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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Evidence For Jesus’ Resurrection

Cross on everystockphoto by raichingerDo We Need Evidence For Jesus’ Resurrection?

Some think faith should not need evidence.  But that’s not what the Bible teaches.

For example, to help his followers believe that he rose, Jesus “presented himself alive” to them after his resurrection (Acts 1:3).  That’s evidence.

After being raised, Jesus also “showed them his hands and side” (Luke 20:20).  That’s evidence.

And the resurrected Jesus said to Thomas: “put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.” (John 20:27).  That’s evidence.

But What About Us?

We weren’t there.  We have not seen or touched Jesus.  So how can we believe he rose from the dead?

Here’s what John wrote, right after describing how Thomas touched Jesus’ hands and side —

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

John wrote his gospel to help those of us who have not seen or touched Jesus.  And to help us believe, John gave us evidence.  He gave his eyewitness account of the signs Jesus performed, including the sign of showing himself to the disciples after he had risen from the dead.

So it’s not just Jesus’ disciples who need evidence.  We all need evidence.

And here is evidence that persuades me to believe  in Jesus’ resurrection —

All around us we see function and complexity that’s best explained as coming from an all-powerful Designer.

Think of how your eye reads these words — or how sunlight produces Fava Beans in my backyard.

How does this function and complexity arise?  When we meet functional complexity in an iPad or an Audi, we rightly conclude that it was designed.  Not that it arose by chance.  But that it was made by a designer.

And there’s no good reason to think anything different about our bodies, or Fava Beans, or the functions we see throughout our universe.  All of this points to the existence of an all-powerful Designer — God.

Any God who could design and create this universe could easily raise Jesus from the dead.

We have eyewitness accounts reporting that Jesus lived, worked miracles, died on the Cross, and rose from the dead.

The Bible contains four eyewitness-based historical documents — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Each of them independently reports that God came to earth as a man named Jesus who worked miracles, died on the Cross, and rose from the dead.

So how do we account for the existence of these historical documents?

We have already seen that the universe points to the existence of a God who could come to earth, work miracles, and rise from the dead.  So — what these historical documents describe is possible.

And there’s nothing in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John which makes us doubt that they recorded what actually happened —

  • Their reports are based on eye-witness accounts.
  • They independently corroborate each other.
  • They wrote at a time when they could be killed for writing what they did.

So we have every reason to believe what they wrote.  Which would mean that —

Jesus rose from the dead.

Most of the apostles died for their faith.

The apostles wrote that they saw Jesus’ miracles, touched his resurrected body, and saw him alive from the dead.

So couldn’t they have just made this up?

Maybe.  But people don’t die for something they know is false.  And all the apostles except for John died for their faith in Jesus as the resurrected Savior of the world.

So we have every reason to believe that what they wrote was true.  Which means that —

Jesus rose from the dead.

The apostles describe touching, eating, and walking with the Resurrected Jesus.

Could this just have been wishful thinking?  Hallucinations?

Maybe they wanted Jesus to be alive so badly that they thought they saw him.

But they said they actually touched the resurrected Jesus (John 20:27-28).  They actually walked with the resurrected Jesus (Luke 24:15).  They actually ate with the resurrected Jesus (Luke 24:42-43).

They didn’t have fleeting hallucinations.  They had hours of personal, physical contact with the Resurrected Jesus.  Which shows that —

Jesus rose from the dead.

The Romans guarded the tomb so Jesus’ disciples could not steal the body (Matt 27:66).

The religious leaders heard that Jesus said he would rise from the dead.  So to make sure his disciples did not steal Jesus’ body, and then claim he had risen, they put a special guard in front of Jesus’ tomb.

This makes it highly unlikely that Jesus’ disciples stole the body.

So if they didn’t steal the body, why was the tomb empty?

Because Jesus rose.

Jesus’ opponents would gladly have produced Jesus’ dead body.

If they could produce the body — no more Christianity.

But they could not produce the body.  Why not?

Because Jesus rose.

The tomb was empty.

No one disputes this.  But why was it empty?

Maybe Jesus didn’t really die, but revived while in the tomb and walked out?  Not likely.  The Romans knew how to kill, and their spear-thrust verified that He was dead (John 19:34).  Besides, Jesus had been scourged, beaten, nailed to a Cross for hours, and then slit open with a spear.  Could a man in that condition roll away the stone and overcome the Roman guards?  No.

Could the disciples have stolen the body?  No.  Because this would mean they were able to overcome the Roman guards, cover it all up, and then choose to be killed for what they knew was not true.

So why was it empty?

Because Jesus rose.

A Jewish religious leader testified to meeting the Risen Jesus.

