“That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.” – John 20:19.
Dragnet was a 1960’s television series, enacting the cases of a dedicated Los Angeles police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, and his partner. The main character, Sgt. Joe Friday, frequently implored people to provide “Just the facts, sir or ma’am.” It would probably surprise a lot of people, but we can take Sgt. Friday’s “just the facts” approach to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is possible to show people who believe but wonder, people who wonder how anyone can believe, and people who wonder if it is possible to believe again, plausible evidence that Jesus rose bodily from the dead. It’s called the “Minimal Facts” approach, popularized by Dr. Gary Habermas. Gary Habermas, a professor at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, is a leading scholar on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has studied the resurrection for decades now and has written or co-written 21 books specifically on the topic. There was a time when he had real doubts, 10 years of doubts in fact. But the more he studied the historical resurrection of Jesus, the more convinced he became that Jesus indeed rose from the dead.
There are historical facts concerning the resurrection of Jesus that must be accounted for, no matter what one believes. They are: Jesus died by crucifixion. This is an event of history that is recorded outside the Bible. Many non-Christian historians wrote about it. Second, the tomb of Jesus was empty on Easter Sunday. Both Christians and people who have no affinity for Christianity, agree that Jesus’ tomb was found empty on Easter Sunday. Third, Jesus’ disciples were willing to suffer and die for their belief in the Resurrection. While many people are willing to die for what they believe is true, no one willingly dies for what they know to be a lie. The Apostles had encountered the risen Jesus in the flesh. The skeptic James, a relative of Jesus, converted because the risen Jesus appeared to him.
There are many more facts that we could mention, such as the evidence of the appearances of the risen Jesus in his physical body to various individuals and groups, including 500 people at one time. The only explanation that accounts for all of these facts in such a manner is the conclusion that Jesus was resurrected. And that is just the facts.
- Do you have confidence that your faith is ground in verifiable facts? Why or Why not?
- What type of proof or evidence is offered for the resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-8?