What the Empty Tomb Tells Us
By Jonathan C. Brentner
When his wife became a believer in Jesus, Lee Strobel began a two year quest to prove that her faith rested upon a hoax. He knew if he could the resurrection, he could discredit Christianity once and for all. As an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune at the time, Strobel put all his skills and resources into disproving Jesus’ resurrection.
After extensive research and countless hours examining the evidence, Strobel realized he could not disprove the resurrection. He gave his life to Christ and wrote a bestselling book, The Case for Christ, which provides much of the evidence that convinced him of Jesus’ resurrection.
Jesus’ empty tomb establishes His credibility and supernatural character. He was no ordinary man. Who else could predict both His death and the timing of His resurrection (John 2:18-22)?
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know beyond a doubt that his claims are true.
Jesus Is God
Jesus claimed equality with God the Father. In John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” The Jews immediately picked up rocks with which to stone Him to death because they recognized He was claiming equality with the Father, which they regarded as blasphemy.
In John 14:8, Philip said this to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” In response, Jesus told his disciple he had already seen the Father, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (v. 9). Jesus claimed to be the perfect revelation of His Father in heaven. He claimed to be God in the flesh.
When we look at Jesus, we see an exact reflection of our Heavenly Father who by His word created the universe out of nothing (see Heb. 1:3).
Jesus Is the Only Way of Salvation
Perhaps the most controversial of Jesus’ assertions is this: He claimed to be the only path to the Father, the only way of salvation. People today often recognize Jesus as someone great, but dismiss the necessity of putting their faith in Him alone for their salvation. They reject His claim as the only way to eternal life.
Jesus said this in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Perhaps the most recognized verse in all of the New Testament, John 3:16, echoes this exact same exclusivity, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus said it’s only those that believe in Him that escape God’s wrath and receive eternal life
The brutality of Jesus’ death adds much weight to this truth. If we could save ourselves by keeping the Law, being moral, sincerity, or by being “good,” do you think the Father would have allowed His Son to endure such extreme agony on the cross on our behalf? Of course not!
If there was any other way of salvation, do you not think the Father would have spared His only Son such a brutal and horrendous death? Absolutely!
Jesus suffered and died precisely because there was no way for the Father to provide eternal life for us apart from Christ’s death in our place.
Jesus Is the Resurrection and the Life
In John 11:25-26, Jesus said this about Himself, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…” In claiming to be “the resurrection and the life” Jesus promises that all who believe in Him will live, even if they die.
We have no ability whatsoever to control what happens to us after we die. Only Jesus is capable of bringing us safely from this life to eternity. That’s why it’s so necessary that we put our trust solely in Him.
Do you see the essential relationship between this claim and Jesus’ resurrection? If Jesus’ bones are buried somewhere in the land of Israel, then our hope of eternal life lies with Him in grave. However, when Jesus physically walked out the grave, He demonstrated His ability to give eternal life to all who believe in Him.
Because He lives we will also live!
Jesus Is Coming to Take Us to His Father’s House in Heaven
For me, one of Jesus’ most reassuring promises is found in John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Imagine some guy off the street promising to prepare a place for you in heaven and along with that assurance says he will come take you there. You might call the authorities to report him.
When it comes to Jesus, however, we know beyond a doubt He will keep this promise because His tomb was empty that first resurrection Sunday. Because He walked out of the grave, we know He will make good on all His promises of eternal life.
Many today who claim to be Christians miss the meaning of the resurrection. They regard Him as a great teacher and example, but not the exclusive way of salvation. They recite some of His teaching, but deny the validity of much of what He said by what they support and the way they live. The might even agree that Jesus is God, but only believe a small fraction of His Word.
So much of Christianity misses the point of Jesus’ resurrection and many pastors and teachers. And many of those who understand its significance fail to take serious His promise to return for His church before a time of terrible suffering on earth during the tribulation.
In the midst of a world gone mad, we have a sure hope because Jesus bodily walked out of the tomb. He is alive and He is returning soon.
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