It was just before dawn when the women arrived at the tomb of Jesus. The Scriptures say that they were bringing spices to anoint the dead body of Jesus. Exactly how they expected to do this is anybody’s guess. The stone would prevent their entrance. When they arrived they found the stone rolled away, the tomb empty and two supernatural beings guarding the tomb.
What had happened to the body of Jesus? 2000 years of debate have not yet settled that issue. Even today skeptics and scholars alike are trying to answer the question. I want us to look at the three most popular theories and you form your own opinion today.
1. Jesus was not really dead
A. He merely fainted on the cross and the cool tomb revived Him. After three days of recovery, he returned to His disciples and continued His ministry.
B. This theory cannot hold water because The flogging, the spikes, and the spear did irreparable damage to His body. The Romans verified His death before releasing his body. How could He have unwrapped the mummy-like cloths by Himself?
C. How could a man in such a weakened condition roll away a stone weighing several tons? If this theory was true, then when did Jesus really die? Could He have pulled this off without anyone else’s assistance? Which brings us to the next theory:
2. The disciples stole his body
A. Would have required the assistance of the Roman guards assigned to guard Jesus; would have meant their death. All of the post-resurrection miracles would have been pure fiction, concocted by the apostles.
B. Why does this theory not hold water? The possibility of convincing the guards very unlikely and the great number of people in this conspiracy would have made it impossible for it to remain a secret.
C. All but one of the apostles died as martyrs because they preached a risen Christ; do you think even one of them would have laid down his life for a known lie?
3. Jesus was who He said He was
A. Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees that if they destroyed His body, He would rise again on the third day. He told his disciples in Luke 9:22 and Luke 18:33 that He would rise again on the third day.
B Biblical prophecies: “But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Selah.” (Psalms 49:15) , “He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 25:8).
C. Even before the foundations of the Earth were laid, God’s plan of redemption for mankind called for Jesus to come, die, and rise again. And He did!
4. The importance of the incident
A. The real proof if Christianity is not that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, though that was fulfilled prophecy.
B. It is not enough that He chose to identify Himself with fallen man, although that was necessary for redemption.
C. It would all have been for nothing if Jesus had not risen from the dead. His resurrection was the final proof of His gospel. If He had lied about that, everything else that He taught would have been suspect.
Jesus died on a cross so that we shall have everlasting life. He had nothing to gain but you. What will you do about it?
Taken from Dr. Arnold Lastinger’s personal sermon notes collection