What is the Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ?

Today we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, an event rooted in history. People come up with all kinds of reasons why they won't believe Jesus rose from the dead, but for every skeptic who will reasonably think through the evidence, God has covered all the bases. Some say the following:

1) Jesus didn’t die. He just swooned on the cross, and later in the tomb, he revived and left the tomb. We have evidence from the Roman soldiers who made sure that Jesus was dead by thrusting a spear into his side, and out of the side of Christ came a "sudden flow of blood and water" (John 19:33-35).

We now know this to be medical evidence of death. The chances that His wounds would have healed up in the tomb to the point where he could remove a one-ton stone outside and then walk the seven miles to Emmaus that afternoon is remote, even if He could have got past the guards. If He had survived the cross, the time in the cold tomb would have killed him. Remember that Peter had warmed himself by the fire in the courtyard of Caiaphas the night before (Luke 22:55), thus revealing that it was cold in Jerusalem.

2) Animals got into the tomb and ate the body. The stone was sealed and very heavy. Animals could not get past the guards; plus, the way the burial wrappings were still intact with the spices still inside the grave clothes that Peter and John saw takes away that theory.

3) The guards and the women came to the wrong tomb. The women followed Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea to the gravesite and watched Him being buried (Luke 23:55). It was also near the crucifixion site, a place where everyone knew.

4) The disciples stole the body and perpetuated the myth that Jesus was raised from the dead. The apostles fled in the Garden of Gethsemane and were discouraged after His death. It doesn’t seem possible that they would deliberately confront the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb and steal Jesus’ body (Matthew 27:62-66). Peter had lost his courage to the point where he disowned his Master. How could frightened disciples take on the fierce and well-trained Roman soldiers? It could not have happened while the Roman soldiers slept, for the noise of rolling back that huge stone would have roused them all. There was also the fact that the soldiers knew that they would lose their lives if they lost the body they were guarding. The disciples would not have been ready to be martyred (tradition says that all but one were martyred) and give their lives for something if they believed it to be a myth.

5) The high priest and leaders or even grave robbers stole the body. When the disciples started preaching that Jesus was alive, it would have been the perfect time for the Jewish leaders to show all the people the dead body, but they couldn’t because they didn’t have it. Grave robbers would not have taken the time to set up the grave clothes in such a way that would make John believe when he looked into the empty tomb. The guards protected the tomb and stopped such things from happening.

6) The disciples of Jesus imagined it all. The empty tomb stands in silent witness to the fact that this was nobody’s imagination. The 500 disciples to whom He appeared at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6) and all the disciples He ate with there in the upper room and saw Him by the Sea of Galilee. I also note the courage of Peter the Apostle to preach to several thousand on the Day of Pentecost. Could he have done it if it was all imagination? Several apostles died for their faith, and no opposition could muzzle them. It doesn't seem possible to die for something you know is a hoax or imagination.

The resurrection is not a myth; it is a fact of history. God has raised Christ from the dead to show you and me that death has lost its sting; the grave has lost its victory, and the resurrection is the proof of our reconciliation to God. “The same power that brought Christ back from the dead is operative within those who are Christ’s. The resurrection is an ongoing thing” (Leon Morris).[1]The resurrection of Jesus demands not our applause but our allegiance, not our compliments but our capitulation. The raising of Christ from the dead was the “Amen” by God to Christ’s saving work on the cross. For all those who will trust His saving work on the cross, death itself died when Christ arose from the tomb. Do you believe this? Will you trust in His saving work?

This meditation is from the series in the Gospel of Luke, found by clicking the All Studies box on the Homepage. Click on the Gospel of Luke, then study 64. The Resurrection of Christ (Luke 23:50-24:12). Keith Thomas.

[1]Compiled by John Blanchard, More Gathered Gold, A Treasury of Quotations for Christians, Published by Evangelical Press, Welwyn, Herts, 1986. Page 269