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An empty tomb and a bodily resurrection: why it matters


  • An image from the Stations of the Cross at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington shows the 14th Station, "Jesus is laid in the tomb." (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
  • A life-size depiction of Jesus being laid in the tomb is seen April 9 in the Stations of the Cross on the grounds of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholics and other Christians have grown up believing in the Resurrection, but the Apostles themselves were among the first who were skeptical that Jesus arose from the dead.

They didn't believe it at first when they were told by the women who had come to anoint the crucified Jesus' body but instead found an empty tomb.

"To be fair, you can say the men didn't believe the women, but who could believe that story? Let's be fair to the men. They would have to see for themselves," said James Papandrea, a Catholic who is associate professor of church history at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois.

"I think anyone would want to see for themselves. We believe what we see, we believe our senses, and it's only natural that if somebody says the Lord is alive and you knew he was dead, you'd say, 'Show me.' The disciples, even after all of Jesus' teachings and all his hints about death and resurrection, they seem not to have expected him to rise from the dead. They automatically went into skeptic mode. We have Peter and John running to the empty tomb, to see that it's empty," Papandrea said.

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