The Resurrection of Jesus

ANYONE serious about their faith should determine and take their time to analyse the origin stories of their choice of religious worldview. The Christian faith possesses a wealth of historic, eyewitness, first-hand, and widely diverse literature that surpasses that of any other religion concerning their Founder particularly His Earthly existence and resurrection. 

Some teach that Jesus never really came to earth, that He was some pseudo-archetype sham messiah figure.  Yet His humanity inspires us, gives hope, and anchors us, making it possible for ordinary people to live like Jesus. His physical life is what gives us a tested, authentic blueprint. Otherwise, His teachings are merely philosophical in nature, without any practical implication or power.  

Jesus lived what He taught. His instruction to “turn the other cheek” when your enemy strikes you, and to “pray for those who abuse you”, was literally fulfilled and applied during His life, crucifixion, and trial (Isa. 50: 6; Matt. 5:39; John 19: 3).

Prophesied in the OT

The birth and coming of Jesus were supernaturally foretold in the Old Testament through the Holy Spirit upon the lovers of God: 

Here are some Old Testament scripture references that pertain to different aspects of Jesus’ life, including his birth, ordinary life, death and resurrection, and exaltation:

Birth of Jesus:

Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Micah 5:2: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

Ordinary life of Jesus:

Isaiah 11:1-2: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

Isaiah 53:2-3: “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

Death and resurrection of Jesus:

Psalm 22:16-18: “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

Isa. 50: 6 “I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.”     

Isaiah 53:5: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed.”

Exaltation of Jesus:

Psalm 110:1: “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'”

Daniel 7:13-14: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

Read the whole of Isaiah 53.

In “The Gospel According to God,” John F. MacArthur meticulously examines the profound prophecy found in Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, known as the “Suffering Servant” song. MacArthur’s aim is to demonstrate that this song remarkably predicts the life events of Jesus of Nazareth, his birth by a virgin, ordinary life, violent death, resurrection and exaltation centuries before His birth. 

MacArthur contends that this text serves as a proto-gospel, a precursor to the four canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He argues that within Isaiah’s 53rd chapter, one can find everything necessary to embrace a faithful belief in the long-awaited Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. Thus, MacArthur asserts that Isaiah’s prophecy, therefore, represents a fifth gospel—a message of good news—directly from the mouth of God Himself.[1]

The Resurrection the Initial spark of the Jesus Movement. 

Another noteworthy book to digest is Andy Stanley’s book “Irresistible”. Andy explores the central role of the resurrection in igniting and sustaining the New Testament faith in Christ. Stanley argues that the resurrection is the pivotal event that sets Christianity apart from other religions and serves as the catalyst for the growth and impact of the early church. Stanley emphasizes that the resurrection is not merely a historical fact but a transformative experience that changed the lives of Jesus’ followers for centuries. He contends that without the resurrection, Christianity would not exist as a faith movement.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the core proof and anchor of our faith. If Jesus had not risen, our faith would be meaningless and merely beautiful moral principles. 

Read the whole of 1 Corinthians 15: 

“Unless Christ has been raised, your faith is worthless and you are still trapped in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:17).

Paul writes at his conversion how he was an enemy of the faith, persecutor of the followers of The Way. His Damascus encounter with the resurrected Jesus transformed his perspective, his eyes were enlightened and became convicted of his deception and murderous deeds. His change of heart, had tremendous personal ramifications: He was ostracised from his upbringing, culture, and family. He lost his status, job, and income. He spends his days enduring unthinkable suffering and painful persecution because of his faith and proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus. 

This is the one aspect of our faith where the evidence for Christ’s resurrection is simply overwhelming and indisputable. This is the one aspect we do not have to debate!  Believers are willing to be martyred for their conviction of the reality of the person of Jesus Christ.

Personal Revelation 

Jesus repeatedly told His followers that He would be condemned to death and then rise on the third day (Matt. 17:23; Mark 8:31; 10:34; Luke 9:22). The famous singer Bono of U2 rockband came to such repentance. After reading some of C.S. Lewis’ quotes (who was also an atheist at first), he stated: “Christ was either a liar, a madman or He is the Lord.”

The fact that Jesus openly foretells His end and then does exactly what He said is the power of the gospel. His own disciples had doubts in the beginning and had to be convinced of Jesus’ authenticity. 

“And He said unto them, Why are you so dismayed, and why is there doubt in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38).

“When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” (Matt. 28:17).

