of Christ's resurrection
That a man called Jesus lived in
the land of Israel nearly 2000 years ago is a fact of history. The
existence of Christendom since that time is a testimony to the fact.
What is disputed by some is the claim by his followers that Jesus
rose from the dead three days after being killed. This is at the
centre of Christianity; if it is not true then Christian faith is
meaningless. This is what the apostle Paul said when writing to
the believers at Corinth. "...if Christ be not raised, your
faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (l Corinthians 15:17).
The evidence set out below shows
that this need not be based upon blind faith, but rather that there
are sound arguments to support the claim that the resurrection of
Jesus was a historical event.
Evidence of the empty tomb
The tomb in which the body of Jesus
was laid, three days later was found to be empty; this has never
been disputed. Even the Jewish authorities at the time - staunch
enemies of Jesus who would have been the first to raise the matter
had there been any doubt - had to concoct an excuse to account for
the missing body. If the body of Jesus had been stolen as the Jews
maintained, then his subsequent place of burial would surely have
become a cause of speculation and a place of homage for his disciples.
But in 2000 years this has never happened.
Evidence of the eye witness
The risen Jesus was seen by over
500 eye witnesses. The apostle Paul, again writing to the Corinthians,
spoke of this in the following words.
I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received,
how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according
to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the
twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren
at once" (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).
The question has arisen whether
the apostles were capable of using their senses to properly judge
the issue as they were from uneducated backgrounds. In answer to
this, it is clear that the evidence did not require the use of great
intellectual prowess to judge the matter, only the use of senses
which all ordinary men and women are capable of using; that of sight
and hearing. Consider the following two passages.
"For we cannot but speak
the things which we have seen and heard". (Acts 4:20)
"For we have not followed
cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power
and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of
his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).
Another suggestion is that the witnesses
were either being dishonest or suffering a hallucination. As to
the former, there might be some credit in this suggestion if the
apostles had made material gain from preaching the resurrection
of Jesus. The fact is that they gained nothing in this world for
their troubles except to suffer persecution and sometimes death
at the hands of the authorities. The apostle Paul spoke of his own
life in the following words -
"We are fools for Christ's
sake...Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst,
and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace...we
are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of
all things unto this day" (1 Corinthians 4:9-13).
As for being the subjects of hallucination;
if Mary were in this state, then she might have mistaken the gardener
for Jesus when at the tomb. But rather, she took Jesus to be the
gardener (John 20:15).
Evidence of the Old Testament
The death and resurrection of Christ
was foretold hundreds of years before the event by God through the
prophets of Israel. The prophet Daniel in the ninth chapter of his
book speaks of the time when the Messiah should "be cut off"
and "shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,"
(Daniel 9:25-27). Jesus fulfilled this, when as the Messiah (The
Christ) he was killed or "cut off". By doing so he made
unnecessary the sacrifices and oblations of the Old Testament law.
The prophet Zechariah looks forward
to the time when the resurrected Christ will return to the earth
to be reunited with his people, the Jews. He will then display to
them the wounds that he received in his hands.
"And one shall say unto him,
What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those
with which I was wounded in the house of my friends" (Zechariah
The wounds will bear testimony to
the nature of his death and his presence at that time to his resurrection.
There are many other passages in
the Old Testament which refer to the death and resurrection of Jesus;
too many for us to deal with in any detail here, so here are a few
passages which you can peruse at your leisure: Psalm 2:6; Psalm
16:10; 17:15; 30:1-3; 110:1; Isaiah 53.