The Easter story is declared by Paul in I Corinthians 15:3-7. Paul states that Christ died. He was buried. He was raised. He appeared. Paul’s creedal statement as recorded in I Corinthians dates back to early Christianity. It is written soon after the actual event took place, giving it significant credibility. Jesus’ resurrection is the pivotal aspect of the Easter story. Without the resurrection, the story would have no value. Easter would have no significance. There would be nothing to celebrate. In fact, without the resurrection, Christmas would have no significance. Many martyrs have died for a cause, but none has ever been raised to life again. At the time of Christ there were people then, as there are now, who did not believe the report of Christ’s resurrection. The hope of believers rests upon the truth of the resurrection. If Christ is not risen, our faith is worthless and we are still in our sins. In fact, if our hope in Christ is for this life only, believers are of all people most to be pitied (I Corinthians 15:17-19).
It is important to fully embrace the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. It is essential to salvation. If He did not rise from the dead, there would be no atonement for sin through His death and shed blood. He would be a martyr but not the Savior -- our one and only hope of God’s grace and forgiveness. There have been many books and articles written by Godly men concerning evidence for a literal resurrection. There have also been many things written to challenge it. It is a worthwhile topic of research. Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell, began as an effort to disprove that the Bible is true and is the Word of God and to prove that Jesus is not the Messiah, the Son of God. Josh was a hardened and angry young college student at a secular university when some Christian students reached out with love and shared the salvation message with him. In his efforts to prove that they were wrong, he became a believer in Christ. He set out to prove that the resurrection of Christ did not happen. He found evidence that convinced him that it did. Speaking of the experience later, he stated that being convinced of the truth of Christ’s resurrection did not save him. The necessary next step was to accept Christ as his personal Savior.
To be a Christ follower we must first believe the reality of the resurrection and then embrace it for ourselves. Without both mind and heart involved, we remain lost. Mental acceptance of the truth of Scripture is the starting point. Our heart and soul must also surrender to Jesus. We must embrace it for ourselves and be “all in” -- willing to serve Him and prioritize Him above anything and anyone else – even to the point of being willing to die for Him.
Easter is a time of joy and celebration, and it is also a time of reflection. I have experienced religious freedom in America all my life. What if that changes? Will I be able to stand secure and confident in my faith when persecution comes? Will I have the courage of my convictions and feel the urgency of needing to bring others to Him? Will I be bold enough to witness to others who, without Christ, are destined for hell?
We need to be confident in what we believe about Jesus, God, and the Bible. Everything else depends on it. Before we can take a stand for God, His Word, Jesus and the Resurrection, we must be confident in what we believe. We must daily put on the Armor of God, and then confidently stand firm.
There is much evidence for the Resurrection, including:
1. The tomb was empty with the cloth wrappings and carefully-folded head cloth left behind.
2. The risen Christ was seen in His resurrection body on at least 12 separate occasions by more than 500 witnesses.
3. All the eye witness accounts were consistent and communicated soon after the events.
4. The apostle Paul made many references to Jesus’ resurrection.
May I encourage you to check out Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell and also The Case for Easter: A Journalist Investigates the Evidence for the Resurrection, by Lee Strobel. Also, there is a helpful website: Reasons to Believe, “A Dozen Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus” at www.reasons.org.
He is Risen Indeed,