Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.
I have struggled with doubt for years. I’m part of the Thomas Tribe (literally, my name is Thomas). I don’t like it, but my mind just works that way. And at times, it’s been horrifying, lonely, and even deeply depressing. I’m an obsessive analyzer. I don’t know how to turn my mind off. I fixate and sometimes sink into the quicksand of doubt.
But here’s what else I can tell you. When I struggle with doubt, I go back to the resurrection. And here’s why—I can’t get around the evidence. I’ve tried. Not because I want to get around the evidence but to see if I can, to test the strength of the resurrection.
I’m thankful that the resurrection of Jesus Christ comes fully furnished with solid evidence. It’s critical that it does, because our faith hangs on this crucial event in history. Remember the apostle Paul’s shocking statement that I cited in the previous article (Resurrection: Fact or Fiction) ? “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). That’s jaw dropping. Paul is basically saying, “Hey Christians, our faith rises and falls on the resurrection.”
I hate to say it, but if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we are deceived Christians. We’ve been duped. We’ve bought a lie and we’re anesthetizing ourselves on a mere fairy-tale. So if our faith isn’t fiction, what evidence is there for the resurrection? In short, here are five lines of evidence.
First, women were the first to discover the empty tomb. Why is this critical? It is well known and unfortunate that the testimony of women in the ancient world wasn’t highly regarded. If the authors of the Gospels were making up this story, they wouldn’t have fabricated women as the first witnesses of the resurrection. Rather, they would’ve had bona fide witnesses as the first discoverers of the empty tomb.
Second, the empty tomb is evidence for the resurrection. Even after the disciples were claiming that Jesus rose from the dead, no one was able to call their bluff. And that’s because they weren’t bluffing. As we discussed in the previous article, if the disciples stole the body of Jesus, do you think they would have died for a lie? And if some nonbelievers stole Jesus’s body, they most assuredly would’ve brought it out into the open once the rumor began spreading that Jesus rose from the dead.
Third, post-resurrection appearances provide further evidence for Jesus’s resurrection. As I said in the previous chapter, Jesus appeared to His followers on several different occasions, and He even appeared to more than five hundred at one time. By doing so, Jesus was establishing visible evidence for His eyewitnesses that He had defeated the grave.
Fourth, fulfilled prophecy served as another line of evidence for Jesus’s resurrection. His resurrection was prophesied in the Old Testament (Psalm 16:9-10) and Jesus Himself prophesied His own resurrection in the New Testament (Matthew 12:40; Mark 14:58; John 2:18-22).
Finally, you can’t explain the early church and the radical life change of Jesus’s disciples apart from the resurrection. The disciples saw something. These once fearful disciples, who could hardly follow Jesus during His earthly ministry, would now willingly lay down their lives for Him. That’s because they saw a living Jesus and experienced a radical life change. His resurrection turned doubting Thomas into a great missionary, denying Peter into a bold preacher, and adversary Paul into a tireless advocate of the gospel.
The case for the resurrection is so robust that many skeptics through the ages have become sincere followers of Jesus Christ in light of all the evidence. Now that’s exciting.
Thought to Ponder: The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the exclamation point to the truthfulness of Christianity.
Memory Verse: If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).
One-Minute Apologist Video: Bobby Conway, “Proofs of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?”