Historical, prophetic, and archaeological evidence confirms the resurrection of Jesus Christ – and it has absolutely nothing to do with the Easter bunny, chocolate or pastels!
The Case for Christ movie came out last year based on the outstanding bests-selling book by author and former atheist, Lee Strobel. He was a Chicago Tribune journalist who set out to disprove Christianity and traveled the world in an effort to do so.
He did meticulous research and interviewed the world’s top historians, theologians, and medical experts while examining the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Disappointed because he accumulated so much evidence supporting the Bible and none to refute the claims of Christianity, he sat in his office one day and a co-worker said to him:
“Lee, when is enough evidence enough evidence?”
His investigation was completed and Strobel became a born-again believer.
Many historians outside the Bible wrote about Jesus, about His followers, Pontius Pilate, key events and places; they wrote about the crucifixion – including the solar eclipse occurring for three of the hours Jesus was on the cross, a great earthquake, and the persecution of countless disciples of Christ.
Jewish non-biblical historian, Josephus writes about Jesus in “the Antiquities of the Jews.” Josephus was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A.D. Under the rule of Roman emperor Vespasian, Josephus mentions the execution of James and describes him as the brother of Jesus the Christ, and describes Jesus as a wise man and the messiah.
Sources outside the Bible could be reconstructed this way:
“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (believing). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared…”
And according to Old Testament scholar, Gleason Archer:
“As I have dealt with one apparent discrepancy after another and have studied the alleged contradictions between the biblical record and the evidence of linguistics, archaeology, or science, my confidence in the trustworthiness of Scripture has been repeatedly verified and strengthened…”
Those who are open to the truth can research for themselves. You’ll learn about the early dating of the New Testament documents compared to other ancient literary works; overwhelming archaeological evidence, hundreds of fulfilled prophecies listing specific details about Christ, and of course, plenty of eye-witness testimony not to mention the thousands of people through the centuries willing to die for the faith.
Acts 1:3 says Jesus presented Himself alive to the apostles after the crucifixion, by many convincing proofs, AND appeared to them over a period of forty days! What did Luke mean by “Many Convincing Proofs”?
To answer this question we need to go to the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
Why didn’t the Jews and Romans squash Christianity before it took off? First of all, we just read Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and that He appeared to more than 500 believers at the same time!
If this weren’t enough, Paul testified to the fact most of these people were still alive at the time this was written (verse 6) so it could not be refuted! There were far too many eye-witnesses of the risen Christ.
…then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 1 COR. 15:1-7
Weeks earlier, James was a skeptic. About the half-brother of Jesus, the Bible says “even His own brothers didn’t believe in Him.” But this James became a pillar in the early church and leader of the Jerusalem Council. Tradition holds that James was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ.
What changed his mind and radically transformed his life? The truth of the resurrection; Jesus appeared to James personally. Eye-witness testimony is critical in a court of law.
Others the risen Christ appeared to included Mary Magdalene, the other women, Peter, the disciples including Thomas, Cleopas and one other on the Emmaus road, in Galilee to over 500 people, and to Paul on the Damascus road. These are just those we know of from Scripture.
Then there’s prophecy: Seven hundred years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah said Jesus would be like a lamb led to slaughter, and:
He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah. 53:45
Christ offered Himself, voluntarily enduring brutal torture and death, so why do we call it ‘Good’ Friday and ‘Easter’? Because His shed blood washes us clean and because He lives, so will we! Those who believe are assured an everlasting Hope that anchors our souls.
Moreover, on what we know as Palm Sunday, the very gate Jesus rode through on a donkey the week prior to being crucified, the Eastern Gate, will be the gate through which He enters Jerusalem when He returns.
Who could have ever manufactured such an intricate story – a masterpiece combining thousands of years of historical events, written by at least 40 different authors on three different continents, including prophecies in perfect and specific detail? Who could have created and insured the carrying out of such an elaborate plan in advance?
It had to be God! Fulfilled prophecy reinforces the truth of Scripture.
Before His death on the cross, Jesus told His followers over and over what He came to accomplish and how it had to happen. In Luke’s gospel, after Jesus’ resurrection:
He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24:44-48
Examine the evidence – and believe!
(*article originally appeared on Freedom Project Media)