Resurrection of Jesus: Why It’s Important!
The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Christian faith. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he declares:
“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.” (1 Corinthians 15:14-15).
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17). As it turns out, no legitimate scholar or religion today denies that Jesus was a historical figure who walked the earth approximately 2,000 years ago, was a great teacher and miracle worker, and who died on a cross for the crime of blasphemy. Therefore, the only legitimate dispute is whether Jesus was the Son of God who was resurrected from the dead after His crucifixion.
Resurrection of Jesus: Eyewitness Testimonies
The resurrection of Jesus is challenged today on evidentiary grounds. Therefore, to be fair, the evidence should be judged like any other historical event. Based on standard rules of evidence, consistent eye-witness testimony from multiple credible witnesses would be considered the strongest form of evidence available to a litigant. Therefore, if we find such testimony present in credible accounts of the historical record of Christ’s resurrection, we have satisfied a major evidentiary challenge under traditional rules. In fact, we do have multiple eye-witness testimonies regarding the resurrection of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, Paul established the following:
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.”
Manuscript studies indicate that this was a very early creed of the Christian faith, written within a few years after the death of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it’s dramatic that Paul ends the passage with “most of whom are still living.” Paul was inviting people to check out the facts. He wouldn’t have included a statement like that if he was trying to hide something like a conspiracy, hoax, myth or legend.
Resurrection of Jesus: More Eye-witness Accounts
The resurrection of Jesus was also declared in numerous other accounts, including the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene (John 20:10-18), to other women (Matthew 28:8-10), to Cleopas and his companion (Luke 24:13-32), to eleven disciples and others (Luke 24:33-49), to ten apostles and others (excluding Thomas) (John 20:19-23), to the apostles (including Thomas) (John 20:26-30), to seven apostles (John 21:1-14), to the disciples (Matthew 28:16-20), and to the apostles on the Mount of Olives (Luke 24:50-52 and Acts 1:4-9). The ultimate test of credibility for these eye-witnesses was that many of them faced martyrdom for their eye-witness testimony. This is dramatic! These witnesses knew the truth. What could they possibly gain by dying for a known lie? The evidence speaks for itself, these weren’t just religious faithful dying for a religious belief, these were followers of Jesus Christ dying for a historical event – His resurrection that established Him as the Son of God.