Jesus is not just an historic teacher or an amazing and revered prophet. At least one billion people alive in the world today, believe Jesus was a great prophet but they are not Christians – they are sincere Muslims. There are other religions as well, who respect Jesus as a holy man.
Some teach that Christ demonstrated His powers by many miracles but that He did not actually and technically die. They have their explanations. Many even believe He ascended to Heaven.
But respect for Jesus is not enough. The fundamental doctrine of Jesus Christ, in the Bible, cannot be accepted in part and still be somewhat effective or have some salvation-value. The Gospel is stated clearly in various parts of the Bible. Consider one very succinct statement below about Christ. This is fundamental for salvation and your acceptance by God. Nothing less than full acceptance of these facts, brings a person into acceptance with God and into His family.
It was a former hostile eye-witness of the Resurrected Christ who recorded this succinct statement about the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, (4) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (5) and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (6) Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (7) Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. (8) Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (9) For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 1Corinthians15:1-9
Unlike the leaders of other belief systems, Christ is alive. Christians and the Bible claim that Christ rose from the dead on the third day. His resurrection is the very foundation of Christianity. 1Corinthians 15:17 There have been several explanations for why His body has never been found, but upon examination, they are seriously flawed.
Christians do not go on pilgrimages to get a glimpse of the dust or bone fragments of their dead leader. Millions however, visit His empty tomb and sing hymns of praise and triumph.
Consider these Resurrection facts:
- The Broken Seal
After the execution of Jesus, His corpse was carefully placed inside a solid rock tomb and a large stone was rolled down to close-off the mouth of the cave-like tomb. The Jewish religious leaders were afraid that His disciples would try to steal the corpse and then claim resurrection. They requested the Roman Governor to seal and guard the tomb to prevent such am embarrassing scandal. Matthew 27:62-64
After careful inspection by a soldier representing the powerful empire of Rome, the Romans sealed the mouth of the tomb. A cord would be stretched across the large boulder and fastened to both ends by a sealing clay. Those clay seals were then stamped with the official signet of the Roman governor. Matthew 27:65-66
Any would-be grave robbers or vandals would face the penalty and power of the Roman Empire. A Roman contingent of soldiers (unit of 16 soldiers – four for each 4-hour shift) were stationed at the tomb to prevent an incident.
That very seal was broken and the stone was rolled back.
- The Enormous Stone Removed Under the Watch of the Roman Guard
On Sunday morning His followers returned to the tomb. They were shocked to see that the very large boulder had been removed. One or two grave-robbers would be physically unable to push the two-ton stone up the grade – away from the tomb. Even if they could do it physically – what incentive would there be for the Roman soldiers to allow them to break the seal and remove the stone – a crime resulting in their certain death? Matthew 27:60
- The Tomb was Empty
The fact was verified by both the Jews and the Roman local governments. A corpse was placed inside that tomb. But within three days, another fact that alarmed the Jews – that same tomb was empty. The corpse was gone. The alarm bells went off for the authorities. Jesus was gone. Matthew 28:6, Luke 24:2-3
- Corpse Dressing and Wrappings Remained
Robbers – be they vandals or the disciples themselves, would have worked fast and vanished quickly to escape being caught by the Roman guards. But the reality was, witnesses to the tomb, found the head-napkin, was neatly folded and deliberately placed. The cloth they wrapped and wound around the body from head to toe was left intact in a cocoon-like shape – as if it was still enclosing the body – but there was no body inside. John 20:6-7
Obviously not the work of grave-raiders.
- Cover-up Hush Money Paid to Some Soldiers
The local earthquake (Matthew 28:2) that rolled the enormous stone away to expose the empty tomb, frightened the soldiers. They colluded with the Jewish officials and accepted a money bribe. Matthew 28:11-15 The lie (ruse) they were to spread was they accidentally fell asleep and His disciples stole His corpse. Where the rest of the Roman guard fled to and where they hided is not known. Obviously, they knew their superiors could have them executed for such a botched guard-job.
- Increasing Number of Sightings of Jesus Alive
The Bible records that women were the first eye witnesses of the Resurrected Jesus Christ. John 20:14-16 Back in that era, women were not deemed to be credible witnesses by the authorities. If the Bible was trying to fabricate a more ‘credible’ story – it certainly had nothing to gain by recording the accounts of the women that Sunday morning. But the Bible was just simply stating the truth.
