Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Resurrection

With Easter upon us, I thought it appropriate to again explain the importance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the greatest evidence we have that Jesus was who He said He was. If this event did indeed happen there can be no other explanation as to how it happened in the way that it did.

First we have the Old Testament prophecies that the Messiah would be put to death (Daniel 9, Isaiah 53, Zechariah 12, to name a few). Then we have accounts of Jesus Himself telling His disciples before hand that this would happen. This is interesting, because if the disciples had made up this whole thing, then why would they make themselves look so thick. Jesus told them ahead of time, and then afterward, the disciples could not believe it had happened. If someone had made this resurrection story up, they would have put themselves in a better light by at least saying they had faith that Jesus would rise after He died just as He said. However, none of the apostles said this.

Second, the apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 15 explained how if Christ is not really resurrected from the dead, their preaching is in vain. That is so true. Paul was an accomplished Pharisee. If this was a lie, (which he would have known it was, being a supposed eye witness of the resurrected Jesus) why would Paul give up his career, his devotion to his God, his lifestyle, and ultimately his life to spread this crazy story about a guy who claimed to be God. Thousands of people don't just get up and follow that story, especially when they could be killed for doing it. These were not thousands of weak minded people, they were mostly Jews. Jews are tough and very stubborn. They are devoted to their heritage and culture and don't easily give it up. I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for how the church took form so quickly in the first century under extreme persecution. There is an abundance of historical documentation outside the Bible that the church was growing by the thousands well within the 1st century AD. This documentation also testifies to death of Jesus, and miracles He performed. If, as some skeptics claim, the resurrection account is a mere legend, then the church would not have spread throughout the Roman Empire within 30 years of Christ's resurrection. So the argument that the Gospels are exagerations of what really happened does not hold water, in light of the fact that there was no reason for anyone to become Christian unless the resurrection had indeed happened as recorded in the Gospels.

Some other evidence we can point to includes the fact that the Jews and Romans could have ended this Christian movement by just showing them the dead corpse of Jesus. This never happened obviously. So what then, did the apostles steal the body? Again this does not explain why anyone would believe them. Not to mention they had nothing to gain by making this story up. Thye certainly would not have been able to convince the thousands upon thousands that converted within those first 30 years.

We also have no conflicting accounts of what happened. If indeed the apostles made this stuff up about Jesus healing people, walking on water, and rising from the grave, there would have been people who would have spoke up and denounced what the apostles were saying. We have no such account.

We also see the conversion of skeptics like Paul and James who were not followers of Jesus until after they saw Him resurrected. We also see a change in the apostles behavior after the resurrection. They feared for their lives and ran when Jesus was arrested. After He rose from the grave, the apostles boldly proclaimed the Gospel even after they were arrested and beaten.

The bottom line is that there is no other explanation for the rise of the church and the historical accounts we have other than the fact that the resurrection of Jesus did occur just as it is recorded in the New Testament. This is wonderfully joyful news, and should invoke a response on our part to get serious about our relationship with God through our savior Jesus Christ.

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