A defining teaching

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A defining teaching

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Jesus Christ's resurrection is a defining teaching of the Bible. So let's examine it directly from Scripture, without traditions that were added later.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ formed a central part of the announcement that the apostles took to the world. Peter stated in his first recorded sermon: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it . . . 

“This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear . . . Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:22-36).

Over the next 40 days some of these men and women personally saw the resurrected Christ and heard His teaching about the Kingdom of God. They saw and accepted this as a fact that confirmed their faith and enabled them to take the gospel to the peoples of their day.

Their testimony, written in the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul, is firsthand evidence—eyewitness testimony of Christ's resurrection.

The apostle Paul showed that the resurrection is central to the Christian hope: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: 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 . . . Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 1 Corinthians 15:12).

Did it really happen?

The chief priests and Pharisees went to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate to request security guards at the tomb so that Jesus' disciples would not come and steal the body to claim He had been resurrected. They remembered that Jesus said He would be raised after three days and nights in the tomb. Pilate gave them a guard detail, and the stone that had been placed in front of the tomb entrance was shut with a seal (Matthew 27:62-66). The authorities knew this, both Roman and Jewish. Precautions were taken.

Matthew's account goes into detail to show there were eyewitnesses to an earthquake and that an angel had rolled back the stone covering the tomb entrance. The guards shook with fear to the point of being frozen into inaction (Matthew 28:2-4).

These same guards—and keep in mind they were not Christ's disciples—went and reported what had happened, what they saw with their own eyes, to the authorities. They were bribed by the officials to keep quiet. This was a commonly known fact among the Jews for many years (Matthew 28:11-15).

People knew about the resurrection of Jesus. There were multiple eyewitnesses.

Paul reported that the risen Christ was seen by all the apostles and that He was also seen by more than 500 others (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)—these in turn having given eyewitness testimony to thousands!

The point is that this was not done in a corner, covered up and then dragged out to dress up an effort to create a new sect the disciples wanted to start.

Think about this. These unlearned fishermen, tax collectors and women were the least likely of people to start a new religious movement—especially one built on the story of a man who had been crucified as a criminal and then raised from the dead!

Paul makes the case to the Christians in Corinth that they have a Savior and a hope of salvation. He wanted there to be no doubt in their mind of this truth. For you and I there can be no doubt as well. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty . . . 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 15:13-19).

Either Jesus Christ rose from the dead or He didn't. This is a deep issue of faith for a believer. Our modern world is geared to rip from our mind and heart any belief in God or that Jesus of Nazareth was the divine Son of God, sent to earth, born of a virgin, who died and was resurrected to life eternal and sits today at the right hand of God the Father, waiting for the time to return in all power and glory.

This is the most important of matters in this life for you and me to resolve!