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When it comes to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, most people stand in 2 camps:
a.) They believe it happened because the Bible and their pastors say it did, and they are going on faith that this is true.
Or b.) They believe that Jesus’ death is something that happened a very long time ago, with very little proof of the resurrection actually happening. The only basis of truth is relying on the accounts of people who were supporters of Jesus before His death, and likely were just defending His resurrection to validate their own beliefs.
Where do you stand?
As a believer I don’t think it’s wrong to question things. Actually, I think we should question things. We should dig for answers, and through prayer and seeking God, I believe we will discover the truth.
I am a firm believer that Jesus was in fact resurrected from the dead. Honestly, a lot of my beliefs aren’t because I have “all the facts” and am now convinced. Instead it’s because of my own personal walk with God and seeking His truths. He has revealed that He is not only alive and well, but a loving God who cares about me personally and deeply. I have also learned that He cares about you personally and deeply as well. Everyone is a unique and special creation to Him.
At the end of the day, no matter how compelling of an argument I make, faith is still faith. If you don’t want to believe it, you won’t. But if you are open to the idea that maybe Jesus did rise from the dead (yet still have a few questions) then hopefully this post is helpful for you. 🙂
So, after a very long intro, let’s get into it. These are the 7 completely logical reasons for believing that Jesus Christ was resurrected.
7 Completely Logical Reasons for Believing that Jesus Christ was Resurrected
Let’s just get this out of the way…
Are you not really convinced there ever was a man named Jesus who claimed to be God, and was put to death by crucifixion? If you’re that person, then I must tell you as lovingly as I can that to not believe the person of Jesus ever existed puts you on the fringe of the fringe of modern day skepticism.
There is enough documentation from history (outside of the information found in the Bible) that there in fact was a man named Jesus. He was from Nazareth, He did proclaim to be God, and He did have a large following. What Jesus said, and who Jesus claimed to be, caused a lot of discontentment and controversy, just as it still causes a lot of controversy today, 2000 years later.
Because of this discontentment, the Jewish religious leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. Because of pressure from the crowds and the Jewish leaders, the Roman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion.
Historically speaking, the accuracy of these events aren’t really a matter of dispute. There is enough evidence throughout history that this did happen.
However, does any of this validate that Jesus was God in human flesh? That Jesus really did die as a sacrifice in exchange for the sins of the world? And most importantly, that Jesus really did overcome sin and death and was resurrected from the dead?
This is what we’ll discuss here. Let’s go!
In order to truly understand what happened on that glorious Sunday over 2,000 years ago, we really need to understand what was going on during that time. If you are in the camp that Jesus’ disciples were lying about seeing Jesus’ resurrection in order to affirm their own beliefs, let’s take a deeper look.
1. The Change in the Disciples
What I love about the the story of Jesus’ resurrection is how real and relatable it is. I mean, Jesus’ disciples were seriously flawed. In no other story do we see the main character’s most trusted and loyal friends completely abandon him when he needed them the most. But, that’s exactly what the disciples did. Matthew 26:56 says, “at that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled”.
So, they ran.
No. They sprinted.
When things got a bit hairy for them, these guys were outta there.
They hid in fear for their lives because they were afraid of being persecuted or sentenced to death themselves. Or, perhaps they were even unsure if what they had spent the last few years proclaiming was true at all. I mean, these were Jesus’ closest friends. They saw some amazing miracles, but their guy was dead now.
Now what? Where do they go from here? Before Jesus’ death He told them that He would rise from the dead (John 16:22), but it seems like they weren’t 100% convinced.
However following the resurrection, their attitudes change completely. Instead of hiding, they took to the streets proclaiming and rejoicing that Jesus was alive despite potential persecution. What would cause this stark contrast? I believe it’s because they actually saw Jesus resurrected and alive. This gave them the courage and faith to spread the good news of His resurrection, despite persecution and death.
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2. Complete 180 Change in Jesus’ Disciple Peter
Let’s take one of Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter, as an example. Before Jesus even died, Peter denied being a follower or even knowing Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75). Three times!! And this was a guy who was close to Jesus and saw many many miracles firsthand.
What this tells me is Peter was human, and he was scared. For me, Peter is relatable. I mean let’s be real, Peter definitely lacked courage here, but it also tells me something that’s very important: Peter was not the kind of guy who was about to put his life on the line unless he really and truly believed in what he was saying.
