One would think that, at a time in history when we enjoy greater, easier, and faster communication than ever before, our messaging would be the most accurate.
It isn’t working out that way for us. Instant communication has enabled some to disseminate all kinds of rumors, theories, and downright untruths. Since these wild yarns can appear on our devices and may be circulated widely, even by famous people, they are given a credence they do not deserve.
But truth still endures, including truth accurately reported from the past. We just celebrated the greatest event in human history: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We know about this event through the the meticulously-recorded eyewitness testimony of multiple people.
The resurrection of Jesus was reported not as myth, theory, or fable, but as good news: as fact that all but one of the original disciples was put to death for proclaiming.
The apostle Paul summarizes the evidence for the best news we will ever hear in this way:
For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the Twelve. Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
Within 30 years of these events, written documentation existed for Jesus’ resurrection, which we can easily read today in the Bible. Here the apostle summarizes the good news and documents its veracity.
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”. Many eyewitnesses saw Jesus suffer brutality by both Jewish and Roman authorities. He was crucified, gave up His Spirit, and was declared dead by Roman soldiers, who knew what death was all about. Jesus was buried, His body wrapped in a cocoon of linen bandages and over 75 pounds of sticky and powdery spices. His grave was sealed with a massive stone and guarded by a detachment of Roman troops.
But none of those restraints, including death itself, could hold Jesus in the grave. The disciples found the stone rolled away, the grave wrappings undisturbed but empty. Jesus appeared bodily to the disciples and many others over a 40-day time span. The greatest number that saw Jesus at once was a gathering of 500. Paul invites his readers to seek out these eyewitnesses and verify his account. If the early disciples had been spreading fables or theories, they would have been quickly exposed and dismissed.
The resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal event of history, and of each of our lives. Jesus died not as a zealot, nor as a leader of a political movement gone wrong, but “for our sins according to the Scriptures”. Jesus, God’s only Son, offered Himself as full payment for us as sinners— for all our words, deeds, and thoughts that have fallen short of God’s glorious standard.
His resurrection verifies not only forgiveness for all who believe, but a new life now and a new destiny after this life is over. We can trust our lives to Jesus, and believe the good news— no theory, this.