DOES IT MATTER THAT THE TOMB WAS EMPTY?
The real question is this: Is Christianity simply a religion based on feelings and visions, which can be subjective and dependent upon one’s psychological state or even on one’s digestion (in the case of visions, there is some evidence that people see what they expect to see), or is it based on historical facts?
It was for this reason that the Lord provided us with objective facts widely attested. Why then, was the factual evidence so important to the first followers of Jesus? They were cast down by the disastrous end to the life of their Lord. At that time, they had not realised that the Cross was essential for God’s plan of salvation, and therefore it seemed to them that all their hopes had been dashed. It was for this reason that the objective facts of the resurrection were so important. And it is to be noted that there must have been more appearances of Jesus than are recorded in detail. I Corinthians, Chapter 11 makes that clear.
Of course we have Thomas to thank for the assurance that they were no mere visions, since that doubting man was asked to touch the risen Jesus – something which has never been possible in any recorded vision in the history of the world. And John tells us of a breakfast by the seashore. The evidence was there and they were then ready to act upon it, although they waited for the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit. For us also the evidence is there. We also need to know that our faith is based upon facts and not just feelings. And we proclaim Jesus who suffered and was raised.
(For an account of the evidence read Norman Anderson’s brilliant little booklet ‘The Evidence for the Resurrection’ IVP. Anderson was the Professor of Oriental Laws and Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in the University of London)
John Pearce, the author of this piece is Rector of Limehouse in the diocese of London.