But when John came in, "he saw, and believed! The scene and its thrilling significance to John have been movingly memorialized in a poem entitled, "John the Beloved," written many years ago by Ruth Margaret Gibbs.
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I run with Simon Peter to the tomb, Feel, as a dream, the racing wind go by, The muttered doubts, the chilling blight of gloom; And still there rings within my ears a cry Born of a whisper that the women made: "The place is empty where our Lord was laid. The gaping crowds that waited on the crest, The sneering, mocking soldiers and their rough And hooting blasphemy.
Can He not rest, Can He not sleep, forget the world of men. What mean these strange and idle tales, then?
My feet have outrun Simon; here before The sepulcher I stand on blessed earth That holds the kingdom and the King, and more—The promises of our Messiah's birth! Oh, heart that labors, if I could but place My head upon His bosom, see His face. Now Simon's shadow darkens all the tomb; He enters weeping; I can share his tears. To find the linens lying in the room As they were wrapped will put away my fears. Stoop, burdened shoulders, I must look and prove; Bow down, my soul, in grief before His love. My eyes run rivers down; they cannot see.
My sandals move beyond the arch of stone. But, lo, the Master is not. Or do I dream, or am I one gone mad With fancies like the whispering women had? He is not here! And yet the linens line The place He lay as though they hold Him fast. What miracle, what sign Is this that tells of death and terror past. Look up my soul, and faith take root and grow: My Lord and Savior lives! I know. The disciple whom Jesus loved thus immediately believed in the resurrection when he saw the linen clothes lying still as they had been, yet in a now-empty tomb, though he and the others had all apparently forgotten His promise to rise after three days e.
Neither had they understood the prophecies in the Old Testament that He would rise again Psalm ; Isaiah ; etc. But very soon they would all understand and go forth into all the world as Spirit-filled proclaimers of the great truth of Christ's substitutionary death and bodily resurrection.
It took the personal appearance of Christ Himself to convince the other disciples, however. They would not even believe the testimony of Mary Magdalene that she had seen Jesus nor the testimony of the two who talked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus Mark , nor apparently the testimony from John of the significance of the empty tomb Luke Finally, "the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst" John Even then they were slow to believe in the bodily resurrection.
Rather, "they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit" Luke One of them, Thomas, was not there at the time, and he would not even believe their account John until he could see for himself. All of this goes to show that any theory about some kind of "Passover plot" by the disciples is absurd.
They had to be convinced that He was alive by "many infallible proofs" Acts before they would even venture out of hiding! The idea of pretending Christ had risen in order to advance some bold and nefarious plot of their own could never have even entered their minds. If they had stolen the body, or as some have thought if Jesus had never actually died on the cross, and also considering the fact that they were already fearful that they were about to meet a fate similar to His, it is inconceivable that they could suddenly have gone forth preaching the resurrection as they did with such power that multitudes were soon converted.
The body of Jesus was certainly no longer in the tomb, nor could it be produced anywhere else. If perchance, the women had gone to the wrong tomb as some have imagined , or the Jews or the Romans had moved the body to another tomb as others have supposed , the authorities could quickly have stopped the spreading flame of Christianity merely by exhibiting the dead body of the Lord.source
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They could not do this, however, though they tried all manner of persecution and other means to stop the spread of Christianity, for the good reason that Christ had risen from the dead and later ascended back to heaven. Many skeptics have tried to avoid the truth of the resurrection by saying that Jesus did not actually die on the cross. The tomb was empty, they say, because Jesus recovered from his wounds in the cool of the tomb and then went back to be with His disciples and friends.
This "swoon theory," as it has been called, is even more incredible than the other anti-resurrection ideas, though it has been advocated by many. An ultra-liberal theologian of the nineteenth century, David Strauss, though he did not believe in the bodily resurrection himself, nor in the inspiration of the Bible, pilloried the swoon theory in the following incisive words:. It is impossible that one who had just come forth from the grave half dead, who crept about weak and ill, who stood in need of medical treatment, of bandaging, strengthening, and tender care, and who at last succumbed to suffering, could ever have given to the disciples that impression that he was a conqueror over death and the grave, that he was the Prince of life, which lay at the bottom of their future ministry.
