“The Lord has risen indeed.” -Luke 24:34
The tomb was empty. What did it prove? Remember the soldiers and Jewish leaders widely spread a story that, even though they certainly knew better, Jesus’ friends came during the night and, under the nose of a very sufficient Roman guard, stole His body. The grave-robbers allegedly broke the “fatal seal” on the huge stone over the tomb entrance.
Anyone who broke this fatal seal without Pilate’s consent was condemned to death. So, what was there to refute this story which was being trumpeted throughout the city and the whole country? What proof had God prepared to present to the contrary?
There were supposedly forty days in which Jesus remained on the earth before returning to the same place from which He came. He left the earth through a disciples-reported ascension into the clouds, but what exactly did Jesus do during these forty days to prove His resurrection?
If it were you, to whom would you choose to appear? Well, of course, those who killed you! To Pilate, the cruel soldiers, the self-righteous Jewish leaders, the torturers, the scoffers, those who spit on you, and those who called you every demeaning name in the book. Revenge is certainly warranted, isn’t it? In some way, you must prove to them that killing you would not destroy you.
But your way was not Jesus’ method; He did nothing of the kind. His appearances after the resurrection were to His closest friends. Some were women, who were considered non-credible witnesses in that day; He also appeared to Peter and His eleven disciples a number of times, as well as His other close followers, His half-brother, and, according to Paul, more than five hundred men and women, possibly even some children, at the same time and place. It was a great variety of witnesses, and not one deviated from what they had seen. Why these?
This is a good question worthy of your contemplation. At the beginning, even His disciples wondered whether what or who they saw was really the Jesus they had known before the fatal cross. He convinced them it really was Him by the crucifixion scars on His body. Though they had seen Jesus so many times, two of them did not recognize Him at first while walking and talking with Him along a road leaving Jerusalem to Emmaus, but that lack quickly fled during His meal with them. He ate with them on these various occasions. It is interesting that in almost all of His appearances He participated in a meal with them.
Meditate on these activities of your Lord and Savior after His resurrection. Think now, would His enemies really have believed His resurrection even if He stood right before their eyes? Rather than believe, they might even try to kill Him again to show they could. Perhaps they would run a sword through Him or even cut off His head. After all, He had already been condemned to death. Make sure of it!
Though the proofs of a resurrection were overwhelming, these corrupt Jewish leaders refused to accept the eyewitness of the soldiers. They paid them handsomely to lie. No fear of God or the supernatural penetrated their thinking, fully evidencing the power of sin to obscure the truth.
This proves the deficiency of men’s minds and character. Real proof is no proof to those who will not believe because they choose not to, even when the proof stands right there. Sinful man is incapable of correctly analyzing evidence when he has pre-decided something is just not true; the arbitrary choice of the mind becomes more predominant than any evidence to the contrary.
Jesus ate with His disciples and followers to show them He still had a body like theirs. He was still man yet also God. His body was different some way in its constitution, though not in appearance or even touch, for He could come into their midst without coming through a door or disappear without leaving through a door. This is a mystery because you, different than them, have never observed such.
However, the forty days of proof have convinced every believer in every age from the resurrection to the present that Jesus is truly alive. The believer’s faith bridges the gap between the proof of eyewitness accounts and personal observation.
Jesus broke the bands of death. He lives, and consequently He will return. You will see Him in your flesh, with your own eyes, just as ancient Job declares with unbridled confidence long before his Savior’s death and resurrection.
Scripture accurately describes what God wants you to know about the forty days. I do not believe the entirety of these days has been fully revealed; it will likely be made known in eternity. What we do know is proof to your heart and mind that you indeed serve and worship a living Lord Jesus. The sting of death has been destroyed. Jesus lives and so shall you. The tomb was empty because He rose.
“Hiding in that secret room, His disciples full of gloom and sorrow, suddenly the Lord appeared. ‘Death is conquered! Dry your tears!’ Rising like the morning sun, bringing hope to everyone; praise the Lord His work was done. Jesus is my morning sun!”
(Second verse of James Ward’s hymn, “Morning Sun,” 1975)
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