Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20
It’s easy to stop thinking about Jesus’ death and resurrection once the “Easter” holiday is past but Jesus rising from the dead is the most wonderful event in the history of the world, so let’s take a few more minutes to reflect on it.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an accepted historical fact. Anyone who questions or denies it must offer the proof that Jesus did not rise from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of Christian faith.
Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 and 20: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. . .But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is mentioned at least 100 times in the New Testament. It was the main point that Apostle Paul emphasized in his message on the day of Pentecost.
Jesus promised He would rise from the dead. His Holy life proved He always told the truth and even His enemies could find no fault in Him. There are only two possibilities: Either He came out of the tomb or He was a liar. However, there were many eye-witnesses who testified that they had seen Christ!
For example, in John 20:19 and 26 we read: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said: ‘Peace be with you!’. . . A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’”
On another day, 500 people saw Christ alive. In 1 Corinthians 15:6 we read: “After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”
Also, Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:28, “Then He appeared to James, then to all Apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also.” Some say that these witnesses were hypnotized or hallucinating. Five hundred people all hallucinating at the same time?
We also see the change in the lives of the believers. This remarkable transformation proves they must have met Christ. Apostle Peter was a frightened coward one day and a mighty preacher the next! Paul’s conversion (Acts 9) proves that Christ was alive. No delusion or fabrication could change this dedicated Jewish rabbi into a fiery preacher and follower of Christ.
Finally, there is the empty tomb. The stone was rolled away. Human power might move a huge stone but it cannot raise a dead person. And yet this stone was not rolled away to allow Christ to come out; it was rolled away to allow men to look in and see that He was gone! The true resurrection message is: “Come and see…Go and tell!”
If Jesus’ body was stolen, it would have been stolen by either enemies or friends. Enemies would have produced the body and silenced the disciples. Friends or the disciples would not have willingly given their lives for a lie.
Afraid and confused, the religious leaders bribed the soldiers to say that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus while the soldiers were sleeping.
This raises more questions than it answers. Why were the soldiers sleeping instead of guarding? How could the disciples have rolled the stone away without waking the soldiers? If the soldiers were asleep, how did they know the disciples stole the body? If it was true, why did the soldiers have to be bribed?
While truth is self-verifying, a lie has to be supported by countless other lies. The truth is that the resurrection of Jesus is a well-documented fact of history. He presented Himself alive to His disciples by many infallible proofs. The historic evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the great foundation stones—unshakable and immovable—of our Christian faith. This truth can be denied but it cannot be disproved!
Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Jesus is not on the cross or among the dead. He is alive! He has life and gives life. What can be more important than life? Now, because you know He is alive, go and tell everyone!
Pastor Joseph Hovsepian