He Is Risen: Great Evidence Still Today!

Even before I became a Christian, Easter was a season that I looked forward to because of the celebrations and the festivities. After becoming a Christian, the fact that Easter was held in the early spring seemed so appropriate to me as the cold of winter relinquished its frosty grip to the warmth and the new life of spring with its panorama of colors and scents. How fitting it is in spring that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that trumpeted victory over death forever! This announcement comes anew each year even as the flowers come to life and the grass and trees turn green. So we can be reminded of this most momentous event in history every spring where life “sprang” eternal for so many.

In my last post, I wrote briefly about corroborative evidence and the presence of it in the New Testament. In other blog articles, I have also touched on other forms of evidence that are present in the New Testament as well (direct evidence or eyewitness testimony, indirect evidence or circumstantial evidence). In the Resurrection of Jesus Christ we have all of these different forms of evidence converging to confirm its “historicity.” Why do I mention this now? I mention this because there will be television programs that will have one or a panel of skeptical scholars that will be in front of a camera who will cast doubt that the Resurrection actually occurred as described. They will offer different opinions as to what “really happened.” Some will say that the disciples hallucinated the risen Jesus. Others will say that the Resurrection of Jesus is a myth that was invented to shore up a dying movement. Still others will say that there was not even a real Jesus. Christian theologians and skeptics alike have written volumes on these topics. What I have realized after studying a number of these skeptical accounts of the resurrection is that the evidence does not support them. In other words, even though these skeptical thinkers offer up creative arguments, they are not really supported by the types of evidence that I mentioned earlier that support the New Testament.  In contrast, there is great evidence to show that the NT accounts of the Resurrection are reliable and trustworthy:

Corroborative Evidence

  • The four accounts of the Gospel authors, two of them being eyewitnesses to the events leading up to the crucifixion and experiencing the risen Jesus in bodily form after His death (Matthew and John); the other two who received their accounts from Peter and Paul (Mark and Luke)
  • The conversion of Paul, an enemy of the early Christians, who had an encounter with the risen Jesus that totally changed him
  • Paul’s trip to Jerusalem where he confirmed his experience of the risen Jesus Christ with the experiences of James and Peter (Also eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus)
  • Corroboration or confirmation of the empty tomb that comes from early Jewish writings (Talmudic writings-The Mishna and Gemara-they confirm that the tomb was empty in their attack on early Christianity-They say it was empty “because”)
  • 500 see the risen Jesus at one time; most of 500 still alive who could verify their experiences of the risen Jesus when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15)

Circumstantial (or indirect) Evidence

  • The conversion of Paul, an enemy of the early Christians, who had an encounter with the risen Jesus that totally changed him (you see this listed under corroborative evidence too)
  • Dejected and scattered followers (after crucifixion) turn into re-energized and enthusiastic group of leaders (after resurrection)
  • All of the original apostles (save John) die for their faith (would not do so if they new it was a lie)
  • James the brother of Jesus (former disbeliever), becomes the leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15, 21; Galatians 1:19)
  • Gospels would have omitted the women who first experienced the empty tomb and Jesus if they were trying to create a story that would “sell” (because women witnesses were not seen as trustworthy in that culture- as reported by Flavius Josephus)
  • Early church leaders who also knew the apostles also die for their faith (Polycarp, Ignatius, etc.)
  • Peter’s speech in Acts 2 would have been nonsensical had the body of Jesus been located in the tomb
  • The tremendous growth of the early church in Jerusalem would not have occurred had the body of Jesus been found in the tomb

Direct Evidence

  • Eyewitness testimony of the Empty Tomb (John and Peter-John reported this for both)
  • The empty tomb itself (it was an established physical location and they knew where it was- John 20:1-4)
  • Eyewitness testimony of the Risen Jesus in NT (John, Matthew, Paul, Peter-John on Peter’s behalf)

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and investigators use these forms of evidence every day in our criminal justice system. The above list presents very good evidence to know that Jesus arose from the dead and to counter the claims of “creative” skeptics.  This great evidence confirms the risen Jesus that we still experience today and celebrate this Easter. Even as spring declares its entrance with its beautiful foliage and warm weather, we can again renew with confidence that cherished and yearly proclamation of faith.  “He is risen, He is risen indeed!”

One thought on “He Is Risen: Great Evidence Still Today!”

  1. Hey Gary,

    Thanks for reading my post and for your response to it. I’ll just respond to the two main points you made and then add some additional information:

    • “Holy Grave Robbers”- Is there any positive evidence that you have to support this claim? I know of none but perhaps you can offer it to me?

    • “Huge hole in the argument for the empty tomb”- In my law enforcement career, I would have never taken custody of an area without knowing what I had at the beginning of my taking custody of it. For instance, if I seized a home/business (which I have) and I knew that there was an item of importance/value within said premises, I would certainly do an inspection of the building to locate the item of value and I would make sure that the item was safe and secure within the premises upon taking custody of the building.

    • I find it incredible that the detachment of soldiers would not have “secured” the known item of importance/value (Jesus’ body) where it was located within the tomb. After all, that was the reason for having the guard set in the first place (to insure that the body would stay in the tomb v. 64). Verse 66 states that they “made the tomb secure, sealing the stone, and setting the guard.” Again, part of securing the tomb would be ensuring that Jesus’ body was within or it would not make sense to secure the tomb if the body was not there.

    • Your argument does not take into account several pertinent aspects of the passage you quoted 1) the fact that Matthew includes v. 62 is proof of the truthfulness of his writings; he includes all details 2) If you accept v. 62 as being truthful, you should accept chapter 28 in particular the appearance of the angel to the women (28:5) as well as the appearance of Jesus to the women (28:9).

    • Finding the tomb empty with the angel present that was witnessed by “the women” and Jesus appearing to them in bodily form shortly after encountering the empty tomb is actual evidence (direct/eyewitness) for the empty tomb and that Jesus had been raised from the dead. This is also corroborated by a number of witnesses (“the women” and then others as well in the other Gospels) in contrast to your position (grave robbers) that lacks actual evidence.

    • One of the witnesses to the empty grave would eventually be martyred for his belief in that vacant tomb and for the resurrected Jesus Christ that he encountered on several occasions (circumstantial evidence).

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