Evidence for the Resurrection
By: St Mark Youth
‘For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; and you are still in your sins!’ (I Corinthians 15:16-17)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith without which the whole building falls. It seems hard to imagine that such a supernatural event could stand the scrutiny of scores of historians and philosophers unless there was some proof for its occurrence. This proof is put forward by William Lane Craig, through four objective facts:
Fact 1: After His crucifixion, Jesus was honourably buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb. As a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, well known by many of the Jews and evidently Pontius Pilate himself, he is unlikely to be a Christian invention. This, along with the fact that the chief priests posted guards on Jesus’ tomb, shows that the location of the body of Jesus was known, prior to its disappearance on Easter Sunday.
Fact 2: On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of His women followers. The discovery of the tomb by women (whose testimony in 1st century Israel was regarded so untrustworthy that it would not even be admitted into a Jewish court) is further proof to the truth of the whole story. For if the resurrection was a fabrication then its authors would not have used women as the first discoverers, rather men in hope of convincing the Jews. Also, the early Jewish allegation that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus (Matthew 28:13) proves that the body was in fact missing from the tomb on Sunday morning to which the Jewish leadership had no better explanation.
Fact 3: On multiple occasions and under various circumstances different individuals and groups of individuals experienced appearances of Jesus risen from the dead. The appearance narratives in the Gospels provide multiple, independent attestations of the appearances which are then summarised by Paul in I Corinthians 15:5-8.
Fact 4: The disciples suddenly and sincerely came to the believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary. The disciples were in a catastrophic state following Jesus’ death; not only was their Lord dead but He had been crucified and thus by Jewish law is considered accursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). What would drive this group of mostly uneducated, scared men and women to then suddenly and openly proclaim that He is risen from the dead and preach to the whole world? Not only that, but to accept torture and even death for their preaching. Could it be seeing and talking to the very Man they buried with their own hands?! Certainly yes.
But more importantly than this mere historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is our personal proof that ‘God raised Him from the dead’ (Acts 13:30); which is our own experience of the Risen Lord and His work in our individual lives. Alfred Ackley, in his Easter Hymn, writes:
‘You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.’