THE EVIDENCE ON THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST
One of the most important elements of Christianity is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Think about it, if Christ did not really rise from the dead, what we have faith in today is useless. The Apostle Paul teaches in I Corinthians 15:14-17 that if Christ did not rise, the apostles preaching was empty or useless which therefore made anyone’s faith empty. Paul goes on to say in verse 17, if Christ did not rise, the our faith is futile and we would all still be in our sins.
I Corinthians 15:14-17
14 – And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15- Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up – if in fact the dead do not rise.16 – For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen;17- And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins!
Based on these verses taught by Paul in I Corinthians 15, Christianity either stands firm because of the factual evidence for Christ’s resurrection, or crashes into pieces if there is no truth to the Resurrection.
We know as christians, that no other has ever died and rose the way that Christ did. Of course we read of certain individuals in the bible such as Lazarus, and others. But compared to Christ, Lazarus eventually died and so did the others. Jesus Christ has not died a second time. Hence, the unique resurrction of Jesus was genuinly unique from any other by the simple fact that Jesus never died again, while all others went on to die.
Christianity stands or falls on the truthfulness of the Resurrection of Christ. Without an historically valid physical resurrection of Christ there is no basis in truth to Christianity. Far from being a doctrine of those ‘fundamentalists’, belief in the literal, physical, resurrection of Christ to immortality is actually what destinguishes a personPaul also mentions in Romans 6:9 “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him”. When the bible speaks of “death” or “to be dead” means that a person’s spirit is separated from their body. Over in James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”. James teaches that to be spiritually dead is for a person to be spiritually separated from God because of their sin. In the same verse James goes on to explain that faith without works is a similar picture. Once again, the bible seems to teach that a person’s spirit does not cease to exist even after physical death. In contrast, a human spirit will always exist whether that person is in communion with God or in rebellion to God. We can make the same case for Jesus that when He died, He did not resurrect spiritually because the spirit will always exist. This combats the Jehovah’s Witnesses teaching that Jesus resurrected only spiritually and not physically. This teaching by the Jehvoah’s Witnesses would mean that Christ’s spirit ceased to exist and then miraculously came back to life.
Thus, when Christ rose physically, His battered crucified body was supernaturally restored barring the apparant scars from the nails and the piercing to His side by the spear that was thrusted into Him by a Roman Soldier. The horrific experience that Jesus went through just prior to His crucifixion marred His appearance. We notice this over in Luke 24:13-16 regarding the two witnesses who did not recognize Jesus after His resurrection. In this same chapter of Luke 24, the disciples eyes were opened to His resurrected body.
After the resurrection, the appearances of Jesus was not exactly the same as His pre-resurrected body was. Thus, Christ’s body was glorified when he returned to the Father. In the same manner by which Christ received a new glorified body, we too as believers in Christ will translate to glorified bodies as Paul describes in I Corinthians 15. In I Corinthians 15:20-23 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one is his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s as His coming. The factual evidence in the scriptures prove that Christ Jesus did physically resurrect from the dead. In scripture, we are told of many who witnessed and saw Jesus after the crucifixion. The apostles saw Jesus with his nail scarred hands and so did 500 other disciples of Christ. Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene were also among others who saw Jesus.
We have four gospel writers who all recorded that they saw Jesus or that they compiled information from other sources that Jesus did rise again. We know as Christians, that Matthew and John were part of the 12 disciples. These two men followed Jesus for three and a half years. These two men knew Jesus very well and they saw Him in His new resurrected body. We have no reason to disbelieve the accounts of these two writers. After all, the only people that were physically present after the crucifixion that saw Jesus were the apostles including Matthew and John. We have no reason to disbelieve that George Washington lived and was a former president of the United States and who played a major role in the formation of our country. Now none of use were personally there to witness this, but we have so reason to disbelieve that George Washington was a real man who lived and who was president of the United States. We trust the research that is given to us by other experts who present the innformational facts that this is true. It is the same case for the resurrection of Jesus. We have several hundered people who would account for the fact that they witnessed Jesus alive after the crucifixion took place. Once again, we have no reason to doubt several hundred people who were witnesses of this. Mark was not part of the 12 disciples, but he certainly lived and saw Jesus during his life. Mark became a companion of the Apostle Paul which most certainly meant that Mark compiled his account or gospel from sources very clost to Jesus. The same for Luke.
Common objections to the resurrection of Christ begin with a denial that He was actually killed. One theory that objects to Christ’s death is that He did not actually die, but rather passed out and the Romans mistakenly accounted Jesus to be dead. These skeptics believe that Christ was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb by which Jesus recovered and was not actually dead.
The problem with this theory is that lack of knowledge of first centry Roman style executions. The Romans were considered experts at their own style of execution. Crucifixion was a very common way for violaters of law to be executed or killed. It was well known by victims of the Roman style of execution to be whipped, scourged, beaten prior to actually being crucified. The Romans would leave the victim crucified for days. There is no way any Roman soldier would commit such oversight and think that the victim was dead when in fact he was not. Many other skeptics think that the Romans arrested and eventually killed the wrong person when thinking it was Jesus all along. They assert that after the wrong Jesus was buried, the real Jesus re-entered the scene giving the impression that He rose again.
The problem with this theory is that the Jewish authorities and leaders would not have made this mistake in dealing with Jesus. Throughout the new testament gospels, we read numerous times where the pharisees and chief priests sought to kill Jesus. These Jewish leaders knew exactly who they were dealing with. In fact, the kept a close eye on Jesus almost throughout His whole ministry. It was the Jewish leaders, and Cheif priests that interrogated Jesus, and not the Romans. Other skeptics believe that the people that Christ appeared to were hallucinating. This is impossible to assume that several hundred people were hallucinating. As Christians we have several reasons to believe why the resurrection was factual. One reason is that the body of Christ is still missing. If Christ did not rise, then the Jewish or Roman government would have produced Christ’s body. Well, they could not do that. In addition, Jesus repeated Himself to the disciples that He will rise again in three days. Another reason is I Corinthians 15 in the opening of the chapter teaches that Jesus was seen by Peter, the twelve disciples, and 500 brethren, then by Jesus’ brother James, and all the apostles and lastly the Apostle Paul saw Him on his road to Damascus. (I Corinthians 15:5-8).
Another reason is that the apostles and close followers of Jesus were brutally killed for their faith. What purpose would it serve for these followers to be brutally killed knowing that Christ did not rise from the dead? Why would the apostles lie about the fact that they saw Jesus after the crucifixion knowing that they would suffer violent deaths. We see this in Acts 12, James the brother of John was killed by Herod the king. Meanwhile Peter was kept in prison for his faith. Nobody would go through these things if they knew Christ did not rise from the dead.
Another reason is Paul’s conversion as a result of actually seeing Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul, formerly Saul persecuted the Church and even the disciples thinking that this was what he was supposed to do. When he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was converted and became a true follower of Jesus. According to Church tradition, Paul was beheaded for his faith in Christ.
In closing, without the resurrection of Christ we would be doomed. In addition, without Christ’s resurrection, He would be found a liar because of the many times He told his disciples that He would rise again. Thank the Lord that Jesus did rise again, and that his death and resurrection results in a community of believers called “the church” to experience the same process when we receive our new incorruptible bodies.