by Rod Davis
*It’s the Easter season again. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. Not only because I celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, it was on an Easter Sunday that I was baptized commemorating my born again experience a month or so earlier. I post the article every year at this time. A lot of prayerful research went into it.
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1Peter 1:3)
“At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.” (Jewish historian, Josephus, from his work Antiquities of the Jews Chapter Three, part 3 http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Antiquities_of_the_Jews/Book_XVIII#Chapter_3)
All four of the biographies on the life of Jesus, referred to as the Gospels [Good News] of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, describe in great detail the events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s the most important event in human history and one of the most documented events of antiquity. In fact, it is said that there is more documented evidence on the resurrection of Christ than there is on any single event in the life of George Washington.
The evidence is simply overwhelming!
“I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .” (E. M. Blaiklock – Professor of Classics, Auckland University)
An Englishman by the name of John Singleton Copley, better known as Lord Lyndhurst, is recognized as one of the greatest legal minds in British history. He was the solicitor-general of the British government, attorney-general of Great Britain, three times high chancellor of England, and elected as high steward of the University of Cambridge, thus holding in one lifetime the highest offices ever conferred upon a judge in Great Britain.
After Copley’s death some personal papers were discovered which contained his comments concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was in this light of legal evidence that made him decide to become a Christian. Listen to what this great legal mind said, “I know pretty well what evidence is: and I tell you, such evidence, as that for the resurrection, has never broken down yet.” (Wilbur M. Smith, Therefore Stand, p. 425).
Dr. Simon Greenleaf was a famous Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University and was primarily responsible for Harvard’s eminent position among law schools in the United States. Greenleaf produced a famous, three-volume work, entitled A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which is still considered one of the greatest authorities on the subject in the entire literature of legal procedure.
At one time Dr. Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the “myth” of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection, Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion!
With a lawyer’s skill Greenleaf put his principles to work as he examined the historical evidence surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible and other historical writings. After careful examination, he wrote a book concerning the authenticity of the resurrection entitled An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. The evidence wins out again. (For more information go to http://www.av1611.org/resur.html)
Former Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling, was once talking about the truths of Christianity at a dinner party and particularly the evidence for Christ’s resurrection. Placing his fingertips together, assuming a judicial attitude, and speaking with a quiet emphasis that was extraordinarily impressive, he made this powerful statement, “We as Christians are asked to take a very great deal on trust; the teachings, for example, and the miracles of Jesus. If we had to take all on trust, I, for one, should be skeptical. The crux of the problem of whether Jesus was, or was not, what he proclaimed himself to be must surely depend upon the truth or otherwise of the resurrection. On that greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith. In its favor as a living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”
Why is the resurrection of Christ so important? The point Lord Darling was making is this; If Jesus had not risen from the dead he would be just another dead, self-proclaimed, prophet. However, Jesus resurrection proved he is all that he claims to be. By physically raising from the dead, Jesus validated the fact that he is indeed Lord over everything, including death, and all that Jesus taught and said is true.
“I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades [the place of the dead].” – Jesus (Revelation 1:18)
Once for all Jesus demonstrated himself to be Lord over death, hell and the grave. And in so doing he not only confirmed his personal claims about himself, but Jesus also demonstrated his matchless ability to save us– to redeem us from sin and its power over our lives. Jesus can, therefore, offer new life, direction, and hope to those who choose to follow him.
To read an excellent article entitled Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh McDowell, go to http://www.bible.ca/d-resurrection-evidence-Josh-McDowell.htm.