Friday, April 6, 2012

Jesus Christ's Resurrection: Fiction Or Fact?



We must know the reasons why
Christians believe that the Lord Jesus
rose bodily from the dead, and
that this is fact not fiction.

Let us notice the evidence

The witness of the four Gospels

1. The Lord Jesus explicitly
stated that He would rise again on
the third day.



At Caesarea Philippi, following Peter’s
great confession of His Person,
the Lord spoke of His resurrection.
The words read, “From that time
forth began Jesus to show unto His
disciples how that he must go unto
Jerusalem, and suffer many things of
the elders, chief priests and scribes,
and be killed and be raised again
the third day” (Matt. 16:21). See also
John 2:18-22). Despite these clear
statements none of His followers
expected Him to rise from, the dead.
A veil seemed to be over their minds
on these occasions, but afterwards
when He was risen from the dead
they remembered His words (see
Luke 24:7-9).

2. The Gospel writers bear witness
to the fact of an empty tomb.
When the women visited the
tomb early in the morning of the
third day they brought spices and
ointments, expecting to find the
tomb occupied by His body. Their
amazement can be imagined when
they found it empty (Luke 24:1-3).
What had become of His body?
Three answers may be given:
It was in the hands of His
foes.

If so, clearly they would have
produced it to silence the preaching
of the apostles. In this event there
would have been no case for the
resurrection

I t was in the hands of His
friends. If so, the apostles were
perpetrators of the greatest fraud in
history for they publicly proclaimed
that He was risen. How could they
have done this when they knew
where His body was? Opponents of
Christianity have hesitated to charge
the apostles with fraud. The case
against His friend has, therefore, had
no success.

• I t is clear, then, that if His
body was neither in the hands of
His foes nor of His friends. He must
have risen from the dead.               

Each Gospel writer bears emphatic
witness to His resurrection.
Dr. Arnold of Rugy College, England,
once said “I know of no fact in the
history of mankind which is proved
by better and fuller evidence of
every sort.”

3. The Angels bear witness to the
fact of resurrection
Each of the Gospels tells of the
supernatural appearance and testimony
of angelic beings after the
Lord had risen. This was a witness
miraculously granted in addition to
the factual evidence of the empty
tomb.

4. The condition of the grave
clothes within the tomb signified
that resurrection had taken place
(John 20: 1-10).

When Peter and John entered the
tomb they found a scene of perfect
order. The record states. Then came
Simon Peter following him (i.e. John
), and went into the sepulcher, and
saw the linen clothes lie, and the
napkin that was about His head,
not lying with the linen cloths, but
wrapped together in a place by
itself. Then went in also that other
disciple, who came first to the sepulcher,
and he saw and believed. For
as yet they knew not the scripture,
that He must rise again from the
dead” (John 20: 6-9). There was no
evidence of a struggle, there was
no suggestion that the Lord had
unwound the wrappings and placed
them as John and Peter saw them.
The undisturbed conditions of the
grave clothes proclaimed to John
that the Lord had risen. In resurrection
He had passed out of the grave
clothes, leaving them in exact position
in which His body had laid.

5. The Lord Jesus demonstrated
the reality of His resurrection by His
appearances to His disciples.

There were ten such appearances
during the 40 days between His
resurrection and ascension. Five
appearances took place on the same
resurrection day and the remaining
five took place throughout the
days that followed. He appeared to
individuals and to companies, to
women and to men. He appeared
in different places: in a garden, in a
house, on the open road, by the lake
on a mountain. The occasions were
as follows:

a
T o Mary Magdalene in the
garden (Mark 16: (9 -11: John
20:1-8).

b
T o the women on the way to
the city (Matt. 28: 9,10).

c
T o the apostle Peter (Luke
24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5).

d
T o the two disciples in the
house at Emmaus
(Luke 24:13-32): Mark. 16:
12-13)

e
T o the ten disciples in the
house in the evening (John
20:19-20). Thomas was
absent on this occasion.
These appearances (a—e)
took place on the day of the
resurrection.

f
T o the eleven disciples in the
house eight days later (John
20:26). Thomas was present.
g T o the seven disciples by
G alilee (John 21).

h
T o the eleven disciples on
the mount of Galilee
(Matt. 28:16-17).

i T o James the Lord’s brother(1
Cor.15:7). This appearance is
not recorded in the gospels.

j
T o five hundrend brethren
at once (1 Cor. 15:6). This ap
pearence could be the same
as that when He appeared to
the eleven on the mount in
Galilee (h. above).

