Evidences for the Empty Tomb
Excerpts from sermon “His Resurrection” by Brian Hill. A compelling argument for the Resurrection.
Enter into evidence
1. Empty tomb – read Matt, Mark, Luke, John, Acts 26:26
2. Multiple witnesses – read Acts 1:3, 1 Corinthians 15
3. Changed lives
Those who met the Resurrected Jesus have had their lives totally transformed. The Resurrection is validated by the changed lives of His followers.
Something happened to radically reorient this original group of followers. After Jesus was put to death, the disciples scattered. The Bible tells us that they were gathered in a locked room on the top floor of a building. They were filled with fear. Their leader had been executed. What would happen to them now?
John 20:19-20 lets us in on a scene that would forever change their outlook — and their lives: “On the evening of that first day of the week [Easter Sunday evening], when the disciples were together with the doors locked out of fear…Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”
Instead of confronting the disciples for not standing with Him in His time of need, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” This overwhelming peace cut through their own guilt and feelings of failure. Their fear was replaced with joy. Peter was changed from a coward who had denied Christ three times to a man of rock who became one of the pillars of the new church.
These ordinary men were transformed from frightened wimps into one of the most effective missionary organizations the world has ever seen. Let me ask you a question: What motivated them to go everywhere and proclaim the message of the risen Christ? Was it for money? Power? Fame? No.
Every one of them had come from doubt to determination, from confusion to conviction, from fear to faith.
Listen to how they died and see if it sounds like they were just making up the Resurrection:
• Matthew was killed in Ethiopia
• Mark was dragged through the streets until he was dead
• Peter, Simeon, Andrew, and Philip were crucified
• James was beheaded
• Bartholomew was flayed alive
• Thomas was pierced with lances
• James, the less, was thrown from the temple and stoned to death
• Jude was shot to death with arrows
• Paul was boiled in hot oil and beheaded
Not only did the resurrected Christ impact this group of individuals, His life-changing power has transformed people from the third decade of the first century down through today. The combined testimony of changed lives attributed to the risen Christ runs into the billions. From every race and tribe and language and nationality in the world. Despite the various intellectual and social backgrounds, believers are united in their conviction that Jesus Christ is alive.
Jesus has changed my life. And, from talking to many of you, I know that He has changed yours as well. His life-changing power is just as available to us today as it was to that group of frightened followers on Easter Sunday night.
I would now like to make my closing argument. In considering the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, thinking men and women will take the time to sort through all the available information and study the evidence. First of all, how do you explain away the empty tomb? Second, how do you argue against multiple witnesses? Finally, how do you get away from the fact that the Resurrected Christ changes lives?
The evidence is strong and compelling. In fact, many skeptics have approached the resurrection with the goal of disproving it. As they gathered all the data, they discovered that the evidence demands a verdict.
After investigating the evidence for the Resurrection, the question ultimately comes done to this: So What? What difference does it make in my life?
Easter answers at least 5 questions that we all have:
1. The question of doubt. Is it true? How can I know it’s true? What is truth? Like Thomas, who wouldn’t believe unless he actually could touch the wounds of Jesus, the evidence for the Resurrection can displace doubt from your mind.
2. The question of loneliness. Does anyone really care about me? Do I matter? The Resurrection proves that you matter deeply to God. Jesus died for you as payment for your sins and rose again to demonstrate how important you are to Him. He can now meet your deepest need for a relationship with Him because He’s alive.
3. The question of weakness. How can I find the power to change? Why can’t I break those bad habits in my life? Friend, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you this morning. He can transform you just like he radically changed that first group of weakened people. An encounter with the living Christ can give you strength and confidence like you’ve never had before.
4. The question of guilt. How can I get rid of my guilt for all that I’ve done? Do you want some good news — some news that you can really use this Easter Sunday? The Resurrection is final proof that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus as your sin substitute. Jesus is the sin-bearing Savior of the world — the Resurrection validates this transaction.
If we had a face to face service on Sunday, I was planning to use the big wooden cross leaning up against the stage. We then came up to the cross and took a hammer and nail and a piece of paper and pounded our sins into the cross. Jesus has forgiven us for our sins; He’s removed the guilt. The pieces of paper representing our sinfulness have disappeared this Easter Sunday morning — all because of the Resurrection.Ken Bond
Read Colossians 2:13-15
5. The question of death. What happens when I die? Because of what Jesus did, you can now know that there is life beyond the grave. It’s not just a theory — it’s a proven reality. Because Jesus is alive, death will never have the last word; a rising is promised for every dying, and a new beginning for every ending.
Friend, you can’t sit in judgement forever. The evidence for the Resurrection is overwhelming — and relevant to your life. The evidence demands a verdict. It’s time to make your decision. It’s time to encounter the living Christ for yourself. If you want irrefutable proof for the Resurrection, then let Jesus change your life. Open yourself up to Him. Turn to Him now. Embrace the living Lord Jesus.
In John 20, when Peter and John ran into the empty tomb, they were surprised and startled. Verse 8 says that John “saw and believed.” The word here is not the one used when we see something in the distance or even up close. It means to see with an inner light that leads to a conclusion. In other words, the light went on for him.
Has the light gone on for you this morning? If so, then take the next step and believe. Put your faith in the Resurrected Christ and ask Him to save you from your sins and change you from the inside out.