The Empty Tomb Of Jesus
Pastor Glenn E. Wilson
East Side Baptist Church
The writer of this article is another northern Baptist pastor that stands aloof from the apostate Northern Baptist Convention. He and his church affiliate with The Ohio Association of Independent Baptist Churches. One of the prerequisites of membership in this association is that a church belong to no other association or convention. The Articles of Faith of this association affirm a belief in the verbal inspiration of the Bible, reject evolution, and indorse the miraculous virgin birth and deity of Christ. Its article on Grace in The New Creation is very scriptural, and represents repentance and faith as fruits and evidences of regeneration. We would that this confession spoke more clearly on some things, but as far as it goes we find no heresy in it; and it is about as good as the confession of faith adopted by Southern Baptists a few years ago. For that much we rejoice.
In this article Brother Wilson unsheathes his sword in defense of the resurrection, which is a chief point of attack of Modernists and other infidels.
There was no small stir in Jerusalem on the third morning after Christ's crucifixion. Mystery permeated the air. Here and there stood groups of elders and priests, speaking in lowered tones. A strange report had been brought by the Roman soldiers from the sepulcher of Jesus. The body of Jesus gone! Could it be true? Was Jesus indeed risen? And were their worst fears realized? What could they do about the matter? Bow their proud hearts to such an unwelcome fact? Risen? No, never! But his body was missing from the tomb. What could be said?
With the arch-deceiver on their side, foiled and disappointed even as they, an explanation Was soon arrived at. The soldiers must be bribed, their lives protected, and a report set afloat through the city as a fitting answer to all enquirers.
Now let us remember that eternal issues are here at stake. Therefore, let us calmly and carefully consider what their report was worth. For, "If Christ be not raised ye are yet in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). Here is the report they adopted as an explanation of the empty tomb: "His disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept" (Matthew 27:13).
Had this report been true, none would have known so well as the disciples that Jesus was still dead and that he was a dead deceiver. All of their hopes as to his Messiahship would have been dashed to pieces, and their confidence in his truthfulness would have been violated. Would not this feeble few have scattered, utterly vanquished by his deception? Would disciples, thus deluded, come and boldly steal away a (lead deceiver? No. The truth of the matter is that never before the cross did the Lord have such bold and persistent followers as he had afterward. We find them prepared to go Joyfully to prison and death for Him. And for whom? A dead imposter?
"His disciples came by night and stole him away." Yet', Pilate had granted a special guard of soldiers to watch the tomb, and had added: "Make it as sure as ye can." This they certainly did. And we can well imagine their self-satisfied faces as they look again and again at the huge stone, and the official seal. Who would dare tamper with it? Surrounded, as it was, with their military watch, who could tamper With it? All that was now left, they thought, was to wait quietly until the third day, and then open the sepulchre to reveal the dead body of Jesus. This would be the crowning day for their hatred and pride. Had these precautions not been taken, there might have been at first, perhaps, some appearance of truth in this concocted story. But as things stood, it was manifestly false.
But let us look at the rest of the story. "While we slept It is a well known fact that for a man in the Roman army to fall asleep while on guard was to incur the penalty of death. Therefore, it was a rare occurrence for any Roman soldier on watch to fall asleep. But here was a number of them, with a much more than an ordinary charge of vigilance. And shall we believe that they all went fast to sleep? The report represented them as sleeping so soundly that the seal was broken, the ponderous stone rolled away, and a dead body carried safely out without their being awakened. And yet they could actually tell who it was that came and stole away the body! Was a more clumsy, threadbare lie ever told? Yet this was the only answer the Lord's enemies could give in explanation of the empty tomb. No wonder, then, that all the enemies of Christ were astir in Jerusalem, as miracle after miracle was performed in the name and power of the risen Lord!
But, could they not in some way stamp out this new doctrine. Well, at any rate, they determined to try. A fervent zealot was soon found in the person of a young man of promise and energy by the name of Saul of Tarsus. Being exceedingly angry at the poor followers of the despised Nazarene, he set forth to work in dead earnest. He superintended the stoning of Stephen; and, having made havoc of the disciples in Jerusalem, he determined to do the same in Damascus. Little did he know what was in store for him on the road to Damascus. The boldest enemy of the truth of the resurrection was to become one of its warmest and staunchest advocates. As he journeyed on the road, he was suddenly arrested by the voice of the ascended Jesus. Jesus spoke to him, saying: "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." Thus the champion persecutor was turned into a willing servant, and "Jesus and the resurrection" became his lifelong theme.
Writing to the Corinthians afterwards of the various witnesses of the resurrection, he said: "He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all, he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time" (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Who shall dare gainsay this witness?
Had Paul remained the fierce persecutor of the humble followers of the Nazarene, the learned, the religious, and the respectable in Jerusalem would have honored and applauded him; but because he became a bold witness of Jesus and the resurrection, lie was imprisoned here, half murdered there, and hated everywhere. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, and you will see the recompense Paul received at the hands of men for bearing testimony to a risen Savior.
God has taken great care that there should be an abundance of evidence to substantiate the truth of the resurrection of Christ. Angels and men, friend and foe alike, are called in to give their testimony. Those who denied the resurrection at the beginning and those who still wilfully deny it, are divested of every tittle of justification for their unbelief.
[From: T. P. Simmons, editor, The Baptist Examiner. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]
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