The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Do you believe that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead? Perhaps you have always thought this was a nice idea invented by Christians, but something that really could never have happened. Dead people do not come back to life, at least not after three days. Well, we invite you to look at the evidence. Be your own judge and jury, and look at the known facts surrounding the death and burial of this remarkable man. You may be surprised!
The empty tomb
On the first day of the week following Jesus’ crucifixion, a small group of women made their way to the tomb where he had been buried. (It is considered likely that the tomb was the one pictured at the top of this page). These women had cared for Jesus and his disciples during his ministry, and now they intended to pay their respects to his body. However, when the women arrived at the tomb, they were stopped in their tracks by an amazing sight. The stone used to seal the rock-hewn tomb had been rolled away – and the linen cloths in which Jesus’ body had been wrapped were lying by themselves. What happened next is told by the New Testament writer Mark:
“he is going before you into Galilee; there you will see him, as he said to you.” So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples—and Peter—that he is going before you into Galilee; there you will see him, as he said to you.’ .. and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:5-8).
Faced with the empty tomb, the reaction of the women was shock and fear. They did not know what to make of what they had seen and heard. At first they thought the body had been taken away by the Jewish or Roman authorities. Mary Magdalene, the first of the women to arrive at the tomb, later stood outside weeping, saying, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:13).
Those early followers of Jesus simply did not dare to believe that their leader, whose cruel death they had witnessed, was alive again. As Thomas, another of Jesus’ disciples, said, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).
The Jewish religious leaders, on the other hand, had already realised an empty tomb would be a major problem for them. They worried that Jesus’ disciples would steal the body and claim that he had risen from the dead. So they had obtained permission from the Roman governor, Pilate, to seal the tomb and set a guard of soldiers outside (Matthew 27:62-66). However, the soldiers turned up on Sunday morning with the tale that the stone in front of the tomb had been miraculously rolled away. The religious leaders took action: they bribed the tomb guards to spread the story that Jesus’ disciples “came at night and stole him away while we slept” (Matthew 28:13).
Despite this, the story of the empty tomb would not go away. More and more individuals came forward to bear witness not only to the empty tomb, but to encounters with the risen Lord Jesus himself. The words ‘he has risen’, spoken to the first women to enter the tomb, became the heart and soul of the whole Christian message. And the joyful proclamation ‘Christ is risen!’ has continued to echo through the ages, even to our own day.
Evidence for the resurrection of Jesus
How can we be sure that Jesus really rose from the dead? There are a number of pieces of evidence we need to inspect.
Firstly, there is the evidence of the empty tomb itself. We have already seen that when the women arrived at the tomb they expected to find the body. Yet they found that the stone had been rolled away and the body was gone. The Jewish authorities had not taken it – as we have seen, they went to a lot of trouble to guard the body so that it should not be taken. If they had removed the body, they could have easily contradicted claims that Jesus had risen by revealing where his body was. Yet they were unable to do so.
What is more, when the disciples first arrived at the empty tomb they found there the linen cloths in which Jesus’ body had been wrapped (John 20:6-7). If anyone had moved the body of Jesus from the tomb, they would surely not have stayed around to remove the long, sticky cloths in which it was wrapped. This burial custom is described in the story of Lazarus, who came out of his tomb “bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth” (John 11:44).
Further evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is the testimony of many eyewitnesses who insisted they had seen the Lord Jesus himself. The New Testament writer Paul lists some of these eyewitnesses in one of his letters:
“He [Christ] rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he was seen by Cephas [Peter], then by the twelve. After that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all he was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:4-8).
As Paul says, most of these witnesses were still alive at the time he was writing. They could be questioned or examined, to see if their evidence stacked up.
It is interesting that in the passage above, Paul leaves out one important group of witnesses – the women who first went to Jesus’ tomb. In the first century AD, the testimony of women was held to be less reliable than that of men. However, in the original accounts of the resurrection the women are the primary witnesses to the empty tomb, and Jesus appears first to a woman called Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18). This gives authenticity to the New Testament descriptions of the resurrection. If the accounts of the resurrection had been invented, men rather than women would have been chosen as the primary witnesses. This suggests that the accounts are not invented stories, but records of what actually happened.
