In 1 Corinthians 15:13-19, Paul acknowledged that if Jesus never rose from the grave, Christians have no hope and should be pitied. Furthermore, those who claimed they saw Jesus alive after his death would be liars.
If, however, Christ arose from the dead, then a number of ideas are certain: God must exist. The gospel is true. Jesus’ teachings do contain eternal consequences. We had better pay attention to Jesus!
For Christianity, everything hinges upon the resurrection. Here’s some of the evidence.
The Romans were experts in death.
Roman soldiers knew a dead body. Their lives depended upon it, since soldiers who failed in their mission suffered consequences. The soldiers were certain Jesus died on the cross.
The proclamation “He is risen” is too early to be legendary material.
History reveals that legends develop and grow after the eye witnesses have died. The proclamation that Christ is risen, is far too early to be legend. For example, even skeptics acknowledge Paul wrote 1 Corinthians between 55-57 A.D, less than 25 years after Jesus’ death. Yet, in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 not only did Paul proclaim Christ risen, but he essentially invited skeptics to ask the eye witnesses for themselves.
Similarly, Acts was probably written during the 60’s A.D. It records the resurrection’s proclamation on Pentecost within 50 days of Jesus’ death creating a significant and memorial impact within Jerusalem. To deny such early preaching occurred is untenable for several reasons. Nothing short of proclaiming the resurrection can account for that early growth of Christianity within Judaism. Furthermore, if Acts had fabricated stories of Christ being publicly proclaimed as risen, opponents would have exposed it.
Women(!) found the tomb empty.
In first century Jewish culture, women were not considered credible witnesses in court. If someone wished to fabricate a story that appeared credible, women would not be the prime witnesses. The only reason to include such an embarrassing detail in that culture is this is what actually happened.
The disciples’ transformation.
Something must account for the disciples transforming from fearful and cowardly retreat at Passover to fearlessness within 50 days. Nothing short of Jesus’ resurrection accounts for such a transformation.
No one produced a body when it was to their advantage.
The Roman guards whose lives were in jeopardy because of the missing body could not produce Jesus’ body. Jewish leaders who wished to discredit Christianity could not produce a body. The early persecuted Christians within that inner circle at Jerusalem did not produce a body to prove the resurrection was a hoax in order to save themselves or those they loved. Rather, Jesus’ disciples insisted he was risen and willingly suffered the ensuing consequences.
Prior to Jesus’ birth, the resurrection had been foretold.
Peter taught that David had foretold the Christ would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:8-11; Acts 2:22-36).
Taken together, these observations along with the various supporting lines of evidence for God’s existence and the Bible’s reliability converge providing us with good reason to trust and obey God’s word. God does not ask us to make a blind leap of faith. He has given us good reasons to believe.
The previous article was: Objections Overturned
The first article in this series is: God never requested a blind leap of faith