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 5 is following.
E. Circumstantial Evidence
1. Jesus’ Disciples were Cowards
In Matt. 26:56, they all fled from the garden. In John 18: 15-27, Peter denied knowing Christ. In John 20: 19, the disciples hid and locked the doors in fear of their lives. In Luke 24:12, Peter could not figure out the empty tomb. But something changed them into a bold band of enthusiasts, who faced death without fear or hesitation.
2. A Jewish Fanatic Converted
Saul (who became Paul) was religious persecutor of the Christians, he hated Christians so much that he would hunt them down and kill them. Something must of happened to change Paul’s outlook. Read his conversation story in Acts 9:1-31
3. The Church
The origin and existence of the “church” can be tracked back to Jerusalem. Jesus’ tomb was only 15 minutes away from Jerusalem. If the tomb was still occupied, the people of that area would have known the truth. Christianity could not have survived in Jerusalem if Jesus had not risen from the dead. In Acts 3:31, the first sermon is described. 3,000 people saved. In a later message there was another 5,000 people saved.
4. Changed Lives
There were no earthly benefits, no prestige, no wealth, and no social status to begin a follower of Jesus. His followers were beaten, ran out of town, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured, and crucified. The ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message was their willingness to die for that message.
Those hardest to convince were Jesus’ own family. See John 7:1-5, 14:6, 15:5, and 10:11. James was a Pharisee. He was one of those who mocked Jesus. Something changed in his life (Acts 1:13-14). He became a leader of the early church. James ended up dying a martyr’s death (stoning) from the cause of Christ.
Lives continue to be changed. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year lives continue to be transformed by the resurrection power of Christ.
A believer in Jesus Christ can have complete confidence, as did those first Christians, that our faith is based, not on myth or legend, but on the solid historical fact of the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus. Because of that fact, Jesus can change lives.
Harvard Law professor Simon Greenleaf, a man who lectured for years on how to break down testimony and determine whether or not a witness is lying, concludes: “It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen form the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainty as they knew any other fact. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of like heroic constancy, patience, and unflinching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths they asserted.”