One of the most emphatic pieces of evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead, was the transformation that took place in the lives of the disciples. You may recall from “Reasons to believe – Part 3” that the disciples themselves were afraid. The bravest and most outspoken of them, Peter, had denied being associated with Jesus, such was his fear (John Chapter 18 v 15 – 18; 25 – 27). The disciples were not a group of people who were fired up for a fight with an elite unit of guards, to try to steal Jesus’ body. Yet only a short time later, we discover that this same group of people, led by Peter, went into the centre of Jerusalem and preached a message that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thousands of people believed their message and repented of their sins (Acts Chapter 2). Time after time, the disciples were described as bold and courageous. The authorities in Jerusalem tried to ban this message being preached, but to no avail. Those who preached were put in prison, whipped and beaten. But did that stop them? No! They continued to preach that Jesus was alive! As you trace the course of the lives of these men, you discover that they were not only persecuted, many were put to death, martyred for their faith.
So, if the disciples had somehow managed to steal the body to create the deception that Jesus had been raised to life, is it reasonable to think that a lie of their own making would energise them, and give them courage and boldness? Is it reasonable to think they would be prepared to be persecuted and imprisoned for this lie? Is it reasonable to think that thousands of people in Jerusalem, who lived at the time of Jesus, would repent, believe and be persecuted on the basis of a lie? Is it reasonable to believe that those men who had seen the risen Jesus, would be prepared to be put to death if all they had done was create a lie in order to deceive?
No, the evidence would point to the fact that they were prepared to die for something they knew with absolute certainty was true. Jesus was alive, he had risen from the dead, and they had witnessed Him ascending to Heaven (Acts Chapter 1).
The fact that Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead is the very essence of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians Chapter 15, “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (verse 14), and “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; and you are still in yours sins” (verse 17).
The evidence that supports the resurrection of Jesus Christ is overwhelming;
- · It was prophesied in the Scriptures,
- · Jesus had on several occasions demonstrated power over death,
- · The scene at the tomb does not support the theory that the body was stolen,
- · The corroborative witness statements of at least five hundred and twenty people,
But the resurrection of Jesus is not just a historical fact. It makes a claim on each person, and demands a response. Paul again writes in Romans Chapter 10 verse 9, “That if you confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Salvation is still available through a risen, living Jesus in 2014. Since the day the message of the resurrection was first preached in Jerusalem until now, individuals from every generation have experienced life-changing salvation through faith in a risen Jesus.
The resurrection of Jesus transformed the lives of the disciples. Jesus still changes lives today. Jesus can change your life. This is reason to believe that He is risen. Jesus is alive!