Easter is when Christians rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus. In addition to Scripture additional circumstantial evidence can be used to affirm the empty grave.
First, not even Jesus’ staunchest enemies were able to produce a corpse. The entire message of the resurrection could easily have been squashed by depositing Jesus’ body in downtown Jerusalem.
The second rational has to do with the primary witnesses—two women (Mk 16:1). In Rabbinic Judaism women were not viewed as reliable witnesses especially in a court of law. If the resurrection was a fraud by Jesus’ friends they would have chosen the most believable witnesses possible! It is similar to those delightful movies where thievery was lifted to an amazing art form in Ocean’s 11, 12, 13, using believable witnesses such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon!
Thirdly, would you die for a fraud you had perpetrated upon people? It is true that people who are deceived can and do die for a lie. But would those who engineered the fraud die for it? No! But eleven apostles died for the resurrection because it is true. Think of the Watergate break-in. Silence was kept a scant three days until the threat of jail time—not death—moved the burglars to speak.
The fourth piece of evidence rests with the guards at the tomb. A powerful incentive to not sleep on guard duty was the well-known Roman practice of executing soldiers caught dozing. I and others believe these soldiers were Jewish Temple guards. This is determined from two pieces of evidence; 1) responding to the Pharisees Pilate said, “You have a guard of soldiers …” (Mt 27:65 ESV), and; 2) upon discovering the empty tomb the guards report to the chief priests (Mt 28:11) which makes sense if they were Jewish Temple Guards, not Roman who would have answered to Pilate. The point of all this is that Jewish Temple Guards had a vested interest in keeping anyone from tampering with the tomb.
Based on the evidence presented the resurrection did indeed happen. May this give you courage and Easter joy for God is in control and in his Son, Jesus, death has been defeated!
- Pastor Weber