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Sunday, April 16, 2017

What Evidence Do You Need?

He is risen! He is risen indeed! But you don’t believe it, do you? What evidence do you need?

The ramifications for not believing and trusting in the risen Christ are staggering. Much of the meaninglessness, hopelessness, and despondency in death we see is traceable to not believing in the One who defeated death and rose again. On the other hand, the meaning, the hope, and joy many people have in life and death is traceable to their trust in the risen Christ. 


For some people, it is a lack of coherent and compelling evidence that keeps them from believing in the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. Maybe you are one such person. Or maybe you know someone for whom a supposed lack of evidence keeps them from believing in Jesus Christ. Please allow me to present 7 evidences to you, that Christ did indeed rise from the dead. These 7 points have been evident to Christian apologists and theologians throughout the history of the Church. I merely compile them here in a memorable list in which each point begins with the letter E. My prayer is that this evidence adds up for you to see Jesus Christ for who He truly is: the One who conquered death to give you life.


The 7 E’s of Resurrection Evidence

  1. Empty Tomb: We start off with the fact that the tomb in which Jesus was buried, was empty two to three days later. Whether or not it was because of a resurrected Jesus Christ, the tomb His corpse occupied was later without a corpse. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus reverently embalmed the body of Jesus, and buried Him in a specific tomb on Friday evening (John 19:38-39). Having laid Him in it, they sealed the tomb with a very large stone, which was sealed and guarded by the authority of Roman officials (Matthew 27:62-66). The dead body of the Lord was in that tomb, the last nail having been put in to the coffin, so to speak. On the following Sunday morning, when Peter, John, Mary and others came to this very tomb, they found the arrangement disturbed (John 20:1-10). The stone had been rolled away, and there was no body in sight. Whether the corpse was stolen, carried elsewhere, or raised to life is not the point of disputation here. The point is the tomb was assuredly empty, by the witness of these visitors. The facts surrounding this discovery by the disciples cannot be dismissed as made up. They entered the tomb, saw no body but grave clothes instead, and despaired over its emptiness. But what became of the body? 
  2. Eyewitness Accounts: Eyewitnesses beheld not only an empty tomb, but the person whose corpse they expected to see in it. Mary, like the others, expecting to find at least the corpse (John 20:13), sees the person of the Lord—the person who was embalmed and buried, now raised to life. He was seen not only by his close followers such as Peter, James, John, Mary, and others, but by over 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6). It is not just one or two who claim to have seen Him, but more than 500. The word of 500 people cannot be treated as concocted, or as a hallucination as some accuse. In Jewish tradition, it required two or three witnesses (Deut. 19:15) to establish a matter as fact. Here we have 500 who establish that they, as a matter of fact, saw the risen Lord. Paul says that most of these 500 were still alive and available to be questioned at the time he writes 1 Corinthians. To say this is made up, is to show allegiance to a prior position bent on disproving the truth of the matter in spite of the presented evidence.
  3. Early Epistle: One of the charges leveled against the canonical Gospel accounts is that they are too late in composition to be true (Jesus Seminar scholars). The question to be asked is, “Late by what standard?” In reply to this claim, firstly, they were not late, but perfectly timed so that what was known by eyewitnesses in one generation was then passed on to the next generation through a written record. But let’s suppose for the sake of argument that the Gospels were late, there is yet an earlier record that is overlooked—Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Scholars agree that this was written well within twenty to thirty years from the actual event of Jesus’ resurrection. And in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, Paul emphatically explains the utter hopelessness of the Christians, if there was no resurrection of its Founder, our Lord Jesus Christ. Conversely, you find that we Christians are the most hopeful people, because our Founder lives today. 
  4. Endangered Lives: It is interesting that Paul would defend a faith in which the hope or hopelessness of followers hung on the actuality of the resurrection of Jesus. The Jewish disciples’ worldview on the resurrection had changed from expecting a resurrection only at the end of the world, to seeing now Jesus’ resurrection in their own lives. It takes something otherworldly to change the worldview a community previously held for nearly two and a half millennia. This change in worldview caused these early disciples to put their lives in danger by telling the world about the resurrected Christ they saw. They were not merely promoting a religion, but passionately inviting people to experience the very resurrection power of Christ for themselves, by believing in Him. They were willing to die because they knew they would live again when they were raised from the dead, just as the Lord promised them, and proved by first demonstrating it. I think of the disciple Thomas who went to India, and paid with his life, telling the people of South India about the risen Christ. 
  5. Exponential Church growth: And because the disciples were willing to die for their faith that was based on the risen Jesus Christ, they had the boldness and the drive to travel outside Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, yes, even to the ends of the earth as Jesus commanded them. Beginning with the Day of Pentecost and the preaching of Peter, when 3,000 people believed, you observe the exponential growth of the Church from then on. Where ever the disciples and Apostles went and preached the Gospel, the church began to grow. Where ever there were martyrs for Christ, Tertullian’s quote is partly true: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” We witness today, 2,000 years later that the Church of Jesus Christ continues to grow. What else can account for this, but a risen Lord, who is orchestrating the building of His Church, from His throne in heaven? 
  6. Extrabiblical evidence: The Bible provides ample evidence about the resurrection of Christ. But for those skeptics who doubt the veracity of the Bible, there is also extrabiblical evidence that records the resurrection of Christ. I do not have space to quote them here, but consider the Jewish historian Josephus who writes of this in his accounts. So does the Roman historian Tacitus. Skeptics would do well to examine these accounts over against Biblical accounts.
  7. Experiential transformation: These 6 evidences failing to convince people of the resurrection of Jesus, there is one more convincing and all-compelling argument: the transformation of people today. How is it that we who believe in Jesus Christ believe He rose from the dead? Why do we believe? Are all of us who believe today (and those who have believed throughout the centuries), from every part of the world, deluded in our believing? Or is it that the skeptics, atheists, agnostics and unbelievers are really the ones deluded, because they do not believe in the person of Jesus Christ who rose from the dead? As Alfred H. Ackley wrote in his famous hymn, 
He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.
He lives, he lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.

Lives that Reflect the Resurrection

When you understand the legitimacy and coherency of this evidence (by the way there is more evidence!), you will see that Jesus is not just any dead god. He is the Lord over life and death, God of all gods. Every word He spoke is true. That being the case, if you do not believe in Him, you will miss out on resurrection to eternal life and instead be resurrected to eternal separation from God, which is hell. If you are a believer, be reminded that we serve a living Lord, and ought to therefore be living lives worthy of Him—lives separate from sin that reflect to the world the reality of the resurrection life we have in Jesus Christ.

© Kenny Damara 2013 and 2017

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