Is Jesus’s resurrection something only fools believe? Is it fake news spread by His overzealous followers? Or is the resurrection of Jesus Christ the single most important event in history that has tremendous implications for our lives today?
One reason we know that Jesus’s resurrection is fact and not fiction is the proof of logic. Since it is a historical fact that the body of Jesus has never been found, it is logical to ask, “Who stole Jesus’ body from the tomb?” Matthew 27:62–66 records what the Jewish leaders said to Pilate after Jesus’s crucifixion: “‘Give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.’ And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.”
Notice how Jesus’s grave was protected. First, they set a Roman seal. This seal had the authority of Rome—anyone who broke the seal would face the full wrath of the Roman government. Second, they appointed a Roman guard unit, which was comprised of at least 16 highly trained Roman soldiers, to make sure that the body of Jesus stayed put.
So how did Jesus’s body get out of the tomb? Either man took Him out, or God took Him out.
Did Christ’s friends steal His body? Remember, the disciples had fled when Jesus was arrested, fearing they would suffer a similar fate. His friends lacked the courage to overpower an entire Roman guard unit.
Some people say the Jewish leaders or Roman soldiers stole His body. That makes even less sense. If Jesus’s enemies had His body, they could have paraded it through the streets of Jerusalem, and the Christian movement would have died at its inception.
The only answer is that God is the One who rescued His Son from the grave.
Another sign of Christ’s resurrection is the proof of human nature. We all have an instinct for self-preservation. Consider the disciples. On Good Friday, they deserted Christ, but within 48 hours they became courageous defenders of Christianity. What changed in that short amount of time? They saw the resurrected Lord.
Third, consider the proof of early acceptance of the resurrection story. Liberal scholars used to claim that the New Testament was written many decades after Jesus and was, therefore, subject to embellishments like the resurrection. However, scholars now accept that most of the New Testament was written between AD 40 and 65, making the addition of fictitious events highly unlikely.
Suppose a book were published today that said three days after Ronald Reagan’s death, he arose from his grave in Simi Valley and was seen by hundreds of people. The book’s credibility would be destroyed because of eyewitnesses to the events surrounding Reagan’s death who are still alive. Similarly, the fact that the New Testament was written within a few years of the events it reports—and accepted as fact—supports its authenticity.
Finally, consider the proof of eyewitnesses. In 1 Corinthians 15:6, Paul said more than 500 people saw the resurrected Christ. Some dismiss these experiences as wish fulfillment. However, had the disciples believed Jesus’s resurrection was imminent, they would have camped out at the tomb in anticipation! They weren’t expecting to see Christ again, but they did. And they were so convinced of what they saw that most of them experienced martyrs’ deaths. Millions of people around the world still endure persecution and death because of their life-changing encounters with the resurrected Jesus Christ.
What are the implications of Christ’s resurrection in our lives today? The apostle Paul wrote that Jesus “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). The resurrection is the most powerful proof that Jesus really was who He claimed to be—the Son of God and Savior of the world, who offers forgiveness to those who trust in Him.
Jesus’s resurrection also gives us hope that death will not be the final word in our life stories. Jesus promised that those who trust in Him will also conquer death, just as He did on that first Easter Sunday. Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25).