Christ has risen from the Dead.
DO YOU Bear witness to the Testimony?
In Heb. 6 the author names a number of doctrines that are the basics of the faith for believers. One is the resurrection of the dead. “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of RESURRECTION of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Heb. 6:1-2).
This was the proof that Jesus was the Christ and the third point completing the gospel message. At the time Jesus rose there was no disputing the facts for those who lived in Jerusalem. He had numerous different appearances to people at separate locations, some to the disciples collectively and to some separately such as Peter 1 Cor.15:5 “that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.”
He was seen even by those who were not the 12 disciples, 1 Cor.15:6: “After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once” And he was seen by his own stepbrother who was not a believer during his life's ministry but after this appearance became a believer. 1 Cor.15:7: “After that He was seen by James.” And the biggest antagonist to the sect of the Messiah was Rabbi Shaul of Tarsus who rounded up the believers to be killed. 1 Cor.15:8: “Then last of all He was seen by me also.” Paul then became the final witness of the resurrected Christ by seeing His glory.
Without the resurrection, Christianity has no meaning for humanity. As Paul so clearly put it, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty (useless). Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God (liars), because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up-- if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor.15:14-17)
Without the fact of the resurrection our sins are not taken away by His sacrifice. The founder of Christianity would have been a liar and a failure, and his followers, both men and women would have no hope.
Jesus calmed Martha about her brother Lazarus saying to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (John 11:25) If He did not rise as He promised than he certainly was not the resurrection or the life. Thus the importance of the resurrection to Christian faith cannot be overestimated. It is not just another doctrine. It became the focus of the apostles preaching (especially to those who crucified him) and God bore witness to it with signs “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). God does not bear witness with true miracles to liars.
Jesus told the apostles almost 10 different times throughout His ministry that He would die and raise from the dead. Every time he said he would die it was connected to His raising back to life. For this is the content of the gospel preached. The Apostle Peter declared on the day of Pentecost: “Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:22-24).
“The disciples said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” But Thomas did not believe it saying to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). He waited until he saw Jesus for himself.
Jesus appeared among them and said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”( John 20:25-29).
Thomas takes a bad rap for being honest in his quest for proof. For he was not the only one who doubted! Matthew 28:16-18: “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.” This was told by an angel who told the women at the tomb “go, tell His disciples-- and Peter-- that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” (Mk. 16:7) “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.”
Thomas was commended by Jesus for wanting the proof, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We are more blessed because we accept the truth of this historical event by the bibles testimony.
All of these reactions of doubt testify to the state of mind of the disciples—they were not looking for Him to appear alive again, though He told them many times.
Paul when telling the people in 1 Cor.15 that 500 people at one time saw the risen Lord did not tell them to just believe his word for it, but encouraged them to seek out those who were still alive for questioning this matter.
There is nothing wrong with healthy doubts or skepticism. We may not be able to see and handle the proof physically today like Thomas but we can by a process of elimination find out what did not occur as well as what did occur by history and the eyewitnesses testimonies.
Writing after the Resurrection, John declared that Jesus “came [and remained] in the flesh” (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7). The body that emerged from the tomb early Sunday morning was the exact same body that went in the tomb, only glorified. He also showed His crucifixion scars on his hands and side to Thomas, this made him fall down and confess him as his own Lord and God. (John 20:29; Mark 16:19,20; Luke 24:50-53) From this they worshipped Jesus as He ascended into heaven from where He first came Acts 1:3.
Luke writes, “To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Describing Jesus’ appearances over the 40 days after the resurrection Luke uses a Greek word translated as “convincing proofs” This term is the strongest type of legal proof imaginable, if Jesus’ resurrection was presented in a courtroom it would stand up in any court of law.
