Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Evidence for the Resurrection

Adapted from a presentation by Razi Zacharias (www.rzim.org)

Without the resurrection, there is no Christianity.  It is meaningless, the religion collapses on itself.  It is through the resurrection of Christ that our sins are forgiven and that we too will be resurrected and live in eternity with Him.

In the past 2000 (+) years, no one has reported a case of anyone being resurrected.  Since we have never seen it, we don't believe it.  Like the Apostle Thomas, we want to put our fingers in His wounds to believe.

Meaning we want PROOF.

But for the person who is willing to do a little study, the proof is there!  It is reported by eyewitnesses in the Gospels.  (the reliability of the Gospels would be for another post, but do the research, it is there, the Gospels are reliable and trustworthy---check out Lee Strobel's "A Case For Christ")

So in review of the Gospels, we can ask and answer the following 10 questions that will provide us with the evidence the Jesus did rise from the dead.

1.  Prior to His death, why would Jesus claim that He would die and  bodily rise up if he planned to fool everyone?  This would be impossible to do, unless you faked your death.  And if it was His plan to fake his death, then He would not plan to be scourged and crucified---no one can survive that.  So why not say he would spiritually rise again, which could never be proven.

2. In a world where women are second rate citizens, where their word cannot be given in court; why would the news of the resurrection come to women first?   No one fabricating this story would've done that in that day.  But isn't it just like Jesus, to reach out to the outsiders and put them ahead of all others. Isn' t it just like God to choose the lowliest and least likely to do a great task?

3. There were eyewitness, over 500 in fact.  Some people today say this was a case of "mass hallucination".  But there has NEVER been a single documented case of a "mass hallucination", hallucinations are a product of an individual's mind, not a groups.   In addition, the Risen Christ interacted with His Disciples who saw, felt and touched the Risen Christ.

4.  There was an amazing transformation from fear to martyrdom.  Prior to His death, the disciples fearfully ran and hid.  The punishment for being associated with Jesus would be death.  Not one disciple stood up for Jesus prior to his death. Not. A. Single. One.

But after His death, all 12 disciples were suddenly transformed from cowards to brave men, risking their lives to spread the good news of the resurrection.   The Jewish leaders considered this blasphemy punishable by death.  The 12 who were so fearful and hid before, now are spreading Christianity without fear.  Even as 11 of the 12 died a horrible martyr's death (ex. Thomas was speared to death, Peter crucified upside down)
Why?  Would you die horribly for what you knew to be a lie?

No, you wouldn't and they wouldn't.  The disciples knew that regardless of how horrible the death, it was nothing compared to the glory of Heaven and being with Jesus.  They knew that they too would live again as Jesus did.   

5.  If the story of the resurrection was a myth or legend created by the disciples for whatever purpose, why would they begin their lie almost immediately after the death of Jesus, and in Jerusalem?  This is where Jesus was tortured and killed and where the religious leaders would (and did) search for anyone spreading this "myth" and stoning them to death.  So why not run off to some other place to start this fairy tale? It only makes sense if it was the truth.

6. Jesus and His disciples had many enemies in Jerusalem.  And yet there was no contradictory evidence produced to persuaded Jews that the resurrection was a hoax.   We have all kinds of evidence saying Big Foot is a hoax, if the Resurrection (so much more important than Big Foot) is a hoax, wouldn't the evidence against it be pouring in?  Wouldn't that squash this movement then and there?

7.  Peter and Paul began the formation of the Catholic Church----why would it be needed if this was one grand hoax or scheme?  There was nothing to gain by doing this, except torture and death---which they did receive---unless the Resurrection was real.

8. For thousands of years, the day of worship, the Sabbath was (still is) on Saturday.  Why would early Christians change of day of worship from Saturday to Sunday?  It is because Jesus arose on a Sunday.   Otherwise, it would be so deeply ingrained into the disciples that Saturday is the day to worship, they would've kept the Christian worship day to that day.

9.   Not everyone who knew Jesus believed he was Christ  or Messiah.  Even some of His own family members did not believe!  James, brother of Jesus did not believe Jesus was Christ.   He did not follow Jesus, did not believe in the miracles Jesus was reported to have performed.  But after the resurrection of Jesus, James believed.  Had Jesus died and not resurrected, there would be no reason for James to change his beliefs and join this radical group of new Christians and risk his own life to perpetrate a lie.

10.  In the times of Jesus was a  man named Saul.  He was a highly educated Jew who loved the law and hated the Christians.  He believed the Christians were blasphemers and should be swiftly executed, and he volunteered for the job of rounding them up and bringing them to justice (death).   Saul was very good at his job and he was highly feared by the Christians.  Then in a single day....he changed.   He reported that the Risen Jesus appeared to him and spoke to him.  And from that moment on, Saul (whom we know as Paul) became the greatest defender of Christianity in all of history.   Nothing can explain this, except to accept it as truth, that Saul did see and speak to the resurrected Christ.

Hopefully many of you will read this and feel fulfilled in your beliefs.  Some of you will read this and be persuaded and will hopefully be encouraged to learn more and come to faith or grow in your faith.  And I know there will be some (because I was one) who will scoff and think, nice story.  I pray for you to be enlightened and challenge yourself to learn more---your eternal soul depends upon it.

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