This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.
Have you ever heard people say, “The evidence for the resurrection is just circumstantial evidence”? Every lawyer knows that circumstantial evidence can be powerful when it is put together. Yes, the evidence for Christ’s resurrection is circumstantial, but when you put it all together, you come away with the truth that Christ was raised from the dead.
For example, consider the empty tomb. Jesus said He would be raised from the dead. His disciples proclaimed it. And it is a historical fact that the body of Jesus has not been found in 2,000 years. Some people say, “Somebody stole the body.” Really? Who stole it? The Romans wanted to keep His body in the grave. They assigned an entire Roman guard unit to protect that grave. Some say, “It was the Jews.” No, the Jews did not want the rumor getting started that He had been raised from the dead as He promised. They wanted to find the body so they could stop the Christian movement in its tracks. Some people say, “The disciples stole it.” The disciples? They abandoned Jesus and ran for their lives. Are you telling me these cowardly disciples suddenly got the courage to overtake a Roman guard and take the body of Jesus? Are you telling me they would die for a lie? You say, “Religious extremists die for a lie all the time.” That is true, but they believe they are dying for the truth. That is the difference. They actually believe what their teachers teach. No one dies for something they know is a lie. But the apostles were willing to die because they knew the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The story of the resurrection was part of the Christian doctrine from the beginning. You know, historians tell us that it takes anywhere from 80 to 100 years for a legend to corrupt historical truth. It takes about 80 to 100 years to corrupt fact with fiction. And the reason is obvious. You have to wait until a couple of generations die off before you can start telling a fiction about a historical event.
Suppose after the death of Elvis Presley in 1977 a group of Elvis’ followers got together and said, “We want the King’s memory to live on. So we will start a rumor that Elvis Presley did not stay dead; he is alive. We will call our new religion Presleyanity. Presleyanity is built on the lie that Elvis Presley has risen from the dead.” Imagine if somebody tried to start that movement. How far do you think that movement would go? You could not get that movement off the ground today, 40 years later. And nobody would die for a lie like that. Compare that to the Christian message. Immediately the truth was spread that Jesus had risen from the dead, and 500 witnesses saw Him. The movement grew and grew, and 2,000 years later it is still growing; people are still dying because of the truth that Christ was raised from the dead. Jesus Christ is alive. His resurrection was prophesied by Christ Himself. It was proclaimed by the apostles. It has been proven by history, and it has been promised to believers.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Easter: The Passion and the Promise” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.