So convinced of what they had seen, 10 of the 11 original apostles died horrendous deaths for spreading to others what they have learned and seen! Each of the disciples faced the test of torture and martyrdom for his statements and beliefs and each of the disciples died separately from one another, without any type of moral spiritual support. Peter, Andrew, James son of Alphaeus, Philip, Simon, Bartholomew were all crucified. Thaddaeus was killed with arrows. Thomas died by a spear thrust (crucified); and James, the son of Zebedee was killed with the sword. In early Church history Hundreds of thousands of martyrs all died at the hands of Rome, sometimes in much more horrendous ways. The fact is people will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false. But they will not die for what they actually know is a lie. If ever a person were to tell the truth, it is more likely when they are facing death, since they have nothing more to lose. It is at this time they would confess a lie. If the disciples had taken the body, and Christ were still dead, we would still have the problem of explaining His various appearances to different people in different places.
Lets look at some of the skeptic and critics claims of what happened from the first century until our modern times.
THEY STOLE THE BODY? The Roman guards at the tomb made it impossible for the body to be stolen. The tomb was not left abandoned, the Roman guards were stationed there for a period of days and they were on watch 24 hours. To break the Roman seal that was around the tomb was punishable by death. These were not ordinary men but trained Roman soldiers. The Roman guard consisted of a unit of sixteen man governed by very strict rules. Each member was responsible for six square feet of space around themself. The guards could not sit down or lean against anything while on duty. If a guard fell asleep while on duty they would be punished by death. He was beaten and burned with his own clothes. But he was not executed alone, the entire sixteen man guard unit was executed with him if only one of the members fell asleep while on duty. This made it essential for each to watch any other from shirking from their duty, for their own life was at stake. If anyone tried to steal the body in front of these trained soldiers they would have been killed.
The earliest explanation circulated was that the disciples stole the body! The question should not be asked would they steal the body? But “Could they steal the body?” Did the disciples steal the body? If anyone had the guts and stupidity to try to steal the body it would be Peter but Peter was in a state of denial as he denied Christ three times and was in distress over what he had done. In Matthew 28:11-15, we have the record of the reaction of the chief priests and the elders when the guards gave them the exasperating news that the body was gone. They paid the soldiers off with a large sum and told them to explain that the disciples had come at night and stolen the body while they were asleep. Not only this, but they assured them that if the governor heard of it they would pay him more richly than they were paid and make sure nothing happened to them. This story was so obviously false that Matthew doesn’t bother to refute it.
Why pay for something that did not happen if in fact it did? It was a cover-up that did not help their cause for the guards could never go around and say they saw his body stolen. The question is how can anyone prove that someone stole something from you while you were asleep. How do you know what goes on while your sleeping? If you brought this report to a policemen or judge he would laugh at you. Jesus could just as easily have risen from the dead while they were asleep without the guards knowing it. Again they would be executed if they fell asleep, but they were not. The fact is neither the Romans or the Jews did anything to substantiate the charges that the body had been stolen. Unless they probably hoped it would all go away in time. (Gamaliel reinforces this later in Acts 5:33).
Mary Magdalen is first followed by a number of untold women. By Jewish law a testimony from a women was not considered a legal testimony. No one with any sense would fabricate a story on the testimony of women who were not accepted as valid witnesses in their 1st century Jewish culture, but it would be by men. This kind of mistake would not have been made if this were collaborated.
After the crucifixion the women went with Joseph (Mt.27:57-6)1 to dress the corpse. (Mk.16:47 tells us it was the mother of Joses and Mary Magdalene). They went back early Sunday morning to finish embalming his body, because the Sabbath previously stopped them from completing the dressing for the burial. They went to the tomb expecting to find someone dead there. This shows they did not expect a resurrection at any time. The women who arrived at the tomb were not expecting Jesus to rise.
After Jesus died, the disciples abandoning him hiding in fear and being depressed gives a strong argument against their suddenly becoming courageous and daring enough to sneak or openly go to the soldiers at the tomb to steal the body. They were all hiding out scared thinking that it was over and there was no longer any hope, the messiahs movement was as dead as he was. The scriptures state that they were just a surprised as everyone else that He rose. They didn’t believe the reports at first from the women as they considered it nonsense (Lk.24:11). Obviously something led them to change what they did not believe.