A similar point can be made about the ‘contradictions’ which are sometimes identified between different accounts of the resurrection. The New Testament has four separate narratives of the life of Jesus, known as the four ‘Gospels’ – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each one has its own description of the resurrection of Jesus, and they differ in details, such as the precise sequence of events, and the number of women who first went to the tomb. Also, the Gospels report appearances made by the risen Lord Jesus to different individuals. What are we to make of these apparently conflicting accounts? Actually, as some New Testament scholars have argued, contradictions between the resurrection accounts are actually evidence in favour of their reliability. If they had been invented by the early Christians, we might have expected identical accounts. It is obvious the Gospel reports of the resurrection are taken from eyewitness testimony – different people inevitably saw and remembered different things that had happened. However, they all agree on the fundamental points: a group of women went to the tomb; the tomb was empty; angelic appearances confirmed that Jesus had risen; and Jesus appeared at different times to different followers. These accounts do not read like invented stories, but as real eyewitness reports of a fast-moving and dramatic sequence of events following on from the discovery of the empty tomb.
The transformation of the disciples
The most convincing evidence of Jesus’ resurrection is the transformation in his disciples. Before his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples fled in terror. They were afraid that they would also be arrested, because of their association with Jesus. On the day of the resurrection itself, the disciples were gathered together in a room, “when the doors were shut … for fear of the Jews [i.e. the Jewish leaders]” (John 20:19). Jesus’ followers were dismayed and demoralised by the death of their spiritual leader (Luke 24:13-21).
Yet just a few weeks later, disciples like Peter were speaking boldly to crowds of thousands in Jerusalem and beyond. The New Testament book of Acts recounts the rapid spread of the message of Jesus’ resurrection, and the fearlessness with which it was preached by Jesus’ early followers. When ordered by the Jewish authorities to keep silent about the message, Peter told them: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). What was it that transformed this small group of frightened men and women into such courageous and uncompromising preachers of the Christian message? The answer is that they were not spreading a story which they had invented. As Peter said to the Jewish leaders, they were witnesses to the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 5:30-32). And Jesus, by the Holy Spirit which he had promised to give them (John 15:26, 27), empowered them to pass on this truth to the world.
From time to time people have put forward various theories to try to explain away the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. None of these theories stands up to scrutiny. However it is worth briefly outlining the arguments against some of them:
- ‘Hallucination’ – this theory states that the disciples were hallucinating (going into a trance-like state) when they ‘saw’ the risen Jesus. However, too many different people saw Jesus at different times for this view to be plausible.
- ‘Cognitive dissonance’ – this theory states that when people badly want something to be true, even when they are faced with strong evidence to the contrary, they still believe the opposite of what their eyes and ears tells them. In the case of Jesus’ resurrection, this would have meant the disciples had such a strong desire for Jesus to be raised that they actually believed he was alive. However, it is clear that the disciples were not expecting Jesus to be raised from the dead.
- ‘Revival in the tomb’ – this theory states that Jesus did not really die on the cross, but that he only appeared to be dead and later ‘revived’ in the tomb. However, one of the Roman soldiers who executed him made absolutely sure that he was dead by stabbing him through the side with a spear. This was to protect the soldiers against severe punishment if they were found to have allowed a condemned prisoner to escape the death penalty. In any case, Jesus had been desperately injured and beaten. He would never have been able to remove the huge stone from inside the tomb by himself. Nor could a half-dead man convince his disciples that he was a risen and glorified Lord.
- ‘A new experience of grace’ – this view states that the resurrection accounts in the Bible should be read metaphorically, describing a feeling of grace experienced by Jesus’ followers after his death. However, the early Christians preached the resurrection of Jesus as a concrete reality. What is more, there is no reason why the early followers of Jesus should have believed that a new experience of grace meant that their dead leader was alive again.
- ‘The disciples took the body’ – this theory is contradicted by the fact that the disciples were prepared to suffer persecution and death for their proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection. If they knew full well he was really dead, this would be unlikely. In any case, there is the evidence of the grave cloths left behind in the tomb. Nobody stealing a body would hang around to peel off the complicated and sticky layers of linen bandages. The disciples were not conspirators in a grand deception. They were honest men, and clearly convinced about the message they were preaching.
