In an outstanding article by William Lane Craig, he provides an overview of the overwhelming evidence that supports the historical event of the resurrection of Jesus. Although some argue the resurrection was a legend rather than a factual event, Craig notes, “The story is simple and lacks legendary development. The empty tomb story is uncolored by the theological and apologetical motifs that would be characteristic of a later legendary account.

“Perhaps the most forceful way to appreciate this point is to compare it with the accounts of the empty tomb found in apocryphal gospels of the second century. For example, in the Gospel of Peter a voice rings out from heaven during the night, the stone rolls back of itself from the door of the tomb, and two men descend from heaven and enter the tomb. Then three men are seen coming out of the tomb, the two supporting the third. The heads of the two men stretch up to the clouds, but the head of the third man overpasses the clouds. Then a cross comes out of the tomb, and a voice asks, ‘Hast thou preached to them that sleep?’ And the cross answers, ‘Yea.’ In the Ascension of Isaiah, Jesus comes out of the tomb sitting on the shoulders of the angels Michael and Gabriel. These are how real legends look: Unlike the gospel accounts, they are colored by theological motifs.” (Click here to read the full article.)

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When Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent died, his death was kept secret for several days so as not to discourage his army. Messengers were escorted into the throne room where the embalmed body sat motionless on his throne—seemingly listening to them without replying. How different are the facts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Bible speaks again and again of witnesses who heard Him speak and saw Him eat and knew He was no longer dead but alive forevermore.

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In the fields near Oberhausen, Austria, is a small piece of land that belongs not to Austria, but to France. That’s because it is the tomb of an officer in the French army who also served in the American Revolution. However, the tomb is empty; for his bones were taken to France!

In Jerusalem, there is an empty tomb. It is called the Garden Tomb. There are some who think it is the tomb of Jesus. Though the tomb is in Israel, the land belongs to the Dutch who bought it. There is a sense in which the empty tomb of Christ belongs to all of us.

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An old legend tells of a parish priest who found a branch of a thorn tree twisted around so that it resembled a crown of thorns. Thinking it a symbol of the crucifixion of Christ, he took it to his chapel and placed it on the altar on Good Friday. Early on Easter morning, he remembered what he had done. Feeling it was not appropriate for Easter Sunday, he hurried into the church to clear it away before the congregation came. However, when he came into the church, he found the thorn branches blossoming with beautiful roses.

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Don Aycock tells the story of Menelik II, who was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1889 until 1913: “News of a successful new means of dispatching criminals reached him. The news was about a device known as an electric chair. The Emperor eagerly ordered one for his country. Unfortunately, no one bothered to warn him that it never would work because Ethiopia at that time had no electricity. Menelik was determined that his new purchase should not go to waste. He converted the electric chair into a throne.

“There was another occasion when an instrument of death became a throne. On a Palestinian hillside about 20 centuries ago, a cross became a throne for one named Jesus of Nazareth. To this day, that ancient instrument of torture and death is converted into a powerful symbol of life, hope and resurrection. Millions of people around the world see the cross as God’s way of indicating His refusal to let death and destruction have the final word.”

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