The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Christian faith. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he declares: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Two verses later he repeats himself: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile,” Paul says again.
The resurrection of Jesus is challenged today on evidentiary grounds. Therefore, to be fair, the evidence should be judged like any other historical event. Based on standard rules of evidence, consistent eyewitness testimony from multiple credible witnesses would be considered the strongest form of evidence available.
Therefore, if we find such testimony present in credible accounts of the historical record of Christ’s resurrection, we have satisfied a major evidentiary challenge under traditional rules.
In fact, we do have multiple eyewitness testimonies regarding the resurrection of Jesus.
Again, quoting from Paul: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also.”
Did you catch that? Hundreds of people saw the risen Christ.
Now, of course, skeptics have tried to avoid the testimony of these numerous post-resurrection appearances of Christ by pointing out various contradictions in some of them or else by charging the writers with fabricating the stories themselves. But the mere fact that there do appear on the surface to be some superficial discrepancies and omissions in the account is actually clear proof that the writers were not engaged in some kind of collusion.
If they were making up the tales, each one evidently was doing so independently of all others. This in itself would be quite a remarkable state of affairs; especially since these discrepancies all vanish when they are compared under close examination.
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I’ve covered enough trials in my career as a reporter to attest to the well known rule of evidence that the testimonies of several different witnesses, each reporting from his own particular vantage point, provide the strongest possible evidence on matters of fact when the testimonies contain superficial contradictions which resolve themselves upon close and careful examination. This is exactly the situation with the various witnesses to the resurrection.
The risen Christ was seen over a period of 40 days by a large number of different individuals, in different groups, at different times, both indoors and outdoors, on a hilltop, along a roadway, by a lakeshore and other places. Furthermore, they were not looking for Jesus at all. Several times they didn’t recognize Him at first, and at least once actually believed it was a ghost until He convinced them otherwise.
He invited them to touch Him and they recognized the wounds in His hands. They watched Him eat with them. And most of the more than five hundred different people who saw Him were still living at the time when that evidence was being circulated by the apostles.
As a reporter, those eyewitness accounts have been the most compelling to me. Those eyewitnesses so shook up their own world that the religious and political system of the day did everything humanly possible to attack their credibility. And when their credibility was undiminished, they attacked their bodies.
Those Obnoxious Christians
Don’t be an obnoxious Christian
Just because you face opposition and hatred or prejudice, don’t automatically think that it’s because you are a Christian.
You may be disliked simply because you are not very likable.
It’s true. Being arrogant, having spiritual pride, being a snob and looking down your nose at those “worldly” neighbors or co-workers is NOT Christ-like behavior.
If you act like that, and a lot of Christians do, no wonder people don’t like you.
So analyze yourself. Don’t develop a martyr complex. Few of us are good enough to be martyrs.
Here’s something about Jesus’ teachings we need to be sure we understand: Jesus told us we are to be IN the World, not OF it. Get that? In, not of.
What does this mean? It means that we are not to withdraw, to break all our friendships and associations with non-believers. It means we are not to hang around JUST with Christians.
Jesus wants you OUT THERE, in the thick of it, making a difference, BEING different so that YOU draw attention to HIM.
In Matthew we’re told by Jesus not to put our light under a bushel but to put it out in the open where everyone can see it. If you just sit in your church with your little band of believers saying “I sure hope some unbelievers come in today” you’re going to be waiting a long time.
You have to go out and get them. The church is like a bushel. It keeps you nice and warm and comfortable but, hey, let’s face it, you’re already saved. The church is for sinners. For unbelievers. Go out there and drag them in. Take your light where they can see it and then bring them back here or to your church with you.
That means you have to go out into the world and show it a better way.
Sure, most people will reject you. Most will oppose you. Many will hate you. So what? The world hated Jesus. Be glad to share that with him. But as much as he was rejected, his words always took root with some.
So will your witness.
Just don’t be obnoxious about it.