Paul was passionately opposed to Christians.  But one day on the road to Damascus, the Risen Jesus confronted Paul.

From that point on, Paul knew Jesus was the Messiah, sent from God, risen from the dead.

And Paul gave the rest of his life to preaching Jesus’ resurrection, even though this cost him great suffering (2Cor 11:23-27).  Why?

Because he knew that Jesus rose.

Paul lists eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after he rose.

Paul says Jesus appeared to more than 500 men at one time, many of whom were still alive when Paul wrote (1Cor 15:6).

Think of it — 500 eyewitnesses.  Who all saw that —

Jesus rose.

What this means for us

Everything depends on the resurrection.

If Jesus Christ did not rise, then —

  • Jesus was wrong in predicting his resurrection, which means Christianity is not true.
  • God did not accept Jesus’ death for our sins, which means we are still guilty.
  • Death has not been conquered, which means we have no hope for the future.

But Jesus did rise.  We have every reason to believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead — which changes everything.

  • The resurrection confirms everything Jesus said and taught.  Christianity is true.
  • The resurrection shows that God accepted Jesus’ death as payment for our sins.  We can be forgiven.
  • The resurrection shows that death has been conquered.  We can live forever.

Thoughts?  Comments?

I’d love to hear them.  Leave a reply below — thanks.

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(Picture is from everystockphoto by raichinger.)

Category: Strengthening Your Faith

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4 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    Steve,

    Great post, there is certainly more than enough evidence to prove Jesus rose from the dead, only it’s the “wanting” to trust in that belief that is the problem.

    Many “believe” in Christ’s death and resurrection, but it has no bearing in their everyday living.

    There are many family members and friends whom I know, who would say they “believe” that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but it has no real influence in their decisions on how to live their lives.

    Jesus Christ is just another aspect in the margins of their lives, He is not their Lord and Treasure, He is a comfortable addition like Santa or the Easter bunny.

    I think it’s actually harder sometimes to witness to “believers” than agnostics, because they think they are born-again, and don’t think they need to hear the gospel, because they already “know” it.

  2. Learning Every Day says:

    Yesterday, Easter Sunday, after dinner I was walking down the hall and seen a slip through the door mailbox. A leaflet about some man I’d never heard off and who’s name I cant pronounce and how his image is on the moon and all of the world’s religions have waited for him. That’s all I read.

    At first I thought it was a joke. I live in Ireland, Christianity is the dominant religion. There is no way this person just ‘forgot’ that today was a major holiday for the Christian calender because it’s everywhere reminding you. This had to be someone’s cruel sense of humour. But who would waste the money (when money is low to begin with) printing the leaflet?

    At first I was shocked, then angered and insulted (religious etiquette, rule NO.1) and then really saddened at myself. I kept getting those pictures of Jesus knocking on the door and asking to come in and knowing that I’d either be to scared to open it thinking this is some kind of psycho or if I did, I’d laugh.
    Yet, I can believe that Jesus was the son of God because it says in the Bible that he did all these cool things and for some mysterious reason he was able to rise up from the dead. I didn’t see it but it’s in the bible so it must be true.

    This where religion starts to scare me and is the possible reason for other believers who struggle with the concept of Jesus. There is so much to believe in, in and out of the bible.

    The leaflet was promptly tore up, put in the bin and never mentioned as not to ruin any one else’s mood but it has been on my mind. Maybe it’s my own personal feelings at the moment but it has really bugged me.
    If a man came to me today and told me he was Jesus, I would not believe him. It would take a superman before I believed they were divine and even then some part of me feels that I would feel disbelief.

    Maybe that’s what the problem is whether you believe if Jesus was the Son of God or not. We don’t trust people. We learn this as far back as we can remember and as we get older, our distrust just gets proved time and time again. ‘Blessed are those who believe without seeing,’ is a line that haunts me because it can so easily be skewed by someone or something deceitful and it has been in the past.

    I still believe in Jesus of course. I still believe everything that’s told, a message of love is always worth believing in. And I walk away with an understanding of what the people surrounding Jesus must have been feeling. My pride refuses to believe in someone boasting their divine purpose. I feel like we are all sons and daughters of God with our own gifts and skills that we can share but Jesus does leave me in awe and a little confusion.

    Forgive my humanity Father.

    *also the length of this post Steve LOL*

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Learning Every Day.

      One verse that deeply comforts and helps me is Mark 9:24, where the father of the demonized boy prays and says “I believe; help my unbelief.”

      It is so comforting to know that I can turn to Jesus Christ as I am, and that because of His death for my sins, I can trust Him to welcome me, forgive me, help me, and satisfy me in His presence.

      May the Lord continue to bless you,

      Steve Fuller

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