Jesus claimed to be the Son of God – and then authenticated His claim by rising on the third day. So the resurrection is therefore the centre point on which Christianity stands or falls (1 Cor 15:13 – 14). Is the biblical account of the resurrection reliable? The New Testament is a set of ancient historical writings which can be tested for authenticity like any other ancient writing, and the evidence for their reliability has been proved to be overwhelming.
Was Jesus really dead after He was crucified? Eyewitness accounts of a Roman flogging confirm the utter brutality of the act as the victim was beaten within inches of their life. Many did not survive. Crucifixion was a slow, agonizing death. Once the victim became too exhausted to raise himself up and take a breath, he died of asphyxiation. The spear pierced Jesus’ heart and a lung. He was declared dead by many experts including the professional executioner. Ancient sources outside the Bible confirm His death.
Could the resurrection be a myth that’s grown over time?
Scholars from a wide range of theological beliefs have dated the earliest testimonies from the New Testament to within a few years after the life of Jesus. This is not enough time for legend to develop. The writings of the Gospels, the book of Acts, Paul’s writings were in circulation during the lifetime of Jesus’ contemporaries. People would know if they were lying – yet in one day 3000 people responded to what they knew was the truth.
Was the tomb really empty? The soldiers knew the body was gone. The punishment for a Roman soldier sleeping on guard was severe, even death. The chief priests knew the body was gone. They bribed the soldiers to say that the disciples had stolen the body, implying that the tomb was in fact empty. The disciples knew the body was gone. Within a period of about fifty days, they were transformed from a group of people hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews, to a publicly reaching, miracle performing force to contend with. Almost all of them paid for their passion with their lives. Would they go this far to uphold a lie? Outside of a personal encounter with the resurrected Christ, how can you explain the conversion of Saul of Tarsus to the Apostle Paul?
What about the more than five hundred witnesses to whom the risen Jesus appeared? Could they all have been lying? Highly unlikely as this is an unbelievable weight of eyewitness testimony. Could they have been hallucinating? Again, it’s extremely unlikely, as so many people would have the same hallucination at the same time. And there’s still the problem of the empty tomb.
Based on all the evidence available for investigation, the only logical conclusion is that Jesus Christ experienced a physical, bodily resurrection. More faith is actually required to believe otherwise!