The Empty Tomb
“Here is the complete record:
Confucius’s tomb: occupied
Buddha’s tomb: occupied
Mohammed’s tomb: occupied
Jesus’ tomb: EMPTY.” ~ G. B. Hardy
The biggest piece of evidence is likewise the biggest qualm of the Jesus narrative. His resurrection. Be very careful how you approach this episode, do not prejudice the evidence upon a pre-conceived notion of anti-supernaturalism. And what I mean by that is if you concede that God’s existence is possible, then you must concede that He is able to work a miracle such as the raising of the dead, so do not presuppose the impossibility of Jesus’ resurrection upon a stipulation that miracles don’t happen.
Now first off, historically, Jesus was crucified, backed by both Christian, Jewish, and Roman historians of the time period. Cornelius Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Seutonius, Pliny the younger, Thallus, Phlegon, Mara Bar-Serapion, Eusebius, along with many early Christian leaders.
There is no doubt that Jesus was dead when He was brought down from the cross. The blood mixed with water is an attestation of that. A soldier came to Pilate and to Pilates surprise asked if Jesus was dead already, it was confirmed (meaning it was checked), and then Jesus was taken down, then taken, timely prepared and buried in a tomb. Witnesses are numerous to His burial and importantly Jesus’ mother witnessed the site of his burial.
The Jews, fearing a resurgence (since Jesus had said he would rise again), asked Pilate for soldiers to guard the tomb. They had a massive stone (too heavy for a few people to move) and a whole platoon of soldiers to guard it. Now the punishment for sleeping on the job for a Roman soldier was death, so fear not that it was an issue of the soldiers falling asleep.
The day after Sabbath, the story begins with Mary and other lady friends going to the tomb to give it a more respectable burial (with spices and the like). When they arrived, as the story goes, the stone was rolled away, empty inside, and the guards stunned or scattered. The next two to observe the empty tomb was Peter and John, who went into the tomb and observed the dressings neatly folded and lying in the tomb. This is important because burial procedures include the use of spices that make the fabric stick to the deceased and would be impossible to get off without tearing (especially if it was a grave robbery instead of a true resurrection).
The disciples could not have stolen the body, for at their own admission they were despondent and shattered after their master’s death and no one else could have on account of the soldier’s and the massive stone, the Jews had no reason to move it and would have provided it in an instant to quell any insurgence of Christ’s followers, and the Roman’s had no need to move it as they were the one’s guarding it.
So how do we account for the empty tomb? First Jesus appeared, alive, to Mary, then to the disciples: two on the road, eleven in a room, then the twelve in a locked room, then again on multiple occasions, and to many others, including a group of 500 people. The multiple occasions and the mass of witnesses with all assurances out rules any and all possibility of any form of mass hallucination.
The witnesses and the impact of their drastically changed lives are irrevocable evidence of the event that cannot be explained. Unless by miracle. Look into the evidence for yourself, do not take my word for it. Can you afford to ignore this historic event? Can you rationalize away the evidence? Can you put off the decision?