“He Is Not Here”

The religion editor of our local paper asked me to write a column for our newspaper. The article below ran in today’s paper.

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Every year about this time someone comes up with a creative attack upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At this time last year, churches were countering the claims of the “DaVinci Code.” Last month, the Discovery Channel aired a documentary based on the book, “The Jesus Family Tomb” by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino. The documentary was produced by James Cameron, the same man who gave us the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic. In both the book and the documentary, these men claim to have found the ossuaries (burial boxes) of Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Mary Magdalene and their alleged son, Judas. According to the book’s subtitle, they claim to have “evidence that could change history.”

This tomb was discovered in 1980. Numerous people have examined the Talpiot tomb and examined the evidence. Amos Kloner, the Israeli archaeologist who excavated the site, and Joseph Zias, the anthropologist who examined the ossuary remains in 1980, have both categorically stated that this tomb has nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth.

If someone could offer proof that these are indeed the bones of Jesus, then Christianity would fall like a house of cards. That would mean that Jesus did not rise from the dead.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:13-19 that there will be serious consequences if there is no resurrection.

There are numerous problems with the authors’ claims that that this is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. For one, Jesus was from Nazareth in Galilee as is testified even by the inscription Pilate placed over the cross. Why would Joseph be buried in Jerusalem?The fact that there is an ossuary in Jerusalem with a man by the name of Jesus (Yeshua) inscribed on it does not prove that this is Jesus of Nazareth. Ben Witherington notes: “The name Jesus was so common that it is found on 98 other tombs and 21 other ossuaries from the same period of time.”

According to all ancient accounts, even those who were hostile to Christianity, Jesus tomb was indeed empty. Jewish and Roman sources such as Tacitus, Pliny, and Josephus all emphasize the point that the common belief of that day was that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and was worshiped as God by the early Christians. There is absolutely no historical evidence to counter these claims.

When we wander through a graveyard and look at the tombstones, or go into the church and examine the old monuments, we see one heading to them all, “Here lies,” then follows the name with the date of death, and perhaps some praise of the good qualities of the deceased. But how different is the epitaph on the tomb of Jesus? It is not written in gold nor cut in stone? It is spoken by the mouth of an angel and it is the exact reverse of what is put on all other tombs: “He is not here.” (Matthew 28:6)

“The Lord is risen, He is risen indeed!”

See my earlier post: The Tomb of Jesus Found??? No Way!

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