Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Did Jesus Christ Rise from the Grave? Evidence of the Resurrection

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How do we know that Jesus rose from the grave?
Mary Magdelene and another Mary went to the tomb to pay their respects to Jesus. A violent earthquake shook the surroundings and the stone was rolled back from the tomb of Jesus. As the story goes, an angel visits them and tells them that Jesus is not there and that in fact he had risen from the grave (See Matthew 28:1-17).

Such a dramatic turn of events. Jesus Christ of Nazareth had been crucified at the hands of an angry religious mob just three days earlier. He was put in a cave, and a large stone was rolled in front of the grave site, and guards were put on watch. The first Easter was upon us.

Though, how can we authenticate the validity of such a miracle? I mean, some may say, the resurrection of Jesus was merely a fabricated story passed down over generations. Others are still searching for the bones of Jesus; so far to no avail.

I want to suggest to you three evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION No.1 – Jesus said it would happen and it did.



Jesus not only predicted his resurrection but also emphasized his rising from the dead would be the sign to authenticate his claims to be the Messiah. See the below Scriptures for instance.

Matthew’s Gospel - Mt 12:38-40; Mt 16:21, Mt 17:9; Mt 17:22,23; Mt 20:18,19; Mt 26:32, Mt 27:63

Mark’s Gospel - Mk 8:31-9:1; Mk 9:10; Mk 9:31; Mk 10:32-34; Mk 14:28, Mk 14:58

Luke’s Gospel - Lk 9:22-27

John’s Gospel - Jn 2:18-22; Jn 12:34; Chapters 14-16

For instance, Matthew 17:22-23 says, ‘When they came together in Galilee, [Jesus] said to them, “The son of man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.”

These words of Jesus were circulating in the province of the day, and were surely why some of the religious leaders of his day were sceptical of who he was. I mean, who walks around saying that after they die, they will come back to life in three days?

Wilbur M. Smith says: ‘That Jesus said he was going up to Jerusalem to die is not so remarkable, though all the details he gave about that death, weeks and months before he died, are together a prophetic phenomenon. But when he said that he himself would rise again from the dead, the third day after he was crucified, he said something that only a fool would dare say, if he expected longer that devotion of any disciples, unless – he was sure we was going to rise. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a thing like that!’


EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION No.2 – There were eye-witnesses to Jesus resurrection


Granted that the first evidence of the resurrection by itself, is not a strong apologetic to convince anyone that that Jesus did in fact rise from the grave. The second evidence I would like to suggest, is that there were numerous eye-witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.

So who were some of the eye-witnesses to this extraordinary resurrection?

Two women named Mary saw him when they hurried away from his tomb (Matthew 28:1-10, John 20:10-18). Eleven of his disciples saw him on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20). Mary Magdalene saw him on that Easter morning (Mark 16:9). Two people met walking in the country on the road to Emmaus. Ten of his disciples saw him in the City of Jerusalem. The disciple Thomas touched his scars after the resurrection. His disciples saw him by the sea and had breakfast with him (John 21). Over 500 saw him after he was resurrected.

J. N. D. Anderson said: ‘The most drastic way of dismissing the evidence would be to say that these stories were mere fabrications, that they were pure lies. But, so far as I know, not a single critic today would take such an attitude. In fact, it would really be an impossible position. Think of the number of witnesses, over 500. Think of the character of the witnesses, men and women who gave the world the highest ethical teaching it has ever known, and who even on the testimony of their enemies lived it out in their lives. Think of the psychological absurdity of picturing a little band of defeated cowards cowering in an upper room one day and a few days later transformed into a company that no persecution could silence – and then attempting to attribute this dramatic change to nothing more convincing than a miserable fabrication they were trying to foist upon the world. That simply wouldn’t make sense.’

How about this quote from John Montgomery: ‘It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus.’

EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION No. 3 – The Empty Tomb


An angel said to the two Marys who were present at the tomb of Jesus - 'He is not here, he has risen...’ (Matthew 28:6). The tomb was empty. God had rolled away the stone. Now, how is this conclusive evidence that Jesus did in fact rise from the grave? I mean, could the disciples simply have stolen the body?

This is called the falsehood theory. The theory is that the disciples were deliberately deceptive (Berkhof, 1939: 348) in that they stole the body of Jesus and then spoke out that Jesus had risen. Berkhof says, ‘It is extremely unlikely that the faint-hearted disciples would have had the courage to palm off such a falsehood upon a hostile world. It is impossible to believe that they would have persisted in suffering for such a bare falsehood’ (: 348).  

As Paul Althus poignantly declares, ‘The resurrection proclamation could not have been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact.’


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There is much more to speak of in relation to the resurrection of Jesus. One could begin to consider the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus to his followers today. One could discuss how Jesus rising from the grave differs from other religions. With all of that and more left unsaid, let me finish with a few Scriptures highlighted by Jesus himself, during his earthly ministry.
He declared that he was the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). He said he had the power to lay down his life and to take it up again (John 10:18) and he even predicted that he would rebuild the temple of his body (another reference to the resurrection) (John 2:19-21).

Finally, through faith, we can have the power and the presence of the resurrected Jesus living inside of us!


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Dig Deeper: What does the Gospel of John say about Mission following the resurrection of Jesus?

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Soaring Like an Eagle!

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I like to keep my feet planted on the ground. If I am about to board a plane, I don the wrist bands, have my travel sickness tablets and delegate the minding of the children to my ever agreeable wife. I sit and stare into the distance, hoping I will not experience the 15-hour flight of constant ‘throwing-up’ from Sydney to Los Angeles Airport that I endured years earlier.
Having the opportunity then to fly in a four-seater VH-SVA Cessna, next to The Salvation Army Flying Padre (Captain David Shrimpton) was a very surreal yet somewhat frightening experience. The adrenaline was pumping as we flew over the tip of the Northern-Territory landscape with its croc-infested, box jelly-fish inhabited waterways along with its stunning native flora and fauna.
Suddenly the thought hit me. We love to soar.
Even as children we love to pretend we are Superman flying through the midnight air towards our destination. We imagine we are all-powerful and we can soar above the mountaintops and sing that the hills are alive.
Then life hits us.
Emails tell us that we have not finished the paperwork correctly. People, who we thought were mates, tell us how pathetic we are. Someone tells us to not give up our day job. Others criticise us for not making the right choice. Even some family members want nothing to do with us.
We forget how to soar.
The picture of us flying in the sunset, without a care in the world, becomes a distant memory. The desires to rise above the circumstances that drag us down seem to be a losing battle.
What happens next is we live life with a mediocre attitude. We give up trying to do better, because it is too hard. Day by day we lose the capacity or willingness to dream what could be, because we are stuck in what is. We simply plant our feet on the ground and we stop soaring.
How many times have you heard of people with that kind of mindset?
“I’ve given up trying to change the culture of my workplace, because it’s just a waste of time!”
“I’m just going to stick it out for six months and see what happens.”
“She’s not talking to me; I’m not going to even bother.”
We must recapture the spark within us that allows us to dream. The still small voice that says we should give it another shot. The inkling we have to believe for a better future.
The Bible says that those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength and that they will soar on wings like eagles. This picture encapsulates a vision far richer than the pessimistic, mediocre mindset that so easily entangles Australian culture.
We are called to soar.
Now, I may not be very good with handling motion sickness, and at times want to keep my feet on the ground. Though, when it comes to the challenges and opportunities that life affords me, may I always attempt to soar like an eagle until I land at the appropriate destination that God has for me.

Lt. Peter Brookshawwww.petebrookshaw.com
6/2/13

Published in the WarCry (Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory) in early March 2013.


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