[Jesus Christ] was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness. —Romans 1:4
In 1963 the body of 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins was buried in Birmingham, Alabama. Addie Mae was one of four African American girls murdered in the Birmingham church bombing. Every year after she died her family would visit the grave, offer a prayer, and place flowers there. A few years ago, the family decided they wanted to move Addie Mae’s body to another cemetery. But when the cemetery workers opened the grave, to their surprise, there was no coffin and no body. They scrambled to find an explanation for what could have happened. The most logical explanation was that they had placed the headstone on the wrong grave. But in all their search for an explanation nobody suggested the possibility of a resurrection–because, you see, an empty tomb in and of itself does not prove that a resurrection has taken place.
In 1 Corinthians 15 the apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. … Your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (vv. 14, 17). The foundation of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Disprove that, and you have disposed Christianity forever.
But is there factual evidence for the resurrection? Was the resurrection of Jesus just a story tacked on by His followers to make a good story even better, or is there credible evidence that Christ’s resurrection is fact and not fantasy? That is what we are going to talk about this week.
About 20 years ago, on a cold February morning, I was in a Chicago television station to be interviewed for a book I had written. In the green room with me was Lee Strobel, who had just written a book called “The Case for Christ.” He shared with me his story. Lee was a graduate of Yale Law School and a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the “Chicago Tribune,” but he wasn’t a Christian. Then his wife trusted in Christ as her Savior. Lee told me, “When she came home and announced that, I imagined she would change from a fun-loving girl into a prude who was interested only in all-night prayer vigils. But to my surprise that’s not what happened. When she became a devoted Christian, there was such a change in so many aspects of her life, I wanted to know what had happened to her. I needed to see if it was legitimate or not.”
Even as an unbeliever, Lee knew the linchpin of Christianity was the claim of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. So Lee knew that if he were going to find out if Christianity were credible, the real issue was: Did the resurrection of Christ really happen or not? Using his skills as a lawyer and an investigative reporter, he set out to see whether there is credible evidence for the resurrection. And what he discovered led to his conversion to Christianity.
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