Resurrection: Did Jesus Christ rise from the dead?
If there is no resurrection, then this Jesus of Nazareth was an imposter. If He, the apostles, and others lied about this, how can they be trusted about anything else? So, what “proof” do we have that Jesus arose? Is there any proof at all?
The writer of the book of Acts in the Bible begins that writing by speaking of the “many infallible proofs” of the resurrection.
3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: [Emphasis added]
None of these people who saw Jesus after the brutal death from His crucifixion were expecting this. In fact, they all had to be persuaded that His resurrection had taken place. The Apostle Thomas even got his nickname because of this. In his case, he said he had to see the nail-scarred hand before he would believe.
11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. [Emphasis added]
25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. [Emphasis added]
Hundreds of people, many others of whom had been unbelievers, got to see Jesus in His resurrection body. He made many personal appearances.
I Corinthians 15:3-8
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. [Emphasis added]
This sighting by Paul appears to be the only explanation for his transformation from being a violent persecutor of the followers of Jesus into a gentle bond-slave of Christ who suffered the loss of all things and devoted the rest of his life to His service.
The empty tomb was one of the strongest of all proofs for Christ’s resurrection. The tomb had been sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers. But that grave couldn’t hold Him!
57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:
58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
There are only three possible explanations for the disappearance of the body of Jesus from the tomb.
1—There is the supposition that Jesus had not actually died; that He revived and escaped from the tomb. To believe this is to believe the impossible. Jesus went through the torture of being scourged
,and nailed to a cross, and was declared dead by the Roman soldiers. To make sure Jesus was dead, they even pierced His body with a spear. Then for three days and three nights, His body was placed in a sealed tomb without food or water. To believe that He then had enough strength to roll back the large stone, overcome the soldiers who were guarding the tomb, and escape is ridiculous.
2—There is the supposition that someone removed the body from the tomb. The Jewish leaders actually bribed the soldiers to say that the disciples came at night and stole the body while they were asleep [Matthew 28:13-15]. But how could they know the disciples stole the body if they were asleep when it happened? Furthermore, no Roman soldier would admit to sleeping on guard duty, for it would be fatal for him to do so. The punishment was death for such an act. Even if the disciples did steal the body, it is ridiculous to assume that the guards would all be willing to suffer and finally give their lives in defense of a lie.
3—There is the alternative that Jesus arose from the dead just as He said He would. Paul’s question to King Agrippa is just as valid today as it ever was: “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead” [Acts 26:8].
It is this resurrection that serves as the very heart of our message to the unbelieving. If a person is to be saved and enter heaven, it is essential that they believe Jesus Christ died, was buried, and resurrected for their sins. The moment a person believes this, they are saved. Heaven becomes their new home forever.