The bedrock of Christianity hinges upon the resurrection. Did Jesus really rise again on the third day? Is Christianity a made up religion created by a small number of deranged Jewish persons some 2,000 years ago? We believe Jesus Christ did in fact rise again, just as He claimed He would. Here a few of the evidences we believe support the claim Jesus made about himself, “The son of man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.” Luke 24:7
The Eyewitness Accounts
In the court of law, eyewitnesses bear a strong witness. In cases where there are many eye witnesses who saw the same event, the evidence is compelling. The New Testament writers were not passing on rumors, but in many cases saw with their very eyes the resurrected Christ. Peter the apostle wrote, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you by the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16) John wrote, “We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of Life” (1 John 1:1) Luke says, “He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days.” (Acts 1:3)
Norman Geisler and Frank Turek share, “If the resurrection had not occurred, why would the apostle Paul give such a list of supposed eyewitnesses? He would immediately lose all credibility with his Corinthians readers by lying so blatantly.” Even Paul, one of the leading persecutors of the early church was convinced the resurrection of Jesus was authentic.
In the face of severe persecution, the early church refused to deny the resurrection. Because of their faith, many of them would die a martyr’s death. Why would these die willingly for something they would have known to be a lie? They were convinced.
The Rise of Christianity in Jerusalem
It is widely accepted by historians that Christianity originated in A.D. 32 in the very city of Jerusalem. The same city where Jesus was publicly crucified and buried. Could Christianity have ever really taken off if no one saw the resurrected Christ? Why would Jewish converts repent of their sins and follow a dead man in the very city where he was crucified? If Jesus was still in the grave, Christianity would have died along with it‘s dead savior.
Not only did Christianity survive in Jerusalem, but it flourished. Apologist Charlie Campbell tells us it is confirmed by numerous non-Christian, extra-biblical writings and archaeological discoveries that 3,000 people believed the first post-resurrection sermon which was preached a few minutes walk from the tomb. Acts Chapter 6 tells us a few days later that not only was the church was growing, but there were 5,000 believers. Acts 6:7 says, the number of disciples “continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem.” Normally a stickler for details, Luke apparently lost count of the number of people coming to the faith in and around Jerusalem.
The Certain Death
It was no secret Jesus proclaimed he would rise again. The Jews took every precaution and step necessary to ensure Jesus died. The Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross were professional executioners. They knew how to get the job done. The pain endured on the cross was meant to silence uprisings and to destroy any threat to Rome.
By nailing the hands to the cross, the cross was meant to kill by suffocation. Medical Doctor, David Ball, claims Jesus was killed by a ruptured heart. When the soldiers thrust the spear into the side of Jesus, blood and water spilled out. This showed that Jesus’ heart had already stopped beating. Dr. Ball says, “The blood from the rupture had filled the pericardium, the sac around the heart. Blood naturally separates into red cells and serum as it sits, so the liquid looked like blood and water.” The soldiers would have lost their very own lives at any sign of a botched crucifixion. They were certain to get the job done. Their lives depended on it.
These are only a handful of the many proofs of the resurrection. In a culture that didn’t respect the testimony of a woman in court, the disciples would not have made up a story with the key witnesses being women, much less the first witnesses. The changed lives of the apostles, the secure tomb, the graves clothes being essentially pasted to the body of Jesus, and countless other proofs show the hard evidence that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. We do not believe in a dead Christ, but a risen Christ! We can base our entire lives and future on this truth: He has risen!