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EMETERIES have always as Jesus “breathed his last” (Mark 15:37).*
Christ’s Resurrection
held a fascination for me. They heard Him cry with a loud voice On the first day of the week, the early
While conducting spiritu- and, in the words of John, “He bowed His morning darkness was shattered by an
al renewal meetings in head and gave up His spirit” (John earthquake. An angel of the Lord
many cities of the United 19:30). Roman authorities acting on descended, rolled away the stone, and sat
States and other coun- instructions from Pilate broke the legs of upon it. His dazzling brilliance struck fear
tries of the world, I often found time to two malefactors on either side of Jesus’ in the hearts of the guards, so much so
wander through church graveyards or cross to hasten their death, but coming to that they “became like dead men” and
stroll through national cemeteries, read Jesus, they discovered He had already later fled. Bribed by the chief priests, they
the epitaphs and ponder the lives of expired (v. 19:33). Having received confir- later claimed that the body of Jesus was
those whose bodies lie beneath. Swaths of mation of death from the Roman centuri- stolen (Matthew 28:2-4, 11-14).
walled greenery and limestone; thick, on, Pilate released the body of Jesus to In those predawn hours, women came
leafy trees drooping over mismatched Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus for to the tomb with the intention of apply-
rickety burial. ing additional spices to the body of Jesus.
by Mark L. Williams
headstones; In the early years of the first century, Oblivious to the fallen guards, they dis-
and larger- the practice of burying multiple bodies in covered the stone had been rolled away
than-life sculptures of angels can beckon a common tomb or grave gave way to from the tomb. As they stood astonished
one from the pressures of everyday life to placing a body in a hewn-out crypt or and frightened, they received a vision of
a place that uniquely blends nature with shelf chiseled into a wall. Jewish tradition angels and heard the glad news: “He is
art, history with horticulture. required bodies to be buried on the day not here, for He has risen, just as He said.
Finding famous graves seems to be a of death to avoid defiling the land God Come, see the place where He was lying”
growing hobby. With Web sites devoted had given to them. In light of the swiftly (Matthew 28:6).
to who, when, and where someone died approaching Passover Sabbath, Joseph Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, to
and Internet forums discussing the finer and Nicodemus removed the body of Peter, to two disciples on the road to
points of grave hunting, more and more Jesus from the cross and wrapped it in a Emmaus, to the Eleven, to Thomas, to
people are making special vacation plans linen burial shroud lined with aromatic James, and, according to the apostle Paul,
to visit the final resting places of movie spices. A napkin was placed over His face, to “more than five hundred brethren at
stars and past presidents. the body was placed in Joseph’s new one time” (1 Corinthians 15:6). By many
Strange but true, the greatest claim of tomb, and a large circular stone was convincing proofs He showed Himself to
Christianity, the greatest truth of the placed at the mouth of the tomb, secured be alive over a period of 40 days and
Gospel, the greatest reality of faith, and with a seal. Nothing could get in and spoke of things concerning the kingdom
the greatest assurance of coming glory nothing could get out. of God (Acts 1:3). So convinced were they
can be traced to a grave site, a tomb, Echoing in the ears of the chief of His resurrection that the disciples were
once borrowed and now empty, located priests and Pharisees, however, was Jesus’ willing to suffer shame for His name and
near the Damascus gate outside the lim- outlandish claim: “Destroy this temple, even give their lives in martyrdom for
its of Jerusalem’s Old City in Israel. It is and in three days I will raise it up” (2:19). that truth. Only a living Christ could
the tomb that once held the body of This and other sayings of Jesus prompted account for such personal transformation.
Jesus of Nazareth. the religionists to request sentinels to be
stationed at the tomb to deter His follow-
The Naysayers
Christ’s Death
ers from stealing the body of Jesus and Alternative theories have been sug-
Gospel writers present the reality of asserting that His prophesy had come gested to account for the empty tomb.
Jesus’ death as an absolute certainty. true. The guards were placed at the tomb, Some have suggested that Jesus only
Those standing around the cross watched and the grave was believed secure. fainted on the cross and the cool tomb
20 EVANGEL • APR 2009
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