“But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. King David said this about him: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’ ‘Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us.'” (Acts 2:23-29 NLT)
The claim that Jesus rose from the dead is extraordinary. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. What is the strongest proof that Jesus was resurrected? Let’s start at the point of beginning, and work, or build from there.
This beginning point is that the universe, the earth, etc. very strongly witness to God’s existence as Creator. Psalm 19:1 says: “the heavens declare the glory of God.” (NIV)
Building on this is the text of the New Testament. It has been subjected to the most extreme scrutiny imaginable. This has resulted in the number one “Extraordinary Proof” of all time. This is the fact that the text of the New Testament in Koine Greek that we have today is verified as being 99.5% pure. That is 99.5% of the words are the same as originally written by writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul etc. What about the other 0.5% in which there is some doubt? These somewhat doubtful words do not affect any of the principles, truths or doctrines in the Bible. They are inconsequential of interest to some scholars, technicians, those who love trivia, etc. No other work from ancient times comes anywhere close to the New Testament textual integrity.
Some have claimed the different accounts of Jesus’ resurrection appearances in the four Gospels and 1 Corinthians are “proofs” these Bible books are riddled with errors and contradictions. If true, these would in turn “prove” the Bible not to be inspired of God, or infallible, as many Christians believe that it is.
The Bible itself says that these different resurrection appearances confirm the Bible’s inspiration by God.
“To whom He also 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 NKJV, emphasis added)
What scriptural evidence do we have about the resurrection of Jesus? What did people living in the first century think about reports of Jesus’ death and resurrection? Are there clues in the Bible as to whether the story is true or not? Let’s examine some Bible verses to find out.
Mt 27:57-60; Mk 15:42-46; Lk 23:50-54; Jn 19:38-42 Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, prominent members of the Jewish ruling council, would have been well known in Jerusalem, as well as to Pilate. This could not be fiction, since this could easily be refuted, if false.
There are a number of appearances by Jesus recorded after his resurrection. What do these appearances tell us about his resurrection? Are there clues as to whether his resurrection was physical or spiritual? Let’s examine the Bible to find out.
Mt 28:8-9 – “They hurried away from the tomb… and ran… suddenly Jesus was there in their path, greeting them.” (REB)
Jn 20:14-17 – “She turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize him.” (REB) … “Thinking he was the gardener.” (NIV)
Was Jesus resurrected as a spirit or a fleshly body? Let’s examine the scriptures to find out.
1 Cor 15:20 – “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.” (NIV)
Heb 10:10 – “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ.” (NIV)
1 Cor 15:35 – “How are the dead raised? With what body will they come?” (NIV)
1 Cor 15:42-44 – “It is sown in a natural body, it is raised in a spiritual body.” (NIV)
1 Cor 15:50 – Flesh can’t go to heaven.
Predictions of the resurrection of Jesus can be found throughout the Old Testament, as well as in the New Testament by Jesus himself. Let’s examine some of the scriptures in which these predictions can be found.
Old Testament Predictions
Isa 53:7-10; Acts 8:29-35 – Predictions of Christ
Isa 53:7 – Lamb to slaughter
Isa 53:8 – Cut off from living
Isa 53:9 – Buried
Isa 53:10 – Die
Isa 53:10 – Prolong his days and see his seed – How could this be unless resurrected?
What does the Bible say about Jesus’ resurrection? Let’s examine some verses that say speak of the resurrection.
Jn 11:25 – I am the resurrection and the life.
Acts 1:22 – A witness with us of his resurrection.
Acts 2:31 – Resurrection of the Christ.
Acts 3:15 – God raised him up from the dead.
Acts 4:2 – Proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
Acts 4:33 – Continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 5:30 – Raised Jesus from the dead.
Is the story of Jesus’ resurrection true? If so, how can we be sure? Let’s begin by examining four lines of evidence: that Jesus was really dead, his tomb was found empty, he then appeared to many witnesses, and finally, eyewitness accounts of encounters with the resurrected Jesus.
1. Jesus was really dead.
b. Certified as dead
All of the gospels tell the same basic story, but with divergent details. This gives strong evidence they are telling the truth, rather than copying from a single fictional account.
Below are some of the divergent details about the crucifixion of Jesus:
· Mt 27:16 – notorious
· Mk 15:7 – murderer, seditionist
· Lk 23:18 – murderer, seditionist
· Jn 18:40 – revolutionary, insurrectionist or domestic terrorist, political extremist