This weekend, while working on our next book, it occurred to me that two phrases I’ve heard and said for many years are not true. These are things that are part of our vocabulary, often repeated, and as such are accepted without challenge.
The first is something you hear every Easter. We often rejoice because on Easter morning the “tomb was empty.” Not true. In fact the Bible record is very clear on this subject. The tomb was NOT empty.
According to Luke 24:12, “But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.”
In his account, John provides a little more detail, “So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.” (John 20:3-7)
You can see that the tomb was not empty. At the very least, the linen and face-cloth used to wrap Jesus’ body were still inside. So, what difference does that make? Well, if someone stole the body, they certainly would not have unwrapped it first. Remember, this is three days later. Unwrapping a body that was in a tomb three days would be… Not a good idea.
My feeling is that the linen in the tomb is further evidence that Jesus’ body was not stolen, but that he rose from the dead. Next time someone tells you that the tomb was empty, tell them the whole truth. The tomb was not empty, and the items left in the tomb attest to the truth of the resurrection.