Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 25, 2012


Question of the ages: Was the tomb really empty?


Anyone who has worked with machinery knows the value of a linchpin. I used a linchpin to secure the bush hog to my 8N Ford Tractor. It is a locking pin inserted in the end of a shaft, such as an axle, to hold a wheel in place.


Linchpins are not a recent invention. They have been in use for centuries. We know, for example, that the Celts used an iron and bronze linchpin to secure the wheel of a chariot to the fixed axle. One dating to the first century was found not long ago in a plowed field near Rome.


In the English language the word linchpin may be used to mean “a central cohesive element.” So as the event known as Easter nears we can expect Christians to declare that the resurrection of Jesus is the linchpin of Christianity.


The observance of Easter raises the question of the ages: Was the tomb of Jesus actually empty? Without the fundamental belief that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God the wheels come off the Christian faith. Christianity without an empty tomb is a fraudulent religion.


Most believers will admit that at times they wondered if the resurrection was indeed a myth. But the truth is, if there had been no resurrection of Jesus there would have been no New Testament. There would have been no church born at Pentecost. Faith in Jesus Christ hinges on this central reality – Jesus was raised from the dead. 


There is no doubt that the disciples believed it. They had seen Jesus crucified. They knew he was dead. They knew his dead body had been placed in the tomb. Then on the third day the tomb was empty; Jesus was not there!  


At first the disciples were skeptical. But their skepticism vanished when the living Christ appeared to them and upbraided them for their lack of faith. This must have been a compelling encounter with the Lord for it convinced them that Jesus was alive. Not one of them spoke of having seen a ghost; his presence was so real that they began telling others they had seen him. 


Not surprisingly the women who came to the tomb that morning were filled with fear and amazement. They had come to anoint a dead body with spices. Instead angels began telling them that Jesus was not there for he had been raised from the dead. This gave the women hope that Jesus was alive. 


Every thinking person wrestles sooner or later with death and dying. We all know that one day each of us will die. Yet none of us wishes to rush the day.  I love life and the joy of living is precious to me. However I have settled the matter in my heart of hearts. I settled it the day I decided for myself that the tomb was actually empty. I believed that God raised Jesus from the dead and that, through faith in Jesus, I have received the gift of eternal life. 


My life has never been the same since I believed with my heart and soul that the tomb was empty. I have often felt the Presence of the living Christ in the everyday affairs of life. He is not locked up in the church waiting to see me on Sunday. He is everywhere – in all of life, encouraging me to honor him in all that I do. He is everywhere because he is alive eternally.


Christians call this is a “living hope.” While indescribable it is nonetheless real.  For me that hope is held securely in place by the linchpin of Christianity – the resurrection of Jesus. To believe that the tomb was empty makes all the difference in the world. Without that conviction, nothing else – about life or Christianity – makes any sense.


If you have never truly believed, for yourself, that the tomb was empty, I invite you to take the plunge. I believe you will be amazed at the difference this will make in the way you think.  Life will make sense in extraordinary ways.  + + +