The Easter season is a joyous celebration of hope and new life that unites Christians all around the globe, and has had a profound effect on the world we live in. Although our reflections on Jesus' death and Resurrection may be dismissed by some as simply being trite religious devotion, they point to events that are firmly rooted in human history.|
Think for a moment about the objections raised by skeptics: "Churches are full of hypocrites." "Religion has caused wars and atrocities." "If that's what Christianity is all about, I want no part of it." But that is not what Christianity is all about. I certainly do not deny that some heinous things have been done in Christ's name, but that is totally irrelevant to the ultimate truth of Christianity, as none of these things can undo the historical reality of the Resurrection.
On numerous occasions, prominent scholars have researched this topic, and to the surprise of many, have strongly verified the historicity of the Gospel accounts. For example, Dr. Simon Greenleaf, who was the Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University, was considered one of the world's top authorities on legal evidences. After applying this expertise to the Resurrection, he concluded that it was, in fact, an historical fact. His research is available in a book called "The Testimony of the Evangelists." Furthermore, British lawyer Frank Morrison set out to write a book repudiating the Resurrection and instead found the evidence so overwhelming he became a believer himself! His findings can be read in his book, "Who Moved The Stone?" Similarly, journalist Lee Strobel began his quest as a skeptic attempting to discredit the Christian faith, but wound up having his own life-changing encounter with the risen Jesus. His story is told in the popular book "The Case For Christ."
One of the most striking evidences for the Resurrection is its immediate impact on the religious world of the day. With the founding of the church in 32 AD, we see a sudden change in the day of worship. This is significant because all of the early Christians were Jews coming from a strict background of observing the seventh day Sabbath. Once they became Christians, however, they made their day of worship Sunday, the first day of the week, to commemorate Christ's Resurrection on that day. It would have taken a very significant event to altar such a deeply seated tradition.
In addition, we see new ordinances (baptism and communion) practiced from the very beginning of church history as reminders of His death and Resurrection. The First Century Church has also left numerous other monuments, such as hymns, art and church readings done in honor of the Resurrected Christ.
This brings us to the strongest evidence of all: The fact that the risen Jesus was seen alive by over 500 eye witnesses! Jesus' post-Resurrection appearances are verified not only by the Bible, but by secular history as well. Josephus writes: "...he appeared to them alive on the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him." If these appearances were a delusion, how could this many people testify to the exact same thing? This is especially significant when we consider that many of them were tortured and killed for bearing witness to it. Would people endure this for something they knew to be false? We also see the dramatic conversions of two previous skeptics: James, brother of Jesus and a brilliant scholar named Saul of Tarsus, who we now know as the mighty apostle Paul.
Furthermore, Paul also states that most of these 500 witnesses were still alive at the time (1 Corinthians 15:6). In other words, the reader could easily ask them about the things they had seen.
The Resurrection narratives strike at the very core of who we are as human beings. We gaze into a loved one's coffin knowing full well that one day we are destined to be there ourselves. Until the fear of death is dealt with, we will never truly learn to live. May the hope and beauty of the Easter message be a reality in your life this season, and always.