Going beyond Habermas’s bare bones approach, flesh can be placed on this basic skeleton. What is claimed to have happened? A summary of the biblical information will go a long way to establish the basic facts claimed by Scripture. Jesus was verified dead by the eyewitness John, (John 19:34-35) A second verification of his death came from Roman executioners and Pontius Pilate (Mark 15:44). A third verification of him being deceased came when the body was taken down from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea, (Mark 15:46) and a fourth came when he was wrapped for burial by Nicodemus and others (John 19:39-40). The tomb was sealed with a Roman seal and Roman guard. (Matthew 27:66) History tells us that the price for breaking a Roman seal or failing to guard a post properly were death. The tomb where Jesus was laid was near the same place he was crucified. It was a known public tomb. (John 19:41-42)
After Jesus had been executed, the disciples were hiding away in a secret place for fear of death. (John 20:19) The disciples were skeptical when they first heard of the empty tomb and their risen Lord. (Mark 16:11; Luke 24:11, 41; and John 20:25) However, something changed. The disciples became fearless, and began traveling the world and speaking about Jesus’ resurrection openly despite the danger to their personal well-being. (Acts 4:13) Something changed that made them throw off their cowardice and take up the brave road of missionary work. They claimed that Jesus had provided tangible proof of his resurrection at the request of Thomas. (John 20:27) They claimed that Jesus appeared multiple times to them posthumously. (Luke 24:34, Mark 20:26-31, John 21:1-25, Matthew 28:16-20) The disciples were convinced that Jesus rose from the dead.
The disciples preached the resurrection first in the same city where the empty tomb was located. This means that skeptics could go and see for themselves that the tomb was empty. It would be impossible for the disciples to convince their audience that the resurrection happened if the tomb was not empty. Therefore the tomb was empty.