The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in 1 Corinthians 15 speaks about the centrality of the resurrection to the Christian life, even stating that if Christ is not raised then our faith is futile and that we are without hope.
The resurrection really happened and because of that we can and must celebrate, consider some of the evidence that counters the popular view in our culture that it is all just a myth:
Did Jesus really exist? The evidence: • Historical accounts of the Bible • Historical accounts from secular sources including Josephus the historian • From both biblical and secular sources history tells us that people in the city of Jerusalem were aware of the crucifixion of Jesus and of the rumors about his resurrection.
Could the disciples have stolen the body to add credence to their message? The defense: • Matthew’s account of the burial of Jesus tells us that the tomb was sealed with a boulder which would have been very heavy. The boulder was also sealed with an official mark of authority. Anyone wishing to steal the body would have had to have broken the seal and moved the stone. • The gospel of Matthew also tells us that Roman guards were assigned to guard the tomb so that the body could not be stolen. Anyone wishing to steal the body would have had to overcome well trained Roman Soldiers. • The followers of Jesus were persecuted and killed for the message that they spoke. Would they really risk everything for something that they knew to be a lie?
Could the authorities have moved the body to a secret location? The defense: • If the authorities had the body of Jesus they would have been able to disprove the message of the early church by simply producing the it. Both secular history and the book of Acts tells us that the authorities were frustrated at their inability to stop the gospel spreading.
Could Jesus have just been unconscious when they took him down from the cross? Then after being laid in the tomb the cool air might have revived him so that he could make his escape. The defense: • The Romans were very thorough and they knew how to crucify someone. In fact, just to make sure that Jesus was dead the centurion on duty pierced his side with a spear and blood and water flowed out (the sign of a ruptured heart) – John 19:34. • Even if he had only been unconscious, would it really have been possible for someone who had endured beatings, crucifixion, and a spear in the side to get up while wrapped tightly in grave clothes and remove the large boulder as well as over power the guards?
Could the disciples have been hallucinating when they claim to have seen Jesus? The defense: • The bible shows that the disciples weren’t expecting Jesus to rise from the dead, in fact they take some convincing before they believe that it really is Him. People who suffer from hallucinations like this generally have a belief or expectation that what they see was going to happen. • Jesus appeared to many different people in many different places, sometimes to groups, sometimes to individuals. That there is common agreement by the witnesses about what they saw rules out the possibility of a hallucination.
1. Mary Magdelene in Jerusalem on Sunday (Mk 16:9-11; Jn 20:11-18)
2. Some other women in Jerusalem on Sunday (Mt 28:9-10)
3. Peter in Jerusalem on Sunday (Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5)
4. Emmaus Disciples on road to Emmaus on Sunday (Lk 24:13-35)
5. 10 Disciples in upper room, Jerusalem on Sunday (Mk 16:14; Lk 24:26-43; Jn 20:19-25)
6. 11 Disciples in upper room, Jerusalem a week later (Jn 20:26-31; 1 Cor 15:5)
7. 7 Disciples in Galilee (Jn 21:1-25)
8. 500 at one time (1 Cor 15:6)
9. James (brother of Jesus) (1 Cor 15:7)
10. 11 Disciples in Galilee (Mt 28:16-20; Mk 16:15-18)
11. 11 Disciples in Jerusalem, 40 days later (Lk 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12)
Taken from Ryrie Study Bible.
Throughout history people have raised many questions about the resurrection of Jesus but all of the evidence points to the fact that although it is incredibly amazing… He Has Risen!