. . . they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead . . . (Acts 13:29-30).
The cross is incomparable and the cave indispensable. If the Christ of the cross had stopped at the cross, His work would have been incomplete. For without the cave the cross amounts to nothing more than the story of a good man who was unjustly killed. The cave changes everything . . .
When I was twelve years old I went to Jerusalem to see Christ’s tomb. It was a profound disappointment – there was absolutely nothing worth seeing. But, as I later learnt, that’s the whole point! He had risen, just as He said He would.
It’s different with other leaders. Their corpses testify to their mortality. In Moscow’s Red Square, Lenin’s body is preserved in a tomb. The remains of Ho Chi Minh are in Hanoi, Vietnam. And Tutankhamen’s mummy is still lying in his pyramid in Egypt. That’s to be expected. Death, as we all know, is usually irreversible. But with Jesus Christ, against all odds, the irreversible was reversed!
The evidence for Christ’s resurrection is overwhelming. “After his suffering, he showed himself . . . and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive” (Acts 1:3). According to the Bible, Christ made approximately a dozen flesh and blood post-resurrection appearances to a total of more than five-hundred people. Gary Habermas, a leading authority on extra-biblical records, lists an additional thirteen sources that refer to the resurrection and ten more providing relevant facts to corroborate it.
Then there’s Christ’s testimony: To a sceptical disciple He said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). And to “the Eleven and those with them” (Luke 24:33) He said, “‘Why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.” (Luke 24:38-40).
Yes, the cross is incomparable but the cave is indispensable. For without the cave there would be no Easter, no Saviour, no faith and no hope . . . nothing but futility and emptiness (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:32). That’s what Paul meant when he said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
“But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen . . . (and) . . . the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay” (Acts 13:30-31, 37). Praise God! The cave was empty – and because of Christ’s resurrection Christians have a hope and a future, both in this life and in the life to come.
life question: How does the resurrection of Jesus figure in my life?
lenten prayer: Jesus Christ, raised from the dead . . . news so good that I dare not be silent or leave it untold. Help me Lord to proclaim Your resurrection news – Amen