Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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



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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9 comments:

  1. If there were 500 witnesses to the resurrection, where are their individual written accounts of this? All you have is one person writing about there being these witnesses, but he wasn't there and never saw it himself. Is that really reliable evidence?

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  2. Depends how much you trust the Apostle Paul...

    Good to hear from you Jack.

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  3. It's not a question of how much one trusts Paul. It's a question of what counts as an "eyewitness account." Paul saying that the risen Christ appeared to him does. Paul saying that Christ appeared to someone else doesn't (unless Paul was there).

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  4. Acts Chapter 9, Paul records here that the risen Christ appears to him. This particular instance is an eye-witness account. Either you trust him on that or you don't.

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  5. I've never heard that Paul was the author of Acts, however Paul does report an appearance to him in 1 Cor. 15.

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  6. On what basis do you trust Paul? How has he proven to be reliable? You (and most other Christians) do not follow all of Paul's instructions, but pick and choose which ones are relevant for today. If he can't be trusted to provide the right instructions to the church why should we believe him about the 500 witnesses?

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  7. On what basis can someone who has never met me trust anything that i am writing on this blog? I mean how could this blog ever be proved to be reliable? Is it possible to stop people reading this blog from picking and choosing what they believe to be relevant and of highest importance to them?

    If we hold to that level of scepticism on Paul then surely we hold to that level to this blog as well, and thus Jack you may well disregard all i've said as having no validity. Therefore this blog is really a waste of your time! :)

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  8. We can never be truly 100% certain about anything that we put our trust in. All we can do is make the best decisions that we can based upon what we know from observation and research of the past and present. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence in order to be reasonably assured of their accuracy.

    ReplyDelete

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