- - Saturday, March 30, 2024

The whole Christian faith hinges on one historical event: the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth on April 5, AD 33 (or April 9, AD 30). If Jesus rose from the grave and the tomb is indeed empty, Christianity is true.

If it isn’t, then Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 15:19 was right: Christians are the most deceived, most pitiable of all people.

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The Apostle Paul understood that a resurrection-centric faith is a powerful witness to the world. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, after spending the whole chapter talking about the resurrection’s significance, Paul tells the Corinthian believers to “stand firm” and “Let nothing move you.”

Paul could say this because he was certain of the fact of Jesus’s resurrection. In fact, 1 Corinthians 15:8 tells us that Jesus appeared to Paul after His resurrection. Paul literally saw the resurrected Christ and it blinded him temporarily for it was brighter than the noon-day sun.

That isn’t the case for most of us today. But we still have every reason for certainty and solid evidential bedrock. In fact, here are seven compelling reasons you can be confident that Jesus really did rise from the dead.

SEE ALSO: Defying death: 3 key pieces of evidence that Jesus rose from the dead

1. The resurrection of Jesus is the only way to make sense of the suffering in our world.

The most common promise in all of the Scriptures is found in John 14:19. Jesus tells his disciples “Because I live, you will also live.” Believers are promised resurrection because of Christ’s resurrection. This is why Paul can remind the Thessalonian church that Christians do not grieve without hope like the rest of the world. Because of the resurrection, we have hope that overcomes death.

2. Jesus predicted it.

Jesus knew the resurrection was going to happen. He often referred to the Old Testament and showed how it pointed forward to Him. One of the most common passages He referenced was Hosea 6:2 which says “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” Jesus knew He was God and that He would go to the cross, die and rise again “on the third day.”

3. Jesus demonstrated resurrection power.

Some of the most powerful stories in the Bible are when Jesus raises others from the dead. In Luke 7, Jesus resurrects the son of the Widow of Nain and Mark 5 tells us how He raised Jairus’s daughter. And if that wasn’t clear enough, in John 11:25, after calling Lazarus out of the tomb, Jesus proclaims He is “the resurrection and the life.”

SEE ALSO: Good Friday: Easter lessons from the foot of the cross

4. Jesus’s resurrection wasn’t what His disciples – or any other Jews – expected.

No one thought Jesus would rise from the dead. In fact, nothing about Jesus was expected. The Jews expected a conquering Messiah, not a dying Messiah. That’s why in Matthew 16:21-13 Peter tries to tell Jesus that he wouldn’t let Him die.

5. It’s overwhelmingly documented in archeological sources.

Jesus is one of the most researched historical figures of all time. When you look at the sources for Jesus in the first 100 years of His life, 11 writers attest to the life of Jesus after His resurrection. For context, only two sources mention Alexander the Great. And they were written 400 years later. Historians agree: Jesus rose again.

6. It’s the only convincing explanation for the conversion of those who did not believe during Christ’s ministry.

So much of what happened in the early church doesn’t make sense without the resurrection. How else can you explain the conversions of Paul and James? Neither believed in Jesus before His resurrection. Paul persecuted Christians and John 7:5 tells us Jesus’s own brothers didn’t believe in Him. Yet both Paul and James became pillars of the church.

7. It’s the only convincing explanation for how society is transformed everywhere Christianity is introduced and embraced.

Christianity changes lives and transforms communities. The early church was known for its kindness and willingness to care for those society overlooked. Why? Because they knew the resurrection changes everything.

Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 that the resurrection of Jesus is of “first importance” to the Christian faith. That is still true for us today. The resurrection isn’t something we are free to overlook and move past. It is the lynchpin of the gospel. It’s also not something we should think about only in terms of the moment we come to faith in Christ, but rather it should be the focal point fueling our daily faith.

Every time the gospel is presented in the Bible, it includes three things: Christ’s deity, His death and His resurrection. When all three are present, you’ve got the gospel. If any one goes missing, the message isn’t the Christian gospel anymore. Put simply, without the resurrection, there is no gospel. 

Following Jesus is a full-time commitment. You can’t be half in, half out. The resurrection doesn’t give us that option. God’s part was to come to earth, die and rise again. Our part is to say “I believe” and jump in with both feet.

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D. is a New Testament scholar, president of the Christian Thinkers Society, Pastor of Apologetics and Cultural Engagement at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas and author of “Body of Proof: The 7 Best Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus—and Why It Matters Today.”

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