- ‘Mistaken tomb’ or ‘mistaken identity’ – the ‘mistaken tomb’ theory states that on the morning of the resurrection, the women went to the wrong tomb. However, the Gospel of Luke clearly records that at the time of Jesus’ burial, “the women who had come with him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how his body was laid”(Luke 23:55). An alternative theory states that in the half-light of early morning, the women mistook another person for the risen Lord Jesus. Either of these simple ‘mistakes’ would soon have been cleared up, but in practice the conviction that Jesus was risen persisted and grew.
Finally, we can return to a point made earlier. If Jesus had not really risen from the dead, it would have been easy enough for the Jewish authorities to produce his body. In the first century AD it was normal to re-open tombs such as the one in which Jesus was buried, because they were used for multiple burials. Twelve months after a person’s death, the bones were collected up and placed inside an ‘ossuary’ – a small stone chest designed for this purpose. Yet the body or bones of Jesus were never produced. The evidence of resurrection was too strong for doubters even in the first century.
Resurrection in the ministry of Jesus Christ
In the narrative of Jesus’ birth, Joseph, the husband of Mary, is told:
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).
This passage tells us that Jesus was to be a ‘Saviour’ – he would come to ‘save his people’.
The New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life show that Jesus ‘saved’ people in many different ways. He saved the blind by giving them sight; he saved the sick by healing them; and in a few remarkable cases, Jesus even saved the dead – by raising them to life. On one occasion, Jesus was called to the home of his friend Lazarus, who had died. He was buried in a rock tomb. Jesus went to the tomb – and after praying to God, “he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth” (John 11:43-44).
Lazarus did not become immortal. His ‘resurrection’ was only temporary. This demonstration of Jesus’ power over death, like all of his miracles, was a sign. As he told Lazarus’ sister Martha:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
The miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead foreshadowed the ultimate victory of Jesus himself over death.
Jesus taught that resurrection – not just temporary revival, but resurrection to eternal life – would be possible for everyone who had trusted in God. This resurrection would take place in the future, at the time of his coming Kingdom.
“As the Father has life in himself”, he said, “so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for then hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:26-29).
However, in order for this future time of resurrection to be possible, something had to happen first. During his ministry, Jesus told his disciples many times that he “must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). The hope of resurrection from the dead depended on Jesus himself undergoing the suffering of death, and then being raised from the dead.
Reactions to the death of Jesus
Jesus died in horrific circumstances. He was given an illegal trial. He was scourged and humiliated, then led out to be crucified – the brutal method of Roman execution which was reserved for the worst of criminals.
As Jesus hung on the cross, those who were there reacted to him in different ways. Some of them mocked him: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). Others misunderstood him, not grasping the words which he spoke (Mark 15:34-35). The women who had cared for Jesus in his ministry stood by him to support him (John 19:25), although most of the male disciples had already fled in fear of their lives. Only a few perceptive individuals understood that this death had a greater significance. One of them was a criminal crucified alongside Jesus, who believed he would still be a king; another was the Roman officer who exclaimed “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).
The New Testament’s description of the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion, and its record of the events which led up to it, show us the full range of human behaviour. Some people believed in Jesus; some wanted to believe, but were afraid to support him or to identify themselves as his followers; others were troubled by the sentencing to death of an innocent man, but thought no more of its significance; while still others conspired to rid themselves of a man who threatened their own interests.
But there was yet another powerful figure at work in these events – the Lord God Himself. God also responded to the crucifixion of Jesus. At the moment Jesus died, the curtain in the temple in Jerusalem, which symbolised the division between God and humanity, was torn in two “from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38). Matthew records that there was darkness over the earth, an earthquake, and the miraculous resurrection of some believers in Jesus who had recently died. And on the first day of the new week, the third morning after Jesus’ crucifixion, Matthew records: “And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone [of the tomb] and sat on it” (Matthew 28:2). That is why, when the first women came to the tomb, they found it empty and the stone rolled away.
