I grew up in a non-Christian home with an antagonistic, agnostic lawyer for a father. When I began to believe the truth claims of Jesus at the age of nine, I had to be ready to defend myself. Did you know that the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection is backed up by ample evidence?
Here are five bullet points for you to chew on as you either defend or wrestle with the truth of Jesus’s resurrection:
- The earliest evidence that Jesus rose is that His tomb was in fact empty. Those opposed to Christ did not deny that the tomb was empty, rather they accused the disciples of stealing Jesus’s body. Liberal and conservative scholars alike agree that Christ was in fact killed and buried—but you can’t concede his burial without admitting that his burial place was vacant days later.
- The Bible records that those who first witnessed the empty tomb were women. At this time and place in history, the testimony of women was not trusted nor allowed in court. That women were the first to witness Christ’s resurrection would have actually been an embarrassment to their male contemporaries. The point is, if the disciples were going to invent this story, they would have had men do the witnessing and testifying. They wouldn’t have left it to women.
- During the forty days between Jesus’s resurrection and ascension into heaven He appeared numerous times to groups of people—sometimes dozens and even hundreds at once. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says that many of the witnesses were still living when he penned the letter. He is effectively inviting the reader to interview the witnesses. He's saying, “If you don’t believe me, find the witnesses and ask them yourself.” Luke, Peter, and John all say that Jesus appeared to them and many others, as well.
- A small band of insignificant, unimportant believers turned the Roman Empire upside down within the span of a few hundred years following Jesus’s resurrection. Their belief that Jesus was who He said He was led to their torture, banishment, and cruel deaths. They were hung on crosses (right-side up and upside down), fed to lions, beaten by gladiators, hung on posts and lit on fire, and more. It is inconceivable that anyone would willingly go to their torturous death for a lie.
- Not only did people become transformed as a result of the resurrection, but so did traditions. Recognizing that Jesus was the substance that fulfilled the Sabbath, believers began to celebrate the Lord’s Day—Sunday, the day He rose from the grave—rather than Saturday, the law-given Sabbath. Additionally, believers saw that Jesus was the substance that fulfilled animal sacrifices and therefore they suddenly stopped offering animal sacrifices at the temple. Lastly, rather than having the Passover meal they had the Lord’s Supper. Within weeks of the resurrection, believing Jews willingly gave up their sociological and theological traditions that were their identity to commit themselves to Christianity.
Resurrection claims from anyone demand investigation by thoughtful and intellectual people. Study further at the resources below: