The Tomb is Still Empty

A tomb which was occupied is empty.

That it was empty, and that no other tomb for this particular person was found, is not seriously disputed.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men…

…While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.  When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money,  telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’  If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”  So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

If Jesus Christ had remained dead and entombed…in the very place where he had carried out his public ministry, where he had been arrested, where he had been very publicly tried and condemned, where he had been buried in a tomb for which all the interested parties knew the exact location…why would those who had him executed not have denied the rumor going around which claimed he was alive? They had only to guide believers to his occupied tomb.

If the tomb was occupied by the dead Jesus, why would the chief priests spread the story that his body had been stolen? They would only have promoted this story if they knew that his tomb was empty.

The dead is no longer dead. Why does that matter? It is a miracle.  Definitions include:  a direct intervention of God in the world; a less common kind of God’s activity in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to himself; a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

God the Father, who is not contained by His Creation, reached into our reality, into our time and space and history, and directly intervened. It is remarkable. In spite of the popular culture trope used and reused for a host of quasi-savior movie characters, real human beings are never seen alive after once being found dead.

He was undeniably dead. He was whipped and tortured so badly he could not be recognized as a man; he had lost most of his blood volume; he had suffered suffocation, dreadful thirst and excruciating pain; his hands and feet were impaled with huge nails.  Jesus was dead already, but the Roman guard followed orders when he thrust a spear into his side, some believe into the chest cavity. The gush of blood and water would indicate cardiac edema and heart failure.

After death, his body was taken down from the cross, wrapped in 75 pounds of spices and cloth, and laid in a tomb hewn out of rock.  It was sealed inside from Friday evening until Sunday morning.  A huge stone was rolled over the entrance and sealed by government decree. Guards were posted to prevent the theft of the body. There could be no swoon or spontaneous resuscitation. There could be no stealing away the body, even assuming the unlikely desire to incur ceremonial uncleanness by handling a corpse.

But on Sunday morning, the tomb was apparently empty. Startling spokesmen from another place instead appeared at the tomb to share the news with followers who loved him that Jesus was no longer dead, but living, having walked out of his grave. Then he was encountered by Mary Magdalene. The news given by the women witnesses was at first disbelieved by the very friends who ought to have believed it. Even those who despaired at his death needed proof.

His disciples clearly did not understand or expect his resurrection. These are your best candidates for self-aggrandizing  and conniving myth-makers? They had little to gain from the invention of a counterfeit religion but martyrdom. Martyrdom was in every one’s future.

The resurrection is important.

Romans 6:10: The death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God.

His life, his death, and his resurrection were entirely unique. We don’t worship a dead symbol. We don’t acknowledge a wonderful dead teacher. We don’t remember a dead hero. We don’t venerate Jesus because He was a martyr for a cause.

If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead in his bodily form, then our Easter celebration is only a remembrance of a great teacher and a very debateably good man, and our faith is essentially worthless.

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

The tomb is still empty.  He is living still.

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24 thoughts on “The Tomb is Still Empty

        1. Wally Fry

          You know Madelyn, I really don’t want to do that either, but I can’t seem to escape it. All I ever really came here for was to write what is on my mind, teach believers, and reach some non believers. I never really planned to even talk to atheists. Honestly I really didn’t know all that was out there. Not sure how I ended up in the middle of it all LOL. Evidently the plan I had was not God’s plan, go figure huh?

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  1. tildeb

    So, we are to believe the lost tomb was empty. Yet we are to ignore that no one recorded any earthquakes. We are to ignore that no one recorded any rising and walking of zombie saints, where they went, what happened to them. Nothing. Silence.

    Yet you want us to swallow without significant doubt and skepticism the idea of a priestly conspiracy… to hide the ‘truth’ about the empty tomb…. that the inhabitant placed within who was (presumably) quite dead POOF!ed back to life and wandered away, that the empty lost tomb really did house this guy called Jesus, that it really did really did contain his dead body, a body that really did ‘resurrect’ and then ‘ascended’.

