“God raised him on the third day,” Peter says at Pentecost, “and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” (Acts 10, 37) In simple, concrete ways, eating and drinking with them, Jesus showed he was alive, but it took his disciples time to believe and then time to witness to their belief.
Belief and disbelief occur at his tomb. The tomb of Jesus was empty. (Acts 2,29) Where is his body, Peter asks in today’s readings as he speaks to the people of Jerusalem? David’s tomb was nearby and the great king’s remains lie there. Why is Jesus’ tomb empty?
The tomb of Jesus even then, in Peter’s day, must have been a place pointed out and contrasted with the tomb of David. Later it was destroyed when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, but the tomb was still known to those who honored it as the centuries passed. When Constantine’s workers searched for it in the 4th century they had a tradition that told them where to look.
Today there’s almost a unanimous agreement by archeologists and historians that the tomb of Jesus. is found in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, recently restored, but it’s still a sign that’s questioned.
Matthew’s gospel, read today, speaks of stories circulating after Jesus’ death that his body was stolen from the tomb. (Matthew 28, 8-15) For those who believe, though, it was not stolen. “God raised this Jesus, of this we are all witnesses, ” Peter, a trustworthy witness, says.