Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
It is a well-established fact that Jesus Christ was publicly executed in Judea in the 1st Century AD, under Pontius Pilate, by means of crucifixion, at the behest of the Jewish Sanhedrin. Non-Christian historical accounts written by Flavius Josephus, Cornelius Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Maimonides, and even the Jewish Sanhedrin corroborate the early Christian eyewitness accounts of these important historical aspects of the death of Jesus Christ.
But what about His resurrection? Many believers prefer to call Easter “Resurrection Sunday” to highlight that the holiday is about commemorating Jesus’ resurrection and celebrating the hope of eternal life. After all, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the pivotal point of Christianity. Without the resurrection there would be no Christianity. “If Christ has not been raised,” wrote Paul, “then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). So, the entire Christian faith rests on one historically verifiable point: the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Did Jesus of Nazareth really rise from the dead?
If Jerusalem had had its own daily newspaper two thousand years ago, Jesus’ resurrection surely would have been headline news! The townspeople were probably filled with wonder – and perhaps fear – as rumors and speculation abounded. Three days after His crucifixion the tomb was empty, His body was missing, and there were reports that Jesus had been seen alive!
Many contemporary scholars agree that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was probably the most thoroughly attested event in ancient history. While there were no witnesses at the tomb who actually viewed Jesus come back to life, He was seen by all of the apostles as well as by more than 500 people afterwards. Yep, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! But don’t just take my word for it. Read the Bible!
The report in 1 Corinthians 15 is probably the earliest written account of the resurrection appearances. It was penned around AD 55 by the apostle Paul when most of the eyewitnesses were still alive. Throughout history, prior to the use of cameras and recording devices, reliable eyewitnesses were essential. People believe in the historicity of many past events solely because of written accounts and eyewitness testimony without photographic evidence for those events. Any discrepancies in the details can be explained by different people telling what they saw and experienced from their own vantage point.
It should also be noted that many of the apostles died as martyrs for Him, and you simply don’t do that for a myth you made up yourself. Not to mention the women. In a theological commentary on the Gospel of Mark, the late William Placher calls attention to the critical role played by women at the resurrection. In those days, women were not permitted to testify in court because they were not considered credible witnesses. He asks why then would anybody have invented a story in which women were the first ones on scene to see the empty tomb and run to tell others? The only plausible explanation, Placher concludes, is that what the New Testament says happened, really did happen.
What difference does the resurrection make?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ validates who Jesus claimed to be, namely, the Son of God and Messiah. He is the only truth and the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), and in that statement claimed to be the source of both. Jesus does more than give life; He is life, and that’s why death has no power over Him. There is no resurrection apart from Christ; no eternal life.
As the apostle Paul proclaimed to the Athenian philosophers, they should repent because God “has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
Because of the resurrection, death is no longer in charge. Because of the resurrection, death does not get the last word: God does. Easter is a day for rejoicing because Christ our Lord was dead but is risen and is going ahead of us into the future. There we will see Him and greet Him and in Him be forever safe. John 3:16 and 3:36 both proclaim that believing and putting your trust in Him results in eternal life!
Of the many world religions, only one claims that its founder returned from the grave. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very cornerstone of Christianity.
But a dead man coming back to life? How credible is the evidence for–and against–the resurrection?
Focusing his award-winning skills as a legal journalist on history’s most compelling enigma, author Lee Strobel retraces the startling findings that led him from atheism to belief. He examines:
The Evidence of the Missing Body: Was Jesus’s body really absent from his tomb?
- The Evidence of Appearances: Was Jesus seen alive after his death on the cross?
Written in a hard-hitting, journalistic style, The Case for Easter probes the core issues of the resurrection. Jesus Christ, risen from the dead: superstitious myth or life-changing reality? The evidence is in. The verdict is up to you.