Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
This all important question really needs to be answered. If the answer is yes it sets Him apart from all other religious leaders. No other group even claims that their leader has risen from the dead, and most of their graves are identifiable. Therefore, if Jesus is risen He is alive and is a worthy savior. It doesn’t make any sense to believe in a dead savior. How can anyone who is dead save anything? The apostle Paul made a statement that would define His life and death. 1 Corinthians 15:12-14, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.”
Paul made it clear that the resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith. Not only did he proclaim that Jesus had risen from the dead he also died for that belief. Paul was certainly not alone in the belief that Jesus in fact rose from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:5-7, “and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.”
We know that many of the apostles gave their lives for that belief. They were eyewitnesses of His resurrection. They touched Him and talked with Him. They have given us firsthand accounts of their experience. The fact that they died for that belief is strong evidence to the reality of His resurrection. You may say that people died often for beliefs that are not true. It is one thing to believe something so strong that you may give your life for that belief, it is entirely another thing to be an eyewitness to something and die for that belief. Why would all these men die for something they knew was a lie? What motive could possibly move them to sacrifice their lives for a deception. We know that they continued to preach the resurrection and the evidence is all over the world, in over a billion people who believe their testimony.
Is there any evidence outside of the Bible that is reliable for the resurrection? There is an account of a man named Tacitus. He has been called the greatest historian of ancient Rome. “But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians who were hated for their enormities, Christus, the founder of the same, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: that the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also.” This account is consistent with the Biblical record of the fact that Jesus lived, was crucified and rose from the dead. The account that the superstition was repressed for a time and then broke out again is likely referring to the resurrection.
Why is the resurrection so important? Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”.
He indeed is the risen Savior, and those who believe and receive Him as their Savior will have eternal life.
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
Pastor Leo Kruger of Valley Christian Fellowship is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.