The resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith – 1 Corinthians 15:14. Since we have already looked into the big questions of life (Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?), so if Christ rose from the dead, we know for certain that God exists, what He is like and that He has a great plan for humankind!
Not wishful thinking:
If the resurrection had never happened, Christianity is nothing more than a museum piece, and devotees whom many have given their lives were only poor deluded fools. Skeptics attack the resurrection because Christianity stands or falls on this fact.
One skeptic promotes that it is all a fable or fantasy, attempting to expose the faith as a fraud and superstition. While Frank Morison was doing his research, he could not get past the question, “Who moved the stone?” Lee Strobel has a similar testimony, while trying to expose Christianity as a lie, he examined the evidence and came to faith in Christ.
Data to be considered:
The fact of the Christian church: It can be traced back to the first century Palestine, around AD 32. Did it just happen or was there a cause for it? They were first called Christians in Antioch, and they turned the world up-side down – Acts 11:26, 17:6. They constantly referred to the resurrection as the basis for their teaching and living.
Then there is the fact of the Christian day: Sunday is the day of worship, and can be traced back to around AD 32. Something significant must have happened to change the day from the Jewish Sabbath to the first day of the week. Even more remarkable is the fact that many of the first Christians were Jewish!
There is the Christian book, the New Testament: There are six independent testimonies to the fact of the resurrection; three of them by eyewitnesses (peter, John and Matthew). These who helped transform the moral fabric of society could not have been skilled liars or deluded madmen.
Accounting for the empty tomb:
The earliest explanation was the disciples stole the body (Matthew 28:11-12, 13-15) – Religious leaders gave money to guards to say the disciples came and stole the body while they were asleep. It was so false that Matthew did not even bother to refute it. If they were asleep, how would they know the disciples did this? It would be laughed out of court. This was also totally out of character of the disciples; they would be thieves and liars. But each of these disciples faced torture and martyrdom. People will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false. They do not however die for what the know to be a lie.
The Jewish or Roman authorities stole the body: But why? Evidence they did not comes out of their silence in the face of the bold preaching of the resurrection by the apostles. They were in rage and did all they could to squash this new faith. The truth is that if they had taken the body, they would have paraded the bloody corpse through the streets of Jerusalem!
The women, distraught with grief in the pre-dawn light, went to the wrong tomb: They imagined Christ was alive because they found a tomb empty. If this happened, the authorities would have just gone to the right tomb and produced the body. It is also inconceivable that all the disciples would have made such a mistake, and Joseph of Arimathea would not have gone to the wrong tomb (it belonged to him – Matthew 27:57-59, 60-61).
The swoon theory: Jesus did not actually die, but was weak, exhausted and passed out, but in the cool of the tomb was revived and got out. First off, these Roman guards were good at their trade; they knew dead when they saw it! If Jesus revived, how did he regain strength without food or water for three days? What about the blood loss? How did He remove the grave clothes? How did He roll away the stone, overcome the guards, and walked miles on spike pierced feet? How do you explain the appearances of Christ with only the nail wounds? He would have looked like a resuscitated corpse not a glorified Savior.
The appearances of Christ:
This happened from the morning of the resurrection to 40 days later. He appeared to Peter and John, the disciples, over 500 people, in different places (the tomb, the upper room, to the Emmaus Road). These eyewitnesses testify that this actually happened.
Was it a hallucination? These people were a diverse group and dispositions, not said to be imaginative of nervous minded. Hallucinations are subjective and individual; no two people have the same experience. When He appeared to the 500, over have of them were alive by the time Paul wrote about it in First Corinthians 15. Hallucinations usually take place at certain times and places. These appearances happened indoors, outdoors, and at all times during the day. Some of these experiences took place over a long period of time, abruptly ending after the ascension.
A hallucination is generally comes from an intense desire to believe something that is not there, so he attached reality to the imagination. But these disciples were persuaded against their wills to believe He was raised from the dead. They came to the tomb with spices in hand. Mary did not expect to see Jesus alive, and even mistook Him for the gardener. The disciples believed he story to be an idle tale. When they thought they had seen a ghost, He calms then by inviting them to touch Him and even eating with them, something a hallucination would not have done.
Then there’s Thomas. He wasn’t about to believe in this hallucination! When Jesus shows up, he exclaims “My Lord and my God.” To hold to the hallucination theory is to ignore the evidence. What changed these cowardly disciples into men of courage and conviction? How do we explain Peter’s denial before the crucifixion to Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, later risking harm and jail time?
If Jesus is alive, He is ready to invade your existence. Thousands of people across the globe have trusted Him with their salvation, and testify how He changed their lives.