Easter is all about the triumphant resurrection of Jesus from the tomb! The resurrection is what sets Christianity apart from all other world religions or spiritual systems of thought or philosophy. This reality has always been under attack by people who do not believe that Jesus could actually rise from the dead.
Allow me to present three major objections to the resurrection given by those who deny its historical reality.
Number ONE: The falsehood theory: The disciples snuck past the Roman guards, rolled the stone away, stole Jesus body, and then went around telling everyone He had risen. Not only would Roman soldiers lose their jobs or get severely reprimanded for not guarding the post, why would the disciples die as martyrs for a belief that was simply a lie?
Peter was crucified upside down. Paul was beheaded. James the brother of John was beheaded. Philip was scourged, beaten and crucified. James the leader of the church in Jerusalem who wrote James was beaten, stoned, and was bludgeoned to death with a bat. Andrew the brother of Peter was crucified. Mark was dragged to death. Jude was crucified. Thomas was speared to death. Luke was hanged on an olive tree.
Number TWO: The swoon theory: Jesus did not really die on the cross, but simply fainted. The spear in his side didn’t kill him. The cat of nine tails didn’t rip his flesh apart, nor did the torture of crucifixion. He simply fainted. So being in the tomb without food and water, had enough strength to roll the stone away from the inside, physically overcome an armed Roman guard while walking on pierced feet to Jerusalem.
Number THREE: The vision or delusion theory: In their excited states of mind the disciples were thinking so much about Jesus and the possibility of His return that they hallucinated and had visions of seeing him. They only thought he had actually risen from the dead, and then circulated this story to convince people to believe them.
Now what does the Bible say about the resurrection after the fact? 1 Corinthians 15:3–7 says, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” Jesus appeared to more than 500 people at the same time.
Also, Josephus, a secular, non-believing Jewish historian wrote this “On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him.” A secular historian even recorded the event as actual history.
So historically, the resurrection is a fact with countless eyewitnesses. This was a historical reality that truly happened. So Jesus is alive in heaven with a resurrected body with visible nail scars in His hands and feet. This is what sets Christianity apart from every other world religion. No otherworld religion leaders have an empty tomb.
You can go to the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia today and see the mosque of Mohammed’s tomb. He died and never rose again. Siddhartha Gautama was the founder of Buddhism. He died and was cremated and his remains are in relics all throughout the Far East. He never rose from the grave. Confucius the Chinese philosopher was buried in his hometown of Qfu, China, and thousands of Chinese visit his grave and temple every year. He never rose from the dead.
Over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ literally and historically and physically rose from the dead. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:13–14: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
So if there were no literal resurrection in the past, we would have a useless faith. Christianity would mean nothing! As you prepare for Easter this 2015, would you be both amazed and convinced of the historical bona-fide reality of the empty tomb and our risen and reigning Savior King Jesus!
amazed and convinced of the historical bona-fide reality of the empty tomb and our risen and reigning Savior King Jesus!