GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
There Is No Evidence That Jesus Rose From The Dead?
By Keith L. Estes
Many people today accept a number of myths about Christianity, with the result that they never respond to Jesus as He really is. This is one of the articles that speak to that misconception.
All four Gospels give an account of Jesus' resurrection. Moreover, the rest of the New Testament speaks with a tremendous sense of confidence about an empty tomb and the triumph of Christ over death. And no wonder, if true, the resurrection is the most amazing news the world has ever heard. It means there is a God after all. It means that Jesus really is God's Son. It means that Christ is alive-today-and we can know Him and be touched by His life and power. It means that we need not fear death the way we once did; we are not destined to oblivion but to spend eternity with God. It also means that knowing God is of the utmost importance right now, while we can.
These are important implications, so the question of whether Jesus actually rose from the dead is crucial. At least four lines of evidence indicate that He did: (1) Jesus Really Was Dead. Every source we have indicates that Jesus was publicly executed before large crowds. He was certified as dead by both a centurion in charge of the execution-a professional whose job it was to determine that death had taken place-and by the regional governor, Pilate, who sent to have the matter checked. This is an important point because some skeptics claim that Jesus was not really dead, that He was only near death but revived in the cool of the tomb. (2) The Tomb Was Found Empty. Jesus was buried in a new tomb, one that had never before been used. That means it was in perfect condition and would have been easy to locate. But when Jesus' friends arrived on the second morning after His death, His body was gone. All the accounts agree on this.
The empty tomb was no less astonishing to Jesus' enemies than it was to His friends. His enemies had been working for years to see Him dead and buried. Having accomplished their goal, they took pains to post a guard and seal the tomb with an enormous boulder. Nevertheless, on Easter morning the tomb was found empty.
Who emptied it? Either men did, or God. If men, which ones? Jesus' enemies would have been the least likely to have stolen the body, Even if they had, they would certainly have produced it later to refute the claims of the disciples that Jesus was alive. What about Jesus' friends? Unlikely, since the accounts show them to have been very demoralized after the crucifixion. Nor would they have willingly suffered persecution and death for what they knew to be a lie.
(3) Jesus Appeared After His Death To Many Witnesses. In a garden, on a road, in an upstairs room, by a lake-each of the Gospels recounts Jesus' post-resurrection appearances to His fearful, doubting followers over a period of forty days. Were these hallucinations? That seems implausible, since they happened to too many people, among them hardheaded fishermen, steadfast women, civil servants, and the ultimate skeptic, Thomas.
(4) Countless People Have Encountered The Living Jesus And Been Changed By Him. The resurrection is not simply a matter of intellectual curiosity or theological argument, but of personal experience. From the first century to today there have been innumerable people who have turned from being totally opposed or indifferent to Christianity to being utterly convinced that it is true. What changed them? They met the living Jesus. He has invited them to respond to Him in faith and challenged them to live according to His way. Jesus is as alive now as He was that first Easter morning He still invites people to know Him today.
References- Mt. 28:1-10, Mk. 16:1-18, Lk.24: 1-12, Jn.20: 1-29. The Holy Bible. Ten Myths About Christianity by Michael Green and Gordon Carkner, Lion Pub. Used by permission.