Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? – April 9, 2015
Matt. 28:5-6 – “5But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and is a historical fact proved by the message of the Gospel, the testimony of eye-witnesses and Biblical and non-biblical historical commentary.
In his incredible book, “Who moved the Stone?” Frank Morison outlines his efforts to “debunk” the resurrection of Jesus.
He was convinced the resurrection was a fable and fantasy. Sensing it was the foundation of the Christian faith, he decided to do the world a favor by once and for all exposing this fraud and superstition.
As a lawyer and a literary agent, he felt he had the critical faculties to rigidly sift evidence and to admit nothing as evidence that did not meet the stiff criteria for admission into a court of law.
As he was doing his research, a remarkable thing happened. He realized that when all the evidence was placed end to end he had to admit that the evidence was too strong in favor of the resurrection.
In the first chapter of his book, entitled – “The Book That Refused to Be Written”, he described how, as he examined the evidence, he became persuaded against his will of the fact of the bodily resurrection.
There are also numerous historical works that document the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.
The Works of Flavius Josephus….Antiquities 18.3.3&10, “And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.”
The writings of the early church fathers also provide a historical witness – Polycarp, Eusebius, Irenaeus, Ignatius, Justin, and Origen. One can also access non-biblical sources for the historicity of Jesus’ life and resurrection – Cornelius Tactictus, Lucian of Samosata, Suetonius, Plinius Secundus, Tertullian, Thallus, Phlegon, Justin Martyr
There are at least two things that need to be addressed with regard to the resurrection of Jesus: how do you account for the “empty tomb” and how do you account for the “appearance of Jesus” after His resurrection.
The Empty Tomb – The earliest account was that the disciples stole the body, see Matt. 28:11-15. However, if you read Matt. 27:62-66, you will discover that the request (verse 65) by the chief priest and Pharisees all but ensured the testimony of the resurrection. They asked for a “guard”, koustodia in the Greek; an elite group of 16, highly trained, armed and motivated Special Forces.
Flavius Vegetius Renatus in his “The Military Institutions of the Romans”, a book our military Special Forces still studies to this day, tells us that the group deployed to protect the tomb was “Roman” Seal Team Six! It would be absurd to think that a group of rag-tag fishermen could overpower this elite fighting force and remove Jesus’ body.
A second theory was that the authorities, Jewish or Roman, had moved the body. The most convincing answer that this did not happen was the silence of the authorities in the face of the bold claims of the disciples. If, in fact, they had Jesus body all they had to do was parade it through the streets of Jerusalem and thereby fully smother Christianity at its inception.
Eyewitness Accounts – 1 Cor. 15:1-23 provides testimony from eyewitness accounts to the fact that Jesus did appear to many after His death, burial and resurrection; appearing to more than five hundred at one time.
How do you think these eyewitnesses viewed Jesus? As the babe in the manger? As the 12 year old standing in the temple refuting the elders? As a carpenter? As a good teacher? As a moral philosopher? As the suffering Messiah? Or do you think they saw Him as King of kings and Lord of lords? Did they question, in any way, that He was who He said He was? Absolutely not!
Additionally, He kept appearing to His disciples for 40 days. Why? So that they would know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He was alive!
Today, Jesus is alive and ruling in heaven and because that is the case, He answers prayer and He anchors us in the midst of the storms of life. From heaven He gives us gifts and strengthens His church. He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, to lead us, to teach us, to guide us, to comfort us, to empower us.
For a dead Savior cannot save anyone!
We must never minimize the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Rom. 1:4 declares that He is God. Rom. 4:25 tells us that the work of salvation is completed and accepted by the Father. 1 Thes. 4:13-18 and Rev. 1:17-18 announces that death has been conquered.
Jesus is risen! He is alive! He is on the throne and He is coming again! Are you ready to meet Him?