“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come; see the place where He was lying.”
“Many theories have been advanced, attempting to show that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a fraud. I believe that many of the people who came up with these theories must have had two brains–one lost, and the other one out looking for it. Historians have to become anti-historical to invent some of their ideas” (The Resurrection Factor, p. 76).
Harvard professor Dr. Simon Greenleaf also summed it up, when he said, “According to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.”
And there’s this.
With obvious evidence for the resurrection, there are still some non-believers who attack it by claiming that, since Jesus may have indeed risen from the dead, His death was not a sacrifice at all so the sins of humanity are not actually paid for.
Is there any truth to this?
Is there any way God came to Earth as a man, claimed to be God, said He would be murdered, said He would rise from the dead, rose from the dead, but it was all for nothing because the resurrection cancelled out the sacrifice? Can it be?
Skeptics are known to pick apart the smallest details of slavery, as it is described in the Book of Numbers, wrestle with the problem of pain, research the historical accuracy of the New Testament writings, debate the doctrine of Predestination ad-nauseum, wonder why Solomon would cut a baby in half (he didn’t but I hear this a lot)…
Can it be they do all these things to bolster their skepticism while, all the while, overlooking the most important part of the story?
Can we really be sure that the death and resurrection of Christ was a sufficient sacrifice for our sins?
Yes, we can be sure Christianity is truth BECAUSE of, not in-spite of, the fact that Jesus did not stay dead.
Think about it, if Jesus had not risen, would Christianity have lasted longer than a couple days? If He was still in the tomb, wouldn’t He be just another martyr?
The resurrection of Christ assures us God has accepted Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. The resurrection is proof that Jesus is who He claimed to be – the Messiah – the Savior of mankind – and that His sacrifice on the cross was pleasing to God.
As long as Jesus lay in the tomb he was just another tragic religious figure who suffered a martyr’s death. But when God raised Jesus from the dead, it was His stamp of “paid in full” on the invoice of our sin debt. Now believing sinners can be certain that in Christ they are justified.
As the Bible says, “He [Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
The resurrection of Christ is a remarkable thing to be sure but no one is asking anyone to throw common sense and reason to the wind and believe in something based on a myth, legend, or lie.
If you want to know more, here are 14 sources you can read for yourself.
1.Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006. Advances in significant ways the case for the origins of the Gospels in eyewitness accounts.
2.Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues & Commentary. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002. Since John is the one Gospel writer who explicitly claims to have been an eyewitness, a defense of his Gospel’s historical credibility is of great value to a defense of the Resurrection.
3.Boa, Kenneth D., and Robert M. Bowman Jr. 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists: Discover Why Believing in God Makes So Much Sense. Colorado Springs: Cook, 2005. Chapters 13-17 present an easy-to-read, popular-level presentation of evidences for Jesus’ existence, death, and resurrection. However, the rest of the book is also relevant, as the other chapters establish a context for believing the truth about Jesus in background knowledge about God’s existence, the reliability and inspiration of the Bible, and the transforming power of the message of Jesus Christ.
4.Burridge, Richard A. What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography. SNTSMS 70. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. 2nd ed., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Dearborn, MI: Dove Booksellers, 2004. Important contribution to Gospel scholarship, proving that the Gospels belonged to the genre of ancient biographies, not fairy tales, legends, or myths.
5.Chapman, David W. Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010. Thorough study of the subject, complementing Hengel’s by focusing on the Jewish background and the early Christian church.
6.Copan, Paul, ed. Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan. Moderated by William F. Buckley, Jr. With responses from Robert J. Miller, Craig L. Blomberg, Marcus Borg, and Ben Witherington III. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998. An interesting published debate on the resurrection of Jesus; Craig and Crossan are leading defenders of their positions.
7.Craig, William Lane. Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity, Vol. 16. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989. Still one of the very best studies of its kind.
8.Eddy, Paul R., and Gregory A. Boyd. The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007. Powerful refutation of the Jesus myth theory and a strong defense of the historical value of the Synoptic Gospels as sources of information about the historical Jesus.
9.Ehrman, Bart D. Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. New York: HarperOne, 2012. Tell anyone who claims Jesus never existed to read this agnostic’s critique of the Jesus myth theory and then call you in the morning.
10.Habermas, Gary R., and Michael R. Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004. Two of the leading scholars on the Resurrection teamed up to produce this readable, solid defense of its historicity.
11.Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977. Comparatively short but extremely informative study, demonstrating that no sane people living in the ancient Mediterranean world would ever have concocted the story of a crucified man as the central figure of their religion. Focuses largely on the pagan Greco-Roman cultural perspective.
12.Keener, Craig S. Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. 2 Vols. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011. Massive tour de force case against Hume’s assumption that miracles are so scarce in the modern world as to be ipso facto lacking in credibility.
13.Licona, Michael R. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010. Published doctoral dissertation, raising the level of sophistication for the “minimal facts” Resurrection apologetic by a couple of notches.
14.Quarles, Charles L., ed. Buried Hope or Risen Savior: The Search for the Jesus Tomb. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008. Scholarly, well-done essays refuting the “Jesus family tomb” hypothesis and in the process giving good evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.