The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most important facts of Christianity. IF the resurrection is a muth Christianity has no foundation and no message. The resurrection is also one of the most audacious claims regarding Jesus. This ranks up there with the claim that Jesus is God. If the resurrection is true, then we have unshakeable evidence of the truth of the Bible. If the resurrection is not true, then the entire Bible is a farce and a fraud.
The Bible claims that Jesus died. He was executed on a cross. The Roman soldiers administering the crucifixion were responsible to make sure no convicted man left the cross alive. To make certain Jesus was dead one of the soldiers drove his spear up into Jesus side in a killing thrust. Jesus dead body was taken off the cross, wrapped in grave clothes and sealed into a cave like tomb. Jesus’ body remained in that tomb for three days. The grave was sealed with a Roman seal and guarded by Roman soldiers. Jesus was dead and secured in a guarded tomb.
On the Sunday morning after His death Jesus was restored to life. The Bible’s claim is that Jesus definitely died and just as definitely was restored to life. He was just as alive on Sunday morning as he was dead on Friday evening.
What evidence does the Bible offer for the resurrection? The first evidence is the empty tomb. No one in the earliest days after the resurrection disputed the fact that the tomb was empty. If Christ was still in the tomb, then the claims of the disciples would have been easy to disprove. The very first message preached after the resurrection was preached by Peter. He stood in Jerusalem and preached that Jesus was God, was killed (which many in the crowd saw) and that he rose again. Some of the very ones who had called for Jesus crucifixion were there in the crowd. When Peter claimed Jesus had risen his claim could have been disproved by opening the tomb to show the corpse of Jesus. No one did this! Everyone knew the tomb was empty.
After His death the risen Jesus appeared to many different people. One of those was the disciple Thomas. Thomas has become known as Doubting Thomas because he was ready to voice his disbelief about the resurrection. The Sunday evening of His resurrection Jesus visited the disciples. Thomas was not with them when Jesus appeared. The disciples later told Thomas about Jesus resurrection, but Thomas’ response was, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25) Later, Jesus visits the disciples again. This time Thomas was present. Thomas immediately recognized Jesus was alive and confessed Him as, “My Lord and My God.” Skeptical Thomas believed Jesus rose from the dead because he saw the living Jesus.
In the forty days following His resurrection Jesus appeared to over 500 people. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul makes a point of saying many of those were still alive at the time he wrote the letter. Any one who doubted the truth of the resurrection could go and talk to hundreds of people who had seen the risen Jesus. The many people who saw Jesus alive after His death is powerful evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.