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CHAPTER TWELVE

THE RESURRECTION FACTOR

 The Historical Fact

 

"Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly;

not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God,

even to us who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead."

Acts 10. 40, 41.

 

The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Christian faith.

“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not......And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:14-17).

 
The resurrection is the cornerstone of any defense of the Christian faith. Upon it rests everything that is essential to Christian theology. 

The resurrection appearances: an overwhelming historical proof.

 

A careful study of the Scriptures will reveal the following order of events unfolded in the resurrection appearances of Christ:

 

 

"On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures".

 

According to Matthew 28:2-4, the guards saw an angel roll away the stone from the tomb, and because of this the guards were terrified. The Scriptures in this way account for the act of breaking the Roman seal placed on the door of the tomb which no one would have dared to do. It explains why the guards were not able to explain what happened to the body of Christ.   The sleeping during duty was a crime punishable with death.  The report of the soldiers suggested by the chief priest (Matt 28:11-15) that someone stole the body while they slept is false on the face of it.

 

The stone was anything small and was not easy to be moved.  It was several tons in weight and needed several people to move.  It was impossible to carry but was rolled away.  If the disciples were to take the body out, there would have been several of them and they could not have done without waking the soldiers even if they were sleeping.

 

The stone was not removed for Christ to get out of the tomb, but to the world to see that "He is no here."  Jesus was resurrected on the third day.

 

 

We count our days starting from midnight to midnight.  But the Jews counted days from the sundown to sundown.  The Sabbath day ended by the sundown of Saturday and the first day began by sundown on Saturday being the first day.  Thus Jesus was probably resurrected by the midnight following the sundown on sabbath (Saturday). 

 

 

 

 

After the resurrection Jesus appeared to many of his disciples and confirmed his resurrection and gave them the great commission.

 

 

  

 

Shortly after the stone was rolled away, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome, and others arrived at the tomb (Matt 28:1, 5-7; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-10; John 20:1).  They were met by the Angel who declared the resurrection.

 

 Mary Magdalene runs to tell the apostles with the other women following more slowly (Matt 28:8; Mark 16:8; Luke 24:8-10; John 20:2).

 

 

He is Risen

 

After informing the apostles, Mary Magdalene returns preceded by Peter and John and sees the empty tomb (John 20:2-10). 

 

 

“But now Christ is risen”,

 for: “He … presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

 

There are ten recorded resurrection appearances over a period of almost six weeks.

 

Acts 10:39  We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.

 

 

 


(i) To Mary of Magdala. (John 20:14 ff)

 


(ii) To others of the women. (Matt.28:9,10)
(iii) To Peter on his own. (Luke 24.34; 1 Cor.15.5)

The Lord has truly risen indeed, he has appeared to Simon!”(Luke 24:34)
(iv) To the two on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13 ff)

 


(v) To a group of disciples when Thomas was absent. (Luke 24:36 ff)

(vi) To the disciples when Thomas was present. (John 20:26)

 


(vii) To the seven disciples by the Lake. (John 21:1 ff)

 


(viii) To a company of more than 500, in Galilee. (1 Cor. 15:6)
(ix) To James, the half-brother of the Lord. (1 Cor. 15:7)
(x) To those who witnessed the ascension. (Luke 24.50,51; Acts 1.9)

 

Go make disciples                                               He will come again

Post-Ascension Appearances

(i) To Stephen: (Acts 7:56)
(ii) To Paul

n        Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6; cf. Acts 22:6-11; 26:13-18).  

n        Jesus appeared to Paul in Arabia (Acts 20:24; 26:17 ; Gal 1:12, 17),

n        at the Temple (Acts 22:17-21; cf. Acts 9:26-30; Gal 1:18),

n        in prison in Caesarea, when it is recorded that “the Lord stood by him,” and told him that he would bear witness in Rome (Acts 23:11).

 

 (iii) The final appearance of Christ was to the Apostle John in the Island of Patmos. (Rev 1:12-20).

 .

The post-ascension appearance continues to this day to the believers to confirm and encourage the believers in the building of the Kingdom.