If we accept the contention that the body of Jesus was stolen it becomes an admission that the tomb was in fact empty. Then we must come up with the answer of how the body of Jesus became missing.
THE AUTHORITIES, both the Jews and Roman REMOVED THE BODY- Why would this be done? The Roman soldiers had no fear that a group of people would come after the body so they did not need to move it. It would also lend credence that what Jesus said of his rising could be true. More evidence to the fact that he in fact raised is the grave clothes. If the body of Jesus had been taken from the tomb by anyone, even by Jesus’ disciples, they would not have taken the time to remove and unwrap the grave clothes and then fold them up again, they would have taken him in them (John 20:6-7), not leave them behind. The text seems to indicate that the clothes that his body was wrapped in was left in the form of the body, slightly decreased and empty—something like that of an empty chrysalis of a caterpillar's cocoon. Its as if he stepped completely out of the covering and then placed the folded face cloth on the side separately. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples before they saw the resurrected Christ was not the empty tomb, but the empty grave clothes that were undisturbed in form and position. Peter raced John to the tomb after the women’s report saw the linen cloths lying by themselves and left marveling what had happened (Lk.24:12).
The theory that the Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ's body is just as unreasonable an explanation for the empty tomb as that of the disciples stealing it. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was, then when the disciples preached the resurrection in Jerusalem, they would have come publicly refuting it by saying we moved the body. They could have recovered the corpse, put it on a cart, parading it through the city of Jerusalem, proving He didn't rise from the grave. This would have put an immediate stop to the birth of Christianity that was a competitor to both the Jews and Caesar. But by their not doing this brings testimony to the fact that they did not have the body and what was being said about Jesus' resurrection was not just a hopeful rumour but true.
Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb. From the Babylonia Sanhedrin 43a we read, "On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu (of Nazareth)” to Josephus, a fifth-century Jewish writings called the Toledoth Jeshu. Dr. Paul Maier states this as “positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence. In essence, this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then that fact is genuine.”
Did they make it all up? Why would the disciples risk death and steal the body for what they knew was a lie. This was not part of the character instilled to them by Jesus, remember these were Jews who obeyed the commandment not to lie. They would be living with a lie for the rest of their lives, proclaiming it as truth from God, suffering for it, losing their relationships and family over it and-- even dying for it. Their preaching the resurrection would be contradictory to their own knowledge of truth and Jesus trained them to walk in the truth. Besides liars are usually caught in their lies when people investigate the facts. This is not something people would just ignore. The fact is Jesus repeatedly told them he would die, by whom and when he would raise, on the third day. If he did not die or rise Christ himself was involved in flagrant lies. His disciples believed and preached that he was dead but came alive again.
The disciples did not bring their message to some far away place where it would have been hard to check out the facts. They began their preaching in the very city where all the events took place and only 50 days after the first public declaration was given. If their testimony was not true, those in opposition would have immediately corrected them. Instead 3,000 Jews were saved and a short time later 5,000.
Was the body still in the grave? If the Jews had the body it they would have produced the body and paraded it through the streets to disprove the reports that He rose. It would be to no ones advantage to keep it hidden. The fact of the apostles' bold preaching in Jerusalem about the resurrection and the harvest has no convincing answer to counter this. With all the witnesses saying they did see him, there would need to be many witnesses to counter this by saying “we know where he is laid” But the silence of the opposition was deafening. The religious leaders were filled with rage and did everything possible to prevent the spread of this message and to suppress it (Acts 4). They arrested Peter and John and beat and threatened them so they would not speak of this any more. The Jews continued to do everything they could to suppress the message, beating them, threatening them to keep their mouths shut. If this all was a lie this would not be necessary. Remember this all happened in Jerusalem, everyone knew what took place at Jesus’ death. If He did not rise like His followers claimed they would have been laughed out of town at the first sermon Peter preached in Acts 2.
