A few people have set out to write books that refute the idea that Jesus rose from the dead but after studying the evidence, have been forced to accept the fact that he did rise from the dead. So what is the evidence that convinces people that he did rise from the dead.
The men who witnessed his resurrection
With most of the history we have written in our history books, it is recorded there because of the written accounts which were left by eyewitnesses to the event. In a similar fashion we know about the resurrection of Jesus because of the four gospel writers giving us a written account of it. Two of these writers were actual eyewitnesses to the event. The other two were close friends of eyewitnesses to the resurrection. On top of all this, two more eyewitnesses, Peter and Paul, confirm they saw the resurrection in their letters included in the New Testament. All these men are not just made up in someone’s imagination, they were men who actually existed, so we have no reason not to take their eye witness accounts seriously.
Could it be argued that these men were lying? These men would only lie if they had something to gain. These men had nothing to gain. By telling people that Jesus was resurrected they actually suffered imprisonment, torture and death.
The cause of Christianity
It is a well known fact that nothing happens without a cause. So this same principle can be given for Christianity. The first century started with the Jewish religion. It was the oldest, strictest and narrowest religion on earth at that time. It was a religion that had first been given to their forefathers by God, and they prided themselves on this fact. It had been in existence for well over a thousand years.
But despite this, some fifty years later in the middle of the first century, Christianity really started to flourish. From this highly conservative people there had emerged the leaders of the new Christian movement. These were not irreligious men but rather men of high moral values. Yet their new teachings went against the grain of the old teachings of the Jews. For example, the early Christians admitted Gentiles to full membership of their Church, without first making Jews of them. This never would have been allowed in the orthodox Jew religion. In addition, they ignored the Sabbath, and worshipped God on Sunday instead. They also allowed people to eat whatever food they wanted. Both of these actions were contrary to the Jewish orthodox religion.
So what made these people forsake traditions and national pride which had existed for over a thousand years. Something major must have happened to change their deep-seated ways. Well the answer can be found in the book of Acts and chapter two when it tells us that Peter stood up in Jerusalem and proved that Jesus had risen from the dead (Acts 2:14–41). As a result, 3,000 people were baptised.
This gives us the answer, a remarkable act of God like the resurrection of Jesus, would well and truly overcome the bias of so many devout Jews.
There was an empty tomb
One piece of evidence can not be argued against and that is – the tomb, where the body of Jesus had been, was empty three days later. The dead body of Jesus was never seen again. This is a major point in arguing the resurrection of Jesus.
How can we prove that the tomb was empty? Because the Jewish leaders tried to explain the emptiness of the tomb. This is what the Bible says:
When they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole him away while we slept’….So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Matthew 28:12-15
It is indeed sad that this theory of theft of the body was the best that the unbelieving Jews could think of!
The evidence is irrefutable that Jesus was resurrected. The resurrection morning almost 2000 years ago was an event which affected the whole of history both before and after the event, for Jesus is the centre of the whole of God’s purpose.
We have not seen the risen Jesus, but we have the proof from the disciples. The growth of Christianity is history and this Christianity is based on a resurrected Jesus. We can believe in a Jesus who is alive and who will come again to the earth as he has promised as the king.
The post resurrection appearances of Christ
|1st||To Mary Magdalene as she remained at the site of the tomb||John 20:11 – 17|
|2nd||To the other women who were also returning to the tomb||Matthew 28:9-10|
|3rd||To Peter||Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5|
|4th||To the disciples as they walked on the road to Emmaus||Mark 16:12-13 Luke 24:13-31|
|5th||To the ten disciples||Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-51 John 20:19-23|
|6th||To the eleven disciples a week after his resurrection||John 20:26-29|
|7th||To seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee||John 21:1-23|
|8th||To 500 people||1 Corinthians 15:6|
|9th||To James, the Lord’s brother||1 Corinthians 15:7|
|10th||To eleven disciples on the mountain in Galilee||Matthew 28:16-20|
|11th||At the time of the Ascension||Luke 24:44-53 Acts 1:3-9|
|12th||To Stephen just prior to his death||Acts 7:55-56|
|13th||To Paul on the road to Damascus||Acts 9:3-6|
|14th||To Paul in the temple (in a trance)||Acts 22:17-21|
|15th||To Paul while he was in prison in Caesarea||Acts 23:11|
|16th||To the apostle John||Revelation 1:12-20|