Jesus had said he would die and be buried, and on the third day, would rise again.2
Here's the thing: IF Jesus did not rise from the dead, it would have made him a liar, and nothing else he taught would have been credible; IF he did not rise from the dead, we would not serve a living Savior and Lord, and IF Jesus did not rise from the dead, we would not have the hope of resurrection after death ourselves to make our home with him forever.
The Christian faith would not have gone forward if Jesus had been killed, and never heard from again. The disciples would have remained hopeless, died in shame, and that would have been the end of Christianity. Alas, it was not, and we are evidence of that. The young Jewish-Christian church started in Jerusalem, and soon spread to Mediterranean lands and beyond--which assures us that these young believers, who were enduring persecution, saw and believed in the risen Lord.
Paul wrote the most extensive biblical treatise on the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, recorded in 1 Corinthians 15 ~ I delivered to you that ... Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,3 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, (Peter) then to the twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared to me also. (so Paul was an eyewitness of the resurrected Jesus)4. These verses formed a creed that was recited in early Christian churches, and has been dated by scholars to within two to eight years of Jesus' resurrection.This is the purported garden tomb in which Jesus was laid.5
What eyewitnesses saw and recorded about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are critical to the record, and indispensable to the truth. Eyewitness accounts are the most valuable evidence in any matter or event being analyzed-Paul records there were at least 515 eyewitnesses - most of whom were alive when this was written, who could have refuted what has been recorded about Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, but they did not. Jesus talked, walked and ate with his disciples after emerging from his grave clothes.
The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest symbol of hope for believers today. It means that we serve a living God! Combined with our faith is the HOPE that there is a new world to come, and in that world, God will set the record straight. And besides, the resurrection is one more testament that God keeps his promises . . .
Let us conclude by saying, the Resurrection is the epicenter of belief. It is not a belief that grew up within the church; it is the belief around which the church itself grew up,6 and the 'given' upon which its faith/upon which our faith is based. You see, Christianity without the resurrection is not simply Christianity without its final chapter. No, it is not Christianity at all.7
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We simply must be aware of the proofs of our faith, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest of these. His recorded crucifixion proves his death; the empty tomb proves he was not in it; all of the people who had encounters with a living, breathing Jesus Christ after they had seen him crucified proves he lived again. Hope springs eternal, does it not?
1 - 1 Corinthians 15.17
2 - Matthew 12.40; 16.21
3 - Psalm 16.10
4 - 1 Corinthians 15.4-8
5 - The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem - November 2016
6 - C.H. Dodd - a Welsh New Testament scholar and influential Protestant theologian
7 - Gerald O'Collins, Australian Jesuit priest and theologian, formerly of Gregorian University, Rome
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