I have not been able to blog in a while, so here is my attempt to get back into writing mode.
The Christian faith is only a real option if in fact Jesus rose from the grave. Without that fact, “our preaching is empty and your faith is empty.” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Actually, if Jesus did not rise, then He is a liar, a fraud, and possibly a lunatic (since He went around telling people that He was God and would rise after three days). If He did not rise, then there have been millions of people over the last 2000 years who have given their lives for nothing. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, the they wasted their lives and “are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
So is there any real evidence that He actually rose from the dead? This would be key for those who do profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior as well as those who do not, for there are real implications for both. Therefore, here are a few simple things to consider when it comes to thinking through the Christian claim of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1. The change in the lives of the disciples. When Jesus was arrested, Matthew, who was one of the ones present when this event occurred, writes, “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56). Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Peter (the apparent leader of the disciples) denying of even knowing Jesus. On the evening of the resurrection, the disciples were locked in a room out of fear of the Jewish rulers. This shows a group of a scared, unsure, and confused group of people. But, less than two months later, on the day of Pentecost, Peter, and apparently about 120 others went out on the streets of Jerusalem preaching a resurrected Christ. In the following days, weeks, months, and years, they risked prison, persecution, and even death for the message of the resurrected Savior. Why? What had changed? They saw Jesus alive. He appeared to them. This is recorded by all four gospels, Paul, Peter, and all the rest of the New Testament authors.
Why do I think this is significant? Very simple. Why would a bunch of scared and fearful uneducated guys, who saw Jesus die on a Roman cross, then go out and be willing to risk their lives to say He is alive, if He was not alive. Only one reason: He rose and they saw Him.
2. The New Testament says the first witnesses were women. Why is this significant? Because in first century Palestine the testimony of women was not permitted in court, or at least was not a considered a real source. Women were not treated as equal like they should have. So, if an author wanted to write a story of a resurrection (something that really needs a good solid witness to be believed) they would not say a woman was the first witness, unless they were wanting to write truth rather than fiction. If it was simply a make believe story, then the writers of the New Testament would not have made the fatal mistake of making a woman the first witness of the resurrected Jesus. The reason is because the story would not be as credible. BUT, the fact that the writers did say women were the first witnesses, demonstrates, not only that they believed they were writing truth, but also that they were men of integrity by writing what really happened.
3. There were many witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul told the church in Corinth that over 500 people saw Him at once after the resurrection, and that if they wanted, most were still alive when he wrote that letter, and they could go ask the witnesses themselves. All four gospels record witnesses. Paul says he saw Him (Acts 8-9), and it changed his life from being a persecutor of the Christian church to being persecuted for believing in Jesus himself. Jesus’ biological half-brothers, who before the resurrection did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, are said to be believers after the resurrection, and even two of them (James & Jude) contributed to the New Testament.
4. No one could produce a body. If the Jewish rulers or Roman officials wanted to silence the witness of the disciples and early church, then all they had to do was show the body. They could not. If a body could have been produced then Christianity never would have made it off the ground.
So, what does this imply for us. Well, for believers in Jesus, it brings confidence in what we believe and allows us to boldly share what we know to be true. For non-believers, it implies that you are rejecting the Lord, and will stand before Him one day, not to be judged for what you did good or bad, but for rejecting God, who incarnated Himself in human flesh, lived a perfect life, died a sinners death while remaining sinless, rising from the grave, and calls you to repent and believe in Him.
Because Jesus is alive it shows that He stands far above any other religious figure in the history of the world. All the others are still in a grave. Some even visit their grave as a form of religious duty. But they are dead. The fact that we can be forgiven of our sin is found in the fact that One has died for that sin, but did not remain dead. He rose in victory to show that He has the power over death and hell. Jesus conquered death so that all who would believe in Him could follow in conquering death as well (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
I believe in the resurrection!