The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the single most important event in the history of mankind, and therefore the one most crucial to establish as an authentic historical event.
In fact, the resurrection is the very number one of the Christian faith, holding together every claim and every blessing. If the resurrection could be proven a fraud, Christianity would disintegrate as a total fabrication with little redeeming merit. Jesus would not even be an example of a “good moral teacher,” as some maintain, for his most important prediction that he would be raised from the dead would be found a lie.
Christian’s salvation depends largely on the reliability of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A deeply held belief in the resurrection as a fact of history is a vital element for our eternal salvation. Romans 10:9 asserts: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Christians therefore trifle with the bedrock of their salvation when they entertain doubts about the historical accuracy of any part of Scripture. But most crucial are those parts that make historical claims upon which their salvation depends.
Therefore, those who argue that the historicity of the resurrection is not provable and even unnecessary are contradicting the testimony of the apostolic witnesses. Indeed, the Apostle Paul’s entire ministry was built upon the foundation of the resurrection, and it was his personal encounter with the risen Christ that caused him to develop an unassailable conviction in the reality of this event.
From the records of Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63, Flavius Josephus, the first-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer opined on the Jesus Christ as follows.
“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared”.
From the foregoing historical proofs of the resurrection of Jesus Christ present evidence that is beyond a reasonable doubt.
One of the most convincing proofs of the resurrection was the empty tomb.
The entrance of the tomb was covered with a huge rock which requires the great strength of many to roll away, it was later discovered on the third day after the crucifixion that it was empty.
This same tomb had a Roman seal on it forbidden any trespassers with detachment of soldiers guarding it, yet no one could provide a convincing argument as to why it was empty on the third day. This is a standalone proof that the resurrection was authentic and defeats any contrary argument.
The possibility of his enemies taken possession of the body was extremely unlikely, because his enemies would have certainly displayed his body if they could have, in order to humiliate his disciples, quell the rumors of his resurrection, as well as to cut short any new religious movement that threatened their Mosaic traditions.
Throughout history the only reason assigned to the empty tomb was that the chief priest directed the soldiers to report that the disciples stole the body whiles they were asleep. This proposition is seriously ridiculous in every detail because if the soldiers were asleep how did they know that it was the disciples who stole the body since a sleeping man cannot see.
If the disciples stole the body why didn’t the state dealt with them since they had trespass a roman seal which was a serious offense and could attract a death sentence. Furthermore, why weren’t the soldiers punished; it is a serious offense for a soldier to sleep at post and indeed could attract a death sentence. It was an argument born out of desperation to counter the resurrection but had no bases hence defeated.
Secondly, His enemies would have produced his dead body to silence the believers if he did not rise from the dead, what became of his body? If his enemies stole it and never showed it openly, that would have encouraged the very rumors of a resurrection that they were very anxious to prevent. But the decisive proof that his enemies did not take the body is that they surely would have quickly produced it with great fanfare, for they stopped short of nothing to discredit the story.
The Jewish Temple authorities paid those who had seen the tomb empty to lie and say that the disciples had stolen the body, and they even murdered many of those who preached about his resurrection. With such a powerful incentive to squash the new movement, they would have stopped at nothing to produce Jesus’ dead body if they could have. The fact that they could not have the means is because he was risen.
Thirdly, the conviction of his followers in the resurrection, those who first published the story that Jesus had risen from the dead believed it to be a fact. They rested their faith not only on the fact of the empty tomb, but on the fact that they themselves had seen Jesus alive after his burial. He was seen not once or twice, but at least ten recorded times; and not just one at a time, but in groups of two, seven, ten, eleven, and five hundred. The first-century believers preached and acted with conviction about the truth of his resurrection, many of them even dying because of their belief.
If his friends had stolen the body to make it look like he had been resurrected, they would have known that they believed a lie, and men do not become martyrs for what they know to be false. His followers faced hardship, ridicule, hostility, and martyrs’ deaths. In light of this, they could never have sustained such unwavering motivation if they knew what they were preaching was a lie. Religion had its rewards for them, but those rewards came from a sincere belief that what they were living for was true.
He could have gotten out of the tomb only by resurrection, the “swoon” theory has proposed that Jesus was not really dead when they buried him, and that he came to life again. But in that case, weak and exhausted, enclosed in heavy grave wrappings; he could scarcely have moved, much less removed the heavy stone door and gotten out of the tomb.
Furthermore, the Roman authorities had sealed the door, and even if he had been successful in moving the stone, the guards would have rearrested him and further humiliated him. Since there is no record of such an event, it must not have happened, because his enemies would have made much of such a strange happening.
In light of the evidence of the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances and the rise of the Christian Church, a reasonable person should conclude that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a well-established historical fact. In a court of law, such evidence would compel conviction unless contradictory evidence could be brought forward to introduce a reasonable doubt. But all alternate explanations and theories are extremely doubtful and counter-intuitive.
Therefore, Christians are being rational, sensible, and fully consistent with common sense when they rest their faith on this well established historical event. Not only is there compelling historical evidence to back the belief, but extravagant benefits in the future are promised to those who believe it. According to the Bible, the only sure promise of everlasting life for mankind, both individually and collectively, depends upon belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
My dear readers make Jesus your focus this Easter. God loves you. Shalom!!!
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