Certainly if we know of his tombs location it would be venerated as he would have died a martyr. While there have been some far out stories of Jesus being buried in Kashmir and visiting Japan and south America none of this is substantiated. There is no evidence discovered in any literary sources, or archaeology that would prove any of this. This theory also does not coincide with the historical facts that we know. Again, why wasn't the body produced? F. F. Bruce, professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, says concerning the value of the New Testament records as primary sources to attest to the facts: “Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective.”
There is no effort to make the disciples into the heads of a new religion. Their
faults are listed throughout the gospels and epistles. Peter denied knowing Jesus on
the night of His arrest and all the disciples fled the scene of the arrest. There was no
motivation for financial gain by telling the story that Jesus had risen. Because of
their insistence of proclaiming the resurrection they suffered from their Jewish brethren.
Their status in society was certainly not elevated for believing in Jesus—they were
considered outcasts, losing their vocation for their belief.
DID JESUS SWOON? The
swoon theory was popularized by Venturini several centuries ago
became a popular explanation among the atheistic/skeptic intelligensia at the end of
the eighteenth century. In it he
proposed that Jesus was mistakenly reported to be dead,
He either faked his death, fainted or had swooned from exhaustion, pain and loss of blood.
Despite all the attacks which have been made on this cornerstone of Christianity we
do not find this kind of explanation from antiquity.
All of the earliest records are emphatic about Jesus' death.
If he only swooned this becomes a
resuscitation instead of a resurrection. To
propose he revived after he was laid in the coolness of the tomb is one of the more
absurd explanations. He was first
beaten to a pulp, whipped 39 times where his insides were hanging out. Unable to
carry the wood up the hill, another helped him. If He had fainted on the cross He
would have suffocated. Crucifixion was often a slow painful way to die, the
person usually died from asphyxiation. What
kept the crucifixion victim alive was their pressing up on a wood support under their
feet to breathe. Breaking of the legs would bring the death of victim. The
legs of the two robbers that were crucified next to Jesus were broken because the
Passover was drawing near. Jn.19:33-34 tells us that one of the Roman soldier who was watching over the
crucifixion came to Jesus and found him dead already.
He then thrust him through by a spear where blood and water came out from his
side. (This is proven medically that Jesus had a ruptured heart as a proof
that someone has already died. One doctor said the spear actually pierced his heart.)
Crucifixion was a common way of death for criminals in Jesus’ time and the Roman
soldiers were experts at it, they did not make mistakes.
He was pronounced dead by the Roman guard who was trained in killing by crucifixions.
When Joseph and the women requested if they could take the body to have a proper burial Pilate cross-examined the centurion to make sure that Jesus had died. “And when evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph” (Mark 15:42-45).
He was prepared for the tomb in accordance with Jewish burial custom. He was wrapped from head to toe in linen cloth and about 100 pounds of aromatic spices and aloe mixed together that made it as a paste when applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body, it hardened in a few hours. This would make His escape next to impossible. He was put in the coldness of a damp tomb without having his mortal wounds treated, without food or water for three days. What is proposed is that He supposedly revived 3 days later and got out of the burial clothes by himself (Remember when Lazarus was raised he needed help to unclothe him from himself burial clothes).
He then got up moved a two ton rock (by himself) from the inside which was secured from the outside. He rolled it uphill (it was mostly done by means of levers) and scared the Roman guards. (Johns gospel gives more insight by saying the stone was completely removed from its slot) He was then able to walk miles on feet that had been pierced with spikes just few days before? This could be more fantastic than the simple fact of the resurrection itself as it involves no supernatural explanation but a natural one.
DID A WILD ANIMAL COME AND EAT THE BODY? While it is true that in rare instances they left people on the crosses overnight to be eaten by animals, in this particular crucifixion we know they were all taken down before the Passover Sabbath began. None of them were eaten.
We are then left to believe an animal came to the tomb and moved (the rope) the tape in front of the soldiers, and they sat there doing nothing? This animal then pushed a 2 ton rock up its slot in front of the Roman guards who were awake. And then ate the body so thoroughly that there were no remains left. Why would the animal do this when there would be easier prey for food such as the live soldiers. Remember by this time Jesus was wrapped up in a cocoon with spices and aloe which became like a paste, not a tasty meal. This would be another miracle except it would be through an animal.
