Every day more and more people are taking a look — for some, a 2nd one — at the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth. So why do His life and teachings still generate such interest today?
To begin with, everything about Him was unique: The prophecies of His coming. His birth. His life. His teachings. His miracles. His death. And especially His resurrection. It is history’s most significant event. The validity of Jesus’ claims about Himself rests on the Resurrection — whether He rose from the dead or stayed in the grave. Many skeptics say that to believe in a risen Christ is nothing more than a blind leap of faith with little or no basis in truth. When confronted with the facts, however, those who are intellectually honest have been forced to admit that the Resurrection is an historical event based on irrefutable proofs. On my spiritual journey from agnosticism to faith in Christ, I, like many people, had a problem with the Resurrection. But my personal study brought me to a firm conviction that a bodily resurrection is the only explanation for Christ’s empty tomb. Several evidences helped me reach this conclusion.
1st, Christ predicted His resurrection. The Bible records, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things … and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matthew 16:21, New American Standard Bible). Even though His followers did not understand what He was telling them at the time, they remembered His words and recorded them.
2nd, Jesus made numerous appearances to His followers. He comforted the mourners outside His tomb. On the road to Emmaus, He explained things about Himself from the Old Testament. Later, He ate in their presence and invited them to touch Him. Scripture records that Jesus was seen by more than 500 at one time. Some may argue that a few people could have agreed to a deception, but how can one explain the collaboration of 500 people?
3rd, the unrelenting faith of the disciples convinces me of the Resurrection. Those disciples who were once so afraid that they deserted their Lord now courageously proclaimed this news, risking their lives to preach. Their bold and courageous behavior does not make sense unless they knew with absolute certainty that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
4th, the growth of the Christian church confirms the Resurrection. Peter’s first sermon, which dealt with Christ’s resurrection, stirred people to repent of their sins and be baptized. Luke records the thrilling results: “That day there were added about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). And that group of believers has multiplied until now it reaches around the world. Today, there are hundreds of millions of believers.
Finally, the testimony of hundreds of millions of transformed lives through the centuries shows the power of the Resurrection. Many have been delivered from addictions. The destitute and despairing have found hope. Broken marriages have been restored. The most conclusive proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that He is living within believers today in all of His resurrected life and transforming power.
The Resurrection sets Christianity apart. No other religious leader has broken the power of death and conquered sin. The Resurrection confirms that Jesus is who He claimed to be and proved that Christ was divine. The Bible declares that “by being raised from the dead [Christ] was proved to be the mighty Son of God, with the holy nature of God Himself” (Romans 1:4, TLB). The Resurrection also proves Christ’s power to forgive sin. The Bible says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). By rising from the dead, Jesus proved His authority and power to break the bonds of sin and to assure forgiveness and eternal life to all who accept His gift of salvation.
The Resurrection revealed Christ’s power over death. The Bible records, “Christ rose from the dead and will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him” (Romans 6:9, TLB). The Resurrection secured our victory over death as well and “lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6).
The Resurrection is the final proof that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be.
by Bill Bright
Edited by Jay Cline