“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, (2) Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: (3) To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:” Act 1:1-3
It is that time of the year again and we begin to get ready to celebrate Easter, which to Christians is the time of year that we remember the Lord Jesus Christ who is etched in history as the only man who ever lived that raised himself from the dead. Someone may ask, “What evidence do we have that Jesus raised from the dead?” There are many things, actually, but let’s start with the empty tomb.
One can pursue every other man in history and if they dig deep enough they can find the place where he is buried and his body rests there in that final burying place. Not with Jesus Christ! There is no body! Can any rational human being that knows just how hated Jesus is in all of the world outside of Christians come up with a reason that these Christ haters have not produced the body or bones of Jesus Christ? Perhaps that is why we have a calendar that is dated from Christ. What other man in history has an empty tomb and has time dated from him merely because he rose from the dead?
The term “A.D.” or the latin “Anno Domini” is defined, ‘In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ’. So this means that in every country of the world, believers, non-believers, atheists, all non-Christian religions, every living person in the world generally considers us as living in the year 2015 A.D. A better definition of the term would be “In the year of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2015.”
Now consider the fact that Jesus was put on the cross by the Romans who were polytheistic pagans, and Pilate was taunted by the then ruling religion of Israel and the Jewish leaders into putting Jesus to death. Then when he had risen from the dead the Jewish leaders had to scramble the soldiers who had been keeping watch and even pay them to lie about the resurrection: Mat 28:11-15 “Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. (12) And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, (13) Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. (14) And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. (15) So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”
Let me ask the readers a question: What would have happened to the body of Jesus if he had been stolen away by the disciples with the rulers of the Jews adamant that he had been stolen and the Romans wanting nothing more to do with this whole situation as seen by Pilate washing his hands and saying that he was innocent of the blood of this just person? They would have paraded the dead corpse of Jesus around their world and put this religion to death forever but it never happened because Jesus had risen from the dead and that is why they paid the soldiers to lie in the first place.
Alexander McLaren, in Expositions of Holy Scripture says:
‘He showed Himself alive after His passion by . . . proofs.’
“….By sight, repeated, to individuals, to companies, to Mary in her solitary sadness, to Peter the penitent, to the two on the road to Emmaus…. At all hours: in the evening when the doors were shut; in the morning; in grey twilight; in daytime on the road. At many places-in houses, out of doors. The signs of true corporeity-the sight, the eating. The signs of bodily identity, -’Reach hither thy hand.’ ‘He showed them His hands and His side.’”
The Resurrection Chapter in the Bible gives some of the strongest arguments in the world for the Resurrection of Christ: 1Co 15:1-58 “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: (6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. (7) After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. (8) And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time……… (12) Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? (13) But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: (14) And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (15) Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. (16) For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: (17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (18) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (23) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming………..” (No rational human being could ever write these words if he was not convinced by INFALLIBLE PROOF that Jesus had risen from the dead and, in fact, was alive and working through his life and that of all Christians around the world.)
In Robertson’s Word Pictures we have scripture references to much of what is said in this chapter of I Corinthians:
“Shewed himself alive ……. To the disciples the first Sunday evening (Mar_16:14; Luk_24:36-43; Joh_20:19-25), the second Sunday evening (Joh_20:26-29), at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-23), on the mountain in Galilee (Mat_28:16-20; Mar_16:15-18; 1Co_15:6), to the disciples in Jerusalem and Olivet (Luk_24:44-53; Mar_16:19.; Act_1:1-11). …… The early disciples including Paul never doubted the fact of the Resurrection, once they were convinced by personal experience. At first some doubted like Thomas (Mar_16:14; Luk_24:41; Joh_20:24; Mat_28:17). But after that they never wavered in their testimony to their own experience with the Risen Christ, “whereof we are witnesses” Peter said (Act_3:15). They doubted at first, that we may believe, but at last they risked life itself in defense of this firm faith.”
Peter gives one of the strongest statements of proof, being an EYE WITNESS of Jesus life and resurrection: 2Pe 1:16 “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
F.B. Meyer gives us these words: “Peter could never forget what the Master had predicted of his death. See John_21:18. ….. The fulfillment of those words was already looming before Peter’s eyes, but he had no fear. He describes his home-going by the word used by Moses and Elijah when they spoke of the decease (lit., exodus) which the Lord would accomplish. Compare 2Pe_1:15 with Luk_9:31, r.v., margin. Then the whole scene of the Transfiguration rose before his mind. It seemed as if he were again on that holy mount, beholding the majesty of the Lord and hearing the Father’s attesting voice. There are three infallible proofs of Christianity: (1) the witness of the Apostles; (2) the light of prophecy as fulfilled in Christ; (3) the testimony of the Holy Spirit. These three burn in the dark night of the present and we may count on them till we see the first glimmer of dawn. Then we shall need no candle, for the Lord God will give us light.”