That first day there were numerous eye-witness accounts of the resurrected Christ. Women, two people walking to their home near Jerusalem, Peter the disciple who denied the Lord and then a room full of followers later that evening.
In the intervening days and weeks prior to the ascension of Christ, the eye-witness accounts increased in frequency -exposing the obvious lie being propagated by government. On one occasion, over 500 people saw the Risen Christ with their own eyes. 1Corinthians 15:6
- Hostile Eye-Witnesses
One might say that a handful of followers colluded and propagated the same story about Jesus being alive again. But the evidence of His resurrection continued to grow. It could no longer be claimed that it was a just handful of deluded people. And then when people, who were definitely not followers of Jesus but rather, hostile towards Him, told their stories of having met the Risen Christ – and their thinking towards Him did a 180 – it was evidence that could not be ignored. James, a hostile eye-witness became an Apostle. Saul of Tarsus became the first big-name evangelist to travel to other countries spreading the word of the Risen Christ. 1Corinthians 15:7-9
- No Corpse was Displayed in Jerusalem to Shut-Down the Growing Rumours
The most powerful empire in the world certainly had all the means available to it to move swiftly in tracking down the grave-robbers. If there had been one, they would have recovered the decaying corpse and put in on public display to squash, once-for-all, the embarrassing rumours of the resurrection. But it never happened. The most obvious suspects to steal the corpse – would be the disciples of Jesus. They knew who they were; the authorities had seen them with Jesus, often daily, in or near the Jerusalem Temple. No such arrests were made and a corpse was never produced.
- Cowardly and timid disciples immediately transformed into brave local witnesses
Immediately, after the crucifixion, the Bible says the disciples of Jesus were hidden in a room with the doors locked – afraid of the authorities. If Jews and Romans killed their leader, they figured they’d be next.
But these same terrified followers, once they knew Jesus was alive again, with unstoppable confidence, went back out on to the streets of Jerusalem to tell everyone about the Resurrected Christ. They didn’t run to a far-a-way country and in exile promote the stories about their leader. Acts 2:14
- Thousands of locals embrace the Risen Christ as their Saviour within two months of His Resurrection.
Despite the frowns of disdain and threats from the powerful governments of the day – locals accepted the indisputable evidence and embraced Jesus as their Lord. Acts 2:41
- Eye witnesses would not recant. Some eventually died as martyrs.
Many will tell a lie or even support a lie but how many will die for one? Even today, devotees to a cause or a religion are willing to die for something they themselves believe to be true. But the emphasis is on they believe to be true. But no one will die for something they themselves know to be a hoax – a concocted story to promote something. The eyewitnesses of the Risen Christ – knew He was no hoax or hologram. They saw Him. Some of them ate fish with Him at a lakeside location – after His Resurrection.
Ultimately, Jesus ascended. He rose from the Mount of Olives, outside the city of Jerusalem, and He returned to Heaven in His resurrected body. Acts 1:9-10 As you read this essay, He is alive in Heaven and the wounds He sustained on the cross are still, and will be eternally visible. Luke 24:40, John 20:19-20, The wounds He experienced on Planet Earth when He came in love to die for the sins of a guilty world.
The disciples came out of hiding and boldly preached Christ as Saviour and as the Messiah, because they knew He was alive – they saw Him with their own eyes.
Implications for You
Beyond just an intriguing essay that attempts to prove to non-believers and skeptics that Jesus was raised from the dead, are there are any implications for you? The most obvious one is that this planet has not seen the end of Christ and everyone will be confronted personally by Christ Himself.
Those who are genuine Christians – not nominal Christians – have accepted the fact that Christ died for their sins to become their Saviour. They faced the facts and bowed their knee (or heart) to Jesus and embraced Him as their Saviour and Lord.
Those who refuse in this life to accept the facts and embrace Christ – will face the Risen Christ after death, when He Himself will confront them for their unbelief and rejection. After He exposes every sin they ever committed and reviews every opportunity they had to repent, from His nail-pierced hand He will then consign them to eternal punishment.
…God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13
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I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .
Professor of Classics
There exists no document from the ancient world, witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies . . . Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias.
If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.
For the New Testament of Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.
Classical Roman Historian
- Multiple sources in public domain
- Holy Bible