Last Sunday the Christian world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, AKA Easter. The Gospels provide us with extensive information describing the events leading up to the crucifixion and the subsequent resurrection of the man called Jesus Christ.
The Gospel accounts are pretty clear that Jesus was, in fact, crucified by the Roman authorities. Secular historians, such as Tacitus and Josephus, mention the crucifixion of Jesus in their writings.
Interesting though is that the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, declared Jesus to be innocent of any wrong doing, that he found no fault in Him. However, Pilate ordered Jesus' execution because he was concerned more with local politics than justice...but that's grist for another blog entry.
When it comes to the resurrection we have to rely on the Gospel accounts and the New Testament Epistles for our evidence that the resurrection actually took place. Despite the evidence there are some who chose not to believe that it actually happened. Let's look at a few reasons why I believe the Biblical accounts are true.
First, all the Gospel accounts report that after Jesus was taken down from the cross, He was placed in tomb that had never been used. The tomb was carved into stone with a large rock in front of it, designed to be rolled across the entrance. The tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus.
Also, the Jewish rulers believed Jesus to have been buried because they petitioned Pilate to post a guard to prevent the disciples from stealing the body and claiming that He had risen as He said that He would. (See Matthew 27:62-66) A guard was posted.
Therefore we can conclude that Jesus was buried after His crucifixion.
Second, all the Gospel accounts say that on the third day after the crucifixion some women disciples came to the tomb to find that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. This is significant because in first century Israel women were not regarded as relibale witnesses and therefore were not allowed to testify in legal proceedings. If the Gospel accounts were fabricated as some suggest the women would not have played such a prominent role, therefore it must be true.
Upon seeing the tomb empty, the women ran and told some of the Apostles who immediately ran to the tomb and saw for themselves that the tomb was empty.
The Jewish leaders believed that the tomb was empty because the guards reported to "...the chief priests all that had happened." (Matthew 28:11-15)
The chief priests told the soldiers to say that the disciples came and stole Jesus' body away while they (the soldiers) slept. The chief priests paid the soldiers a large sum of money to secure their cooperation. The chief priests further promised to smooth things over with Pilate should he come to hear that the soldiers were saying that they fell asleep on duty. The penalty for a Roman soldier falling sleep on duty is death! (Matthew 28:11-15)
Let us sum up. (1) Jesus was placed inside the tomb which was later sealed and protected by Roman soldiers. The Jewish leaders believed Jesus had been placed inside the tomb. The Roman guard believed that Jesus had been placed inside the tomb. The Apostles and women disciples believed that Jesus was placed inside the tomb.
(2) Three days later, on the first day of the week, the tomb is empty. The women disciples went to the tomb and saw that it was empty. Some of the Apostles, after being told by the women disciples, went to the tomb and saw for themselves that the tomb was empty.
(3) The Jewish leaders believed that the tomb was empty because the very soldiers who were guarding the tomb reported to them that the tomb was empty. The Jewish leaders bribed the guards to say that the disciples stole the body while they slept and promised to cover for them with the Governor. Why would the Jewish leaders do that if they believed that the tomb was not empty? Why would the soldiers report to the chief priests that the tomb was empty, risking their very lives, if in fact the tomb was not empty?
I believe that the Gospel accounts are true. I believe because of the reasons mentioned above and many other reasons too numerous to fully cover in this short blog entry.
SO WHAT? Well, if the Gospel accounts are true then Jesus is who He proclaimed himself to be, to wit, God incarnate. That means when the Bible tells us what we must do to be saved, that is precisely what we must do to be saved. (Acts 2:14-40)
If you are interested, if you have any questions, come worship with us at the Manchester church of Christ on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. We would love to speak with you!