One of the most important core beliefs of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As Paul says in the Bible, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." (1 Corinthians 15:17)
The foundation of Christianity is so closely intertwined with the resurrection of Jesus, that it is almost guaranteed Christianity wouldn't exist without it, because the message of the gospel was (and is) a message of a resurrected savior.
"If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.
We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Chris...But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead..." (1 Corinthians 15:14-15; 20)
If there is no resurrection of Jesus Christ, then there is no Christianity. The entire message depends on this one event (an event that has much evidence supporting its occurrence).
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Jesus' followers came to believe he was the messiah. And after all the miracles Jesus performed, and all that he said, who wouldn't believe he was the messiah?
However, the thing about the messiah, is he wasn't supposed to die (at least that's they thought, because they were thinking too small).
At the time, the Roman Empire had conquered and oppressed the Jews (as well as almost everyone else in the area), thus many of the Jews thought the foretold Messiah would finally come to save them from the Romans (so then a dead savior is of no use).
However, God's plan was much more massive.
His genius plan wasn't bound to the temporary troubles or oppression of this one time period. Nor was God's plan even about the Roman oppression.
God's plan was about a far greater problem: Sin.
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When God first created humanity, He gave us the choice to decide.
Without this choice, we could not freely love him (it isn't love if the person doesn't have a choice).
Thus, God wanted us to have the ability to choose to love and obey Him (which allowed the possibility of choosing to disobey).
However, when we were tricked into disobeying God, by the devil (another being that was given free choice and chose to disobey God), we allowed sin to enter into our world.
Ever since this "Fall", God has been on a "mission" to redeem us and the rest of his creation.
This mission has been a master-plan that has been spread throughout the course of history (a feat only God could do).
And the plan is so genius that only a God-like mind could have come up with it. God's ways are so contrary to what most of humanity tends to lean towards, which is sin and evil.
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Sin is a very serious thing. It's punishable by death.
God is the one who gave life, and disobeying Him is so serious that it deserves that the gift of life be taken away from the disobedient and wicked.
However, God in His divine mercy didn't take away life immediately. Instead, He continues to give life.
God hasn't "done this" to us. We have chosen it from the beginning.
And yet God continues to encourage us to choose life. Even way back when God first gave the ten
He told the children of Israel to choose life.
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live..." (Deuteronomy 30:19)
So what did the resurrection accomplish?
Jesus fulfilled God's law, because he lived without sin, and so when he (completely perfect and innocent) died on the cross, his death acted as a sacrifice taking the place of the death that sinners (we) deserve.
However, it didn't just stop there. Jesus didn't just redeem us through his death, he defeated death, by being raised from the dead permanently.
Through the resurrection, the savior of humanity, Jesus Christ, defeated death and became, as Paul puts it: "the first fruits of those who have died.
For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam (the first man who sinned), so all will be made alive in Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
Jesus Christ being raised from the dead accomplished the destruction of death, which is the last enemy and the last part of sin to be defeated.
And so Jesus, before being crucified and raised, said "This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day." (John 6:40)
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In the Bible, there are many cases of people being raised from the dead, such as Lazarus:
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. (John 11:17)
When he (Jesus) had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." (John 11:43-44)
And nowadays, it is not unheard of for someone to medically die and be brought back to life. So what makes Jesus being raised from the dead so special?
Why is the resurrection of Jesus so unique?
Well, when others were raised from the dead, they eventually died again. After all, Lazarus obviously still isn't alive and walking around. He eventually died.
And when Lazarus was raised from the dead, he still had a normal human body.
However, Jesus didn't have a normal human body when he was raised from the dead. He was able to enter in and out of buildings without the use of a door (like a ghost).
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19)
However, Jesus wasn't a ghost. You could actually touch him.
"Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." (Luke 24:39)
In addition, the risen Christ ate food, and otherwise was very real, just like any other human. (John 21:9-15)
Thus, after Jesus was raised from the dead, he had a solid body, but it wasn't like a normal human body. This body was immortal...and different in a way that we do not yet fully know.
