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Defending the Resurrection

What has made the Christian faith so popular? Is it the virgin birth of Jesus, His awe-inspiring miracles, or His philosophical sayings echoing divine truth? All of these put Jesus in an exclusive place in human history, and all are a part of His story. But for the Christian and the non-believer alike, it is the empty tomb combined with a resurrected Christ that makes or breaks the Christian faith, it was the resurrection of Jesus that led me back into Christianity.

You see for me, this is not some myth, fable, or fairy tale story. No, this is the ultimate proof of God entering our space and time continuum—to remedy the brokenness due to sin we inherited from Adam. I have heard so many different and competing reasons as to why Jesus was not resurrected from the grave. The resurrection is a serious matter, because the Apostle Paul wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17, NLT). The truth is, the Christian faith falls apart if Jesus’ tomb was not empty, this would make the resurrection a myth. There are countless books and videos one can read and watch to discover proof, but for me it came down to four realities.

The Empty Tomb

The skeptic will bring up many competing theories as to what happened to the body of Jesus. He will say - the disciples stole His body; His body could have been misplaced or He was buried in the wrong tomb. Some skeptics will say that Jesus did not die but was in a coma when He awoke. The list goes on. The reality is, the empty tomb is essential in the resurrection story. You see, if Jesus truly did die but was not resurrected, why did the early Jewish and Roman authorities fail to produce the body? One of the fascinating aspects of the empty tomb is that it was recorded first by women. In biblical times, a woman’s word was not considered as reliable as man’s word. Considering the first eye-witness testimony of the empty tomb was reported by women, and the male gospel writers recorded this, contributes to the credibility of the empty tomb.

Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

It is interesting that no true scholar of history will now write that Jesus did not exist. This was a prevailing theme in the 20th century, one that is now debunked. We know that Jesus existed. Scholars all agree that Jesus died under Pilate, this is recorded history, even outside of the Bible. But the resurrection of Jesus—this is a different story! I often hear that the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus could have possibly been a psychological hallucination experienced by the Apostles and early followers. Ironically, this is not the way hallucinations work; the “same” hallucination will not be experienced by many people.

Paul wrote a declarative statement as proof of not only the resurrection but of his own apostleship, “Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me…” (1 Cor. 15:3-8, ESV).

The Death of Apostles

Outside of the empty tomb, and the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, the death of the Apostles is a remarkable proof of the resurrection. The Christian faith is the most explosive faith in human history. No other religious faith has had such dynamic power with such rapid growth! Christianity spread from Jerusalem, to the ancient world within 50 years of the resurrection. The Apostles died as martyrs except for John. People may die believing in a lie they believe to be truth, but those of sound mind do not knowingly die for a lie. The Apostles knew the resurrected Jesus, walked with Him, talked with Him, loved Him, experienced His divine power through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gave them the courage, strength, willpower, and hope to die for the Living Christ—just as Jesus died for them.

A Resurrected Heart

It is the same Spirit that empowered the Apostles and raised Jesus from the dead, that fills the believer, resurrecting our broken hearts. It gives us hope and a new life through our risen Savior. This resurrected heart is transformational, experiential, and personal. Through the resurrection—we know Christ lives in us!