RESURRECTION FORTOLD & WITNESSED
Buddha didn't rise from the dead, nor did Confucius or Zoroaster. Muhammad didn't fulfill detailed prophecy. Alexander the Great didn't raise the dead or heal the sick. And though there is far less reliable information written about these "religious" leaders, they are believed in and followed by millions.
- Josephus, the 1st century historian, (apart from the disciples or acquaintances) records, "For Jesus appeared to them the third day alive again, as the holy prophets had predicted"
- Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Christ prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures, was arrested, was judged a political criminal, and was crucified.
- Three days after His death and burial, some women who went to His tomb found the body gone.
- In subsequent weeks, His disciples claimed that God had raised Him from the dead.
- He appeared to them various times before ascending into heaven.
- From that foundation, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and has continued to spread influence down through the centuries.Here are some of the facts relevant to the resurrection:
~8 QUICK FACTS~
PROVE THE TRUTH OF THE RESURRECTION
FACT #1: BROKEN ROMAN SEAL
- The first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire.
- A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to "prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb's entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.
- The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe.
FACT #2: EMPTY TOMB
- The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. They went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, IF WHAT THEY were teaching was false, the falsity WOULD BE EVIDENT.
- The empty tomb was "too notorious to be denied." Paul Althaus states that the resurrection "could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned."
- Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb.Those resources range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the "Toledoth Jeshu."Dr. Paul Maier calls this "positive evidence from a hostile source”, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence.
- In essence, this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then that fact is genuine."
- Gamaliel, who was a member of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, put forth the suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God's doing; he could not have done that if the tomb were still occupied, or if the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ's body.
- Paul Maier observes that " . . . if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning. No shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement."
FACT #3: LARGE STONE MOVED
- On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the ONE AND A HALF TWO TON STONE that had been lodged in front of the doorway.ALL THE GOSPEL WRITERS MENTION IT.Those who observed the stone after the resurrection describe its position as HAVING BEEN ROLLED UP A SLOPE away froma: the entrance of the tomb,b: from the entire massive sepulcher.It was in such a position that it looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. Now, I ask you, if the disciples had wanted to come in, tiptoe around the sleeping guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus' body, how could they have done that without the guards' awareness?
FACT #4: ROMAN GUARD GOES AWOL
- The Roman guards fled.
- They left their place of responsibility. How can their attrition he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional?
- Justin, in Digest #49, mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty.One way a guard was put to death was by being stripped of his clothes and then burned alive in a fire started with his garments.
FACT #5: GRAVECLOTHES TELL A TALE
FACT #6: JESUS' APPEARANCES CONFIRMED
- When studying an event in history, it is important to know whether enough people who were participants or eyewitnesses to the event were alive when the facts about the event were published.
If the number of eyewitnesses is substantial, the event can he regarded as fairly well established.
- For instance, if we all witness a murder, and a later police report turns out to he a fabrication of lies, we as eyewitnesses can refute it.
Fact #7: Jesus's Appearances over 500
- OVER 500 WITNESSES
- Several very important factors arc often overlooked when considering Christ's post-resurrection appearances to individuals.
- The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ after that resurrection morning**.
- One of the earliest records of Christ's appearing after the resurrection is by Paul.
- The apostle appealed to his audience's knowledge of the fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time.
- Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned.
- Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: "What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, 'If you do not believe me, you can ask them.' Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago." Let's take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial, and place them in a courtroom. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes, including cross-examination, you would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you would well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history.
Jesus appeared 12 times to different group sizes ranging from just one person to 500 people
1. Mary Magdalene (Mark 16.9-11; John 20.11-18)
2. The other women at the tomb (Matthew 28.8-10)
3. Peter in Jerusalem (Luke 24.34; 1 Cor. 15.5)
4. The two travelers on the road (Mark 16.12,13)
5. Ten disciples behind closed doors (Mark 16.14; Luke 24.36-43; John 20.19-25)
6. All the disciples, with Thomas (excluding Judas Iscariot) (John 20.26-31; 1 Cor. 15.5)
7. Seven disciples while fishing (John 21.1-14)
8. Eleven disciples on the mountain (Matthew 28.16-20)
9. A crowd of 500 (1 Cor. 15.6)
10. Jesus' brother James (1 Cor. 15.7)
11. Those who watched Jesus ascend to heaven (Luke 24.44-49; Acts 1.3-8)
Least of all Paul as though he was not living in the proper time (1 Cor. 15.8-9; Gal. 1.13-16; Acts 9.1-8, 22.9, read all of chapters 22 and 26; 13.30-37; 1 Cor. 15.10-20; Gal. 2.1-10).
Fact #8: The Testimony of HOSTILE WITNESSES Towards Christ
- Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ's appearances is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced.
- No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of Christ. The facts show the exact opposite. Saul despised Christ and persecuted Christ's followers. It was a life-shattering experience when Christ appeared to him. Although he was at the time not a disciple, he later became the apostle Paul, one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.
- Sir Lionel Luckhoo (1914-1997) is considered one of the greatest lawyers in British history. He's recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "World's Most Successful Advocate," with 245 consecutive murder acquittals. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II -- twice. Luckhoo declared: "I humbly add I have spent more than 42 years as a defense trial lawyer appearing in many parts of the world and am still in active practice. I have been fortunate to secure a number of successes in jury trials and I say unequivocally the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt."3- Lee Strobel