However, if you’ve read the Book of Acts, you know that Peter made a complete 180. After seeing Jesus resurrected and alive, his fears of death was seemingly gone. Peter proudly proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection, preaching to large crowds, completely fearless of any consequences (Acts 2:14). In fact, Peter was flogged (Acts 5:40), went to prison (Acts 12:1-19), and according to tradition ended up being crucified upside down for his beliefs because he found himself unworthy to die the same way Jesus died. What could cause this radical change in character unless if he actually did see for himself the resurrection of Jesus?
3. There were Hundreds of Eyewitnesses
What doesn’t get discussed that much is it wasn’t like the disciples were the only people who saw Jesus resurrected and alive. According to early Christian apologists, hundreds of eyewitnesses were cited for seeing Jesus! When pressured by the authorities, even these eyewitnesses refused to renounce what they saw. Many witnesses ultimately endured torture, suffering, and excruciating forms of death, such as being burned alive. It seems pretty shocking that all of these people would agree to go along with the same lie, only to be faced with persecution. With so many conspirators, you would think someone would have confessed, if anything just to stop their suffering.
Related: Read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel OR watch the movie of the same name! The Case for Christ is a New York Times best-seller that follows the life of an atheist journalist who looks to disprove his wife’s Christian faith. After completing a thorough investigation for almost two years, he finds the historical evidence for Jesus, and then finds a new faith in Christ. It’s a must read (and watch!) I promise. 🙂
4. 1st Generation Martyrdom
There are so many stories of people, right up to the moment of their death, insisting they had seen Jesus alive and well. I think my favorite (but also terribly sad) story is regarding Stephen from Acts 7:54-59 who said, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand” right before being stoned to death.
However, if the fact that people died proclaiming that Jesus rose from the dead is not compelling enough…honestly, I can see your point. I mean, a LOT of people have died over the years for the sake of what they believed in. While their passion is moving, I do not believe that just because someone died for their beliefs (no matter how noble it may be) that it is necessarily is an argument for validity.
But, here’s the difference with the early Christian martyrs: they were the first generation to actually see first-hand whether Jesus had actually risen from the dead or not. Their death wasn’t because they believed Jesus rose from the dead in theory, but instead because they claimed to have seen for their very own eyes that Jesus was alive. Not only did they see that Jesus was alive, but they were all moved to the point of death in order to preserve this truth.
Take my own faith for example; I believe that Jesus was resurrected, but I am not proclaiming to have actually seen Jesus myself. While I do believe in the resurrection, I cannot claim to have actually seen the holes in Jesus’ hands firsthand.
Another example is when a cult religious group committed mass suicide believing a comet was an extraterrestrial spacecraft. These people clearly believed that this was true, but they were believing what someone had told them. Not something they had seen for themselves. You see the difference?
The disciples and other eyewitnesses didn’t just believe Jesus had been resurrected, they proclaimed to have seen him. Not just one or two crazies, but hundreds of people claimed to have seen Jesus, and insisted that He was alive.
5. The Conversion of Skeptics
If you’re wanting to hear a testimony from someone who wasn’t already a follower of Christ prior to Jesus’ death, then enter stage left Paul the Apostle. Besides Jesus, he is (arguably) the most famous and intriguing person in the New Testament. You see, Paul was not your average Jew. Paul was a Pharisee with both Jewish and Roman citizenship who was well read, well respected, and of a superior class to other Jews. He also happened to be making it a personal mission to destroy the church and violently persecuted the followers of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:3).
After receiving a vision of Jesus resurrected while on the road to Damascus, Paul was immediately and radically changed into a follower of Christ (Acts 9). He spent the rest of his life defending Jesus’ resurrection, spreading the church, and ultimately wrote most of the New Testament. Like other Christ followers, he spent the rest of his life suffering persecution, imprisonment, and ultimately death (by decapitation) for his commitment to Jesus.
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6. Women were the First to see the Empty Tomb
It’s kind of interesting that the first people to see the empty tomb were women. In those days (for both Jewish and Roman culture) women were not a highly esteemed part of society. Often times, their testimony was insignificant and easily dismissed. So it is surprising that the masterminds behind the “Jesus has been resurrected” hoax would choose women to be the primary eyewitnesses of the empty tomb. They were leaving the fate of their entire charade upon the word of the most distrusted witnesses in Israel! At the time, a woman’s word was so insignificant that they weren’t even allowed to serve as a witness in Jewish courts.
