Had you accompanied Mary of Magdala or Peter and the beloved disciple to Jesus’ tomb with iPhone or camcorder in hand, what might you have recorded? Most likely it would have been an image like the one above, because the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid to rest after his crucifixion and death was found empty, except for the cloths that had covered his body. There has been no scientific evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection. Nevertheless, Christians believe Jesus rose and lives. Easter’s gospel narrative states that the beloved disciple was the first believer in Christ’s Resurrection.
Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed (Jn 20:8).
He believed without seeing the risen LORD. What caused him to believe? Besides the grace of God, biblical scholars speculate that there was some detail about the burial cloths that convinced him.
Christians have believed in Jesus’ Resurrection for more than two millennia. This belief is not irrational, but is based on eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances. The oldest written record of some of those appearances is from St. Paul who wrote around 20 years after Jesus’ death.
… I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter] then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred bretheren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep (1 Cor 15:3-6).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The Resurrection of Christ is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ.” Christ’s rising from the dead is God’s affirmation of all that Jesus did and taught. It is so central to our faith that we celebrate Easter for eight days, and Eastertide spans fifty days.