When hallowed halls echo the declaration “He is risen indeed,” a profound and shining chord resonates in all of our hearts. The bells of Easter morn still the clatter and traffic of modern life and force countless billions to pause and contemplate the hope of Jesus Christ. For it is in the resurrection of Christ that we discover not only a specific hope, but the foundation of hope itself.
Indeed, Christ was dead. Though He could endure no corruption or be shackled by the chains of death beyond the predestined time, He was most assuredly deceased. No light remained in his eyes; no life pumped through his heart. A spear, thrust through the side of God’s Beloved, proved to every observant that death had defeated their hope and salvation.
Or so they thought.
In sadness and in mourning, Christ’s disciples laid Him in the silent tomb, but He was not to remain and decay. On the third day, with a thunder and a shake, the glory of the Father raised Jesus to life once and forevermore, just as the scriptures had promised. In splendor and in power, clothed in purity, majesty, and victory, Jesus Christ announced His eternal defeat of death for the whole world to hear and see. It is for this reason we celebrate Easter; it is for this reason we praise “Hallelujah, Hosanna, and Joy to the World!”
But is there proof of Christ’s resurrection? For if Christ wasn't raised from the dead,
“…our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:13-19).
How can we therefore know that Christ indeed was delivered from death?*
1. Jesus Was Buried in a Tomb
Paul’s language in 1 Corinthians 15 reveals he was explicitly told by others that Jesus was buried in a tomb.
The burial story of Jesus is a constituent of an ancient source used by Mark in writing his gospel (the oldest recorded gospel).
It is classically stated that the tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. He was a member of the Sanhedrin. Because the Sanhedrin was opposed to Christianity, it is improbable Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb is a Christian invention.
No competing burial story exists.
2. Jesus’ Tomb was Empty
1. The empty tomb story is also part of the same pre-Markan passion source as mentioned before.
2. Mark’s story of the empty tomb is void of legendary embellishment.
3. Women found the empty tomb. If one were trying to fabricate a story, they would not have had women find Jesus because a woman’s testimony was not considered credible in that age.
4. In Matthew 28:15, the Jews immediately allege Jesus’ body was stolen, which demonstrates His body was, in fact, missing from the tomb.
3. Different Individuals Experienced Physical Appearances of Jesus Alive After His Death
1. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul provides a variety of eyewitness accounts that detail such events occurring.
2. The appearance traditions in the Gospels provide independent accounts of these appearances.
4. The Disciples Believed Jesus Rose From the Dead Despite Their Tradition Arguing the Contrary
The Jewish idea of a Messiah was not one who was executed by Rome.
Similarly, the Jewish understanding of the afterlife precluded anyone rising from the dead before the general resurrection of the dead.
To that end, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ seems to be the most logical answer to these points, and as such, I am sufficiently convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was who He says He was, is who He says He is, and will forever be who He claims to be.
“He is risen indeed!”
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*All of the following arguments are cited directly from William Lane Craig's article Evidence for Jesus' Resurrection. For his full and in-depth and brilliant analysis, see his article available here