Easter Sunday has just passed and it seems appropriate to take a moment for another consideration of Jesus’ resurrection. The Bible offers a number of facts that are legitimate evidences for the truth of the resurrection. Sufficient evidence exists in God’s Word to convince a reasonable person of the plausibility of Jesus’ resurrection.
The claim of the resurrection begins with an assertion: Jesus was genuinely dead. The Roman soldiers guarding the cross would have never let a victim down unless he was definitively dead. The men who transported Jesus to the tomb and wrapped Him for burial would never have buried Him if they found the least evidence of life. Jesus was dead when He came down from the cross. The third day after His death, Jesus was restored to life by God the Father.
The Bible offers several evidences that Jesus was miraculously returned to life. The guards assigned to watch over Jesus’ tomb told the priests of the angelic visitor, the removal of the stone and the empty tomb. These men were not disciples of Jesus. They were at best unconcerned about Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah. They had no agenda but the protection of their own interests. The priests who instigated the crucifixion believed the Roman soldiers’ testimony, but conspired with them to lie about the actual events. The priests bought off the soldiers and convinced the soldiers to confess to what would ordinarily have been a capital crime, falling asleep while on watch, rather than admit the supernatural events of that day. While not conclusive proof for the resurrection, these facts compel one to consider carefully what did happen that Sunday morning.
Seven weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples stood in front of large crowds in Jerusalem and announced that Jesus had risen. The disciples indicted the Jews for their part in crucifying the Messiah and then declared God had restored Jesus to life. Of the tens of thousands in Jerusalem who heard this message, including the religious leaders of the nation who had condemned Jesus to death, many would have known the exact location of Jesus’ tomb. If Jesus was still in the grave, any of those who rejected the apostles preaching could have readily shown the disciples and the masses the body of Jesus. No one did. The inability of the skeptics to refute the apostles claims gives strong evidence to the empty tomb and points to the genuineness of the resurrection.
The four gospels and the letter of 1 Corinthians dedicate significant sections to Jesus’ resurrection. The first gospel was written less than 20 years after Jesus’ death. The letter to the Corinthians was written about 25 years after Jesus’ death. Many of those who were eyewitnesses of Jesus death and resurrection were still living. The gospel writers and the apostle Paul mention specific individuals who saw the risen Jesus. Any of these eyewitnesses could testify to having personally seen Jesus alive after His resurrection. Besides the specific ones named Paul cites an additional five hundred Christians who saw Jesus alive after His death. The vast multitude of witnesses give strong evidence, evidence that would be practically incontrovertible in any other case today, to the truth that Jesus died and rose to life again. When one considers the intense persecution these believers faced because of their commitment to Jesus, the possibility of a conspiracy to dupe the world seems very unlikely.
The resurrection is a certain event that can be attested to by strong evidences. One can believe the claims of the Bible about Jesus and know that He is the Savior who died and now lives forever. Because Jesus is alive, those who believe Him will have eternal life.