The resurrection of Christ is one of the cornerstones of Christianity. In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
In celebration of this past Easter Sunday, this is the card that I used in competition for the topic, “What evidence is there for the resurrection of Jesus?” Within my Conceptual Organizational System, this card actually works for several different Apologetics topics. Enjoy!
- In 1963, the body of Addie Mae Collins was buried in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1998, the family made the decision to disinter the body for reburial at another cemetery.
- But when workers were sent to dig up the body, they made a shocking discovery: the grave was empty!
- Understandably, family members were very distraught. Several possibilities about where the body was were raised, the primary one being that the tombstone had been erected in the wrong place.
- Yet in the midst of determining what happened, one explanation was never proposed: Nobody suggested that young Addie Mae had been resurrected to walk the earth again. Why? Because by itself an empty grave does not a resurrection make.
- The topic I have chosen today is the question, “What evidence is there for the resurrection of Jesus?”
- I will be presenting the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection under two main points.
- First, that Jesus’ tomb was indeed empty.
- But as my opening illustration showed, an empty tomb does not necessarily imply a resurrection. However, when a person appears to others after they have died, that does imply a resurrection.
- So my second point will be that Jesus appeared to many people after his death and burial, which shows that he was indeed resurrected.
1. Jesus’ tomb was empty.
- There are three possible reasons why Jesus’ tomb was empty:
- 1. The body was stolen.
- 2. The body was moved.
- 3. Jesus rose from the dead.
- First, could the body have been stolen? The short answer is: NO. The long answer is, definitely not!
- The stone that was rolled in front of the tomb is estimated to have weighed about 2000 pounds. Additionally, there was a guard of soldiers around the tomb.
- In Matthew 28:11-15, we see where the claim that Jesus’ body was stolen originated: “Behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’”….So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.”
- Second, could the body have been moved? It’s possible, but highly unlikely.
- The reason it’s highly unlikely is summed up by Paul Little in his book Know Why You Believe. He says: “The [Jewish] leaders were seething with rage and did everything possible to prevent the spread of this message and to suppress it. They arrested Peter and John and beat and threatened them in an attempt to close their mouths.
- “But there was a very simple solution to their problem. If they had Christ’s body, they could have paraded it through the streets of Jerusalem. In one fell swoop they would have successfully smothered Christianity in its cradle. That they did not do this bears eloquent testimony to the fact that they did not have the body.”
- The only other alternative is that Jesus did rise from the dead.
2. Let’s move on to my second point: Jesus appeared to many people.
- I’ll just mention one of Jesus’ appearances: His appearance to Doubting Thomas.
- John 20:24-25 says: “Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with [the disciples] when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
- John 20:28 (ESV) – “Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”
- What could cause such a dramatic reversal in Thomas’ attitude? Only his seeing the risen Christ can account for his change in attitude.
- Over the past few minutes, we’ve seen the evidence for the resurrection: Jesus’ tomb was empty, and Jesus appeared to many people.
- In summary, you might be asking: Why is this important to me? The reason it is so significant that there is evidence for the resurrection was summed up by theologian Gerald O’Collins when he said, “In a profound sense, Christianity without the resurrection is not simply Christianity without its final chapter. It is not Christianity at all.”