Is the Resurrection of Jesus truth or fantasy?
There is simply no way to overemphasize the importance of the Resurrection to the Christian faith, for the resurrection of Jesus is the Christian faith. Christianity stands or falls on the validity — the historical reality — of the Resurrection.
The Resurrection of Jesus is either the greatest event in the history of mankind, or it is the cruelest hoax that has ever been perpetrated. Which is it? Truth or fantasy?
The Unique Stamp of Christianity
Dr. Reagan: I have a friend in Lexington, Kentucky who calls cemeteries “Resurrection Ground.” I like that terminology, because the Bible teaches that a day is coming when these graves will be opened and those who have died with their faith placed in Jesus as Lord and Savior will come back to life and receive glorified, immortal bodies. What a glorious day that will be!
The Bible also says that the Christian hope of resurrection is based upon the resurrection of Jesus. The Apostle Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 15: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.” Peter makes a similar statement in 1 Peter chapter 1 where he states that the Christian hope is based on “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Based on these statements from Scripture, I don’t think it is any exaggeration to say that the resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Christianity stands or it falls on the assertion that Jesus rose from the dead.David Reagan: #Christianity stands or falls on the validity, the historical reality, of the #Resurrection. #Easter Click To Tweet
So, I think it is only proper to ask, “Is there any evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, or must it be accepted by blind faith?” And, if there is any evidence, what is it?
I’d like to begin our consideration of this epic event by taking a look at the preaching of the Apostles. Because the Resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, it was the central theme of the Apostles’ preaching. We are told, for example, in Acts 4, “with great power the Apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
Nathan Jones: And, on that day of Pentecost, when the Apostle Peter preached the first Gospel sermon, the focal point of his message was the Resurrection. He boldly proclaimed:
“The Man, Jesus of Nazareth, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to the cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, and put an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power”
Dr. Reagan: Likewise, the Apostle Paul made it crystal clear that the heart of the Gospel message was the Resurrection. He defined the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15 in the following terms. He wrote, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Nathan Jones: If you’ll turn to the book of Acts and read the sermons recorded there, you will find that the climax of each one is the assertion that Jesus had risen from the dead. It was this breathtaking, miraculous fact that energized and motivated the Apostles to preach the Gospel fearlessly.
Dr. Reagan: There’s no doubt about it. And, again, the Apostles focused on this event because they presented the fact of the Resurrection as the event that sets Christianity apart from all other world religions.
Nathan Jones: Yes, the Resurrection is the unique stamp of Christianity, for only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder. No resurrection has ever been claimed for Abraham, Buddha, Confucius, or even Mohammed.
Dr. Reagan: As Paul puts it in Romans 1, “Jesus was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.” In other words, it is the Resurrection that validates Jesus as God in the flesh.
Nathan Jones: There’s just no way to get around the fact that the Resurrection of Jesus is either one of the most wicked, vicious, and heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, or it is the most fantastic truth of history!
Dr. Reagan: Amen! It has to be one or the other: truth or fantasy. I believe it is the truth.
In the second part of this series on the reality of the Resurrection, we’ll look at possible locations for the tomb where Christ was buried.