“Is The Resurrection True?”
(c) Rev. Pat James
Recently Christians around the world celebrated what we call Easter. We say that Jesus was dead, that on the third day He rose, that He walked this earth in His resurrected immortal body and then He ascended to Heaven, both physically and visibly where He remains at the right hand of God the Father. This belief is the very foundation of the Christian Faith!
But is the resurrection of Jesus Christ a well documented historical fact or is it a product of wishful thinking? Is it a myth, or a fable … a bit of old folklore that has come down through the ages? Is it a story that will stand up to serious and objective investigation?
You see, the resurrection of our Lord is either one of the most wicked, vicious, and heartless hoaxes ever to be imposed on the minds of humanity or … it is by far the most important fact of human history! There really is no in-between. It is a vicious lie or a glorious truth, one or the other! And not only that, but the gospel writers who report the actual bodily resurrection of Jesus are either viciously deceptive, hopelessly deceived or boldly honest!
Lets begin our investigation by reading the words of the apostle Paul in 1st. Corinthians 15:3-8,“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one untimely born.
This book was written about 28 years after Jesus’ resurrection and in effect this was an invitation to any who doubted his statements to just check it out! Since most of the 500 witnesses were still available to be questioned, it would have been very easy to discredit his statements if they had not been true.
The writers of the accounts of the resurrection gain even greater credibility when we consider their honesty in telling us of the disciple’s failure to understand the significance of the resurrection or even to believe in Jesus following the resurrection!
For example if we study the gospel accounts of the resurrection events we find that the women, on their way to the tomb, give no hint of expecting that Jesus had been bodily resurrected. In fact, they were surprised to find that His body was gone! This indicates that they must have misunderstood our Lord’s predictions that He would rise again on the third day. If the story had been fabricated it’s very unlikely that the women’s confusion would have been included.
The disciples didn’t expect our Lord’s resurrection either! In Luke 24:11we read, “And these words (of the women) appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.”
The Bible accounts of the resurrection indicate very clearly that Thomas was not the only one who doubted. After Cleopas and another disciple met the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus, they returned to the other disciples to tell them what they had seen. And speaking of this Mark 16:13 says, “And they went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.”
Matthew 28:16-17 says, “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some were doubtful.”
The honesty of the gospel writers in reporting the doubts and disbelief of the disciples is a strong testimony to the truth of what they wrote. If the resurrection of Jesus had been fabricated by the early Christian writers they certainly would not have made the disciples look so lacking in faith and understanding.
Matthew records that the only response from the Jewish leadership to the preaching of the resurrection was the accusation that the disciples had stolen the body. Which actually acknowledges the fact that the tomb was indeed empty and even the Jewish Religious leaders knew it!
It would have been impossible to preach the resurrection in Jerusalem if the tomb had still contained Jesus’ body. How could they say that He was resurrected if His body lay there in a tomb?
Also, if the disciples had invented the resurrection story we would think that they would have been out on the street the very next day proclaiming the risen Lord. But what we actually find is a 7 week delay during which, they seemed generally confused and ignorant of their mission! It was only after the filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that these peasants, shepherds and fishermen were suddenly changed into a confident witnesses for Christ. They were absolutely convinced of salvation in Christ, their doubts had been completely removed! Do you think they would have rallied to that degree because of some made-up story?
We might also consider the fact that nearly every one of the disciples of Christ were killed for their faith! Does it seem likely that these men would have died for their belief if they hadn’t been absolutely positive of the truth of that belief?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ IS true and it is Scripture’s most encouraging message!
The empty tomb validated, confirmed, established and settled once and for all the truth that Jesus spoke. That He is the Son of God, the Messiah; the Savior of all mankind!
The empty tomb is the single most hope-filled fact of history and it is absolutely essential to the Christian faith.
Pat James is Pastor Emeritus of True Hope Christian Fellowship Church, at
2506 18th Ave., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Ph. 503-357-8534 ~ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org