We could write dozens of volumes about evidence for the resurrection, we could talk about prophesies that Jesus fulfilled; we could site many books and historical evidences. Josephus, an early historian, states this as fact in his Antiquities of the Jews (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3: “3. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, (9) those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; (10) as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”) But the greatest evidence for it all may be found in the wisdom of a man named Gamaliel when they were meeting to decide what to do with this spreading phenomenon of Christianity because of two things, the resurrection and the day of Pentecost. They were at a loss as to how to handle the Christians. The Holy Spirit confirmed that Jesus had risen and was seated on the right hand of the father in heaven: Act 5:34-39 it states, “Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; (35) And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. (36) For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. (37) After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. (38) And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: (39) But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” It has not been stopped for all these years. According to Gamaliel’s reasoning, the resurrection is real.
Yes, just like he said, the greatest evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the vast reach of the Gospel around the world 2000 years later and growing by the millions in some third world countries by the power of the Holy Spirit. This man was the same Gamaliel that taught Paul the Apostle before he saw the vision of Jesus on the Road to Damascus. What else could explain how a man who was bent on destroying Christianity suddenly changed 180 degrees and became the greatest apostle in the world, writing most of the New Testament before becoming a martyr himself? What is the probability that Paul along with all the other Apostles would have risked their lives to Martyrdom for a man that they had stolen from the tomb and buried in a secret grave? Their testimony and willingness to die in this way of extreme torture and humiliation shows that they believed even unto death.
Then one has to consider the extraordinary miracles and evidence of the working of the Holy Spirit over the centuries in changed lives, answered prayer, the printing and preservation of the Bible and the planting of New Testament Churches in every country of the world. Such facts of history make an undeniable statement of powerful proof that Jesus Christ is still alive and moving in the lives of Christians around the world. The testimony that we have today of Christians in churches as they work to continue to spread the Gospel to the whole world, as Jesus commanded his disciples after his resurrection, gives INFALLIBLE PROOF of the resurrection. The Charge of Jesus to his disciples followed by centuries of this charge still being carried out after 2000 years proves that Jesus DID RISE FROM THE DEAD:
Act 1:8-11 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (9) And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. (10) And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; (11) Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Since that day the Gospel has been spread around the world by Christians who have no doubt that Jesus not only arose from the dead but is coming back according to promise. We who are Christians provide the greatest proof of all that Jesus Christ raised from the dead. Every time a new sinner is converted to faith in Christ, we have another proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a prayer is answered, we have a proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a Christian opens his Bible and reads the wonderful words of life we have a proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a Christian goes through tribulation with grace and the praise of God upon his lips, we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time the poor are helped by a loving Christian hand we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a Christian loves his enemies we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a sickness is healed by prayers of faith we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a Christian dies with a smile upon his face as he sees the face of Jesus waiting to welcome him home, we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Every time a Godly young couple yields their lives to serve on a foreign field in order to share the good news of the Gospel, we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a new church is planted we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a person enslaved by sin, drugs, drink, immorality, or other vices of the flesh, gets delivered and set free we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time one of the millions of Muslims that are being saved comes to Jesus Christ as a wave of the love of God sweeps their land, we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Every time a soul-winner knocks on a door to share the Gospel of the love of God, we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a bus worker picks up his riders and brings them to church we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a Sunday School teacher gets up and teaches young children about the love of Jesus who died on the cross and children trust Jesus for Salvation we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a blind person sings or shares the love of God through the Light that they have in their spirit though their eyes may be blind we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a deaf person does sign language as he shares the love of God we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Every time a mother holds a baby and sings sweet hymns that sooth the baby to sleep we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time the Bible is translated into a foreign tongue so that people in foreign lands can read and understand the Gospel we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time a heathen culture
completely changes into a civilized people from the presentation and acceptance of the Gospel like the story of the
Auca Indians after the martyrdom of a Godly man like Jim Elliot we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When a funeral procession in a primitive land that would normally have a crowd of people wailing and crying for the sorrow of loss of a loved one instead marches along the road to the burial while they sing “Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb,” we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When ISIS lines up prisoners that are Christians and they sing and praise Jesus as they are being beheaded, we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When a kind evangelist named Kent Hovind is imprisoned by the US Government on trumped up charges but says in a radio pod cast that all he wants to do is give glory to Jesus, we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When an elderly minister has the IRS take his home and his church which they bulldoze and turn into a charter school, can continue preaching, teaching, writing, and serving God with all his might on the Internet, by email, and by every other means possible, we have proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the whole history of the world one can read of lives changed, people who willingly died a martyr’s death as in Fox’s Book of Martyrs, of whole countries that became more civilized, of miracles that happened in the darkest corners of the world, miracles that happened like in Indonesia where a revival produced miraculous power of Christians over demon possessed witch doctors, where a drunk like Billy Sunday stumbled into a mission and got saved before becoming one of the greatest evangelists in history, and even where this writer heard the gospel preached by an evangelist at the age of five years old, raised his hand every night for a whole week, and then was gloriously saved in his own room at home as he was led to Christ by his Godly mother. All of these stories are proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The apostle John summed it up best near the end of his Gospel:
John 20:30-31 “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: (31) But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
And in the last chapter of John:
John 21:24-25 “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. (25) And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”
Then he gives the compelling words of Jesus who he saw on the Isle of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation with a direct quote from the resurrected Christ:
Rev 22:16-17 “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” HE IS ALIVE, PRAISE GOD HE IS ALIVE!I