When you look at it this way, it’s almost kind of embarrassing for the disciples that it was a woman who discovered the tomb. The disciples were probably kicking themselves that it wasn’t Peter or John who got there first. But like it or not, that’s what happened, and the truth was written in the Bible whether it really supported Jesus’ validity or not.
7. Let’s Talk About the Empty Tomb
It is common knowledge that Jesus’ tomb was empty on the Sunday morning when Jesus was resurrected. For a lot of people, this simple fact is not enough. I mean, so many other things could have happened to Jesus’ body besides Him being resurrected. So let’s break the most common argument down: someone could have taken his body:
Sit back and relax because this is my final point, and it’s going to take a second.
So here’s the thing you have to understand, when the Bible says the stone was moved away (Matthew 28:2), we’re not talking about a small stone or even a medium size rock. We are talking about a 4,000 pound, 3-4 foot, stone. This thing was heavy!! It was not going anywhere unless a team of people moved it. If a group of people did show up, someone would have definitely noticed it. Which brings me to point number 2.
There were Guards:
The Roman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, sentenced Jesus to death. Pilate didn’t seem to want to sentence Jesus to death (Matthew 27:23), he just wanted to keep the Israelites from creating a riot because that would mean Pilate would be in trouble. Those days were brutal (I mean, have you seen Gladiator?). If Pilate couldn’t control the Israelites, then he could have lost his position and worse case, been sentenced to death himself.
I am saying all of this to reinforce the fact that Pontius Pilate would have definitely put guards around the tomb. Protecting Jesus’ tomb is not something Pilate or the guards would have been relaxed about. It was also common knowledge that Jesus declared He would rise from the dead on the third day. He didn’t say it in secret. Pilate had the tomb sealed and guarded until the third day specifically just in case Jesus’ followers did try to do something crazy like, steal the body (Matthew 27:62-66).
The Disciples were in Hiding:
Now, let’s not forget what we have already discussed, the disciples were scared and in hiding after Jesus’ death. The Bible actually says, “the disciples kept the doors locked for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). Also according to the Bible, the only people close to Jesus (that we know of) to even be at the crucifixion were “the Marys”; Mary (Jesus’ mother), Mary Magdalene, Mary (mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John (Matthew 27:55-56).
It didn’t seem like the disciples were a particularly brave bunch of people during this time. The idea that Jesus’ disciples were in hiding so they could strategize a way to spring Jesus’ lifeless body from the tomb and stage a resurrection is honestly a bit far fetched. But again, even if they did try to do this, there were guards in place to prevent it from happening.
The Jewish Religious Leaders Bribed the Guards:
A shocking part of the Bible is that the Jewish religious leader, who pressured Pilate to sentence Jesus to death, must have been forced to believe that Jesus had been resurrected. After Jesus’ resurrection, the guards met with the elders (Jewish religious leaders) and told them that an earthquake occurred and the stone was rolled aside with an angel of the Lord sitting on Jesus’ stone. To keep the guards quiet, the elders bribed the guards to lie and tell everyone that the disciples came at night while they were sleeping (umm…why would they be sleeping?), and stole Jesus’ body. The elders even said they would defend the guards if they got in trouble with Pontius Pilate (Matthew 28:11-15).
However the real kicker around the whole “the disciples stole Jesus’ body” argument was why would the disciples go through all of this effort if they knew it wasn’t true? The lives of the disciples only got worse after they declared that Jesus had been risen from the dead. They were all persecuted and many stoned or sentenced to death. For a group of people who weren’t particularly brave in the first place, why would they go through such great efforts to defend a lie? If they had just stolen the body, why would they be willing to suffer and die insisting that Jesus had been resurrected when they knew it wasn’t true?
The only logical answer is that it is true. Jesus did live, and then He died. On the third day He rose from the dead and was seen by many.
The truth couldn’t be bribed away. The Jewish leaders couldn’t silence it through imprisonment, physical torture, or death. Somehow the truth spread, and the good news of Jesus’ resurrection lives on and continues to save many lives every single day. Praise God for that. 🙂
If you’re looking to continue this topic, I highly recommend the book The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. The Case for Christ is a New York Times best-seller that follows the life of an atheist journalist who looks to disprove his wife’s Christian faith. After completing a thorough investigation for almost two years, he finds the historical evidence for Jesus, and then finds a new faith in Christ.
The movie is also amazing and I definitely recommend both! Here’s a link to the movie of the same name, The Case for Christ.
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