The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very event that our faith and salvation hinges on. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, even the crucifixion (Jesus dying for our sins) is powerless and merely reduced to a “good example.” The Apostle Paul paints a pretty bleak picture in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 in talking about this reality:
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”
Everything hinges on whether Jesus rose from the dead or not.
And here’s the good news: He did rise from the dead!
But how can I or we as Christians say that so confidently and with such certainty and conviction? Do we just say that out of our own desire to believe it is true or “feelings” that it is true? Well, let me make this statement:
When you weigh all the evidence and possible explanations of the empty tomb of Jesus, you find that the only reasonable explanation is that He did actually and truly rise from the dead.
Consider what we are told in Matthew 27:62-66 for example: “On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.”
It is important to note that Jesus’ tomb was specially and specifically guarded by professionals. In fact without realizing it, those making the tomb as secure as possible and setting a guard, are playing right into the plan of God, because they made it impossible and improbable for any human explanation to be given concerning the empty tomb. They specifically did this so as to prevent any possibility of Jesus’ disciples stealing His body and trying to claim He rose from the dead. So right off the bat the argument that His body was stolen is absurd.
Secondly, it’s important to note that Jesus’ tomb was made as secure as they possibly and professionally could at that time and was sealed by a stone that no man from inside that tomb (let alone one who had just been scourged, nearly dying from that, and then crucified and confirmed by professional Roman soldiers that He had died on the cross) could possibly roll up and back. Attempts to say Jesus merely “swooned” and “revived” while in the tomb and then rolled the stone back and walked out alive (without the professional guards noticing!), is absurd and ridiculous! Their securing the tomb by sealing the stone and setting a guard just sealed the truth of that supernatural and miraculous reality!
The only plausible, reasonable, logical explanation is that He actually did rise from the dead and is alive!
And that brings me to this point. Anyone can believe that Jesus died on a cross. Crucifixions happened all the time. But it’s not everyday someone rises from the dead after being crucified!
Our faith is a faith in the supernatural and miraculous power of God. In fact Romans 10:9 says: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Now, believing Christ rose from the dead implies you believe He first of all died. This is not taking away from the importance and significance of what He did for us on the cross. If Jesus didn’t die on the cross for our sins there would be no salvation and forgiveness of sins. His death on the cross was absolutely essential!
But the point in this article is that you must believe a supernatural event took place in Jesus rising from the dead in order to be saved and experience the miracle of salvation in your own life. To believe the Gospel (“Good News”) is to believe in the supernatural, which requires more than intellectual assent but heart-faith.
That verse back in Romans 10:9 makes clear that in order to be saved you must believe not merely in your head, but in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. And if you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you do believe in something miraculous and supernatural and a God who works miracles.
But believing this in our heart is not a contradiction to our “head.”
And thus we come full circle back to the original point of this article.
Our faith is a faith that includes belief in something supernatural and miraculous, but it is not irrational or illogical. There is plenty of evidence that testifies to this being the truth.
For example, not only was the tomb guarded by trained professionals and sealed, but later in chapter 28 of Matthew, verse 6, an angel tells the women who came to the tomb to “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Notice they didn’t tell the women to just believe them blindly or just take their word for it. They actually encouraged them to go and see the evidence of the empty tomb for themselves.
And in light of that I just want to say this: God is not opposed to sincere seeking of the truth, to examining the evidence of the truthfulness of all this.
If you’re skeptical or struggle with whether this is all true or not, let me encourage you; God encourages honest exploration of the evidence or a sincere seeking of Him and considering the evidence. He is not threatened by that because He has nothing to hide or cover up! This is no hoax or nice but untrue story that was perpetrated by a few conniving disciples. This is the truth and whoever sincerely seeks God and seeks the truth will find God and discover this is the truth!
But see for yourself. Don’t just take the word of men or me or even angels. Go see for yourself so you know for yourself!
In fact this has to be or become personal. And the only way it is personal is when you personally come to Christ in faith. And if by examining the evidence that will help you put your faith in Him, great! That’s what it’s there for and the scripture was written for; so you will believe in Jesus and by believing have eternal life! (John 20:31, John 5:39).
The point is, faith in Christ, faith that He rose from the dead, is faith in something supernatural and miraculous, but it is not a superstitious faith; it is not a blind faith; it is not an unreasonable faith. It’s actually the only logical explanation when you weigh the evidence!
Here’s something else to consider: Did you know that there were not just the women who claimed to see Jesus resurrected? And did you know there were not just the 12 disciples whom Jesus appeared to multiple and many times over a period of 40 days before ascending to heaven? 1 Corinthians 15:6 tells us there were over 500 other believers who He appeared to upon rising from the dead!
In other words there were not a few people who claimed to be eye-witnesses, but hundreds of eye-witnesses!
And let me just say here, in regard to Him appearing to His disciples, we are not only told in Acts 1:3 that Jesus appeared to His disciples over a period of 40 days after He rose from the dead, but Acts 1:3 says that He also was “presenting Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible (undeniable, convincing) proofs.”
In other words, the disciples were not hallucinating or even gullible.
In fact, Jesus would even rebuke some of them after His resurrection saying they were “slow of heart to understand and believe.” (Luke 24:25).
And remember Thomas?
He refused to believe on the basis of the other disciples’ testimonies saying he wouldn’t believe unless He saw Jesus for Himself and touched him, which was a request Jesus graciously answered but then said in John 20:29 “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Even His own disciples were slow to believe and one refused to believe unless He saw Him!
They weren’t looking to fool anyone and weren’t about to be fooled themselves!
Also, why would all of these men suddenly become willing to die for this truth when they all fled in fear of their lives when Jesus was being crucified? How do you explain the change you see in these men when you read about them in the Gospel accounts but then read about them in the book of Acts? The same cowardly, fearful and wavering in faith disciples, become bold, fearless and full of faith in the book of Acts! And all are persecuted, and all but John is martyred for their preaching Jesus rose from the dead! Why would all of them subject themselves to persecution and even death for a lie?
So we can believe this by faith, in our heart, knowing that this isn’t a foolish faith that flies in the face of reason or evidence. It is a reasonable faith that is verified by much evidence and many eye-witnesses!
Jesus rising from the dead is not a myth, fable or desperate hoax of a few disillusioned deceitful disciples.
All the evidence validates that Jesus has risen from the dead!
The real question is the one Jesus once asked a woman named Martha:
John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”