“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.” – 1 Corinthians 15:20-23.
The passage above focuses on how Christ has victory over all things because Jesus defeated death and rose again. The apostle Paul was challenged by the Corinthians about the reality of the resurrection just as much as we are today. Opponents of Christianity and skeptical minds have always questioned the resurrection, just as they question many other teachings of Christianity. And it usually starts with the resurrection, because without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is no Christian faith.
Many people believe the resurrection is a matter of faith only, but that is not completely true. Yes, faith plays a role, but the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ is very good. The resurrection is a historical fact, verifiable in the same manner and by the same means that we verify any other historical fact. There is substantiated historical evidence that Jesus is all He said He was, did all He said He did, and rose from the dead. When we look at the evidence, the truth of the resurrection emerges very clearly as the logical and best explanation. There is no other theory that even comes close to account for and offset the evidence.
It is worth pointing out that in establishing the historical evidence of the resurrection, we do not need to assume that the New Testament is inspired by God or even trustworthy. While we do believe these things, we are going to focus on the evidence that even critical scholars admit.
Let’s start with the fact that Old Testament prophets predicted, hundreds of years prior to the actual event, both the resurrection and Jesus’ entire life. Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:3-12 offers one of the most profound prophecies in the entire Old Testament, written over 700 years before Christ’s death and resurrection. Psalm 22, written by King David a millennium before Christ, gives us the very perspective of the Lord hanging on the cross. It describes how the people mocked Christ (Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:41-43), how they cast lots to divide up His clothes (Psalm 22:18; Matthew 27:35). It was predicted that His side would be pierced (Zechariah 12:10, fulfilled John 19:34), His bones left unbroken (Psalms 34:20, fulfilled John 19:33) and that He would be buried in a rich man’s tomb. (Isaiah 53:9, fulfilled Matthew 27:57-60) These are just a few of over 300 Old Testament predictions that Jesus fulfilled.
It is the magnificent detail of these prophecies that make them credible. Only God could have known in advance and accomplished all that was written about His Son, Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow: The disciples as proof of the resurrection.
- How much of the evidence of the resurrection do you know? Do you think it is important? Why or why not?
- What to you, is the significance of the Old Testament prophets foretelling the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?
- What do we do with this information?