Up from the grave He arose…
15 April 2001
This Sunday many Christians will commemorate the resurrection of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Why is this important?
The Apostle Paul (who saw the risen Christ) states it is important that Jesus truly did rise again because, ‘… if Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish …we are of all men most miserable’ (1 Corinthians 15:14,17). After Jesus rose from the dead, He met with His disciples (including the authors of the books of John and Matthew; and Peter, who informed Mark). He commanded them to tell others about the Creator who came to save the world from the Curse of sin (Matthew 28:19—20, Revelation 4:11, 5:9). Then, He returned to heaven to prepare a place for those who believe in Him (John 13:2,3).
Following are some claims that have been made by those who deny Jesus actually rose again, and who need to explain why the tomb where He lay is now empty:
- Jesus just fainted while on the cross, later revived in the cool tomb and then left. But … Jesus would have had to unwrap Himself from the grave clothes, push aside the stone (which was too heavy to be moved by a single man) across the entrance to the tomb, and then walk past the soldiers outside. An almost-dead-by-crucifixion man would have been too weak to do this, and would have been stopped by the guards. Further, the Roman soldier had pierced Him with a spear while He was still on the cross, and the blood and water that flowed from this wound showed that He was truly dead.
- The disciples stole Jesus’ body and then lied, saying He arose. But … the disciples would not have made it past the tomb guards without the guards noticing them. Most of the disciples later died for their belief that Jesus arose–they would not have died, rather than recant, for something they knew to be a lie.
- Either the Romans or Jews removed Jesus’ body from the tomb. But … These two groups of people had no reason to do so–in fact, they would have wanted a body in the tomb to stop any stories that Jesus had risen. And when the followers of Christ began saying that they had seen Him alive, the Jews or Romans could have shown the Christians’ claims to be false just by producing the body–yet they didn’t.
- The story that Jesus rose from the dead is just a myth or legend. But … The Gospels were written between 25 and 65 years after the crucifixion of Christ–far too little time for a myth to develop because eyewitnesses to the events were still around at that time to answer any questions.
How can we be sure?
Just as ‘science’ cannot prove that Jesus rose from the dead, it also cannot prove that God created everything in six days. In fact, ‘science’ can’t prove any event from history, because it is limited in dealings about the past. Historical events are known to be true because of reliable eyewitness accounts. Similarly, there are reliable eyewitness accounts that Jesus’ tomb was empty after three days, and that He later appeared to as many as 500 people at once (1 Corinthians 15:6).
Most importantly, we know that the Resurrection is true because God, the most reliable eyewitness of all, who never lies and knows everything, tells us in His Word that these things happened. As Paul says, ‘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’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, emphasis added).
Just as we accept that Christ rose bodily from the dead because of the clear Words of Scripture, we also accept that God created in six normal-length days because of the clear Words of Scripture (Genesis 1, Exodus 20:11). Conversely, if we cannot believe God created in six earth-rotation days though the Words in Genesis state this, then how can we insist on believing the Words in Scripture concerning Christ’s bodily resurrection?
As we contemplate the real meaning of ‘Easter’ at this time of year, let us also remember how important it is to take God at His Word!
‘Thy word is true from the beginning’ (Psalm 119:160).