What would you say about a man who said, “I have come down from heaven...God the Father in heaven sent Me...If you will believe in Me you will live forever...The words I speak are spirit and they are life...I am the light of the world, if you follow Me you will not walk in darkness, but you will have the light of life...I can free you from sin...”Some may respond to such claims by saying,“This guy is a lunatic, have him committed.This guy is a liar and a fraud, have him arrested for misleading simple people and giving them a false hope.”What if that man then said one more thing, “Kill Me and in three days I will rise again,” and then, he actually did it?
The man who made all these statements was Jesus.C. S. Lewis saidthat a man who would make such claims had to either be a liar, a lunatic or speaking the truth as one with authority.If Jesus made such claims and was lying, then he was more than just a liar, he was a devil from hell.To purposely mislead people into thinking they would live forever in heaven if they believed his words would be an unbelievable act of evil.He would be anything but a “good man.“If Jesus made such claims and was a lunatic, thinking that he was the Son of God but was not, then he was on the same level as a man who thinks he is a poached egg.But if the claims that Jesus made are true, then He is the Son of God...He is the Lord of glory!
Of all the things that Jesus said or did, the greatest evidence that He was who He claimed to be is His resurrection from the dead.I don’t know about you, but if a man predicts His own death and resurrection and then actually does rise from the dead, He has my attention!Therefore, if one is going to doubt the validity of Jesus’ claims, then that one must deal with the evidences for His resurrection.
Jesus clearly predicted His own resurrection.(See Matthew 16:21; 17:9; 17:22-23; 20:18-19)If you are skeptical, you are not alone.There have been many other skeptics of Christianity, of the claims of Christ.But the honest skeptics who have investigated the facts surrounding the life of Christ, came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ was not a lunatic - or a liar - but the very LORD of glory!They became believers, followers of Christ.What facts convinced them?The evidence for the resurrection.
One such skeptic was Josh McDowell.He set out to disprove Christianity but as he studied the facts surrounding the life of Jesus he came to be a believer, saying,“I could not explain away the most significant event in history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”The resurrection of Christ confronts skepticism.The resurrection of Christ confronts ambivalence.
Three facts must be reckoned with when investigating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.(1) The empty tomb, (2) The transformation of the Apostles and (3) The fact that the preaching of the resurrection originated in Jerusalem.
1. THE EMPTY TOMB
Jesus was a well known figure.His fame had spread throughout the Palestinian area about Jerusalem.His burial sight was well known.Matthew documented it as the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. (Matt. 27:59)This is very relevant, for had Matthew’s account been contrived, eyewitnesses would have easily discredited it.
The chief priests invented the story that the disciples stole the body.Such a fabrication would not have been necessary if the tomb had not been empty.And if the tomb had not been empty, the preaching of the Apostles would not have lasted one day.All the Jewish authorities needed to do to put an end to Christianity was to produce the body of Jesus.But no corpse was ever found.
2. THE CHANGED LIVES OF THE APOSTLES
During the trial of Jesus, the Apostles deserted Him in fear.Yet 10 of the 11 Apostles died as martyrs, believing and proclaiming that Christ had risen from the dead.How can this be explained?Christianity originated in Judaism, every book in the New Testement was written by a Jew. Jewish bias against Jesus.