Such a resurrection could only have weakened the impression which he had made upon them in life and in death, or at the most could have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, or elevated their reverence into worship. Strauss, the first great rationalistic interpreter of the Bible in modern times, while not believing in either the deity or the Resurrection of Christ himself, nevertheless in an book, New Life of Jesus Christ , London, p.
Life of Jesus in the New Testament
These two quotations from Strauss were taken from a great little book, The Supernaturalness of Christ , by Dr. Wilbur M. Smith published in and now out of print which provided much further evidence in support of its subject. Once the disciples had been firmly convinced of the reality of the Resurrection, they went forth and practically "turned the world upside down" Acts with their proclamation of its reality.
As Luke testified: "with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all" Acts It is profoundly significant that two thousand years of the worldwide spread of Christianity have been accompanied by two thousand years of strident unbelief. Not only have the Jews opposed the Resurrection, but so have the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Marxists, and every conceivable form of anti-Christian thought.
Even more deplorable has been the rationalism of so-called "Christian" modernists, liberals, and cultists of every variety of compromising pseudo-Christianity. Yet with all this opposition, no scholar or anyone else has ever yet been satisfactorily able to explain away the empty tomb of Christ. The unbreakable historic record that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried in a specific sepulchre, and was out of that tomb three days later, can be explained only by His Resurrection.
Every other proffered theory has failed miserably. His tomb is empty! The tombs of Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Karl Marx, and every other religious founder and philosophical genius still hold and will hold the remains of their occupants until they go back to the dust. But not that of the Lord Jesus Christ. His body was there for only three days, and then, having been resurrected, glorified, and immortalized, He appeared to His disciples, showing Himself to be "alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" Acts Then He ascended back to heaven and ever since has been "at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" Romans One day, all the graves will be emptied!
Jesus said to those who are His followers: "Because I live, ye shall live also" John He has promised to return some day perhaps today!
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In that great day, all made possible by the Resurrection of Christ, the graves of every believer in Christ of every age and place will be emptied, and we shall all receive glorified bodies like that of Christ Himself. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But it is not only the graves of Christian believers that will be emptied. In the new earth where true Christians will live forever with the Lord, there will be no place at all for graves and tombs and sepulchers, for there will "be no more death" Revelation , and, of course, no more sin whose wage is death.
Even the great fossil graveyards in the sedimentary rocks surrounding the earth will be obliterated, for "the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" 2 Peter and God will then build "a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" 2 Peter At that time, all the graves of the lost will also be emptied of their contents.
Even those whose bodies were buried in the earth's waters, especially those who died in the great Flood on the wicked antediluvian world, will be brought before God. Of course, the works of no man in any age have ever been spotless and fruitful enough to permit him to remain forever in the presence of our all-holy Creator, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" Romans Therefore, "whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" Revelation Since every person who ever lived was created in the image and likeness of the eternal God Genesis ; James , every person will continue to exist forever, either in heaven with the Lord Jesus or in the lake of fire with the devil and his angels Matthew The difference is in their acceptance or rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ as He is--omnipotent Creator, redeeming Savior, and risen Lord.
And, lest anyone think that the doctrine of hell and everlasting punishment is anachronistic in this enlightened age, he should realize that the claims and teachings of Christ which surely emphasize this doctrine have been verified by His resurrection. Only the Creator of life could overcome death, which had been imposed by Him as the wages of sin in the first place. He knows whereof He speaks! And lest anyone think this punishment to be too harsh and unloving, he should awake to the great revelation that, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John For a man or woman created in the image of God to reject or ignore such infinite love surely is the greatest of all sins, the one unforgivable sin.
Such a one must spend eternity somewhere, and Christ--who knows!
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The Sequence of Christ’s Post-Resurrection Appearances
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Empty Tomb and Resurrection Apearances
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