Seeker Series, Why? How do we know Jesus rose from the dead?

quote anselm

The foundation of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the cornerstone of the faith.  Without the resurrection Christianity is a social club gathering on Sunday mornings to discuss steps to a better marriage, job, or other life skill. Christianity is something more, something deeper than a 12 step program to improved living.

The resurrection is about humankind and sin. You might be thinking, “hold on, I’m a good person. I haven’t killed anyone or robbed a convenience store” Unfortunately comparing yourself to your neighbor, Hitler or Mother Theresa is not the standard.  The standard should be someone who is perfect, flawless and never sinned. Perhaps that is someone who was raised from the dead. That is the standard. It’s about an unwavering standard that does not change, forever.

  • How do we know the resurrection happened?

Jesus Christ was crucified by Pontius Pilate and the disciples of Jesus maintained to have seen risen appearances Him, and that forever altered the course of their lives. New Testament scholars that are both Christian and secular agree on some facts of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. We will briefly outline the top three details that a majority of scholars agree on.

  1. Jesus died by crucifixion.

In addition to the Bible, other writings are available that document that Jesus was killed by crucifixion. Evidence from Tacitus (55-115 AD), a Roman historian wrote about Jesus in The Annals, XV: 44.  Along with Josephus (37- 100 AD) referred to Jesus and his death in his writings called the Antiquities. Josephus testifies, “About the same time there lived Jesus, a wise man for he was a performer of marvelous feats and a teacher of such men who received the truth with pleasure.  He attracted many Jews and many Greeks.  He was the Christ.  When Pilate sentenced him to die on the cross, having been urged to do so by the noblest of our citizens; but those who loved him at the first did not give up their affection for him.  And the tribe of the Christians, who are named after him, have not disappeared to this day.”

These writings from outside the Bible confirm much of what the Bible says about Jesus. The manner of the way Jesus lived and died was unique. It also asserts he performed “marvelous feats” and He had many followers. With this fact confirmed both inside the Bible and outside using other historical writers it is safe to say that Jesus Christ lived, performed some type of awe-inspiring acts, had many believers, and was killed by crucifixion.

  1. The disciples believed that He rose from the dead and appeared to them.

“14 afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.” (Mark 16:14)

The Gospel of Mark is one of the earliest gospel writings to resurrection (33 A.D) of Jesus Christ and this verse is a reliable and accurate account of what the disciples believed happened. The appearance of a risen Jesus is a life altering event. Imagine you were sitting around the dining room table and a friend that had passed away appeared and started talking to you, you would remember this event! The disciples truly believed they had witnessed him, they had to tell people and they were willing to die to spread the message of Jesus Christ. People are not willing to die for a something they know is not true. You may be thinking, “What about the people who committed the acts of terror on September 11th 2001?” The distinction is between knowing something is a lie and dying for it, and believing something is a lie and dying for it. Best articulated by Dr. Gary Habermas PhD, of Philosophy, Liberty University, “Liars do not make martyrs.” The disciples would have known the resurrection appearances Jesus were a lie if the resurrection account was made up. Why would they be willing to die for a fabricated lie? By comparison, the September 11th terrorists did not know their ideology to fly airplanes in to buildings was/is a lie. They believed it, and were willing to die for an incorrect belief.

“19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

  1. Paul, a persecutor of the early church was converted when he believed to have seen the risen Christ.

Imagine Paul’s clear recollections of the day that changed his life dramatically. In an instant, he went from an eradicator of followers of Jesus Christ to one of the greatest champions of the Christian faith.

How did Paul know what occurred at the resurrection? Because he received it directly from the eye-witness accounts from the Apostles who were there. (Galatians 2:1-21) The apostle Paul took this confirmed and trustworthy information and wrote 1 Corinthians 15 somewhere between 54-57AD. At most Paul’s letter to the Corinth was authored 27 years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, again a very early account by historical standards so that verse was written incredibly close to the event. You may remember that the writings of Plato were 1200 years after the events documented. So 27 years removed is credible for documenting what occurred during a specific time period.

Consider this; do you remember where you were when the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart shortly after launch? Challenger’s last flight was January 28th, 1986.  It has been almost 30 years since crisp winter day, back dropped against a clear blue sky. I can remember exactly where I was. I was sitting in a high school auditorium watching the history event on television. At the time I didn’t know that this brief moment in time would be burned into my memory, so clearly that I can recall the hush and shock that came over my classmates. The feeling of joy brought on by being out of my regular class schedule rushed from me as the white smoke trails from the rocket boosters fell from the sky. The day of September 11th, 2001 has the same effect. Life altering incidents transform someone. It formulates memories, beliefs and opinions on how we view and interpret the world for years to come.

  • If Jesus rose from the dead, what does this mean for me?

The resurrection confirmed by Biblical narrative from eye-witness accounts, early historical writings from first century authors, and facts agreed upon by both Secular and Christian New Testament scholars, formulates the Christians belief today that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. This means that God cares for you so much that He has provided a way for you to be reconciled from your sin by believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You are not lost. You have been found and a miracle has been provided to you so you can believe. You can continue to doubt and wrestle with hard questions.  That is natural and expected, but you have to look honestly at the historical evidence and come to your own conclusion. Keep seeking and asking questions the answers will come.

“12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”  (1 Corinthians 15:12-14)

 

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mk 16:14, 1 Cor 15:12-14, Jn 20;19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.,

One thought on “Seeker Series, Why? How do we know Jesus rose from the dead?

  1. I always appreciate your words of encouragement and instruction especially because it is gleamed from God’s word. Illumination always occurs when reading your blog. Blessings a ton and thank God for this country’s independence!

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