Evidence that demands a verdict: Christ is alive

by Commissioner David EdwardsThe writers of the Gospels report in great detail on the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The reason for this is simply that these two facts are at the heart of the Gospel and are fundamental to the faith of the Christian Church.

From the very first day that the news hit the streets of Jerusalem, those who were responsible for his death devised a plan to discredit news of his resurrection. Today, more than two thousand years since it happened, the efforts to discredit it still continues. However, the evidence is there. What is interesting is that some of this evidence is provided by those first attempts at discrediting it.

First efforts at discrediting the news

According to Matthew, one of the Gospel writers, while the women were on the way to tell about what had happened, the matter was reported to the chief priests by some guards who had been placed at the tomb the day before to prevent this very thing from happening. They met with the elders and devised a plan to discredit the news. They bribed the guards and had them tell a different story, namely that the disciples had come during the night and stolen the body of Jesus while they slept.

They were certainly consistent in their conduct. After all, they had bribed one of his disciples to betray him. They had conducted a trial that was illegal under their laws. They had bribed the prosecution witnesses in the second trial before the civil authority and had even blackmailed the judge. It is not surprising therefore that they would bribe the guards to lie about the reasons for the tomb being empty.

The efforts to discredit only confirm the news reports

In doing so however they merely succeeded in providing proof of its validity. They actually confirmed that the tomb was empty. What was in dispute was how it came to be that way. It is hard to believe that these frightened followers of this dead carpenter would take the risk of being arrested themselves to steal his body in an attempt to perpetrate what would be the greatest hoax in history if it came off.

It is also hard to believe that the guards, who could have lost their lives if caught sleeping on the job, would openly confess to this fact. The only reason that we can see as to why the authorities would go to such lengths to discredit the news is that it must be true.

They themselves obviously believed it to be true. They had the most unimpeachable witnesses, the guards themselves. Never once do we read of them questioning the guards’ account of what took place at the tomb. They accepted their story as being entirely true. The guards had no reason to lie to them. Jesus was alive.

Transformed lives ­ the best evidence yet

The strongest evidence, however, that supported that fact was the transformation that took place in the lives and behavior of the disciples. This is what someone wrote about this transformation:

“On the first day of the crucifixion they were filled with sadness; on the first day of the week with gladness. At the crucifixion they were hopeless; on the first day of the week their hearts glowed with certainty and hope. When the message of the resurrection first came they were incredulous and hard to convince, but once they became assured they never doubted again. What could account for the astonishing change in these men in so short a time?

“The mere removal of the body from the grave could never have transformed their spirits and characters. Three days are not enough for a legend to spring up which would so affect them. Time is needed for legends to grow and take root. It is a psychological fact that demands a full explanation.

“Think of the psychological absurdity of picturing a little band of defeated cowards cowering in an upper room one day and a few days later transformed into a company that no persecution could silence–and then attempting to attribute this dramatic change to nothing more convincing than a miserable fabrication they were trying to foist upon the world. That simply wouldn’t make sense.”

The only reasonable explanation for such a dramatic turn around in behavior in so short a period of time has to be the resurrection. As it was more than two thousand years ago, so it is today. The strongest evidence that suggests that Christ is alive today is to be found in the transformed lives of people. And the evidence is overwhelming. The examples are numerous. Christ is alive. Millions of people around the world, from all backgrounds and nationalities testify to this experience of having their lives transformed for the better through and encounter with the living Christ.

You can believe it. HE IS ALIVE.

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