In April 23 IssueBy Linda Stephens, Columnist
Favorite Thing… the book “More Than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell. I’ve got Vickie Jo Irvin to thank for introducing me to this book several years ago. Josh thought Christians were out of their minds. He put them down. He argued against their faith. Then he began studying to prove the Bible and its claims about Jesus were false. In the end, he had to acknowledge the Bible and what it said about Jesus was true. It changed his life. I learned a lot and my faith was strengthened after reading this book. Thank you Vickie Jo for telling me about this book, now one of my favorite things.
The Evidence for Christ’s Resurrection. Again this week, I’m using an article “The Resurrection: Myth or History” written by Norman L. Geisler, published in the April 2011 issue of Decision Magazine. Last week I shared about the evidence for Jesus’s death. And there is a lot.
The word used to describe the evidence was “overwhelming”. Well, what about the evidence for His physical resurrection? Again, the answer is “overwhelming” evidence. First, remember that the tomb was sealed and then guarded by Roman soldiers. This same tomb was found empty a few days later. The same physical body that was placed in the tomb, left the tomb alive and permanently. (See Matthew 28:6) Secondly, the same body that had been placed there, crucifixion scars and all, appeared for the next 40 days to more than 500 people on 12 different occasions.
During these appearances, Jesus proved that He was raised in the same physical body in which He died.
He did so, by revealing He had flesh and bones, by showing His crucifixion scars and by challenging Thomas to touch His wounds. The Bible tells us about four occasions where He ate physical food. Mary and the other women touched Him. He could be seen with the naked eye and heard with natural ears. He taught his disciples for 40 days and performed miracles in their presence.
Peter, an apostle and eyewitness of Jesus’ death and resurrection, declared: ”We did not follow cleverly devised stories”(2 Peter 1:16) And John added, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”(John1:1-3)
Jesus was a well known figure in Israel and many people knew His burial site.
Three of gospels- Matthew, Mark, and John- record the exact location. Both Roman and Jewish sources testify that the tomb was found empty on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion. Matthew 28:12-13 specifically states that the chief priests invented the story that the disciples stole the body.
There would be no need for this fabrication if the tomb had not been empty. And the preaching of the apostles would not have lasted if the tomb had not been empty because, the Jewish authorities could have easily put an end to Christianity by producing Jesus’ body.
The gospels also record that while Jesus was on trial, the disciples deserted Him because they were afraid. Terrified, is more like it. Then just a few days later they returned to Jerusalem and began preaching that Jesus was the Messiah and had risen from the death. The disciples knew this message would bring them a life of suffering and even death. Ten out of the 11 remaining apostles after Judas’s death were martyred because they believed Jesus rose from the dead. Why in the world would they do this if they knew that Jesus had not risen from the dead? And why would thousands of people in Jerusalem abandon the tenets and practices of their faith and join the disciples in following Jesus?
Chuck Colson said (and this is not an exact quote) he knew the resurrection of Jesus was true because he and a few others had tried to stay together and say the same things when the Watergate scandal broke loose and they couldn’t do it. In a few days, they were going in different directions, saying different things about it.
Now the question to ask is:” What difference does the Resurrection make in our lives?” What difference does it make whether Jesus rose from the dead? In Jesus’ own words, “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:9) And the apostle Paul put it this way:” Jesus destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”(2 Timothy 1:10) If the sinless Son of God did not beat the rap of death, then we don’t have a ghost of a chance.
Because the resurrection of Jesus, and His resurrection alone, brings hope that our sins are paid for (Romans 4:25), death has been defeated (Hebrews 2:14) and we have the hope of eternal life when we repent and turn to Christ, accepting what He has done for us.
Of all the world’s religious leaders, Christ is the only one who died for our sins, defeated death and is alive forevermore. Confucius, Buddha and Muhammad are all dead.
Only their memory lives and their bodies have rotted in a grave. Only Christ left behind an empty tomb. Christians, alone have the living message for a dying world: that only Jesus can save them from sin. (John 14:6, Acts 4:12)
A favorite song of many Christians is “He Lives”.
The words are true and based on historical fact, not fiction. The song begins like this …”I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today. I know that He is living whatever men may say.” And ends with these words …”You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart.” That, dear readers, is the message of Easter.
In closing, remember there are many Easter programs and events in our community this weekend.
Most are open to the public. You don’t have to be a member of a church to attend one of their Easter events. I hope you and your family have a blessed Easter.
Till next week.