When followers fabricate a lie, they overdo the positive and remain silent about the mistakes, especially their own shortcomings and their doubts. The Apostle Peter witnessed to gentiles (new believers):

“And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem. They killed Him by hanging Him on the cross. But God raised him from the dead on the third day and made him appear, not to all the people, but only to us whom God has already chosen to be witnesses of, those who after his resurrection from the dead with He ate and drank.” (Acts 10:39-41).

The disciples’ testimony is believable since they would not benefit financially or gain positions of prestige through sensational public testimony. On the contrary, they and their loved ones and family were all persecuted because of their faith in Jesus’ resurrection. Their testimony is also a radical departure from their own education, culture and even nationality (see John 2:22; Luke 24: 33-35; John 20: 8, 18, 26-28; Acts 2:32 ; 3:15; 4:33).

His “Re-appearance”

“After his death, he also showed them with much indisputable evidence that he was alive. In the course of forty days he appeared to them on several occasions and spoke to them about the things of the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1: 3).

Here are 12 different accounts of the authenticity of Christ:

  1. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Him alive (John 20: 10-18). The fact that a woman’s testimony did not carry much weight in that time, is significant. They could easily have omitted the information, but it supernaturally remained included as authentic.
  2. Matthew tells us that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary encountered the resurrected Christ together (Matt. 28:8-10). The difference between John and Matthew’s versions reinforces the journalistic perspective, which usually differs.
  3. Cleopas and other disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32).
  4. The 11 Disciples (Luke 24:33-49).
  5. The 10 disciples without Thomas (John 20: 19-23).
  6. Thomas confesses his unbelief (John 20:26-30).
  7. The 7 disciples who went fishing (John 21:1-14).
  8. Jesus appears to the 11 on the Mount of Olives and ascends (Matt. 28:16-20; Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:4-9).
  9. Jesus appears to Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5).
  10. Jesus appears to Paul (Acts 9: 3-5; 22: 6-8; 1 Cor. 15:8).
  11. Jesus appears to more than 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6).
  12. Jesus appears to James, Jesus’ own brother who at first did not believe (1Cor.15: 7).

These first-hand experiences with Jesus after His death and resurrection were the flame that ignited the new movement of followers of Jesus!

Date of NT Witness Writings

The credibility of the NT lies precisely in the fact that the content would be known and verifiable to the reader of that time because it was written so soon after Jesus’s resurrection. See the way Luke writes to Theophilus: 

“Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”  (Luke 1:1-4).

It is generally accepted that most of the NT gospels and letters, were written before the fall of Jerusalem, i.e. before 70 AD. It is clear, after all, that the historical collapse of Judaism, one of the primary persecutors of the Jesus movement, would have been mentioned somewhere by the NT writers. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is around 32 AD. This means that the NT writings were written within this thirty-eight year period.

Jesus usually conveyed His message to His disciples and followers through oral tradition. Jesus’ first sermons were focused on confronting well-known idioms and beliefs known among the people. For example: “Eye for an eye… but I say…”  Furthermore, He used memorization, repetition, stories or parables, regular transmission, context in locality, to make sure they remember exactly what He said. The work of the disciples was to put it in writing. This then means that loose fragments and notes already existed in Jesus’ time and were later put together by a writer compiler.

Modern Hebrew translators of the NT have also discovered that the Greek text contains literally the same rhythm, sentence construction, and idiom as in the Hebrew. This indicates that the text was originally written in Hebrew. There is a consensus that Matthew was definitely written in Hebrew first, for a Jewish audience. This means that the gospel of Mark was written as early as 42 AD, Matthew was written in 50 AD. and Luke was written just after that. Nero blamed the “great fire of Rome” in 64 AD. On Christians which destroyed two-thirds of the city. This initiated the empire’s first cruel persecution against them. The NT writers make no reference to this, which also further contributes to an earlier dating. [2]

Indisputable NT Evidence

When you fabricate a lie, you do not release ammunition that could later be used against you. Remember that the gospels were written at different times, as separate books, by different authors, each addressed to a specific audience. Despite cultural norms, women’s testimonies were deemed credible, knowing that their testimony in biblical times did not carry much weight. The differences in detail, such as the number of angels and who was first at the tomb, are included in the Gospels. 

Death and Resurrection Witnesses

Here are some quotes from extra-biblical authors:

“There was a terrifying darkness all over the world; and the rocks tore at an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness, described by Thallus, in the third book of its history, as it seems to me for no reason, a solar eclipse.” – Thallus (CA. 52 AC.) and Africanus (CA. 221 AC.).

