The Seven Signs of Easter – Part Three
We have looked at four of seven “proofs” of the resurrection:
- The Soldiers
- The Seal
- The Stone
- The Sepulchre
Let’s continue our journey…
5> THE SHROUD. In the most literal sense, the grave was not empty because the grave clothes were still there.
John 20:3-8 “Then Peter and the other disciple set out to go to the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who had been following him, arrived and went right into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, and the face cloth, which had been around Jesusʼ head, not lying with the strips of linen cloth but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, came in, and he saw and believed.”
When John leaned over and looked into the tomb, he saw something so startling that he did not enter: where the body of Jesus had lain were His grave clothes, in the form of a body but slightly caved in and empty. John never got over the sight. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb but the empty grave clothes — undisturbed in their form and position.
This sign of Easter — this proof of the Resurrection — eliminates the theory that the body was stolen — no thief would have left the linen grave clothes there. It also eliminates the theory that Jesus resuscitated Himself and walked out of the grave. How could He leave the grave clothes in the shape of His body in the tomb? One glance at Jesus’ burial clothes proved the reality of the Resurrection.
6> THE SCARS. Moving beyond that first day, Jesus appeared to the disciples when they were gathered behind closed doors and “showed them His hands and His side” (John 20:20). When Thomas, who had been absent, heard about Jesus’ appearance, he said that he would not believe unless he could see Jesus and His scars for himself. Jesus graciously accommodated Thomas’ desire and returned to the disciples the following Sunday. Addressing His doubting disciple specifically, Jesus said, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side” (John 20:27). The scars so convinced Thomas and the others that they believed and were transformed.
7> THE SIGHTINGS. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul summarizes Jesus’ appearances after His resurrection. The New Testament records that He showed Himself alive to certain individuals (Mary Magdalene, Peter, and James), to the disciples both without and with Thomas, and on one occasion to more than 500 of the brothers and sisters at the same time. Many of these people would still be alive when Paul wrote his words in AD 54. One writer has noticed that if you brought all of these witnesses into a courtroom and gave each one only six minutes to testify, you would still have over 50 hours of testimony to the reality of the risen Christ. This was not a case where one or two people merely observed a fleeting, shadowy figure. Instead there were multiple appearances to numerous people, with several of those appearances confirmed in more than one Gospel account.
Frank Morison, a writer who held the opinion that the Resurrection was nothing but a fairy-tale ending that spoiled the matchless story of Jesus, felt that he owed it to himself and others to write a book that would present the truth about Jesus and dispel the mythical story of the Resurrection. But once he studied the facts, the evidence compelled him to conclude that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. Morison wrote his book — but not the one he had planned. His book is called “Who Moved the Stone?” The first chapter is called “The Book That Refused to Be Written.”
Anyone who really examines the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ will discover that the biblical record teaches the truth of the Resurrection beyond any reasonable doubt. There is no explanation for the empty tomb except that God raised Jesus from the dead!