Faith plays a part in accepting the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet, faith can intersect with historical reasoning when it comes to the life and death of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is probably the biggest obstacle for skeptics because it is the most critical issue of the Christian faith. Without the bodily resurrection of Jesus, there is no Christian faith.
When we apply to the resurrection of Jesus the very same historical criteria as we do when we accept other noted events as fact, the results are startling. The evidence for this historical truth of the resurrection of Jesus becomes stronger than any other event in Jesus’ life. In fact, the evidence is stronger than many other historical events in the world that we have taken for granted.
Please consider the following regarding the resurrection of Christ:
* Five independent sources have written testimony to the resurrection event, plus refer to numerous other sources as well. Their individual accounts are unique from each other and share common material, thereby validating themselves as truthful and reliable witnesses. No two witnesses will share the same story in exactly the same way.
* The location of Jesus’ tomb was well known by all. Not only Jesus’ followers, but even his opponents all agreed that the tomb was indeed empty.
* The Christian church began several weeks after Jesus’ crucifixion. The explosive growth of the church was based on the message that Jesus was the promised Messiah as evidenced by his miracles and especially his resurrection.
* The resurrection accounts lack the characteristics common to legends. They contain details that would be considered irrelevant to the story line, plus named several prominent people who could have been easily cross-examined.
* The conversion of the Apostle Paul is unexplainable. This man was the leading persecutor of the early Christian Church, yet was converted in a moment. We can do nothing else but accept his testimony that he was personally confronted by the risen Lord.
* Paul gives us an early list of the resurrection appearances. Again, a large number of people could be cross-examined.
* There was a huge difference in the disciples before the death of Jesus and after his death. One day they were hiding in fear, the next they are boldly preaching. This can only be attributed to their real experience of Jesus’ resurrection.
* There is no motive for the disciples to fabricate this story. The disciples had nothing to gain and everything to lose.
The denial of the Resurrection based on historical evidence means that a person has to deny most of ancient history. The resurrection of Jesus Christ has to be considered as a valid, historical event.
So, what does it mean for us?
We are confronted face to face with the question we all have to answer someday. Is Jesus Christ your Savior or not?
**This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A. Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.