The ascension of Jesus was not the end of the presence of Jesus on the earth.  Jesus with a resurrected transformed body became Jesus who lives on in all the dimensions - human, mind, spirit and divine.  He still appeared to Paul and John.  He continues to appear to every one who seeks him and confirms his presence through the same old methods of healing, signs and miracles.  If you do not seek him, you cannot find him.  But once you are confirmed as in the case of Thomas, your world will be turned upside down.  You will be witnesses to the ends of the earth. 

 

Evidence of the Resurrection

1: The Empty Tomb of Jesus

Empty Tomb must be explained.

 

All the evidence that exists concerning the tomb after the resurrection of Christ indicates that it was empty.

This was the testimony of the disciples Peter and John who carefully examined the tomb when they found the stone rolled away.

The guard that was stationed at the tomb, according to Matthew’s account, also reported that the tomb was empty - "They stole the body while we were asleep."

 

 Who rolled the stone?  Why was the tomb empty?  What happened to the body?

Then we have the problem of explaining the vast number of post resurrection appearance of Jesus to many people in many different occasions in many different locations.   People have been trying to explain it off in different ways.

 

The resurrection of Christ was a delusion, a hallucination, and otherwise is it possible that Jesus did not die on the cross.

2: The Eyewitnesses of women

The strange thing about the witnesses was that the first report was from the women.  Women were a class whose testimony was unacceptable in the Jewish court.  Yet these were the people who reported the missing body and even the report "We have seen the Lord."

3: Jesus' Apostles' New-Found Courage

The stranger fact is that the behavior of the disciples who were hiding for fear of the Jews.  They hid themselves soon after the crucifixion.   But within 50 days after the report Jesus being with them and seen openly, there they were in the open - in the midst of the city - proclaiming boldly the resurrection at the Pentecost.  No other factor can explain this change.

4: Changed Life of James and Paul

James the brother of Jesus was not a believer of his brother's mesiaship.  He actually considered Jesus as a lunatic and along with his mother went to take him forcefully to take him to an asylum.  But soon after the resurrection we see him with the followers as the leader.  He in fact chaired the first council of the church.  What can make this difference?

Paul is another case where a transformation from opposition to total surrender came in.  He was with the Jewish leaders, supported the concept that this messiah was a dupe - another failed attempt.  But once he personally met Jesus in the road to Damascus, he became the Apostle to the Greco-Roman world

5: Large Crowd of Eyewitnesses

Hallucination and mass psychology cannot explain the varied groups of people who testified to have seen the risen Lord.  ones, twos, six, eleven, twelve, one hundred and fifty and even five hundred at one time have seen Jesus.  In many cases, they have not only seen Jesus, but also touched him, conversed extensively and even ate with him.  We have the greatest scientist mind Apostle Thomas who refused to believe in the resurrection totally convinced.

6: They Died for Jesus

The strangest of all is the reality that these disciples were willing to die.  If they knew that this was a lie, would they have done that? The ultimate test of credibility for these eye-witnesses was that many of them faced martyrdom for their eye-witness testimony. These witnesses knew the truth. What could they possibly gain by dying for a known lie? The evidence speaks for itself; these weren’t just religious fanatics dying for a religious lie. They did that because they truly believed that Jesus rose from the dead and established the ultimate religious basis of Christianity that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.  

The fact is that this process of transformation is still taking place.  Once you come to know the living resurrected Jesus and his power, there is no turning back.  It changes you totally.  To get to that point, you need to examine and personally experience the reality of this Jesus.  Therefore do not hesitate to examine the evidences.  Ask questions.  Test everything. Finally experience the power of the risen Christ yourself.  This is something you have to find out and decide yourself. This is why I write this book. 

(see http://www.about.com/ summarized arguments for historical resurrection of Jesus by Jack Zavada.)

 

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-6  Paul declares :“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.”

Manuscript studies indicate that this was a very early creed of the Christian faith. 
 Paul is, quoting from an old tradition which he himself received after becoming a Christian. This tradition probably goes back at least to Paul’s fact-finding visit to Jerusalem around AD 36, when he spent two weeks with Cephas and James (Gal. 1.18). It thus dates to within five years after Jesus’ death. Therefore, it’s dramatic that Paul ends the passage with “most of whom are still living.” Paul was inviting people to check out the facts. He wouldn’t have included a statement like that if he was trying to hide something like a conspiracy, hoax, myth or legend.