“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, where they sang in alternate verses a song of praise to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never committing any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor to deny a trust when asked to deliver it; after which it was their custom to separate from each other and then reassemble – but food of an ordinary and innocent nature.” – Pliny the Younger (61-113 AC.).

“Consequently, Nero got rid of the allegations of the report and inflicted the most brutal torture on a class hated for their abominations, called by the population Christians. Christ, from whom the name is derived, received the utmost punishment during the reign of Tiberius under the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a very ominous superstition, which is therefore at present controlled, not only in Judea, did not break out. The first source of evil, but even in Rome, where all things abominable and shameful from all parts of the world find their center and become popular.” – Tacitus: (56-120 AC).

“There was at this time Jesus, a wise man, if it were justified to call him a man, for he has done wonderful deeds, a teacher of men who receive the truth with joy. He attracted many Jews to him, and also many Greeks. This man was the Christ. And when Pilate condemned him to the cross, having been accused of the most important men among us, those who loved him from the beginning did not forsake him, for on the third day he came alive again to them. appears, as the Divine Prophets foretold these and tens of thousands of other wonderful things about him. And even now the group of Christians, named after him, has not become extinct.” – Josephus AJ, 18.3.3.

“From the very beginning, the conviction that Jesus was raised from the dead was where their whole existence stood or fell. There was no other motive to account for them, to explain them. …Nowhere in the New Testament is there any evidence that Christians stood for an original philosophy of life or an original ethic. Their only function was to testify about what they say was a real event, namely the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. . . The one truly distinguishing fact that the Christians stood for was their declaration that Jesus was raised from the dead according to God’s plan, and the consequent view of Him as in a unique sense the Son of God and representative of man, and the consequent understanding from the path to reconciliation.” – Anderson, CWH, 100-101. 

Further Evidence

The Pharisees remembered that Jesus said He would rise on the third day, and special arrangements were made with Pilate to seal and secure the tomb. Hence the guards. (Matt. 27:62-66).

Gamaliel’s wisdom: 

“…that if it is the hand of the Lord, no one will be able to stop it. However, if it is man-made, it will result in nothing.” (Acts 5:30-42). 

The Jesus-movement was relatively small in the beginning, yet many Jews, scribes, and people from other nations and languages began to follow Him.

Lee Strobel (former investigative journalist and renowned Christian author) says that after two years of research, he found: 

“There are sufficient medical and historical grounds, that Jesus really died, and would not have been able to survive the torture on the cross. The testimony of His resurrection, and its writing, took place very soon after His resurrection, and could therefore be disputed. The empty tomb, and even the killers’ acknowledgment of this, is convincing.”

The Reality of Jesus’ Resurrection Today

The fact that Jesus rose is the centre of our faith. The implication for our life, our dying, and our struggle with sin takes on new meaning. As a good friend Michael Wood always says: “Our lives began, the moment He said it is finished.” It’s worth reading Allan Platt’s book “It’s accomplished” on this subject.

Christ’s resurrection is not just a historical fact, but a point of faith. Our faith and confession of His resurrection, works a force in our lives to also overcome sin and death.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart we believe, and we are acquitted; and with the mouth we confess, and we are saved ”. (Rom. 10: 9-10).

Through the Power of His resurrection we move from:

• perishable to imperishable.

• mortal to immortal.

• dishonor to honor.

• dead to alive.

• natural to supernatural.

The power of His resurrection is the power that frees us from the power of sin. Through His resurrection power we gain the ability to overcome sin! Every time in the NT where our struggle against sin is mentioned, the solution is: we are now dead to sin, we have gained victory over it through His resurrection. 

His resurrection gives us the strength to live in victory!

See the following important scripture verses in this regard. Read them carefully, even better, memorizing it until the content becomes a reality in your consciousness.

 “…even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” (Eph. 2:5)

: “…and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 1:19-20).

Our Death, His Resurrection

There can be no question of resurrection without us dying to our ego.

Our identification with His death, and surrender, self-denial are necessary for Him to also awaken us to a new life. Our victory over sin is not our works, trials, and decisions. Our victory is His resurrection power!

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25). 

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom. 8:11).

“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:10-14).

 “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:17).

 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21).

 “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal. 5:24).

— JTBL —

[1] John F. MacArthur Jr. The Gospel according to God: Rediscovering the Most Remarkable Chapter in the Old Testament. 


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