    Riiigght. If that’s the best evidence you can come up with upon which to hinge the eternal fate of your immortal soul, then I think it’s rather remarkable that you can believe it. To me, that belief you have shed of doubt and uncertainty is the only thing I would call ‘miraculous’. Of course, I would use different, less flattering terms for it.

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    1. madblog Post author

      We both start at zero here TD. Neither of us were there. But I have a collection of historical accounts which attest to most of these things. That’s regarded as evidence.

      What do you have?

      Liked by 2 people

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  2. madblog Post author

    In other words, we each have an account to prove, it seems. You are declaring that something happened which is different from my account.
    What is your account and how will you support it?

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    1. tildeb

      Don’t you think it might help allay reasonable skepticism and doubt about his miraculous event if a little corroborating evidence was there? You conveniently ignored exactly what I was talking about – the kind I’ve already pointed out – where it it is not just lacking but remarkably absent… an absence, I shouldn’t have to point out, where it should be plentiful if the account were true? What we have is a just so story, one not corroborated by anything other than post facto gospel accounts that we know are already historically wrong and deeply suspect.

      What I’m saying is that reasonable doubt is fully warranted. What you are saying is that a factoid of a what amounts to a fictional story is compelling evidence, in the same way that Harry Potter stories contain some elements of London; the latter doesn’t support the historical and literal claims of the former.

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      1. madblog Post author

        But your position is only reasonable if we exclude the one primary source with the evidence. You are pre-assuming that the Biblical account is invalid, and although you might get a bunch of peer approval for that, it’s simply not reasonable, intellectually honest, or useful.
        By the way, corroborating evidence does exist for lots of this, but that won’t help you if you prejudicially reject what evidence we do have.

        Any account of an event is post-facto. We have four separate accounts in the Bible; we have accounts of the darkness at midday from objective sources. I will not research for you but it’s beside the point anyway. As long as you rule out primary source material which secular scholars accept as more historically valid than many other ancient histories we don’t question, you won’t be able to reason clearly about this.
        You are simply buying a lot of anti-intellectual hogwash when you call the Scriptural histories anything but straight-up history.

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        1. tildeb

          There is no corroborating evidence, mb. You saying there is doesn’t magically fill in its absence. Show me independent and corroborating evidence for these quakes and zombies. that you just assume are accurate only because some of the gospels say this happened. You claiming that I’m the one “ignoring” primary sources is simply facetious; the gospel accounts themselves are CLAIMS and not ‘evidence’. You, unlike I, are mistaking these claims to be equivalent evidence. They’re not; they’re just empty claims without corroboration.

          If these gospel claims were true in fact rather than a claim based solely and wholly on faith, then there should be multiple accounts of these extraordinary ‘events’ from authorities and scholars throughout the region. These are absent. But you just wave this away as if corroboration were a trivial matter when it comes to a large zombie walk in a crowded city and claim it’s because of some a priori belief that I hold. That’s not just utter rubbish; it’s a pathetic diversion. My skepticism is not as you claim ‘anti-intellectual hogwash’ because I can cite a lack of compelling evidence and an absence of independent corroborating information. That’s reasonable, mb; that’s the same reasoning you use to justify why you don’t believe all the other religious claims other religions make in conflict and contrary to your own. This lack of skepticism on your part is not my responsibility or fault; your faith these claims are true is an example of extended credulity and an intentional gullibility to serve your faith alone. And that tactic you use here really is an anti-intellectual practice that doesn’t respect what’s true, doesn’t serve looking for what’s true, and doesn’t care about finding what’s true. It serves only to maintain your religious belief that your religious belief is true because you believe it is true.

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        2. madblog Post author

          TD, your waving away the evidence that exists is more troubling. Your saying the evidence doesn’t count doesn’t magically make it go away. Your waving away the evidence I have is more belief-oriented than my waving away your nothing. My evidence exists; you just don’t like it.

          I. have. evidence. Where. is. yours.

          You have offered nothing to back up your non-account. It’s not hard for me to dismiss nothing.

          Just hang your venomous ranting caricature on someone else. It doesn’t fit me.