THE WOMEN AND MEN WENT TO THE WRONG TOMB? This is a theory that was popularized by Kirsopp Lake. The women who reported that the body was missing had been mistaken as they went to the wrong tomb. They were distraught and overcome by grief, missed their way in the dark before the sunrise of the morning and went to the wrong tomb. Being in distress they imagined Christ had risen because the tomb was empty. This theory, however, fails in common sense. If the women went to the wrong tomb, why did the high priests and other enemies of the faith not go to the right tomb and produce the body? Certainly Joseph of Arimathea, the owner of the tomb, would not have made the mistake and would have solved the problem of the mistaken tomb.
The fact is that the women helped bury Jesus with Joseph so they knew which tomb it was. Did the disciples who went to check up on the women's statement also go to the wrong tomb. It is equally inconceivable that all Jesus' followers would continue to make the same mistake, since they did not believe it at first. Were the Jewish authorities, (who asked for a Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus' body from being stolen) also mistaken about the location? The Scripture states, “Do not be alarmed, you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” (Mark 16:6)
Jesus’ body was brought to a
private burial ground, not a public cemetery. There was no other tomb nearby that would have allowed them to
make this mistake. If the resurrection-claim were based on a geographical
mistake, the Jewish authorities would have immediately produced the body from the
right tomb, thus ending any rumor of a resurrection before it got started.
Thomas Arnold, a headmaster of Rugby for 14 years and author of the
History of Rome, and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, was
well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. This
great scholar said: “I have been used for many years to study the histories of
other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about
them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better
and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the
great sign which God bath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”
THEY ALL EXPERIENCED A HALLUCINATION- They all hallucinated the same thing at different times and places! Hallucinations occur usually with people who wish for something strongly. Which would mean the disciples saw exactly what they wanted to see. But the Scriptures testimony again tells us they did not believe it at first. His appearances could not be a hallucination since many refused to believe He lived again, even when the women eyewitnesses told them. If they weren’t expecting it or anticipating it how can it be a hallucination.
of Christ were to all sorts of diverse people at different times all having a
different psychological makeup. They were fishermen, a zealot, a tax collector. They
all could not be hallucinating this through a limited time period within 40 days and then
the appearances of Jesus just stopped. This
would be inconsistent with the nature of hallucinations.
are extremely subjective and individuals interpret them differently. Hallucinations
usually occur only at particular times and places, and are associated with the events
hoped for. But these appearances
occurred both indoors and outdoors, in the morning and afternoon. Christ had 10 or more
separate recorded appearances in 40 days to numerous different groups. 1 Cor.15:6 The
appearances of Christ occurred at different times and places to different people.
They were early in the morning, late afternoon, in the evening, at the garden near
his tomb, some were in the Upper Room , at the Sea of Galilee where they ate with him
, on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus and on top of a mountain.
Jesus appeared to the 10 without Thomas, to all eleven with Thomas being
present (John 20:26-29). Later seven disciples encountered Jesus on the Sea of
Galilee (John 21:1-22) To Peter alone and to James his step brother. Each appearance
was characterized by different actions and words said by Jesus.
in the case of the resurrection, Christ appeared not just to individuals but to
groups that were mixed with believers and unbelievers, including more than 500 people
at once. Paul said that more than half
of them were still alive and encouraged people to prove it by questioning them (1
Cor.15). Hallucinations are individual not corporate 500 people at once. People will
see things they expect to see--not what they don’t expect. Besides, this supposed
hallucination ate with them.
