man, an eloquent teacher or even a prophet. Jesus was God himself and the empty tomb confirms his claim.

I'm proclaiming option four!

Happy Easter.