Saturday, May 21, 2016

Empty Tomb

I recently realized I've missed out on a very significant statement in Scripture regarding the burial of Christ. John 19:40–42 tells us that Christ was buried in "a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid" (v. 41).

This is a daring claim to make. The Gospel centers on the proposition that Christ was raised from the dead. The Apostles insisted not only that Christ was not dead, but that He had been dead, and that He had been raised bodily from the dead. In other words, they claimed that His body was not in the tomb, because He had gotten up and left the tomb under His own power.

John's claim that there had not been anyone previously buried in that tomb meant that he actually raised the ante on the claim of the Resurrection. Not only was Christ's body not in that tomb: no one's body could be in that tomb. If people were to go to that tomb and there was any body in it, then John's claim would be shown to be false.

This makes the Resurrection claim easily falsifiable. It's like John said, "Look, if you can produce the body of Christ, we have to admit that this whole thing is a big hoax. Not only that, if you go to that tomb and there's any body in it, we'll have to admit that it's Christ's body; no one else was buried in that tomb."

I saw a meme on Facebook (I can't find it now) that pointed out the Apostles made a daring claim when they spoke of the Resurrection. By claiming that Christ had risen bodily, they made a claim that was easy to disprove. They could just have claimed Christ had risen spiritually, and their claim could never have been disproven; but claiming a physical resurrection meant they had moved into the realm of the verifiable. I think that's a very important point. John goes even further: by claiming that Jesus Christ's body was alone in that tomb, he is claiming that the tomb must be completely empty, or the claims of the Apostles must be false.