Andrew Fountain - The Empty Tomb

  • When we see what a strong foundation our faith is built on, the joy of that truth will well up inside us


Sermon Outline - The Empty Tomb


To see what a strong foundation our faith is built on,
and to allow the joy of that truth to sink in.

The Empty Tomb

  1. Three Evidences for the Empty Tomb J.E.T.
  2. A New Argument that is Convincing even Atheists
  3. What Practical Difference does it make?

1. Three Evidences for the Empty Tomb J.E.T.

1. Evidence for the Empty Tomb

J. Jerusalem factor

E. Enemy testimony

T. Testimony of women


  • “But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex, nor let servants be admitted to give testimony on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 4.8.15).

The Talmud

(Jewish rabbinic law)

  • “Any evidence which a woman [gives] is not valid, also they are not valid to offer. This is equivalent to saying that one who is Rabbinically accounted a robber is qualified to give the same evidence as a woman” (Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 1.8).
  • “Sooner let the words of the Law be burnt than delivered to women” (Talmud, Sotah 19a).

Luke 24

  1. Now on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women went to the tomb, taking the aromatic spices they had prepared.
  2. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb,
  3. but when they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
  4. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood beside them in dazzling attire.
  5. The women were terribly frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?
  6. He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,
  7. that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”
  8. Then the women remembered his words,
  9. and when they returned from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
  10. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles.
  11. But these words seemed like pure nonsense to them, and they did not believe them.
  12. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. He bent down and saw only the strips of linen cloth; then he went home, wondering what had happened.
  13. Now that very day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.
  14. They were talking to each other about all the things that had happened.
  15. While they were talking and debating these things, Jesus himself approached and began to accompany them
  16. (but their eyes were kept from recognizing him).
  17. Then he said to them, “What are these matters you are discussing so intently as you walk along?” And they stood still, looking sad.
  18. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have happened there in these days?”
  19. He said to them, “What things?” “The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied, “a man who, with his powerful deeds and words, proved to be a prophet before God and all the people;
  20. and how our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
  21. But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. Not only this, but it is now the third day since these things happened.
  22. Furthermore, some women of our group amazed us. They were at the tomb early this morning,
  23. and when they did not find his body, they came back and said they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.
  24. Then some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see him.”
  25. So he said to them, “You foolish people — how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
  26. Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
  27. Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures.

E. Enemy Testimony

  • Right from the beginning the Jews acknowledge the empty tomb by stating that the disciples stole the body
  • “And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’” Matthew 28:12–13
  • The early enemies of Christianity indirectly assume the empty tomb
  • Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 108;
  • Tertullian, De Spectaculis 30)
  • Not friends of Christianity at all!

J. Jerusalem factor

  • Hardly anyone denies that Jerusalem was the birthplace of the earliest Christian preaching
  • They also agree that it started very soon after the death of Jesus
  • This would be the least-likely place to teach the resurrection, if Jesus’ grave, a short distance away, was still occupied
  • A brief walk could solve the matter for any questioning person
  • 1000’s of eye witnesses whose testimony you could compare

2. A New Argument that is Convincing even Atheists

  • OK so the tomb was empty, but what about evidence that Jesus was actually raised?
  • The old way Christians would reason (this is good)

An Argument for the Resurrection

  • 30–33AD Jesus died/raised
  • 55AD Paul wrote 1 Corinthians
  • Only 32 years for the ancient world is really good.
  • e.g. Alexander the Great
  • earliest written evidence is 300–450 years after he died

Acts 18

  1. Paul stayed on in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching God’s message to the people.
  2. While Gallio was governor of Achaia, some of the Jewish leaders got together and grabbed Paul. They brought him into court
  • Roman historical records tell us that Gallio was governor for only a year, in 51–52AD

1 Corinthians 15:1–9

  1. Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand,
  2. and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.
  3. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
    That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,
  4. and that he was buried,
    and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures,
  5. and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
  6. Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time,
    most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
  7. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
  8. Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.
  9. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.


  • Even the skeptic Bart Erdman says you can trace this to one year after the cross:
  • Jesus died/raised between 30–33AD (from dates of Pilate & Tiberias)
  • Paul met up with Peter around 35AD to make sure they had the same gospel
  • This would have been the key statement of faith
  • Paul was preaching this in 51–52AD

E. P. Saunders

(One of the world’s leading historians,
not a follower of Jesus)

  • Right out of the gate all of the basic teachings about Jesus were in place
  • The very earliest preaching was the cross, the resurrection, and the divinity of Jesus
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3–4
    ”That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
    and that he was buried,
    and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”

Luke 24

  1. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
  2. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures,
  3. and said to them, “Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day,
  4. and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
  5. You are witnesses of these things.
  6. And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. But stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
  7. Then Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them.
  8. Now during the blessing he departed and was taken up into heaven.
  9. So they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
  10. and were continually in the temple courts blessing God.

Wide Agreement

  • “The earliest followers of Jesus had experiences that they believed were appearances of Jesus”
  • “They were so convinced, they were willing to die for this belief”
  • Hardly any skeptics would disagree!:

3. What Practical Difference does it make?

What Practical Difference does it make?

  • “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
    and that he was buried,
    and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”
  • Rock of Ages
    “Be for sin the double cure
    Cleanse me from its guilt and power
  • Guilt of sin ==> his death
  • Power of death ==> his resurrection
  • Most people who don’t follow Jesus have a reason: and it’s not the facts!
  • What about you? Are you living in the victory of this truth?

Updated on 2021-04-04 by Andrew Fountain