Reasons to Believe Jesus Rose From the Dead
Was Jesus a real person?"
Did Jesus actually rise from the dead?
How do we know this isn’t some big hoax?
These are genuine questions that smart people are asking. In fact, I have found myself asking one or two of them on occasion; maybe you can relate. Either way, do you have a valid answer for these questions? Does your faith have any real “meat” on its bones or do you believe for the sake of believing in something? I hope the latter is not true.
Personally, I believe Jesus was a real person. I believe the flesh-and-blood-Jesus lived a perfect, remarkable life and died at the hands of the Roman Empire. I believe that same Jesus rose from and defeated death, providing salvation for all who will believe and follow him.
Here are a couple reasons I believe this. . .
A fascinating feature of the resurrection narratives is the role that women played in them. This observation is well known and heavily considered by prominent scholars such as N.T. Wright. In the ancient world, Jewish and pagan, women were not considered credible sources or witnesses in the court of law.
You can see this even in Pauls writings. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is found saying, “Here’s the story the way we told it. He was crucified for our sins, according to scriptures, raised on the third day, according to the scriptures, and then was seen by,” take special note here; particularly those who did not make the list, “Cephas, by James, by the other early disciples, by five hundred at once, last of all by me.”
Excuse me Paul . . . what about the women?
I find it absolutely fascinating that Paul censors his telling of women’s involvement in the Jesus narrative, yet in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we have Mary Magdalene, the other Marys, and the other women in centerstage. In fact, Mary Magdalene is chosen as the prime witness (the one with the most checkered past)!
Why would these early Christian apologists, who were already attempting to convince a skeptical audience, keep this element in the story if it were not true? It would be like shooting themselves in the foot. This is probably one of the main reasons Paul leaves this detail out. This was never about creating a clever ruse; the gospel writers were simply telling what actually happened.
Let’s look at one other prominent reason we can believe Jesus really did rise from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus that was experienced by select few is unlike anything ever heard of to this point in history. I do not have enough space (or time) to delve into the complexity of that statement, but people much smarter than me have (see N.T. Wrights: The Resurrection of the Son of God).
What I will say is this: while there is no portrait like that of Jesus in the Jewish narrative of the time, it is consistent across Matthew, Luke, and John (Mark is far too short). So, something very odd happened.
Now you might be thinking: Well sure, one went whack and the others merely followed suit and copied him. However, if you take the resurrection narratives in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the original Greek and compare them side-by-side, you will find they’re quite different. Even though they are telling the same story with the same odd resurrection account (even including the women’s involvement), they use different words and sentence structures to tell their telling.
These were not men mass producing a manufactured story; these were men telling the world what they witnessed, despite all credibility being thrown out with it. Like witnesses coming forth to tell the judge what they saw. There are clear differences and nuances in their telling, which only helps validate their credibility. Something truly remarkable happened 2,000+ years ago in Jerusalem, and we get a unique opportunity to hear from those who witnessed it firsthand.
Women were told as being prime-witnesses. A move that would have sunk the tellings credibility to many.
The death and resurrection and the Messiah would have been a completely new concept (yet it was retold with accuracy from many sources).
These are but a couple of the reasons to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Something happened that weekend that shook the followers of Jesus. These were not men and women deeply grieving or trying to reclaim the glory of their “personal Messiah.” No. A deeper look at the resurrection accounts found in the Gospels and the historical tellings of Jesus’ death tell us something happened that goes beyond human understanding. Something happened that shook these disciples into radical belief. Something happened that was worth dying for!
I am just a simple man, but if someone predicts their death and resurrection and pulls it off, I am going to trust whatever that someone says.
If you believe that Jesus really is the resurrected Messiah, then whatever he said can be trusted.
So what did he say?