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Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?
According to eyewitnesses, a man named Jesus Christ demonstrated his power over death. They tell us that after he died on a cross and was buried, Jesus suddenly appeared to them alive on the third day. Then he was seen by other followers, including 500 people on a single occasion. Soon word spread everywhere that Jesus had risen from the dead. But could Jesus’ resurrection simply be a 2000 year old legend? Or is it based upon verifiable historical evidence?
If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the foundation for the Christian Faith would forever be destroyed.
Jesus Predicts His Own Death and Resurrection
Seven hundred years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah had written about a future Messiah, who would suffer and die for our sins, but later be restored to life. Echoing the prophecy in Isaiah 53, Jesus claimed that he was the Messiah who would be betrayed, arrested, condemned, spit upon, scourged, and killed. But then three days later he would come back to life. (See Mark 10:33). Everything Jesus taught and claimed depended on his resurrection from the dead. If Jesus didn’t rise as he promised, his message of forgiveness and hope for eternal life would be meaningless. Jesus was putting his words to the ultimate test of truth.
Bible scholar Wilbur Smith explains, “When he said He would rise again from the dead, the third day after He was crucified, He said something that only a fool would dare say if He expected the devotion of any disciples – unless He was sure He was going to rise.”
A Horrific Death And Then . . . ?
Exactly as Jesus predicted, eyewitnesses report he was betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot. Then in a mock trial under the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, he was condemned, scourged, kicked, spat upon, brutally whipped, and finally crucified on a wooden cross.
Jesus suffered on the cross for approximately six hours. Then, at 3:00 in the afternoon Jesus cried out, “It is finished” and died. Suddenly the sky went dark and an earthquake shook the land.
Pilate wanted to verify that Jesus was dead before allowing his crucified body to be buried. So a Roman guard thrust a spear into Jesus’ side. The mixture of blood and water that flowed out, according to eyewitnesses, was a clear indication that Jesus was dead. Once his death was certified, Jesus’ body was taken down from the cross, tightly wrapped in linen and buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. Roman guards then sealed the tomb with a large stone and were under strict orders to watch the tomb 24 hours a day.
Jesus’ disciples were so utterly devastated by his death on the cross that they fled for their lives, fearing they too would be captured and killed. But then something happened . . .