Every day more and more people are taking a look -- for some, a 2nd one -- at the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth.
So why do His life and teachings still generate such interest today?
What I Found in My Search
To begin with, everything about Him was unique: The prophecies of His coming. His birth. His life. His teachings. His miracles. His death. And especially His resurrection.
It is history's most significant event.
The validity of Jesus' claims about Himself rests on the Resurrection -- whether He rose from the dead or stayed in the grave.
Many skeptics say that to believe in a risen Christ is nothing more than a blind leap of faith with little or no basis in truth.
When confronted with the facts, however, those who are intellectually honest have been forced to admit that the Resurrection is an historical event based on irrefutable proofs.
On my spiritual journey from agnosticism to faith in Christ, I, like many people, had a problem with the Resurrection.
But my personal study brought me to a firm conviction that a bodily resurrection is the only explanation for Christ's empty tomb.
Several evidences helped me reach this conclusion.
Evidence for the Resurrection
- 1st, Christ predicted His resurrection. The Bible records, "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things ... and be killed, and be raised up on the third day" (Matthew 16:21, New American Standard Bible). Even though His followers did not understand what He was telling them at the time, they remembered His words and recorded them.
- 2nd, Jesus made numerous appearances to His followers. He comforted the mourners outside His tomb on Sunday morning. On the road to Emmaus, He explained things about Himself from the Old Testament. Later, He ate in their presence and invited them to touch Him. Scripture records that Jesus was seen by more than 500 at one time. Some may argue that a few people could have agreed to a deception, but how can one explain the collaboration of 500 people?
- 3rd, the unrelenting faith of the disciples convinces me of the Resurrection. Those disciples who were once so afraid that they deserted their Lord now courageously proclaimed this news, risking their lives to preach. Their bold and courageous behavior does not make sense unless they knew with absolute certainty that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
- 4th, the growth of the Christian church confirms the Resurrection. Peter's first sermon, which dealt with Christ's resurrection, stirred people to receive Him as their living Savior. Luke records the thrilling results: "That day there were added about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). And that group of believers has multiplied until now it reaches around the world. Today, there are hundreds of millions of believers.
- Finally, the testimony of hundreds of millions of transformed lives through the centuries shows the power of the Resurrection. Many have been delivered from addictions. The destitute and despairing have found hope. Broken marriages have been restored. The most conclusive proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that He is living within believers today in all of His resurrected life and transforming power.
The Resurrection sets Christianity apart. No other religious leader has broken the power of death and conquered sin.
Significance of the Resurrection
The Resurrection confirms that Jesus is who He claimed to be. Let us consider the magnitude of this event:
- The Resurrection proved that Christ was divine. The fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross does not prove in itself He is God. Jesus proved His deity by fulfilling the prophecies of His death and by His return from the grave. The Bible declares that "by being raised from the dead [Christ] was proved to be the mighty Son of God, with the holy nature of God Himself" (Romans 1:4, The Living Bible).
- The Resurrection proved Christ's power to forgive sin. The Bible asserts, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). By rising from the dead, Jesus proved His authority and power to break the bonds of sin and to assure forgiveness and eternal life to all who accept His gift of salvation.
- The Resurrection revealed Christ's power over death. The Bible records, "Christ rose from the dead and will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him" (Romans 6:9, TLB). The Resurrection secured our victory over death as well and "lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 2:6).
- The Resurrection defeated God's enemy. From the moment of his original rebellion until the day of the Cross, the devil fought viciously and cunningly to overthrow the kingdom of God. Satan must have thought he had dealt the final and decisive blow in this age-old war. But this was the devil's most serious miscalculation. The Cross was heaven's triumph. And when Jesus Christ arose, the power of sin and death was forever shattered. Because of the Resurrection, Christians need never fear Satan or death again.
Completion of Redemption
For 40 days after His death and resurrection, Christ appeared many times to His followers.
On one occasion, He gathered His remaining 11 disciples on a mountain in Galilee and gave them His Great Commission.
He said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always" (Matthew 28:19,20).
Later, the Book of Acts records that, on the Mount of Olives, He admonished His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with the Holy Spirit and then to take His message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world (Acts 1:4,5,8).
Immediately after, He rose skyward and disappeared into the clouds, leaving the disciples staring after Him in amazed wonder.
The ascension of Christ was the final act in the drama of redemption. His mission completed, Jesus Christ was exalted to His former glory.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ ranks as history's most revolutionary event.
One cannot deny that He shook the world in His day.
But His life just as dramatically has shaped the course of history in our time.
The Resurrection is the final proof that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be.
Adapted from A Man Without Equal, written by Bill Bright. All rights reserved.