It’s Hard to Believe, But It’s True!
by Commissioner David Edwards –
Christianity is the only religion which claims its founder, Jesus Christ, rose from the dead. The story is that he ran afoul of the religious authorities of his time, because of some of the things he said and did. As a result, they decided to get rid of him.
With the help of one of his own followers, they had him arrested, put him on trial on trumped up charges of blasphemy and treason. They had him convicted, and convinced the civilian authorities to condemn him to die by crucifixion.
He died and was buried
According to the information passed on to us by his early followers and witnesses to his death and resurrection, his crucifixion took place on Friday afternoon, and his burial shortly before the Jewish Sabbath. It was Sunday morning when the tomb in which he was buried, with a big rock blocking the entrance, and a guard to make sure that he stayed dead, was found empty, the stone rolled to the side, and the guards missing.
They saw him–he appeared to them
One of the three women who made the discovery, Mary Magdalene, stayed around to find out what had happened to the body. She was kneeling just outside the empty tomb when she became aware of someone standing nearby, whom she mistook for the gardener and asked to be shown the place to which they had moved the body. It was when the apparent stranger spoke her name that she became aware that it was her risen Master. Jesus was alive.
Hard to believe
Some people find this story incredible. In fact, ever since the incident happened there have been those who have sought to discredit this claim or call into question its validity. Those, for example, who were responsible for his death tried desperately to discredit the claim when the news first broke on the streets of Jerusalem. They paid the guards, who were at the tomb and witnessed what took place, to spread a lie that the followers of Jesus had broken into the tomb and stole his body. But no one believed that lie then and no one believes it now.
Other witnesses to the resurrection
In addition to Mary Magdalene, there were several people who reported that they saw him alive. There was the inner circle of his followers, who reported that they saw him on three different occasions.
Thomas, one of his disciples, was quite a skeptic. He was not there the first time that Jesus appeared to the group, and he refused to accept that any such thing had happened unless he saw Christ for himself and touched his wounds. Christ honored his request.
We understand from the Apostle Paul that Christ also appeared to about 500 persons on one occasion. The last reported post-resurrection appearance of Lord Jesus Christ was on the Mount of Olives to his disciples just before being taken up into the heavens right before their very eyes.
Admittedly all of these post resurrection appearances were to persons who were believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and the skeptic might be tempted to question their honesty or their sanity.
Before we do that, however, we need to note that many of them lost their lives for their faith, based upon the resurrection of our Lord. I find it difficult to accept as fact that people would be willing to lose their lives for a lie that they themselves helped to perpetrate or because of a delusion.
But what if it did not happen ?
What if the resurrection of Jesus was nothing more than a cruel joke pulled by the disciples–what difference would it make ?
In the early days of the Church, in the city of Corinth, there were some people who had some difficulty accepting the resurrection for a fact. Paul the Apostle dealt with this same issue. What if it did not happen?
This is what Paul wrote to the Corinthians in answer to that question: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God…your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”(1 Corinthians 15:14-19)
All the evidence seems to support the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead as he said he would. It happened. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was an event in human history that has relevance for all time and all humanity.
This evidence requires a response. You either accept it or reject it. If you accept it then you have to accept that Jesus Christ is who says he was, the Son of God; that his death was for the purpose God intended it to have, the redemption of all creation; that it is only through him that one can come to God.
What is your response to the evidence of the Resurrection? I trust that it is one of acceptance that it is true and that he who rose from the dead is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.