Easter Sunday or as I like to call it “Resurrection Sunday” is one of my favorite days on the church calendar. No it is not because of the candy or the traditional Easter Sunday lunch with my family…well wait a minute…okay no it is not those things. It is because this is the most important event that has ever occurred in the world up to this point. It is even greater than Christmas (the first Advent) because without the Resurrection Christianity is meaningless.
"And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." (1 Corinthians 15:17-19, NKJV)
Well, Christ did rise again, in fact it is one of the most verifiable facts of history. This season the television will be peppered with shows challenging the veracity of Jesus’ resurrection. Normally scholars who challenge these facts do not provide enough facts. In other words they deal with a limited aspect of this event and fail to solve all the myriad of questions that are left unanswered by their solution. The only explanation that answers all the questions is the Resurrection.
One of my seminary professors, Gary Habermas, provided us with a list of critically recognized resurrection facts of which nearly 90% of the skeptics that deny the bodily resurrection agree. Now they all do not agree on all the facts. Some will agree with six or seven another set of scholars will agree on four or five different. You get the picture. In the end if you read the skeptics work they argue against each other’s resurrection theory by using some of the facts below. In the final analysis the only resurrection theory that answers all of these facts is that Jesus Christ actually rose again from the grave in a bodily form.
Critically-recognized resurrection facts (90%)
- Jesus died due to crucifixion
- Jesus was buried, probably in a private tomb.
- The disciples became bereaved and discouraged, losing hope.
- Jesus’ tomb was found empty very soon afterwards (75%)
- The disciples had real experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus.
- As a result, the disciples were completely transformed, even to the point of being willing to die for their faith.
- The disciples’ proclamation of the resurrection began shortly afterwards, at a very early dated. Acts 2:29ff
- The disciples’ initial resurrection preaching occurred in Jerusalem, where all these events had occurred.
- The early Gospel message centered on Jesus’ death and resurrection.
1 Cor 15
- The Christian church was birthed about this same time, with Sunday being the primary worship day.
- James, Jesus’ brother and a skeptic during Jesus’ life, was converted after he thought that he also saw an appearance of the risen Jesus.
- A few years later, Saul of Tarsus—Paul—became a Christian, based on a real experience that he also thought was an appearance of the risen Jesus.