|The Resurrected Christ|
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is either the greatest event, or the greatest fraud in history!
Did Christ actually rise from the dead?
The crucified Christ
In order to answer that, let's go back to that scene nearly 2,000 years ago. That eerie night in the garden of Gethsemane, as a blood-thirsty mob came and arrested Christ. He was brought before Pilate, and there in plain view, He was spit upon, cursed, he was laughed at, whipped, beaten. He was branded a blasphemer. And He was sentenced to die by the most extreme, shameful form of capital punishment ever devised - crucifixion. Galatians 3:13 reads, "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree".
Jesus Christ died a curse. He died as a criminal. He died in open shame and disgrace. In the eyes of the world, Jesus Christ died a total disgrace!
And there stood His apostles - in stunned unbelief. Here was their hope. Here were 11 men that had forsaken all and followed this man. They believed in him for three years. Can you imagine what was going on in their minds? Didn't He heal the sick? Didn't we see Him walk on water? Didn't we see Him raise people from the dead? Didn't we see Him still the raging storm? And for it to all end like this? That night, there stood 11 defeated and confused men!
Mark 14:50, says, " Then all the disciples left him and fled".
There was the apostle Peter, the one who had boasted, just days earlier, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." (Matthew 26:35) There he was that night, standing in the mob, defeated, confused, and hurt. Jesus was dead! One of the women in the crowd saw Peter and said, "you were one of them, you was with Jesus of Nazareth". The Bible says "he began to curse and to swear, saying, a curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”." (Mark 14:71) Three times Peter denied the Lord, cursing and swearing, "I know not this man".
"And they all forsook him, and fled!"
But something happened
Something happened to that small band of frightened and humiliated men. Less than two months later they went back into Jerusalem boldly preaching, at the threat of death, that Jesus Christ is alive!
Listen to Peter in Acts 2 "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead…”
What transformed these fearful and confused men into fierce, bold lions?
What was it that beatings, threatening, jail, torture and even death could not silence? In Acts 5, they were put in jail and beaten, and verse 41 says "And they departed. . . rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name".
What had these 11 men seen that they would eventually die a horrible death for?
There is only one event in the history of this universe that could explain such a change.
The resurrected Christ
One theory suggests the apostles fabricated the resurrection. Two major problems: One, if the body of Jesus Christ was available, you'd better believe, the Roman authorities would have paraded His body for all to see. Christianity was spreading like a wild fire! And nothing could have quenched that flame quicker than the body of Jesus Christ!
An article, suggesting Jesus faked His death and resurrection, appeared in the prestigious British Journal of the Royal College of Physicians. The article makes the assertion, "the whole episode was planned by Jesus and his followers, that death would be feigned so that early removal from the cross might be secured."
Do you know the problem with that? If the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not true there were 11 men that knew it!
Remember, these men were eyewitnesses! They were there!
"We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty."2 Peter 1:16
And these men went so far as seal their testimony with their blood! They died a horrible and martyrs death! For a lie, knowing it was a lie! There is no way, these 11 men could have all been deceived.
If the resurrection of Jesus Christ a lie they knew it!
You cannot find a group of 11 men in the history of this universe who forsook all, were beaten, were jailed and even went so far as die for a lie - knowing it was a lie!
"It is impossible"
Michael Green, principal of St. John's College, Nottingham, writes concerning the apostles, ". . . You could imprison them, flog them, kill them, but you could not make them deny their conviction that on the third day he rose again." Dr. Greenleaf wrote, "IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus Christ actually risen from the dead!"
Professor Thomas Arnold, former chair of history at Oxford, and author of the famous volumes History of Rome was skilfully educated in the study of historical facts. Professor Arnold, stated, "I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead."
After investigating the evidence of the resurrection, Lord Darling, former Chief Justice of England, stated, ". . . there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true."
Saul the persecutor
And then there's the man called Saul of Tarsus.
Saul of Tarsus thought Jesus was a false messiah, a fake, a blasphemer. And to exterminate Christianity totally, became his passion! The Bible describes him: But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison." (Acts 8:3)
Saul of Tarsus was one of Christianity’s most rabid persecutors. One day traveling the dusty road to Damascus, Saul was burning with vengeance, with documents authorizing him to capture all the followers of Jesus. But on the road to Damascus something happened to Saul of Tarsus.
"As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!” (Acts 9:3-5)
And on the road to Damascus, the greatest conversion in history took place! For Saul of Tarsus, among the greatest enemies of Jesus Christ, that ever lived - became the Apostle Paul - the greatest Christian that ever lived.
Saul the apostle
What could so transform this man that he completely dedicated his life to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ? He went on to be beheaded at Rome in 67 A.D. for his faith in Jesus Christ.
There is only one possible explanation - the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
- Dr Terry Watkins Ph.D.