What proof is there that a Resurrection actually took place? How do I know that my faith is nothing more than a carefully crafted myth that may help soothe the pain of this life but offers nothing beyond the grave?
Obviously, there were no eyewitnesses who saw Jesus’ body began to vibrate, stand up, and remove the linen wrappings. So what is the evidence that Jesus actually rose from the dead?
1. Eyewitness Accounts (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)
Paul says that over a 40-day period Christ appeared to more than 500 witnesses, and Paul claims “and last of all he appeared to me.”
During this period of time He conversed, ate with them, and allowed people to touch Him. The appearances of Jesus were not hallucinations but were well-documented facts that, if not true, would have never lasted beyond the first century.
2. Extraordinary Changes in Traditions
Consider the extent to which the New Testament writers – the majority of whom were devout Jews – replaced the basic tenets of Judaism with new beliefs.
- They abandoned the sacrificial system that had been in place for 1,400 years.
- They changed their day of worship from the Sabbath to the first day of the week.
- They replaced the sign of faith from circumcision to baptism.
- They relegated the Mosaic Law to nothing more than a shadow of the newer revelation from Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:17).
Almost overnight, thousands of Jews in Jerusalem radically altered their most cherished spiritual convictions and embraced an entirely new spiritual paradigm.
3. Empty Tomb (Matthew 28:6)
One of the skeptics’ chief arguments against the validity of the Christian faith has been the reference in the gospels to Jesus being tried before the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas.
Unbelievers scoffed that there was no evidence that there was ever a high priest named Caiaphas. But in 1990 a team of archeologists in Jerusalem uncovered the burial grounds of the high priest named Caiaphas, but no one has uncovered the body of Jesus Christ.
The fact that the gospel writers say that women first found the grave empty lends even more credibility to this story. If the gospel writers were simply fabricating a myth they would not have written about women finding the tomb empty, given the second-class status women had in the first century.
Some people argue that the women, overwhelmed by grief, simply went to the wrong tomb. But if that were true, then it meant Peter and John went to the wrong tomb as well? And then there is Joseph of Arimathea who donated his tomb for the burial of Jesus. He certainly would have known where the tomb was.
Others say the body was stolen. But that raises all kinds of problems. Who stole it?
Matthew 27:62-66 says that after the death of Christ they went to extraordinary lengths to guard the tomb so that no one would steal the body of Christ and claim He had risen from the dead.
Others say His disciples stole it. Yet their response to Jesus’ arrest demonstrates that they lacked the courage, much less the ability, to overtake an entire Roman guard of 16 men who were guarding the tomb.
No, the evidence is overwhelming. The early accounts, the eyewitness testimony, and the empty tomb all point to the fact that Christ has been raised from the dead.
What does the Resurrection of Christ from the dead mean to me? Had Christ remained in the grave, then it would have meant His death was nothing more than payment for His own sins. But the fact that God raised Him from the dead was proof that God had accepted His once for all sacrifice for our sins.
Romans 4:25 says that Christ “was raised because of our justification.” And that means that if we trust in Him for our salvation, one day we will experience that same kind of Resurrection.
Join us this Easter at First Dallas for “3 Reasons the Resurrection Matters.”
Don’t live in Dallas? Set your DVR to TBN this weekend on Saturday at 9pm or Sunday at 1pm for a special Easter message by Dr. Robert Jeffress on Pathway to Victory – “Easter: Fact or Fantasy?”
Pathway to Victory serves as the broadcast ministry of Dr. Robert Jeffress and the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. More than 800 radio stations in the United States broadcast the daily radio program, while Daystar and TBN, Christian television networks, air Pathway to Victory both in the United States and internationally.