While I generally love my work as a minister, there are some very difficult tasks and perhaps
the most difficult of all is standing at the graveside, sprinkling soil into the grave and saying
those words from Psalm 103 –
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and
it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
They are sobering words aren’t they? Our lives are brief. In the scheme of the universe we are here today and gone tomorrow.
Which is what makes the message of Easter Sunday so powerful. On Easter Sunday we celebrate
the fact that Jesus has risen from the grave and defeated death. On that first Easter Sunday
over 2000 years ago Mary Magdalene and another lady also called Mary went to the tomb
expecting to find the body of Jesus. However, when they arrived the tomb was empty.
Sometimes people think that the ancients were gullible, unlike us rational modern people. However,
death was just as permanent then as it is now. They knew the truth of Psalm 103 even
better than we do.
These women did not believe that Jesus had risen, they assumed all sorts of unlikely events
must have happened, because dead people just don’t rise. It was not until an angel appeared
to them and said:
“Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here!
For He has been resurrected, just as He said.”
Even then they did not believe until they were shown the empty tomb and eventually met the
That fact of history, namely that the tomb was empty, has confounded critics for 2000 years. The
Jewish religious establishment had to deal with that fact, which they did by bribing the soldiers
and spreading the story that the disciples had stolen the body. They could not argue with the fact
that the tomb was empty. Otherwise they would have just taken people to the tomb and Christianity
would have died then and there!
Of course, they could never produce the stolen body. Again, if they had, Christianity would have
died like most other Jewish offshoot religions did. More than that, people kept coming out and
saying that they had seen Jesus alive. Then those eyewitnesses refused to recant, even when
they were put to death. They died saying, “Jesus has risen and I have seen him and I would
rather die than say otherwise.”
It’s interesting how often I talk to people who say, “I wish I had your faith. I wish I could believe”.
My answer is always, “You can, if you will just look at the evidence”.
No one can ever prove 100% that an event has happened in history. That’s why there are
people who refuse to believe that the Holocaust happened. That’s why there are people who
refuse to believe that man walked on the moon. If you weren’t there and if you didn’t see it, then
you can’t 100% prove it.
However, normally we rely on others who were there and we rely on the trustworthiness of their
So I can’t prove to someone that Jesus rose from the dead. However, I can say – there is so
much evidence available to you to make a rational decision if you would just look at it. If this is
an issue for you – there are great books where historians and lawyers and the like present the
evidence for the resurrection.
As one of America’s great early legal minds said, “According to the laws of legal evidence used
in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection than for just
about any other event in history.” Dr Simon Greenleaf – Harvard University.
This Easter, if you are a doubter, then why not take some time to truly investigate the evidence