He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matthew 12:39)
The Resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of Christian faith. Everything Jesus taught and claimed depended on it. If Jesus didn’t rise as he promised, his message of forgiveness and hope for eternal life would be meaningless. In fact, if the resurrection is disproved, the whole of Christianity will come tumbling down. So, is the resurrection a fact or fiction? If you carefully study the events surrounding Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection, you will find that the following points strongly support resurrection:
- The New Testament empty tomb and resurrection stories were circulating while the witnesses were still alive. These people could easily have confirmed or denied the accuracy of the accounts. The disciples started preaching about Resurrection in the very city where Jesus had died and and was buried. And Caiaphas was still the high priest there.
- Jesus’ tomb was never venerated as a shrine. Why? Because everyone knew that it was empty.
- The tomb was discovered empty by women and the testimony of women in first century Jewish culture was considered worthless. If the accounts were fabricated by the disciples they would surely have used male witnesses to make their case strong.
- The temple authorities could not have hidden the body, as they did not produce it when the Resurrection accounts began to circulate. Besides the Jews have always stuck with the argument that the body was stolen, giving further evidence of an empty tomb.
- The disciples could not have stolen Jesus’ body. It was simply beyond them to overpower strong Roman guards at the tomb. Besides, later, they could not possibly have let themselves be killed for something they knew to be false. Also, the statement of the Roman guards that the disciples came and stole the body while they were sleeping does not hold water.
- The disciples had abandoned their teacher and run away when Jesus was arrested. They were remaining hidden as their teacher suffered a horrible and shameful death. They were afraid that they could be executed next. But then suddenly they were courageous enough not only to come out in the open but also to preach something which was simply hard to believe. Their sudden transformation can have no better explanation than that they saw the resurrected Jesus.
- James, the brother of Jesus, had always been skeptical. After the Resurrection he became one of the church leaders, and later a martyr for his faith.
- Another drastic conversion recorded in the New Testament is that of Paul. He was passionately anti-Christian initially, but an encounter with the risen Christ changed him.
What’s your stand in this matter? If the Resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact, what should you do about it?