Easter Sunday commemorates the most important event in all of history. While some of you may be thinking the Creation of the universe might have been more important, or the birth of Christ, let us not forget that His entire mission hinged on the salvation brought through His death and resurrection. Paul offers us a reminder:
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 1 Corinthians 15:14
As we celebrate the resurrection, we must not take this event lightly. It is the single most important miracle to our Christian faith. How can we trust this historical event actually happened? Let’s examine the evidence, and see what foundation we can have for our faith.
To begin, let’s return to Paul’s comments to the Corinthians:
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 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. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 1 Corinthians 15:3-7
Many scholars, most notable Reginald Fuller, have identified how the key words delivered and received are indicative of an a creed, or statement of beliefs handed down through tradition. With 1 Corinthians being dated around 50 to 60 C.E., this creed would have to have been developed quickly by the apostles. If we are to take this oral tradition seriously, we would have to recognize that the resurrection account could not be a late legend with as old as the creed is. It was a very early belief of the earliest Christian believers.
We also know that all four gospel accounts not only tell us that Jesus was buried, but where. The tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea (or Arimathea depending on translation rendering) is described in Matthew 27:57, Mark 15:43, Luke 23:51, and John 19:38. The majority of scholars today still accept that Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. Why is it important to note who chose to bury Him? Joseph was both a disciple of Jesus, and member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court that crucified Him. With the tensions high between the Jewish believers and early Christians, this is unlikely to be an exaggerated claim. Plus, it reveals that where He was buried was public knowledge, so it’s also unlikely that the disciples lost sight of the tomb. In order for the empty tomb to count as strong evidence for the resurrection, it must be well known in which tomb Jesus was buried.
As the Christian message began to spread over Jerusalem, Rome, and the surrounding areas, so did opposition. Christian believers were persecuted intensely in the early days. The disciples who most professed having experienced the resurrected savior, never recanted. In fact, they died as martyrs. If the resurrection account was a myth, legend, or lie, then surely the truth could have been exposed with counter evidence. The political opposition and ruling authorities who wanted to silence the believers could have been victorious in exposing the lie, or getting more people to confess to not believing it. Yet, despite all persecution, and all reason for people to not accept the unreasonable notion that a man was raised from the dead, the Christian message continued to grow. Today, we can still explore the evidence and find that there are many good reasons to accept the resurrection account as an historical event. If you want to look deeper into the evidence for the resurrection, check out some of these books:
- The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel
- Cold-Case Christianity, by J. Warner Wallace
- God’s Not Dead, by Rice Broocks
- Reasonable Faith, by William Lane Craig
- Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell
What evidence for the resurrection do you find most compelling? How will you explore the evidence this Easter?
I began my career with Mardel in 2006, while earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma. While I love to write fiction and convey stories through novels, I also have a passion for studying philosophy, theology, and apologetics. I enjoy the faith-building resources available at Mardel, and look forward to sharing what new topics and information I’m learning.