“Couldn’t the resurrection have just been a hoax or a myth? Is there any evidence Jesus rose from the dead?”
1 Cor. 15:17: “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”
Rev. 1:18: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
Timothy McVeigh, the man behind the Oklahoma City bombing, was executed in 2011. He received a lethal injection for killing 168 innocent people, even though no one saw him commit this heinous crime. All the evidence against McVeigh was circumstantial. Indirect testimony: That’s what circumstantial evidence is. It’s an accumulation of facts from which one can draw intelligent conclusions.
In Acts 1:3 Luke reports, “[Jesus] presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs.”Infallible proofs are what we would call in a court of law, pieces of evidence.
Let’s look at some of them:
1. The ancient Jews had a number of immensely important religious rituals. These included the offering of animal sacrifices, obeying the Mosaic law, and keeping the Sabbath. But within five weeks of Jesus’ death, more than 10,000 Jews had suddenly altered or abandoned these rituals. Why would they relinquish rites that had long given them their national identity? The implication is that something enormously significant had occurred.
2. The emergence of new rituals: the sacraments of Communion and Baptism. The early Jews baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, “which,” J.P. Moreland said, “meant they had elevated Jesus to the full status of God.”
3. The rapid rise of a new church, beginning shortly after the death of Jesus. Within twenty years this new church (begun by the companions of a Man, thought to be a dead carpenter) had reached Caesar’s palace in Rome, and eventually spread throughout the Roman empire.
4. The fact that every one of Jesus’ disciples was willing to suffer and die for his beliefs. These men spent the rest of their lives witnessing about Christ. They frequently went without food; they were mocked, beaten, and thrown into prison. In the end, all but one died a painful martyr’s death. Would they have done this for a lie? Of course not. They did it because they were convinced beyond a doubt that they had seen the risen Christ.
5. The empty tomb. Unlike all other religious groups our founder doesn’t have a grave. In Jesus’ day there was no controversy about the tomb being empty. The Romans and Jews couldn’t deny it; there was no-body there.
6. The Roman seal. A rope was stretched across the huge bolder that covered the entrance to the tomb. The rope was attached to the outside wall of the tomb by a piece of wax that had a Roman seal impressed upon it. The penalty for breaking the seal (which would happen if the stone was moved) was death.
7. The stone. It is estimated to have weighed at least two tons, with a likely height of about seven or eight feet. It would have taken a few strong people to move it.
8. The Roman guard. Well-trained Roman troops were stationed in front of the tomb. The penalty for leaving their post or falling asleep while on watch was death.
9. The Christian Church. It is the largest institution or organization that has ever existed, with a global membership of over two billion people. “The Grand Canyon wasn’t caused by an Indian dragging a stick, and the Christian Church wasn’t created by a myth.” History records that the Christian Church was founded in A.D. 32, the year Christ was killed, and that it began because the apostles began to preach that Jesus rose from the dead. The basis of the Christian belief system was and still is the resurrection.
10. The post-resurrection appearances of Christ. There were literally hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw the risen Christ over a period of about six weeks (1 Cor. 15:4-8). Connected to the appearances were the changed lives of Jesus’ apostles. They went from cowering, fearful men hiding behind locked doors to brave and bold martyrs who turned the world upside down. Why would they give their lives if they knewthe resurrection to be false?
11. The character of Christ. Saint and skeptic alike see Jesus as the most integrity filled, noble, pure moral soul that ever walked the face of the earth. Such a man would not promote a deception that He arose from the dead, if, in fact, He didn’t. And we know Jesus didn’t promote a lie, He predicted His resurrection and He fulfilled it.
12. The ongoing proof of changed lives. Even if we doubted 2,000-year-old evidence, we have all the circumstantial evidence we could possibly want—right in front of us. It is, J.P. Moreland said, “the ongoing encounter with the resurrected Christ that happens all over the world, in every culture, to people from all kinds of back-grounds and personalities. They all will testify that more than any single thing in their lives, Jesus Christ has changed them.”
The Easter Gift
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