A few weeks after these events, one of Jesus’ closest followers, Peter, spoke to crowds of people in Jerusalem about what had happened. He told them:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:22-24).
For Peter, the resurrection of Jesus was God’s response to the crucifixion. It was His way of declaring that Jesus was indeed His Son.
Peter said it was ‘not possible for him to be held’ by the grave. What exactly did he mean by these words?
He reminded his hearers that Jesus lived a life of complete obedience to God. Death is the penalty for breaking God’s laws, which the Bible calls sin (Romans 6:23). Jesus never sinned, so he did not deserve to be put to death. He volunteered to die, sacrificing himself to save sinners like us. If God had left a sinless man in the grave, it would have been a serious injustice. But the grave had no power to hold him, and God raised him to immortal life on the third day.
Peter went on to quote from Psalm 16. This time he uses a Greek word, hades, to refer to the grave.
“For David says concerning [Jesus]… ‘For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption…’ Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:25-32).
Peter takes the words of Psalm 16 and applies them to Jesus Christ. He was the only perfectly faithful human being, so God responded by raising him from the dead. Because Jesus was, like us, a ‘son of man’, he could not ascend to God’s right hand until he had been changed from mortal to immortal in the early hours of the third day.
The witness of the Old Testament
One of the most powerful witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus is the Old Testament. Jesus always insisted that what had happened to him was not chance. His death and resurrection had been foretold in the Jewish scriptures centuries before he was born. As Peter puts it:
“..this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).
It is only through the death and resurrection of a sinless man, and our faith in him, that God graciously forgives our sins and permits us to escape from the grave ourselves, at the return of Jesus.
One of the clearest of these predictions is the one quoted by Peter on the Day of Pentecost. The psalmist David lived 1000 years before Christ. Yet he says confidently that the body of his Lord would be buried, but would not see corruption. It would rise before that could happen, and he would go to the right hand of God.
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol [the Old Testament word for the grave], or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:9-11).
Then there is Jesus’ repeated statement that he would only be dead for three days. He said he would give his enemies the sign of the prophet Jonah. Jonah was three days in the stomach of a great fish, and then cast out onto the beach alive. So, said Jesus:
“just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).
This statement was quoted by Jesus’ enemies during his trial.
Clearly, no one has any power to change what happens after they are dead. Normally when you are buried, that is where you stay. But Jesus knew from the Old Testament that in his case things would be different.
After Jesus’ resurrection
As we have seen, the risen Lord Jesus appeared to his followers several times. He gave them signs of his tangible, physical presence with them. He showed them the marks of the crucifixion in his hands and side. He invited the doubting disciple Thomas to touch his wounds, and he ate meals with his disciples on more than one occasion.
However, at the same time the resurrected Jesus was somehow different. His disciples sometimes failed to recognise him when they met him (Luke 24:16, John 21:4), and he was able to appear and disappear at will, sometimes through locked doors (Luke 24:31, John 20:19). This indicates that during his resurrection Jesus had been changed from mortal to immortal. He had conquered death for ever. In the words of the apostle:
“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Romans 6:9).
Eventually, forty days after his resurrection, Jesus was taken from his disciples into heaven: “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
As we have noted, the resurrection of Jesus was not like previous miracles of resurrection, such as the one which he had earlier performed on Lazarus. Lazarus remained mortal after his resurrection – he would die again. But it is clear from the Gospel accounts that Jesus had undergone a profound change. His voice and personality were the same, but there was a difference. Jesus was no longer limited by time and space. He had been given what the apostle Paul refers to as a ‘spiritual body’ (1 Corinthians 15:44). Now he was available to be with his disciples everywhere, and for all time. Matthew records some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
After Jesus’ ascension into heaven the early disciples had a very real sense of Jesus’ presence with them, guiding and directing the growth of the early church. Paul himself had a vision of the risen Jesus, which set him on a new path as a Christian missionary. The New Testament book of Acts goes on to record how Paul and the other apostles were guided by “the Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:7) in their missionary work.
The resurrection of Christ, then, was not just a one-off historical event. It was an event with enormous consequences.
Firstly, it meant that Jesus himself had been given eternal life.