Thus did the Lord show Himself
to confirm faith, to reward devotion
to instruct His disciples, and to
demonstrate the reality of His bodily
resurrection.

The witness of the Book of Acts
The book of Acts is the historical
record of the early days of Christianity.
It tells how the Christian message 
spread from Jerusalem in
A.D. 33 until Paul found himself a
prisoner of Rome in A.D. 65. In Acts
4:33 the statement occurs. “With
great power gave the apostles witness
of the resurrection of the Lord
Jesus, and great grace was upon
them all.”

The crucifixion turned the disciples
into despondent and crestfallen
men. On the day of Pentecost and
afterwards their mood and attitude
was completely changed. They
spoke with certainty and power.
What had caused the difference?
There can be only one answer—the
resurrection of Christ. Peter in the
early messages recorded in Acts,
and Paul, at a later stage, proclaimed
the good news that Jesus who had
been crucified was raised from the
dead on the third day, and that following
this at the end of 40 days He
ascended into heaven and sat down
on the right hand of God.

It is true to say that the great
subject proclaimed throughout
the book of Acts was the resurrection
of the Lord Jesus. Without it
there could be no such events as
the formation of the Church, the
missionary labors of Paul or the
evangelization of the world. In fact,
without it, Christianity could not be
as alive as it now.

The witness of the epistles
In the epistles the doctrinal implications
of Christ’s resurrection are
presented. These may be considered
as follows:-

1. As the demonstration of
Christ’s deity (Rom. 1:3-4) In
resurrection He was publicly set
forth as the Son of God.

2. As the confirmation of His
work (Rom. 4:25). The resurrection
was the expression of God’s
satisfaction with the work of the
cross.

3. As the pattern and power
of Christian living (Rom. 6:1-
14). The believer is vitally associated
with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection.
This provides the enablement
of Christian living.

4. As the ground for the
believers’ hope (1 Thess. 4:14).
The foundation of Christian hope
lies in the fact that “Jesus died and
rose again.” If it were not for the
resurrection of Christ there would
be no hope as regards the future.
His empty tomb is the ground of all
our hopes.

5. As the pledge of the believers’
resurrection (1 Cor. 15:19-
20) “But now is Christ risen from the
dead and become the first fruits of
them that slept” (v.20). The resurrection
of Christ is the certain pledge of
the believers’ resurrection.

6. As the manifestation of
God’s power (Eph. 1:15-23).

The resurrection of Christ is the
event in the New Testament which
is particularly associated with God’s
power. He was raised by the power
of God. This is the power that is
working in believers here and now.

In the light of the evidence
presented by the New Testament
writers particularly the writers of the
Gospels, the fraud theory accusing
the apostles of fraudulence, the
discrepancy theory impugning the
veracity of the Gospel records, the
swoon theory asserting that the Lord
did not really die, the hallucination
theory claiming that the apostles
imagined they saw the Lord in resurrection
and the myth theory alleging
that the idea of resurrection developed
like a myth being readily received
among the disciples, all fall to
the ground as baseless and without
support: The Christian has nothing
to fear regarding the foundations
of his faith. We should endeavor to
live our lives in the power of Christ’s
resurrection (Phil. 3:10).

Thus the resurrection
of Christ is a historic
fact, it is an essential
part of the Gospel, it is
fundamental to Christianity,
it is the power
of Christian living, it is
the foundation of human
hopes and it is the guarantee
of future glory. CL