The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ



            The Christian faith is based on four distinct aspects of the life of Christ.  It is within these four distinct points which we base our faith as Christians.  In his book "Systematic Theology," Rex A. Turner Sr., referred to these points as the four cardinal doctrines of Christianity, namely: (1) the doctrine of the virgin birth of the Christ; (2) the doctrine of the vicarious death of the Christ; (3) the doctrine of the blood atonement of the Christ; and (4) the doctrine of the bodily resurrection of the Christ.[1] 

            The fact that Jesus Christ walked on this earth two-thousand years ago is supported by historical evidence that few care to dispute.  It is, however, a point of doubt among those who refer to themselves as scholars that anything miraculous can be connected to him.  His birth, the miracles he performed, his teachings, and his death are all surrounded in controversy and doubt in the post-modern worldview.  For the Christian, the true believer, these things are accepted as fact on the basis of faith.  The apostle Paul, when answering the doubt of those in the first century, said in 1 Corinthians 15:16-19(NASB):

            For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised;  (17)  and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  (18)  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  (19)  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.


Our faith is established in the fact that Jesus did arise from the dead and took his place with the father in heaven.  I will examine some of the theories associated with the resurrection and man's feeble attempt to disclaim the fact that Jesus Christ did break the bonds of death and that God raised him from the dead after three days in the tomb.


            The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of the faith of all men who wear the name Christian.  The record of this event left to us by the writers of the New Testament is what we, as Christians, believe and hold fast to.  Without the knowledge of the Son of God offering up his own life on the Cross and then rising from the dead on the third day, jut as he promised that he would, we would have nothing to believe in.

            The writings of the New Testament are a remarkable record of the events that took place in  Jerusalem.  But these writings have been disputed as were the facts of what happened form the very time they happened until today.  From the very beginning there have been those who were unwilling to accept the fact that Jesus did in fact overcome the power of death and come out of the tomb.

            According to Matthew's account in chapter 28, the disbelief was initiated on the very day Jesus arose from the dead.  When notified that the body of Christ was no longer in the tomb, the Jewish officials conspired with the Roman soldiers by giving them a large sum of money and they told them to tell that some of his disciples had stolen the body while they, the Roman guards had slept. They were told to spread this rumor and Matthew tells that the story was widespread among the Jews and was still being spread at the time Matthew was writing the book of Matthew. 

            This rumor is still being spread to this day.  The idea that Jesus' disciples had somehow stolen the body of Jesus and taken it somewhere else and buried it is beyond belief.  First of all, the Roman soldiers were admitting to sleeping while on duty.  This was a capital offense.  Next to be considered is how they could have been so quiet in removing the stone as to not awaken any of the guards while they were removing the body.  Last of all, why were those same disciples who claimed the resurrection to be a fact and a miracle, willing to die for something they knew not to be true?  This theory carries absolutely no weight at all when examined with the evidence presented. 

            There has been another similar theory expressed through the years.  Some have suggested that the enemies of Jesus actually stole the body of Jesus, buried it somewhere else and then blamed the theft on the disciples.  If this had actually happened, why did they not produce the body when the disciples started declaring that he was indeed risen from the dead?  This would have proved the disciples to be wrong and virtually killed any influence they had or would ever have.

            Another theory presented was that the disciples actually went to the wrong tomb.  This group affirms that Jesus died and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.  They just accused the disciples of going to the wrong tomb; a tomb that was empty.  The problem with this theory is that Nicodemus and Joseph had carried the body to Joseph's new tomb and prepared it for burial according to Jewish custom (John 19:40).  These men obviously knew where the body of Jesus was because they put it there.  We find there were also two other witnesses to what Nicodemus and Joseph had done.  The three Synoptic writers all record the fact that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph were positioned off in the distance observing what Joseph and Nicodemus were doing.  When the men were finished, Joseph rolled the large stone against the entrance of the tomb.  If the disciples had went to the wrong tomb on that first day of the week, Joseph could have quickly dispelled that rumor by going back to the tomb which he owned, rolled the stone back and displayed the body of Jesus.  But this did not happen because the disciples went to the correct tomb and Jesus was not there.

The last false theory I will examine is the swoon theory or the apparent death theory.  There is a belief that perhaps Jesus was only presumed to be dead and when he was placed in the cool tomb on that cold slab of stone, he revived. This theory has no more credibility than any of the others, perhaps even less.  When you look at the facts surrounding the trials, scourging, and his crucifixion, it is hard to imagine how he could not have been dead as he was determined to be by those Roman soldiers.  Gary Habermas said, "Such an occurrence seems highly unlikely, given the nature of scourging and crucifixion."[2]  The scourging itself was enough to kill the one being scourged.  Jesus was not only scourged, he was nailed to the cross for six hours.  The scriptures bear proof that Jesus was in fact dead.  When Joseph of Arimathea came to Pilot and asked for the body, Pilot confirmed with the centurion that he was in fact dead.

"Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the  kingdom of  God; and he gathered up courage and went in before  Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.  (44)  Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead.  (45)  And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph." (Mark 15:43-45,NASB).


When Joseph of Arimathea prepared the body of Jesus for burial, I am sure that he knew Jesus was dead.  So we see that the Roman centurion knew he was dead, his disciples knew he was dead, in fact all those concerned knew he was dead.  We find in the Book of John that the Roman soldiers, who were attending to the crucifixion, knew he was dead.  They were tasked to hasten the death of those who were crucified that day.  They took a mallet and broke the legs of the two thieves so they could not push themselves up to breath. They did not break the legs of Jesus because he was already dead.  Instead, one of the soldiers took his spear and pierced the side of Jesus and blood and water came out (John 19:31-34).  The witnesses of Christ's death were both friends and enemies of him. These witnesses knew he was dead.  Even with that being said,  there are still those who contend that he had only fainted and was revived once in the confines of the tomb.  Those who believed this way did not stop there; they held the view that he not only came to, but that he had the strength to roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb and walk away. This view does not take into account, that he had been severely beaten and hung on a cross for six hours but assumes that Jesus had the strength to roll away the stone from his tomb and walk away.  This theory, like all of the others, holds no value because the evidence provided in the word of God proves them wrong.

 The story of the resurrection has been doubted by many yet it has been proved to be true with just a little investigation.  One thread seems to run true to all of the theories that have been presented.  That thread is this; Jesus Christ lived on this earth and died on the cross.  The controversy seems to arise after his death.  There is also another fact each of these theories present.  On that first day after the Sabbath, the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene found the stone rolled away and the body of Jesus not in the tomb. All of the theories recognize the fact that Jesus' body was not in the tomb on that day.  They all attempt to explain the absence of his body in the tomb without accepting the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God. 

Christians accept the fact of the horrible death, the burial in the tomb and his resurrection on the third day.  The New Testament is the absolute best proof available for the resurrection.  It provides the facts surrounding the resurrection as well as witnesses to Jesus walking upon the earth after his resurrection.

In 1 Corinthians 15:5-8, Paul declares the witnesses that saw Jesus walking the earth after his resurrection:

            "and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  (6)  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;  (7)  then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; (8)  and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also."


All of these men testified that they had seen Jesus and this encounter with him made them willing to give their life for the message he proclaimed.  All of the apostles were willing to give their lives for the gospel they proclaimed and all did except John.  Their message was that Jesus had died on the cross and had risen from the dead after three days, just as he had prophesied, and was now sitting at the right hand of God.  Would they have been so willing to pay such a price had they not been actual witnesses?  It does not seem likely. 

            The belief the apostles held began to take hold the morning Peter and John went to the tomb.  According to John 20:8, when John entered the empty tomb, he saw the grave clothes and it says that he believed.  When Mary went to the disciples that day to tell them of what she had seen , she said "I have seen the Lord" (John 20:18).  She also told them of the things he had said to her.  Later that day, Jesus appeared to all of the apostles except Thomas who was not there.  Jesus showed them his hands and feet to prove that it was him.  They were all excited to see him and when they saw Thomas, they told him of the things that had transpired.  But he did not believe.  He said he would not believe unless he saw the nail-prints in his hands and put his hand in the Lord's side.

       Eight days later, Jesus appeared to the apostles again.  This time Thomas was with them.  He went to Thomas and showed him the wounds in his hands and told him to reach his hand and put it into his side.  The words of Thomas echo still today, "My Lord and my God!" 

            John's account here in John chapter 20 ends with a thought that carries through to today.  In verses thirty and thirty-one, he tells us why he wrote what he did and what the things that transpired mean to us:

            "Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; (31) but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name(John 20:30-31 NASB).


The New Testament is our guide to eternal life through our belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  We find within its pages the story of how he came to this earth and made himself the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  Jesus Christ was the only one who ever walked upon the face of the earth that was capable of being that perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins. The story of the resurrection is key to our faith.  We believe that Christ was raised up and is the "first fruits" (1Corinthians 15:20) of those who are in the grave.  Just as Christ was raised from the dead, so will we be raised as well.  

            The study of the resurrection only strengthens the Christian's resolve and faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done for us all. When we think of what he endured up to the cross.  The pain he experienced on the cross. In his death, he died for all humanity. Then, just as he had prophesied, he arose from the dead on the third day.  It is hard for the human mind to comprehend this gift he freely gave us, the greatest of all gifts, salvation.  This gift was made available though his sacrifice. The Christian should never let this story grow cold in his or her heart.  We should never allow ourselves to miss the opportunity to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.  We do this by observing the Lord's Supper that he instituted before his death.  The solemn observance of this memorial should engrain in the Christians mind just how important his resurrection was to us.  We should be grateful for this memorial and observe it every Lord's Day.  When taking of this memorial remember the word's of Thomas, "My Lord and my God!"



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