Every day more and more people are taking a look – for some, a second one – at the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth. It is significant that a man who lived over 2,000 years ago, can still generate interest today. And why not, everything about Him was unique: The prophecies of His coming, His birth, His life, His teachings, His miracles and His death. And especially His resurrection. It is history’s most significant event. The validity of Jesus’ claims about Himself rests on the Resurrection — whether He rose from the dead or stayed in the grave. Many skeptics say that to believe in a risen Christ is nothing more than a blind leap of faith with little or no basis in truth. But is it that simple? The facts say otherwise. When confronted with the facts, those who are honest have been forced to admit that the Resurrection is an historical event based on irrefutable proofs. Romans 4:25 says, “He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.”
Bottom Line: Christ died for our sins and was buried. He rose from the dead and was seen.
Something To Talk About:
The big question: Does the resurrection of Jesus Christ matter? Does it truly make a difference? The apostle Paul sure thought so. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul was faced with the startling news that some in Corinth denied the future resurrection of the body. Such a view was adopted by many in the Roman world. Death was the end. Actually, not much has changed since the first century. Today, the same view is held by skeptics of the faith. People are still trying to get their head around a man rising from the dead; they prefer to believe in what they can see and touch. Paul addresses the church in Corinth and he addresses those who are skeptical today.
The short answer: Paul covers many questions, topics, and occurrences throughout his letters. One of those topics is the resurrection of Jesus. Paul starts out in 1 Corinthians 15 by reminding the church at Corinth that Jesus did die and was raised from the dead for the salvation of man. This is the foundation of the gospel. Next Paul states that there were witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, not only by His disciples but by more than 500 people. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians approximately 20 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. It would be very hard to argue or dispute that many credible witnesses. Paul also mentions the resurrection of Jesus in Romans 1:4 and 6:5; Philippians 3:10-11. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 says, “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter[a] and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.”
- How much of a danger is there of losing the significance of Christ’s resurrection in our culture?
- 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?
- The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: First, it is a very unusual event. And second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- Have you ever watched the celebration that takes place on New Year’s Eve when the beach ball drops in Panama City at midnight? How does this compare with our celebration of the most significant event in history, the resurrection of Christ?
- Should we be more excited about Easter? If so, how do we go about doing it?
- How would you explain Easter to someone who asked you, “What’s Easter all about anyway?”
- Read Philippians 3:8-12. How is the power of the resurrection working in you today?
- Read Colossians 3:1. How should the resurrection impact your thoughts?
Take one thing home with you
Consider the following evidence for the resurrection:
First, Christ predicted His resurrection. The Bible records, “From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem…He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.” (Matthew 16:21)
Second, Jesus made numerous appearances to His followers. He comforted the mourners outside His tomb on Sunday morning. On the road to Emmaus, He explained things about Himself from the Old Testament. Later, He ate in their presence and invited them to touch Him. Scripture records that Jesus was seen by more than 500 at one time.
Third, the unrelenting faith of the disciples is proof of the resurrection. Those disciples who were once so afraid that they deserted their Lord now courageously proclaimed this news, risking their lives to preach. Their bold and courageous behavior does not make sense unless they knew with absolute certainty that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
Fourth, how can you explain the growth of the Christian church. Peter’s first sermon, which was on Christ’s resurrection, stirred people to receive Him as their living Savior. Acts 2:41 records the results: “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.” And that group of believers has multiplied until now it reaches around the world and includes hundreds of millions of believers.
Finally, the testimony of hundreds of millions of transformed lives through the centuries demonstrates the power of the resurrection. Many have been delivered from addictions. Broken marriages have been restored. The most conclusive proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that lives are transformed daily.