I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
—1 Corinthians 15:3-4
There are several reasons that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is based on fact, not fantasy.
First, the early creeds are evidence that Jesus was resurrected. Some skeptics say that the resurrection was a legend that was tacked on to the Jesus story 100 or more years after He died. Now they are careful to say this was added at least 100 years later for a reason. They understand that for a legend to take root, there has to be a long separation between the event and the legend. If somebody proposes a legend too soon, it is quickly dismissed because people are still alive who know better. So you have to have a long interval of time between what actually occurred and the myth that corrupts the real story.
Let’s suppose that today a book was published that claimed that three days after Ronald Reagan’s funeral on June 11, 2004, Ronald Reagan rose from his grave in Simi Valley and appeared to more than 500 people. How much credence do you think that book would have in today’s world? It would be laughed off the shelf. That kind of myth would never get started because people are alive who know better. They know such a thing didn’t happen. So there would have to be an interval of time before a myth like that got started.
The story of Jesus’s resurrection wasn’t added 100 years later; it was part of the story from the very beginning. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul wrote, “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Paul wrote this letter in AD 55, about 22 years after Jesus lived and before any of the Gospels were written. So when he said these things happened “according to the Scriptures,” he was referring to the Old Testament prophecies. How did he know about Jesus’s resurrection? Look at what Paul said in verse 3: he “received” these things. The apostle Paul was converted about a year after Christ’s resurrection, so the apostles instructed Paul about the truth of the resurrection. The resurrection wasn’t a story tacked on 100 years later; it was a part of the Jesus story from the very beginning.
By the way, these verses in 1 Corinthians 15, many people believe, were part of a creed or a hymn that was sung in the early church. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried. He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. The resurrection was not a tacked-on story. It was part of the Jesus story from the very beginning.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Easter: Fact or Fantasy?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
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.
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