Easter recognizes the core belief of Christianity: Jesus's victory over sin and death. But there are many people who doubt the reality of this event. While on the Lord's Day, you may see "He is Risen" posts on social media, you may also see posts that call into question Jesus's resurrection. Or perhaps this year, you are the doubter. You think to yourself, "Is all this true? Is He really alive?" Many believers struggle with faith in this area. You are not alone. Christ's resurrection is a claim that is difficult for our finite minds to grasp. Nevertheless, our inability to fully understand the resurrection's mystery does not negate its validity.
In his first letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul addressed a growing misconception that there was no physical resurrection after death. Paul argued this belief then denied Christ's resurrection and, therefore, made the Corinthians' faith null. For instance, he said, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Believing Jesus is alive is vital. If He is not, then our salvation is nothing but empty promises. We are still sinners with a huge debt stacked against us. We are still bound for death and eternal separation from the Father. There is no hope for us to overcome our hateful, unforgiving, jealous, and deceitful hearts. There is no way for us to overcome spiritual evil if Jesus is dead.
But if Jesus is alive, then we can believe He is what He claimed to be, and we can trust in His saving work. If Jesus is alive, then Jesus is the Son of God who paid the price for our sins, who is Lord of all, who is what our souls need, who breaks us from Satan's grip, who purifies from corruption, and who brings us into the Father's delight for eternity.
As we see from Paul's letter, Christ's resurrection has been questioned for millennia. But Scripture has proved it time and time again. Our unbelief falls in the face of divine truth. We can still come to God when we struggle to grasp His greatest miracle, and He will meet us there and strengthen our faith. By God's grace, biblical scholars have compiled facts that can serve us when we doubt. Below is evidence that points to the Risen Jesus and defenses to common accusations.
- The Empty Tomb
¬∑ The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are independent, primary sources. A primary source is a first-hand account of an event from the people who were directly involved. The gospels were written as straightforward testimonies, not embellished stories. All of the gospels record the empty tomb as a historical event.
¬∑ The gospels also note women as the first eyewitnesses. At the time, a woman's testimony was considered insignificant and unreliable. If the empty tomb were a dubious claim, the gospel writers would have used men as the primary witnesses. Their using women's testimonies support the surety of the empty tomb.
¬∑ The fact that Jesus was laid in a tomb refutes accusations of a faked death or the hiding of Christ's corpse. If Jesus did not die on the cross, He would have certainly died from lack of oxygen in the tomb. Furthermore, the Roman authorities sealed and guarded the tomb, ensuring no one could get in or come out (Matthew 27:65–66).
- Appearances after Death
¬∑ Jesus appeared to hundreds of people after His resurrection. The Apostle Paul speaks of this occurrence and names some who encountered the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:3–8).
¬∑ This truth discredits the accusation of hallucination, as Christ appeared at various times, places, to believers, and to unbelievers. If people were hallucinating or seeing a vision of Jesus, they would have claimed He had moved onto the afterlife. Instead, they claimed to see Him embodied. The disciple Thomas even touched His wounds (John 20:27), and Jesus later ate broiled fish with other disciples (Luke 24:42–43).
- Hopeless to Hope
¬∑ The followers were totally devastated after Christ's death. In the Jewish belief system, dying on a cross was a sign that one was under a curse. So they were without hope and in darkness. But after they saw Jesus, their lives were radically changed. They were filled with conviction and faith. They courageously preached His life and the gospel even when threatened with death. This truth counters the accusation of conspiracy since people do not willingly die for something they know is not true.
¬∑ The greatest transformation happened to Paul, who himself persecuted Christians until he encountered the Risen Savior on the Damascus Road. His life dramatically changed. Paul became one of the major leaders in the early church and gospel movement.
As we approach Easter, we encourage you to pray for God to strengthen your faith.
Jesus, may we utilize this evidence to believe in Your resurrection and defend its truth. Ultimately, faith comes from Your Spirit. Reveal Your wonder to us again this Easter! In your name, amen.
Faith Questions: Truth Booklet