Recent news about a film regarding the tomb of Jesus and his family have ignited quite a discussion. Some hope to discredit the claims of Christianity that Jesus was resurrected. Others hope to use the film as a springboard into a discussion about the validity of the resurrection. Still others simply take a condescending approach toward those who believe differently – on both sides!
I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Here’s why.
The Empty Tomb
The Bible speaks repeatedly of an empty tomb. And the Bible is reliable evidence because there are more copies of the New Testament from dates very close to when the events happened than of any other writings regarding that period. We have no trouble accepting Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, yet we have hundreds more copies of the Bible than of Homer’s works. A rational person cannot reject the validity of the Bible – and the Bible tells of an empty tomb.
The Post-Resurrection Appearances
Although many, including the Jewish officials of that day, claim the disciples stole the body from the tomb, Jesus appeared to many people after the resurrection. He appeared to the women, to the disciples multiple times, to a group of 500, to the two on the Emmaus Road, and to Saul of Tarsus. This many witnesses in a court of law is overwhelming evidence that nobody would dare contradict.
The Thorough Transformation of the Disciples
This is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence supporting the resurrection. If the resurrection is a hoax, how could the disciples stand up to the authorities like they did? They either scattered or denied knowing Jesus just a few weeks earlier but beginning on Pentecost they were bold. Christian historical tradition tells us that all the disciples except John were put to death for their beliefs; many of them died a tortuous death. Why were they bold? Why were they engaging the culture? Why were they able to do things they had never done before? When you embrace the truth of the resurrection of Jesus you change.
The Conversion and Testimony of Saul of Tarsus
We are first introduced to the great missionary Paul before his conversion as Saul of Tarsus – a Jewish religious zealot. Instead of going down in history as the biggest persecutor of Christians, we know him as the greatest missionary ever. Why did he forsake his former way of life and embrace Christianity? He met a living Jesus.
The Absence of a Valid Contemporary Denial
The authorities had many opportunities to deny the resurrection: Peter and John stood before them accused of preaching in the name of Jesus and all the authorities said was to stop preaching in his name. One would think that Jewish historians would have depicted Jesus in a negative light – if they mentioned him at all. Yet hear what Flavius Josephus, who lived 37-97 AD wrote about Jesus in Antiquities. “He was the Christ…He appeared to them alive on the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold.”
The Immediate Growth of the Christian Church
The immediate and sustained growth of the Christian church can only be explained in light of a resurrected Lord. If this is a hoax then the disciples would not have preached as they did, the converts would have been fewer, the story would have lost enthusiasm from generation to generation, the story would have grown as legends do, and the millions of lives changed over the years would have felt no lasting affect. But the story is the same today as 2000 years ago, it has gained momentum, and lives are truly changed as believers continue to aggressively proclaim the gospel.
The Lord’s Day
Do you know why we worship as a believing community on Sundays? It’s because of the resurrection. It happened on the morning after the Sabbath, which was from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. The women found the empty tomb on Sunday morning. The church began meeting on Sunday in honor of the resurrection of the Savior. Just one more piece of evidence pointing to the truth of the resurrection.
I believe in the resurrection and my life is different because of it.