This is what we call resurrection. Something that has only happened to Jesus, at least so far, since Jesus says, "I will raise them up on the last day." (John 6:40)
Other people who were brought back to life ended up dying again (eventually). So, rather than resurrected, they were just resuscitated back to life (just like what happens when someone dies in a hospital and is brought back to life).
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Many people want to know
"Can it be proven scientifically?"
But this question is completely irrelevant.
We cannot scientifically prove that you ate dinner a year ago. We cannot scientifically prove that 9/11 happened.
We can't scientifically prove a lot of things.
"But wait!" you say. "We have videos! We have stories! We were alive when it happened!"
Yes. But that's not science. And having videos doesn't scientifically prove it.
That's because science isn't the only kind of evidence there is. We are talking about a different kind of evidence, called historical-proof evidence.
This is the kind of evidence they use to determine past events, and it is used to solve crimes all the time when they need a witness to tell what they saw.
For history, written documents are often used to determine the accuracy of events.
So, if someone asks "Can it be proven scientifically?" You can let them know (nicely) they are asking an irrelevant question, and explain why.
So with the resurrection;
Yes, it had to have happened, not because the Christian faith depends on it, but because there is so much historical evidence saying it did.
We are talking about, literally, one of the most well documented events in history.
In addition, the message spread too fast, too far, and the number of Christians grew too large too quickly to be just a fake story (and there were so many witnesses of the resurrected Christ).
Nothing even compares to the speed, growth, and life change as the beginning of Christianity (or even the continual growth of Christianity, which is the world's largest religion with over 2 billion).
And the power behind the message produced too many changed lives, and too many miracles to prove itself. Too many people completely realigned their orientation towards life (giving evidence that there is something supernatural behind it).
Not to mention the hundreds of people who supposedly actually saw Jesus after his resurrection. There are just too many witnesses for it have been fake.
"Then he (Jesus) appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died." (1 Corinthians 15:6)
And the gospels, after they had been written down, spread so far and there became so many copies before 100 AD (without many errors either!), that no historian could be honest with himself and say the gospel wasn't true.
Two excellent documents to look into are
Can the Bible Be Trusted
The Best-Documented Document of Them All
(opens in new window)
Usually there needs to be only 5 copies of a document to be considered reliable, but the New Testament has over 5,000 pieces of evidence dating before 100 AD in several different languages. That's remarkable!
No other event in history can even come close to having that much evidence!
(At the very least, no honest non-Christian historian could deny that these people honestly believed they had seen the risen Christ. And that those people were so convinced and convincing that thousands of others became Christians.)
(And those who are honest with themselves generally become Christians, because if it is true about who Jesus is and what's told about him...then that changes everything.)
There's just too much evidence saying the resurrection and everything about Jesus is true.
(And historians who aren't Christians believe without a doubt that other events happened with evidence that doesn't even compare to the massive amounts of evidence for the resurrection).
It's the content of the message (a resurrected savior) that makes many non-Christian historians refuse to be honest with themselves and ignore all the evidence.
(And unfortunately, many people don't listen to the opinions of those who didn't believe in God, but then became Christian when they decided to be honest with themselves.)
One such person who heavily researched Christianity and finally became a Christian is Josh McDowell. His book More Than a Carpenter
is very insightful.
And the Dead Sea Scrolls, when they were discovered, offered even more support for the accuracy and reliability of the Bible.
Not to mention the fact that there is evidence of Jesus outside of the Bible, such as the historian Josephus who was alive during the time.
Some say the resurrection is better documented than any other fact in history (and with 5000+ documents dated before 100 AD, that sounds about right).
People doubt only because it tells a story of something miraculous.
And they don't want to believe it's true, because that means they're wrong about whatever they already believe.
And anyone like that will ignore all the evidence in the world, no matter how convincing it is.
Instead, let's allow the evidence (and witnesses) tell us what really happened, rather than us tell the evidence it's false because we think miracles can't happen.
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