By: Steve Shirley
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the key upon which the faith is based. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 15:14 "and if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also in vain." 1 Cor 15:17 continues saying if Christ was not raised "ye are yet in your sins." Paul also tells us in Rom 10:9-10 that our salvation hinges on our belief in the resurrection saying "that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Also see: 1 Th 4:14)
Why is the resurrection of Jesus so important, and why is our salvation contingent on believing in it? Why did the resurrection change forever the lives of the apostles? There are numerous reasons:
(1) Jesus victory over death and evil showed that we have a Savior who is ALIVE. Death could not contain Him. (Acts 2:24)
(2) It shows us that because He overcame death, we can overcome it as well through Him. (Jn 14:19)(1 Cor 6:14)(Rom 8:11)(Phil 3:21)(1 Cor 15:20)
(3) He is now seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. (Rom 8:34)(Heb 7:25)(Heb 9:24)(1 Jn 2:1)(Isa 53:12)
(4) It shows He is indeed the Son of God. (Rom 1:4)
(5) Jesus prophesied His resurrection at least 15 times before He died. His
resurrection proves that His promises are trustworthy. See:
Mt 16:21, 17:9, 17:22-23, 20:18-19, 26:32
Mk 8:31, 9:9, 9:31, 10:34, 14:28
Lk 9:22, 18:33
Jn 2:18-22, 10:17-18, 16:16-22
(6) Jesus' resurrection also fulfilled Old Testament prophesy. (Isa 26:19)(Dan 12:2)(Ps 16:10)
(7) His death was for our justification. (Rom 4:25)
(8) It gives us hope of a new body one day that will never die, will be without sickness or disease, free from sin, glorious, powerful, and spiritual.
(9) It guarantees a final judgment. (Acts 17:31)
These truths turned the apostles from timidness to boldness, from dejected to elated, and many of them were martyred, no longer fearing death. The resurrection of Jesus became a cornerstone of their preaching and converting the lost. The book of Acts alone has numerous verses concerning the resurrection. (See: Acts 1:22-23, 2:23-24,31-32, 3:15-16,26, 4:10, 5:30, 10:39-41, 13:29-39, 17:30-31, 26:22-23)
Because of the importance of the resurrection to the Christian faith, critics often vigorously attack it, to discredit Christianity. There are many ways they attempt explain away the resurrection. Here are just 5 of them and a few ways we can refute these attacks.
(1) Jesus did not die on the cross, but was merely unconscious.
(A) The Roman soldiers did not break Jesus legs to hasten His death because He was already dead. (Jn 19:34)
(B) One of the Roman soldiers pierced Jesus side with a spear to make sure He was dead. (Jn 19:34)
(C) The centurion told Pilate that Jesus was dead: (Mk 15:44-45)
(D) If Jesus had not received a new resurrection body, could He have recovered and walked about 3 days later with nail holes in His feet and hands, a spear wound in His side, and serious wounds in His back from the whipping He received? Would the disciples have been elated at seeing Jesus in that condition? Would they no longer fear death if He had not died and arose?
(2) The disciples stole Jesus body. (See: Mt 28:13)
(A) Would they all be willing to die a martyr's death for something they knew was a lie?
(B) Why would they steal His body and leave His grave clothes behind?
(See: Lk 24:12, Jn 20:5-7)
(3) The Jewish leaders stole Jesus' body.
Why would they not have produced His body? It could have stopped the new Christian faith and stopped all talk of a resurrection.
(4) Those who saw an empty tomb accidentally went to the wrong place.
Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Joanna, Salome, Peter, and John all returned to the tomb of Jesus. The Bible also says both other women (Lk 24:10) and certain others (Lk 24:24) also returned to see the empty tomb. The guards who were placed to guard the tomb reported back to the chief priests that the tomb was empty. (Matt 28:11-13). Could ALL of these people have been mistaken about where the tomb was located?
(5) Everyone who saw Jesus' resurrected body was hallucinating...
The Bible tells us that Jesus appeared at least 10 times over 40 days after He arose from the dead. At one point, Jesus appeared to over 500 people. It stretches credulity to believe all of these people would be hallucinating.
Following is a list of all the people Jesus appeared to after He arose:
#1 To Mary Magdalene: (Mk 16:9-11)(Jn 20:11-18)
#2 To two people, one named Cleopas, on the way to Emmaus: (Mk 16:12-13)(Lk 24:13-35)
#3 To Peter: (Lk 24:34)(1 Cor 15:5)
#4 To the 10 disciples in the upper room (without Thomas): (Lk 24:36-49)(Jn 20:19-23)
#5 To the 11 disciples in the upper room (with Thomas): (Mk 16:14-18)(Jn 20:26-29)(1 Cor 15:5)
#6 To the 7 disciples while fishing in the Lake of Tiberias (Galilee): (Jn 21:1-23)
#7 To the 11 disciples on a mountain in Galilee: (Mt 28:16-20)
#8 To the disciples before His ascension at the Mount of Olives: (Mk 16:15-19)(Lk 24:50-52)(Acts 1:3-10)
#9 To more than 500: (1 Cor 15:6)
#10 To James (Jesus' brother): (1 Cor 15:7)
Another historical proof for the resurrection is the changing of the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. Both the Bible and history show us that the day was changed to Sunday specifically to honor the day Jesus arose from the dead.
What a glorious hope we have to know that one day we will be able to spend eternity with our beloved Savior Jesus Christ. Of all the major religions in the world, Christianity is the only one who has a Savior who is ALIVE!!