This is the question upon which the credibility of Christianity hangs. The Christian Gospel centres around two key things: that “Christ died for our sins…” and that “He rose again the third day…” The Bible itself says that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then the Christian faith is empty and provides no real hope. So let’s take a closer look at this all important subject.
The resurrection was prophesied in the Old Testament, hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ birth. Furthermore, Jesus Himself predicted on numerous occasions that He would rise from the dead three days after His death. If Jesus didn’t rise again having made such predictions, He was a liar and clearly not the Son of God.
In 1930 Frank Morison set out to expose the story of Jesus’ resurrection as being a myth. However during his extensive research and analysis he became convinced that the resurrection was actually true! He published his journey of discovery in a book called ‘Who moved the stone?’ His story is not unique. Many who have tried to disprove the resurrection of Jesus have ended up convinced that it really did take place.
There are several pieces of compelling evidence which confirm that Jesus really did rise from the dead.
The Tomb was Empty:On the third day after Jesus’ death, visitors to the tomb found it empty. Cynics suggest that Jesus’ followers came and stole the body. However this was the last thing on their minds. The Bible records them hiding away, fearing that they would be killed next. It was actually Jesus’ enemies, who paid the soldiers to spread the rumour that His body had been stolen.
The Testimony of Eye Witnesses: In a court of law only 2 or 3 eyewitnesses are required to present a watertight case. If over 500 eyewitnesses stepped forward with corroborative evidence, there wouldn’t be a shadow of doubt over its validity. The Bible records that Jesus appeared to over 500 people during the 40 days following His resurrection. These people saw Him, heard Him, touched Him and ate with Him. When Paul wrote about these things years later, he mentions that most of the witnesses were still alive and their accounts could be scrutinised. If those accounts had been proven to be false, Christianity would have died out fairly quickly.
The Transformation in Jesus’ Followers: When Jesus was arrested all of His followers abandoned Him and some even denied that they knew Him. They were terrified. However, something changed. A few weeks later they were willing to risk their lives whilst fearlessly preaching about Jesus in the very city where He had been crucified. What made the difference? They had seen Jesus risen from the dead and because He had conquered death, they now had no fear of death themselves!
What difference does the resurrection make to us today? The Christian faith is based upon the principle that God can forgive our sins because they were paid for in full by Jesus on the cross. When you take your shopping items to the checkout, the sales assistant totals up the price and asks for payment. You hand over your cash. The transaction is done. They then give you a receipt as proof that the price has been paid in full. If the security alarm goes off you can pull out your receipt and say, “It’s been paid for and here’s proof!”
This is what the resurrection means for us today. It is God’s way of proving to us that Jesus fully paid the price for our sin when He died upon the cross. On that basis forgiveness is available today if we are willing to turn from our sin and put our trust in Jesus.
The resurrection also means that Christianity is unique. It is not a religion focused on following the teachings of a dead leader. Christianity is all about enjoying a day to day relationship with a living Saviour. A well known hymn expresses what this really means to Christians; “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone.” For those who believe in Jesus there is nothing more to fear. There is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus lives.