The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most provable events of all of history. The resurrection of Christ is the foundational truth of a biblical belief system. Everything we believe as followers of Christ is based on the truth of that single event.
At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, believers in other religions, or those searching for truth, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious. To ignore the resurrection of Christ, by not determining whether it is true or myth, would be short-sighted and a version of denial.
Over the next month, I will be writing about the historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ as a supplement to our March series at CrossChurch, “Love Ran Red”. Part 3 is following.
- Seven Facts that Must be Reckoned With
Something happened that changed the course of history from B.C. (Before Christ) to A.D. (Latin – “Anno Domini” meaning “the year of our Lord”). That “something” was so dramatic that it transformed many lives and caused many people to die a Martyr’s death.
That “something” was the empty tomb! An empty tomb that was only a 15-min walk from the center of Jerusalem for anyone curious enough to go see from themselves. It would have been easy to confirm or disprove as a rumor.
If anyone wished to rationalize away the resurrection of Christ, they must first deal with a few certain facts. It is almost funny, that the Jewish and Roman leaders, with all their “security precautions” outwitted themselves. Those security precautions make it very difficult for critics of the resurrection to defend their position that Christ did not raise from the dead.
- The Broken Roman Seal (Luke 24:2)
- The Roman Seal stood for all the power and authority of the Roman Empire.
- There were severe consequences for breaking the seal.
- The “FBI and CIA” of the Roman Empire would have been tasked with finding and punishing those responsible
- Even His closest disciples had displayed signs of cowardice.
- The Empty Tomb (Luke 24:3)
- The disciples did not go someplace far away to tell their story. They started in Jerusalem, where it could have been easily proven or disproven. Therefore, the tomb had to have been empty.
- The Jewish leaders and Roman government’s official statement was that that the body was stolen. Therefore, the tomb had to have been empty.
- The empty tomb is a silent testimony to the Lordship of Christ.
- A Very Large Stone Moved
- There was only one way out of the tomb, past a large stone, and the Roman guard.
- Mark 16:4 – uses the greek word “kulio” which means “to roll”, but also adds the preposition, “ana” which means “up or upward”. So “anakulio” means “to roll something up a slope or an incline”
- Luke 24:2 – uses the same root word, but adds the preposition “apo”, which means “a distance from”
- John 20:1 – uses yet another word, “airo”, which means “to pick something up and carry it away”
- The Greek language is the most expressive language in history. These are not disagreements, but people describing the scene as they saw it.
- The Roman Guard Left the Tomb (Matt 28:4, 11-15)
- Roman discipline was very good. Guards who even just fell asleep, while on duty would have been put to death.
- There was flawless attention given to their duty. They would have never left the tomb. They would have died defending it.
- The reason for the fabricated lie about what occurred at the tomb and offered bribe money (Matt 28:11-15), was that after examination of the scene the Roman and Jewish leaders knew there was no other explanation. It would have been humanly impossible.
- Jesus’ Grave Clothes Tell a Tale (John 20:5-7)
- The grave clothes were left in the tomb. If the body had been stolen, they would have also taken the grave clothes due to decomposition of the body, etc.
- His Appearance was Confirmed (Matt 28:5-10, 16-20)
- Jesus appeared to numerous several different times, and eyewitnesses are the best evidence in any situation.
- Paul said “over 500 people saw Jesus after the resurrection”, and then adds “most of them are still alive” (1 Cor 15:3-8), as if to say, “ask them for yourself”
- If all those people could testify, it would be the biggest and most lopsided trail in history.
- Women saw Him First (Luke 24:11)
- In Jewish custom and culture, women were not seen as equal to men. They were seen more like property.
- They were not accepted as reliable witnesses according to Jewish legal procedures. So if the resurrection had been faked, they would not have made the first appearance to women, because nobody would have believed them.
Conclusion: Critics who would attempt to dismiss or explain away the resurrection of Christ MUST first deal with these seven historical facts.
- The feared power of Rome was ignored in order to break the seal.
- Both Jewish and Roman officials admitted the tomb was empty
- A 3,000-4,000 pound rock was removed while the guards watched
- Highly disciplined guards allowed it to happen, then fled the scene
- The grave clothes without a body
- Jesus’ appearances before over 500 people
- Because of Jewish views, women would have never been selected or accepted as witnesses