The Expository Files

Who Saw Jesus’ Corpse?

Its the “Easter” season again. In the stores you’ll find special displays of Easter candy. I even saw a chocolate cross! I think I would feel strange eating such candy. In fact, I know I would.

One striking realization is that the church in the New Testament did not celebrate “Easter” at all. There simply is no record of any annual observance of the resurrection of Christ anywhere in the Bible. Of course, part of this might be because “Easter” was a pagan holiday having nothing at all to do with Jesus. Later generations would adopt the holiday as an annual celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

But the early Christians did celebrate Christ’s resurrection., but not with candy and eggs; not even with an annual special day of observance or a mass. They celebrated Christ’s resurrection by rising up with Him from baptism to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-8). This is how the Scriptures say it ought to be done.

Often we approach the evidence for Christ’s resurrection by looking at the testimony of the witnesses. This is a valid approach to determining truth. The evidence is overwhelming. The modernist , such as Reginald Fuller, professor emeritus at Virginia Theological Seminary, say that Jesus’ resurrection was neither bodily or physical, but spiritual, through His ideas being taught and accepted after He was gone. The professor does not believe in the power of God. Nor in the truthfulness of Jesus, His apostles, nor the early disciples.

I do. When I see that the eyewitnesses were so willing to die for the gospel they taught, I am given confidence that their testimony is true. Early disciples, when given the opportunity to “turn or burn” chose to burn. That would certainly be a ghastly choice if the resurrection were not true.

But, another thing to consider. Following that first day of the week following the crucifixion, no one ever saw Jesus’ corpse. There had been a corpse. It had been put into a sealed tomb. It had been guarded by soldiers. It had laid there until the third day, and then the tomb was empty.

So, if you’re keeping score, here it is; starting with the day of the reported resurrection of Jesus:
Those who saw the living again Jesus -- hundreds and hundreds (1 Corinthians 15:1-ff).
Those who saw His corpse -- zero.

By Jon W.  Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 6.4; April 1999