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.