The Corpse in Joseph’s Tomb

1 Corinthians 15:12-20 12 Now if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how is it that some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is pointless, and your faith is pointless too. 15 Then we are even guilty of giving false testimony about God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise, if it were true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then it also follows that those who fell asleep in Christ perished. 19 If our hope in Christ applies only to this life, we are the most pitiful people of all. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Dr. Jonathan Weber, Harvard professor and biblical scholar, on an archeological dig in Israel discovers a previously unknown tomb in Rama. As he starts his excavations, he is shocked to discover that there is writing on the tomb declaring this to be the sepulcher of Yeshua ben Jossaf – Jesus, son of Joseph.

Dr. Weber believes that he has discovered the burial tomb with Jesus’ bones in it!

To further cement his discovery, Dr. Weber uncovers a sign in the tomb written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek that reads, “King of the Jews.” He also discovers a scroll in the tomb detailing how Joseph of Arimathea stole the body of Jesus from the Garden Tomb in the middle of the night. Joseph then carried the corpse and buried it elsewhere, so everyone would think Jesus had risen from the dead.

A decade ago, famous filmmaker, James Cameron, produced a documentary for the Discovery Channel that claimed to find The Lost Tomb of Jesus. The documentary purported to find the family tomb of Jesus, complete with the names of the deceased carved on the side of the tomb – Yeshua bar Yosef – Jesus son of Joseph; Maria – Mary; Yose – Joseph; Yehuda bar Yeshua – Judah, son of Jesus; Mariamene e Mara – Mary, known as the master; and Matya – Matthew.

Recently deceased theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, was not shy in giving his opinion on the existence of God. “I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.”

So, what happens to the Church if Jesus died and stayed dead? What happens to our faith Jesus was buried in His family tomb? What happens to Christianity if there is a corpse in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb? What happens if scientists like Stephen Hawking are correct and there really is no God?

If Christ has not been raised, then we can still be happy. We can still enjoy life, take pride in our work, and find fulfillment in our children. But, we cannot be joyful. Resurrection joy comes from knowing that Jesus Christ is alive and sitting on His throne at God the Father’s right hand in heaven. He is there working all things out for our eternal benefit. Joy comes from knowing that our life, vocation, and children have a greater purpose than this lifetime. Christ died and rose again so that this life is a time of grace to believe in Jesus as our Savior from sin; that our vocation is about finding fulfillment as a sanctified child of God; and that our children are about passing our faith on to them so we will see them in heaven someday.

If Christ has not been raised, then we can still be nice and polite to each other. We can enjoy each other’s company. We can enjoy our spouse’s companionship. But, we can’t really love them. It is impossible to reflect the sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrated in laying down His life for the people He loved and then powerfully taking that life back up again. That doesn’t happen if Jesus stayed dead. Without a risen Jesus, love is just a word and not a sacrificial action.

If Christ has not been raised, then we can forgive each other by setting sins aside. However, we are only setting those sins aside until a later time we can throw those sins back into people’s faces to win an argument. Without Christ’s resurrection, we cannot forgive in Jesus’ name and have each other’s sins removed as far as the east is from the west. We will still remember their sins because God still remembers their sins and ours.

If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then we may as well enjoy soccer tournaments, go to the beach, play golf or sleep in on Sunday mornings. There is nothing for you in church because everything that is preached, sung or prayed is a lie (1 Corinthians 15:15). If Christ is still dead, then the words we hear, speak, and sing are fables, delusions, and make-believe morality.

Eat, drink, and be happy for tomorrow you may die and that will be the end of it all. That’s our good news if Christ is not raised from the dead.

If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). That’s our worst news.

Then the bloody cross accomplished nothing.

The Ancient Serpent’s head was left untouched.

David’s throne is left empty.

The Lamb of God was a worthless sacrifice.

The cup of God’s wrath is still full.

The Shepherd wasn’t good at all.

The Door to heaven remains closed.

The Light of the World was extinguished.

If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then He did not atone for your sins, so you had better get busy balancing the scales. You have to fix things on your own. You have to make up for your wrongs. You have to make everything right with God. … And, you had better get busy because you don’t know how much time you have left to get it all done.

If Christ has not been raised, then you are going to die (1 Corinthians 15:18,19). Cancer, a car accident, a heart attack, a stray bullet, a comet – something is going to kill you. But, that death won’t be the end. It will only be the beginning. For your death will be the start of weeping and gnashing of teeth, of unquenchable fire and eternal torments.