The transformation of the
disciples who were cowards to bold martyrs proves some kind of event convinced them
otherwise. Jesus' brothers James and Jude were not believers when he was alive, but were after the resurrection.
is there any way to explain the renting of the veil, which was a thick curtain which separated the holy of holies
from the Holy place The veil was 60 ft by 30 ft high and it took 300 hundred people
to manoeuvre it in place. Concerning the scapegoat of Lev.16, on the Day of Atonement 2 goats
were brought before the high priest. One was killed as a blood sacrifice and the
other was led into the wilderness as the scapegoat. The first was symbol of the
atonement the 2nd was to symbolize the carrying away of sins. (Based on
Isa.1:18) It became a Jewish custom to
tie a red ribbon on the scapegoat. When they sent the goat out the ribbon would then
turn white symbolizing that God had forgiven their sins for the year. According to
the Talmud the ribbon stopped turning white in the year 30 A.D. So this showed God
was no longer forgiving the sins of Israel by means of the scapegoat. The Rabbis make
no explanation for this. So what took place that this would no longer happen?
People find every explanation
they can to explain away what God had bore witness to that he was “ declared the
Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection
of the dead.” (Rom.1:3)
Too many precautions and events
transpired from the trial; Jesus punished while Barabbas was let loose, the public
crucifixion, Jesus' burial approved by Pilate, the sealing and guarding of the tomb by
the Jewish authorities and the Roman government. It becomes very difficult for
detractors to defend their position rationally, that he really did not die or rise. If
they did not go to great lengths to make sure this all took place without a hitch we
would not have the tremendous detail we have today to prove that it all did in fact
Scholar J. N. D. Anderson
comments: The most drastic way of dismissing the evidence would be to say that these
stories were mere fabrications, that they were pure lies. But, so far as I know, not
a single critic today would take such an attitude. In fact, it would really be an
impossible position. Think of the number of witnesses, over 500. Think of the
character of the witnesses, men and women who gave the world the highest ethical
teaching it has ever known, and who even on the testimony of their enemies lived it
out in their lives. Think of the psychological absurdity of picturing a little band
of defeated cowards cowering in an upper room one day and a few days later
transformed into a company that no persecution could silence—and then attempting to
attribute this dramatic change to nothing more convincing than a miserable
fabrication they were trying to foist upon the world. That simply wouldn’t make any
sense (J. N. D. Anderson, "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ" in Christianity Today, March 29, 1968, pp. 5,6).
F. F. Bruce stated If the New
Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally
be regarded as beyond all doubt (F. F. Bruce Manchester University). A. N.
Sherwin-White- For the New Testament of
Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its
basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman
historians have long taken it for granted. (A. N. Sherwin-White
Classical Roman Historian )
Lord Darling, the former chief law officer in England has said -
We as Christians, are asked to take a very great deal on trust; the teachings,
for example, and the miracles of Jesus. If we had to take all on trust, I, for one,
should be sceptical. The crux of the problem of whether Jesus was, or was not, what
he proclaimed himself to be, must surely depend upon the truth or otherwise of the
resurrection. On that greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith. In its
favour as a living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and
negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world can fail
to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true (Lord Darling cited by
Michael Green, The Day Death Died, Intervarsity
Press, 1982, p. 15).
caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ? It was not the
empty tomb itself that caused the disciples to believe in Jesus, it was seeing the risen Christ. What sufficiently explains the empty tomb is the resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead. When Jesus
appeared to them he was not in a weak condition needing immediate medical attention.
This could never have given His disciples the idea that He had conquered death. This
type of appearance of Jesus would not have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, and
caused them to worship Him being alive again from the dead. They were able to
perform miracles-- heal the sick and raise the dead and many believed their testimony
of the resurrection because this was witnessed. It is for the reason of the
resurrection that the church began to congregate on Sundays instead of the Jewish
Sabbath. It was to commemorate the most important event that took place in humanity,
the death and resurrection to eternal life of the God/man. In keeping this day they
would never forget the incredible event. Just as we take communion to remember what
took place we meet this way to remember it until He comes again.
This all adds up to more than just a historical event.
It validates Jesus’ claims of who
actually is and what He taught. It affirms what the Old
Testament states about the Messiah and the end of time. We know that every word is
true as the prophecies were fulfilled in explicit detail.
It gives humanity a purpose for living and explains what happens to us after
resurrection results in a life more abundantly now and offers a genuine hope for the
future. No mistake about it, He rose because he actually died.
“Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?