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Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
He is risen! How do we know that he is risen? This is the question that I think many Christians have struggled with at one time or another. It is safe to say that none of us were alive when Christ walked the earth, when he was crucified, or when he rose from the grave. Since none of us were there then how can we be sure that this was true? How can we be sure that Jesus even existed? Similarly, how can we be sure that George Washington was really our first president of the United States. None of us were alive during that time. I don’t think there is anyone who would dispute whether George Washington our first president. The reason why is that there is enough documentation of eye witnesses that support this fact in History. No one would refute this claim about George Washington. The same is true about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 25:6-9 describes for us a prophecy about Jesus’ death. It describes the events that would take place on the earth and in the temple once he breathed his last. Isaiah says that “on this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.” When Jesus breathed his last breath, the mountain shook and the curtain or shroud that blocked out the nations from the holy of holies was finally broke in two and was destroyed. We know this because it is recorded in history by eye witnesses. What is more important is that we know these accounts to be true because there is no documentation refuting that any of this happened. All evidence and documentation both scriptural and secular reveal one, that a man named Jesus claiming to be the Son of God walked the earth and two, he was crucified by the Romans and three, he died under this torture of crucifixion. Not only that, the evidence and documentation show that there is an empty tomb.
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Paul recounts the evidences for why we can trust and believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he rose from the dead. This passage is essentially a creed that has been passed down through the generations of Christians stating why we believe and how we know we are saved. This is the Gospel that has been preached and Paul says that this is the Gospel by which we are saved if we hold firmly to this truth. Otherwise, our faith has been in vain. Paul states, “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), and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
Paul says that he is the least of the apostles and does not even deserve to be called an apostle because of the persecution that he brought upon the believers in Christ. A man who so hated these Christians and was so feared by them all within an instant changed his ways. It only makes sense that he would have had to have seen the risen Lord to have made such a change. It is by God’s grace that Paul was who he was. This is the message that he and all the other apostles preach as witnesses to the risen Lord.
At the time in which Paul wrote all of these things about the resurrection there were still people living who were witnesses to the resurrection plus there would have been new generations of descendants of these witnesses that would collaborate this story. There is no evidence against these claims. Not even in secular documentation. Roman and Jewish historians all record the death of Jesus which proves that he did exist and was living in the world. Then they all record a sudden influx of these believers claiming that he rose from the dead. Not only that history records that there was in fact an empty tomb. The Jewish leaders acknowledged that the tomb was empty as they tried to spread the rumor that his followers stole the body. However, that story is unlikely as they have the tomb sealed and then guarded by soldiers which would made it impossible for any everyday person to attempt to steal the body. Plus, the soldiers would have faced death if they let any one through to steal the body. The point is that He is risen!
John tells the event of what took place on the morning of the first day of the week which would be the third day. “While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” Mary was the first witness to the tomb. She runs to Peter and John and tells them what she saw. They all then run back to the tomb and Peter enters in to see that it was empty. Jesus then appears before Mary. She was the first witness to see that he indeed was alive again. This is significant because all 4 Gospel accounts in some form or another state that the first witnesses to the empty tomb and the risen Lord were women. This collaborative documentation adds to the strength of the evidence of the risen Lord. The fact that women were the first to see also gives strength to the evidence as a women’s testimony had little value at the time of the culture. This shows us that the Gospel accounts must be telling the truth as no one would believe what a woman would say at the time.
There was a time in my life that I questioned the existence of God I did not want to believe that there could be a God as my school and education taught that this was just another religion of superstitions that people follow. I was taught that the only thing that we could truly believe in was the tangible evidence that exists. We know that sun is hot because we can feel it’s warmth. We know that gravity exists because we can feel it when we walk, run, or jump then we fall. At the time they tried to teach me that Christianity was a faith-based religion like all the others in the world with no evidence to back it up. However, this could not be farther from the truth. I had to learn later on that Christianity is the only religion if you really can call it this, that is not only faith based but it is evidence based. The evidence is all there that Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried. Finally, the evidence is there that the tomb is now empty and he rose from the dead. He appeared to witnesses and all their claims are irrefutable. By taking sin upon himself and experiencing death for us then conquering that death by coming back to life, Jesus has built before us a pathway to eternal life and salvation. There are witnesses to this. Now we too are also witnesses to the truth. We are witnesses to the Gospel message that has been passed down through the generations. He is Risen! Let us continue to be witnesses to his majesty and salvation to the world today.