Secondly, it meant that he was now ‘exalted’ – given a new position and status. For his disciples he was no longer simply ‘Master’ or ‘Teacher’, but ‘Lord’. As Paul writes:
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Thirdly, his ascension into heaven meant that Christians could now worship and approach God through him.
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Fourthly, the power and presence of the risen, exalted Lord Jesus became available to all believers, transforming and shaping their lives of faith. Paul prayed that each believer might experience “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:19-20).
Lastly, the resurrection of Jesus is the key to eternal life for his followers. He has conquered the grave. He said:
“I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.(Revelation 1:17, 18).
Jesus’ resurrection and the meaning of baptism
In his writings, Paul spells out what we need to do to be saved. To begin with, he says, would-be Christians must identify themselves with Jesus’ death and resurrection through the act of baptism. For Paul and the early Christians, baptism always meant a complete immersion in water. Passing through the water, believers showed their faith in the power of Christ’s sacrifice to wash away their sins. Coming out again, they began a ‘new life’ in Jesus, putting their past behind them. Baptism is a symbolic burial, followed by a symbolic resurrection. As Paul says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
As a result of this new beginning, believers seek to live a new kind of life. Paul writes, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). Christian life brings with it a responsibility to live according to the ideals which Jesus had shown.
So as Paul constantly emphasises, the power of Jesus’ resurrection was not just the basis for conversion to Christianity. It shaped the whole Christian life. The Christian life will not be easy. But through the presence of the risen Lord Jesus in their lives, believers gain strength to face life’s challenges. They can receive forgiveness in times of failure. They are assured of help in times of difficulty. And they can rejoice in the blessing of knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ, along with other believers worldwide.
Resurrection: the Christian hope
The New Testament writings are full of expressions of joy, even in the face of suffering and persecution. The knowledge that God loves us, and the company of fellow believers, is a great comfort here and now. But for Paul and the other New Testament writers the real reward is always in the future. Christianity is all about hope. The greatest consequence of Jesus’ resurrection is yet to come.
The Bible says that death and disease and war and strife are the result of sin, or human wickedness. By his perfect life and obedience, Jesus overcame sin. Because of this, those who have faith in Jesus and are baptised into his death can receive forgiveness of sins from God.
We have seen that because Jesus overcame sin, it was not possible for the grave to hold him. But God did not only plan to raise Jesus. As Paul writes, God intended that Jesus should be “the firstborn among many brothers [and sisters]” (Romans 8:29). Those who trust in Jesus will not only be freed from sin; they will also ultimately be freed from death, the consequence of sin. Paul says: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:5).
When Jesus ascended into heaven, two angels told his followers, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). The Christian message promises that Jesus will return to the earth to rule over the nations and bring peace and blessing. In that day, believers in Jesus will be raised from the dead, as Paul explains:
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
For Christians, death is a ‘sleep’ from which they can hope to be awakened at Christ’s return. There will even be Christians who will not be asleep, that is, they will be alive at Christ’s coming. But those who are raised and those who are alive will all be ‘changed’. Like Jesus they will receive immortal bodies. They will be freed from the ravages of disease and death, and the failures of human sin. The process of transformation which began at their baptism will be complete.
This is a great hope. Like Jesus after his resurrection, we will retain our identities, but at the same time our bodies will become “like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Then we will truly share in the power of Christ’s resurrection.
We have seen that Bible teaching on resurrection is based on the conviction that God is faithful to those who love Him. The resurrection of believers is the ultimate expression of his love. He will not abandon them to the grave. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s assurance that this is a hope we can believe in.
“Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23).
- On the third day after Jesus’ death, his tomb was undeniably empty.
- There is clear evidence that Jesus was seen alive on several occasions after his death.
- There is no plausible explanation for what happened to his body if he did not rise from the dead.
- Jesus repeatedly taught his disciples that he would rise from the dead after three days. This statement was remembered by his enemies at his trial.
- The Old Testament predicted the resurrection of Jesus, centuries before he was born.
- As a consequence of his resurrection and ascension to heaven, Jesus is able to help his followers in different epochs and in many countries as they face the problems of life.
- When Jesus returns in his Kingdom there will be a joyful resurrection of all those who have believed in him.