But, Christ has indeed been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20)! There is no Skeleton in God’s Closet. That is only a fictional book written by Dr. Paul Meier.

Amos Kloner, renowned professor of archeology at Israel’s bar-Ilan University had overseen the excavation of “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” back in 1980. The documentary was made according to the "imagination of people," Kloner said. "I don't accept the claim that this tomb was the burial place for the family of Jesus.” “I think it is very unserious work. [This film] is all nonsense.”

Stephen Hawking was justifying his own atheism.

Despite critics, doubters and archeological shenanigans, the Gospels accurately report what really happened that first Easter Sunday morning.

The women went to the tomb loaded down with spices to properly prepare Jesus’ body for burial. On the way, they wondered who would roll the stone away from the door of the sepulcher. Seeing it lying flat on the ground, Mary Magdalene ran ahead, glanced into the tomb, saw that it was empty, and immediately ran back to inform the disciples. In the meantime, the other women entered the tomb and were told by the angel that Jesus was not there because He had risen. They were then instructed to tell Jesus’ disciples, especially Peter.

As the women were going to find the disciples, Mary Magdalene was returning to the tomb with Peter and John. Peter and John ran ahead. After examining the empty tomb and the linen burial cloths lying there, they returned to the locked room where the disciples were hiding. Mary Magdalene continued to the tomb, where she conversed with the two angels and then with the risen Lord Himself.

Sometime later in the morning, Jesus appeared to Peter, who certainly needed the personal visit. Later in the afternoon, Jesus walked and talked with two disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the evening, Jesus appeared inside the locked room to present Himself to the rest of the disciples, except Thomas, who was missing.

Jesus really did rise from the dead. His corpse was alive. The sealed, guarded grave was emptied. Eyewitnesses saw the risen Christ, heard Him, touched Him, ate with Him, and they testified to this resurrection truth against hostile cross-examination. There is no longer a corpse in Joseph’s tomb. There is no skeleton in God’s closet. There is no tomb containing Jesus and His family.

Christ is risen! You can be filled with joy. Everything that you do and accomplish in this life is to the glory of the ever-living Lord.

Christ is risen! You can love your spouse, your children, and others with a love that only Christ can give you. There is no greater love than that you are willing to lay down your life for others. Christ did that for you. You don’t need to be afraid of dying because Christ lives, so you will live, too.

Christ is risen! You are able to forgive others. Together you live daily in the forgiveness of Christ. This calm and peace that Christ’s forgiveness brings surpasses all comprehension. You are no longer in your sins. Your sins have been nailed to Christ’s cross and buried in His open tomb. They are gone from God’s sight and removed from His memory.

Christ is risen! There is nothing more important than setting aside time each week to thank and praise, to glorify and honor your resurrected Savior. Everything that the Holy Spirit, His prophets and apostles have recorded for us in the Scriptures is absolutely true and beneficial for our Christian faith.

Christ is risen!

The cross is the power of God for our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18).

The Ancient Serpent’s head is crushed (Genesis 3:15).

Jesus is sitting on David’s throne (Isaiah 9:7).

The Lamb of God has taken away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

The Son drank every drop from the cup of His Father’s wrath (Matthew 26:39).

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11).

The Door to heaven has been opened to us (John 10:7).

The Light of the World shines brightly in this present darkness (John 8:12).

Christ is risen! This means that Jesus finished His Father’s work and your life has worth. Because He was forsaken, you will never be alone. Because He was buried, you will be raised. Because He lives, you don’t have to be afraid of dying. Because He has reached down to you, you don’t have to work your way up to Him. Because His promises are always true, you can have hope. Because He rose from the dead, Death has been swallowed up in victory. 

Christ dying on a cross, His corpse lying for three days in the tomb, and Him powerfully taking that life back up again means that it is impossible to prevent Jesus from doing whatever He wants to do. A sealed and guarded tomb couldn’t keep Him in one place. Neither can your sins or mine.

Christ is risen! His death is Death’s demise.

Christ is risen! Your faith is not in vain.

Christ is risen! The grave has lost its sting.

Christ is risen! The demons cower in fear, their reign of darkness is ended.

Christ is risen! Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we live!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Amen!

 “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Amen. (Revelation 1:18)