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        3. tildeb

          I’m highly skeptical of the CLAIM, mb. You seem rather troubled that I point out that what you consider ‘evidence’ is, in fact, nothing more and nothing less than a claim. That’s a problem for you. That you don’t recognize the difference between a claim and evidence for that claim demonstrates why you have nothing but disdain for corroboration. For you, your belief is sufficient. And that’s a guaranteed way to fool yourself because it offers you no means to differentiate the ridiculous from reality. I think your beliefs in this case (about a supposedly empty tomb of the supposed Jesus as ‘evidence’ for your beliefs about some magical resurrection and ascension) are just that: beliefs not tethered to reality but tied directly and only to your beliefs! You just fail to see the circular thinking you’re relying on here. It is your beliefs that empower your beliefs and not reality. That should concern you.

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        4. ColorStorm

          Tildeb

          The resurrection is no more ‘magical’ (using your word of antics) than the creation of a pound of dirt. The verifiability of both are clearly explained and demonstrated in the scriptures.

          What you call a claim, is evidence enough to a person willing to connect the dots. You are maligning the character of men and women who had/have absolutely no reason to lie.

          In a court of law and under oath, the words of Peter, James, John, Daniel, Lydia, Saul, (Paul) James, Jude, Madblog etc etc, as to what they saw and heard, are enough.

          This ‘case’ has long been settled, and your argument is against God, not men. If I told you the word of God was nonsense, this may make you happy, but my poor opinion would not change one whit of truth.

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        5. madblog Post author

          Tildeb, it is you who has a disdain for evidence here. I am giving you some, and you disdain it, discount it and discard it.
          So far, you have given me no alternative account, nor any refutation to my evidence except your preferences that such and such could not have happened in your personal belief system.
          I haven’t given you any reason to say that I disdain corroboration. Objective confirmation is great. But we don’t have that for a great deal of history which we do not question.

          If Biblical histories are claims only, then most ancient history we have is also claim. Herodotus’ history a claim, our histories of Caesars and kings, only claims. There is probably a great deal of history that you take for granted as true without archaeological corroboration.
          No, I will not go to the effort to find you corroboration if you cannot accept the first body of evidence.

          Where is your counter to history?

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        6. Wally Fry

          Hi Madelyn

          I am sure glad you made that comment about Caesar. I have been just watching as this conversation has unfolded, but it seems tied in to other conversations I have been watching elsewhere and even one I had myself yesterday.

          There are many things involving history which is 2000 years old or more for which we simply don’t have proof. Julius Caesar, as you pointed out, being one of them. I haven’t seen him, nor have you seen him. No person alive or alive within memory has seen him. There is, of course, more. The first writings we have of him were not even written by, gasp, eyewitnesses. And of course that whole lack of original manuscripts thing is problematic as well.

          I just don’t get why we aren’t allowed to apply the same rules for historical veracity and textual criticism to things involving Biblical accounts as we do other history. If we applied the same rules to secular history we are forced to apply to Biblical history, we would basically have to toss out any history of more than 2000 years ago. Julius Caesar being one of them.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. madblog Post author

    But I’d like your response to my question. You seem to believe something happened which is contrary to what I think happened. What is that and how do you know?

    And with specificity how do you know my version did not happen?

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  4. Andrew

    Faith dies in the room – only to rise in the doom
    Tempt ye the womb? Empty the tomb !

    Taught… captured: they roll the stone away.
    Caught… raptured. (They stole their own away.)

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  5. madblog Post author

    I have moderated/ disallowed tildeb’s last two comments because they are rather uncivil to my other guests. These are my rules.

    But TD, I really don’t see the point in your expending so much effort and agitation on what is essentially an in-house reflection. True, there was a bit of apologetic in there, such as:

    why would those who had Jesus killed, who were guarding the tomb in case of thieves…invent a story that his body had been stolen, unless his body had disappeared from its tomb?

    You barely read the posts or the responses to your comments. Why come over here and restate the same things nineteen times, ignoring answers to your challenges? You clearly are not interested in persuasion; your abusive demeanor would prevent any changing of minds. I don’t think it’s a worthwhile use of your time.

    Maybe I’ll spend some time on another post giving you corroboration sometime, but I don’t think you’re likely to be persuaded anyway. Best wishes.

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