When you talk with someone about Jesus, you are Christ’s witness and whoever you’re speaking with is the jury. A good witness will carefully present evidence as to influence the jury to render a correct verdict. There are four primary pieces of evidence to present that argue for the reality of the resurrection. In this post we’ll cover the first two pieces of evidence.
Why should we believe that Jesus rose from the dead? The first reason deals with the empty tomb.
Evidence #1: The Empty Tomb.
The empty tomb argues for the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. If Jesus rose from the dead then the tomb would indeed be empty and it was. Even Jesus’ enemies conceded this point. Matthew 28:12-13 says, “When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers [the ones who were guarding the tomb] a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’” In coming up with a lie about what happened to Jesus’ body, they confirmed the tomb was empty.
Objection: Jesus’ disciples stole his body.
Response: 1) What was their motive? People will steal and lie about it for what’s to be gained. But for the disciples, maintaining that Jesus rose from the dead cost them their very lives, yet they continued to hold that they saw Jesus rise from the dead. Why would they do that unless it was the truth? 2) Would anyone die for a lie they knew was a lie? Misguided people may die for a lie they thought was the truth, but they will not die for a lie they know is a lie. If the disciples indeed stole Jesus’ body then they died for a lie they knew was a lie. 3) If the guards were asleep wouldn’t they have woken up as the 2-4 thousand pound stone was rolled away? 4) If the Roman guards were sleeping as the Jews claimed, then how would the sleeping guards have known that the disciples came and stole Jesus’ body?
Summary: There is no argument over whether or not Jesus’ tomb was empty. There’s only argument over which explanation best explains why His body was missing. There are two theories. 1) Jesus rose from the dead. 2) The disciples stole Jesus’ body. Out of these two options – which seems more plausible to you?
Why should we believe that Jesus rose from the dead? The second reason deals with the post-mortem appearances of Christ.
Evidence #2: The Appearances.
The eye witness testimony of over 500 people that saw Jesus alive after his death argues for the reality of the resurrection. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…he was buried…he was raised on the third day…he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred…at the same time, most of whom are still living…Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…” In a court of law, the eye-witness testimony of even two or three witnesses (when that testimony agrees) is considered truth. People have been condemned to life in prison or even death on the eye-witness testimony of even two or three witnesses. How much more so then should the eye-witness testimony of over five hundred people be considered truth!
Objection: No one saw Jesus alive after his death. They were all hallucinating.
Response: Hallucinations are like dreams – no two are alike. Would you ever believe that even two people had the same dream? If not, then why would you believe that over five hundred people all hallucinated the same thing?
Summary: People saw Jesus alive after his death because he really did rise from the dead OR over 500 people all hallucinated the same thing. Which of these two options is more plausible to you?