St. Paul had to deal with a lot of “high minded”, philosophical types in his day. Most were very prideful, long on academics but short on humility. Some people back then claimed that Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead (as we celebrate this weekend). Rather than mince words, Paul gave it to them straight (in the verse up above). Many people will tell you that “based on human logic” the Resurrection makes no sense. The first thing we need to remember is that “human logic” is not omnipotence. God makes it very clear that “(His) ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts.” (Is. 55:8-9)
What is illogical is to think that “man” is the center of the universe. The truth is that Christianity is far more logical than many people give it credit for, certainly more “logical” than atheism or agnosticism. The second thing we should remind people is that any conversation about God is going to necessitate a degree of faith. If people are not willing to humbly admit that they don’t have all the answers than the conversation will go nowhere. God’s truth and human pride do not co-exist in the same space; that is the nature of sin. Humility and grace go hand-in-hand, as do pride and sin.
So, let’s remember that any conversation about the existence of God or the truth about Christ’s resurrection necessitate a humble admission that “it is possible that God exists” and that “we are not God.” When it comes to Easter Sunday, however, and the glorious truth about the Resurrection, to say that there is no logical truth to this belief, is not only ignorant, it is absurd.
Here are fifteen very quick facts that point to the truth of the Resurrection. These are not exhaustive or highly detailed; they are quick points that further strengthen what humble-hearted believers take on faith:
1. There was an empty Tomb
The founders of other “faiths” are buried in tombs or had their ashes sprinkled over foreign lands. Not Jesus. Modern “scholars” and directors can claim what they want on their cable specials…the truth is that the tomb was empty.
2. The Tomb had a Roman seal
Clay was affixed to a rope (stretched across a rock) and to the tomb, itself. The Roman seal was pressed into the clay. Break the seal, you break the law; break the law – you die.
3. The Tomb had a Roman guard stationed there
The “guard” was at least four men, possibly more, of highly trained soldiers. These soldiers were experts in torture and in combat, not easily frightened off by a band of fishermen and tax collectors. Had they fallen asleep or left their post they would have violated the law, resulting in their own execution.
4. The Tomb had a stone in front of it
Most scholars put the weight of the stone at about 2 tons (4000 pounds), probably at least seven or eight feet high. This was definitely a “team lift” or “team roll,” not movable by just one or two men.
5. There were post-resurrection appearances, to hundreds
Over a span of six weeks, He appeared to a variety of groups of various sizes in different locations. He appeared to over 500 at one point – a huge number to be an outright “fabrication”. Not to mention, the people whom He appeared to didn’t just “see” Him, but ate with Him, walked with Him, touched Him. Jesus even made breakfast (Jn 21:9) at one point.
6. The martyrdom of witnesses offers proof
Would people leave their businesses, careers, homes and families, go to the ends of the earth, die horribly gruesome and painful deaths and forsake their previous “religious beliefs about salvation” all to protect a ‘lie’? Not one of them, while being beheaded, fed to lions, boiled in oil, crucified upside down or burned alive ‘changed their story’. Instead, they sang hymns of trust and praise, knowing that the Lord who defeated death would raise them up, too.
7. There is still a Church
If the resurrection were a lie it would have died off centuries ago. The Christian Church is the largest institution of any kind in the history of humanity. This Church began with the apostles following Pentecost, the year Christ rose. It has conquered empires, withstood attacks (inside and out) and grown in spite of the sinfulness of its members, because it was founded by Christ, Himself, and is guided and protected by the Holy Spirit. The Church, like Christ, is both human and divine.
8. Jesus prophesied that it was going to happen
Jesus told people that it was going to happen. It didn’t “take Him by surprise.” And He didn’t just say “I’m going to be killed” (which others might have seen coming) but also that “I’m going to rise on the third day.” Those details aren’t ironic, coincidental or fortune-telling – they’re called prophecy and true prophecy comes from God, Himself.
9. It was prophesied in the Old Testament
It was foretold centuries before Christ, Himself, was born or lived it out. Hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah, what He would say, do, live like and how He would die – they were offered centuries apart by people God selected (most of whom never met one another, by the way). Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Hosea and Micah (just to name a few) all pointed to Christ’s death and resurrection hundreds of years before they occurred.
10. The day of worship changed
Following the resurrection, tens of thousands of Jews (almost overnight) abandoned the centuries old tradition of celebrating the Sabbath on the last day of the week and began worshipping on the first day of the week the day on which the Lord, the Christ, beat death sealing the new and final covenant with God.
11. The practices of sacrifice changed
Jews were always taught (and taught their children – Deut. 6) that they needed to offer an animal sacrifice once a year, to atone for their sins. After the resurrection, the Jewish converts of the time, throngs of them, stopped offering animal sacrifices to God.
12. It is unique among other world religions
No other religious leader of any consequence every actually claimed to be God, except Jesus. No other religious leader ever did the things Christ did. No other religious leader ever backed up their “religious voice” with resurrection. Confucius died. Lao-tse died. Buddha died. Mohammed died. Joseph Smith died. Christ rose from the dead.
13. The message is self-authenticating
This proof goes back to the original point, namely, that a humble heart is enlightened and illuminated by far more than logic or reason. A true believer doesn’t need all the facts to believe in the resurrection, because the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us, intimately and powerfully. St. Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 4. Blind and hardened hearts will never see God, not until they acknowledge that they are not Him.
14. The miraculous ending fits a miraculous life
You want logic? Christ healed the blind, the deaf and the dumb. He fed the masses, cured the lepers and forgave the sinners. He made the lame walk and brought others back to life. He multiplied food, walked on water and calmed storms with His mere voice. The miracle of Good Friday is that He didn’t call on a miracle. He died. The miracle of Easter Sunday is that He rose from the dead – a miraculous “end” to a miraculous life. What else should we expect?
15. (and the only answer we really need)…Jesus is still the answer
The world cannot offer any cure for suffering. The world can ignore it, berate it, debate it, bomb it and medicate it…but there is no cure or point to suffering separated from Jesus Christ. In Christ, our suffering has a point and it has worth. Apart from Christ, suffering is pointless and fruitless. There is no fountain of youth. There is no miracle drug. There is no cure for death except Jesus Christ.
What is illogical is to think that the God of life would not want us to live eternally. The only reason to think the resurrection is illogical is if you believe this life is your only one. This blog is not intended to begin debates or tear people apart. This is a very quick reminder to all of us Christians who might get too “logical” from time to time (myself included) that the resurrection is not illogical. That being said, all of us who do tend to be too logical might want to take a deep breath in contemplative prayer this weekend and really lean back in to the beautiful truth and reality of the crucifixion and resurrection.
“…how can some among you say there is no resurrection? If Christ has not been raised, them empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith…if Christ has not been raised than your faith is in vain; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-18)
Brothers and Sisters, because of what happened in that Upper Room, on that Cross and in that Tomb 2000 years ago, we know God the Father intimately, we walk with Christ daily, and we are guided by the Holy Spirit eternally.
That’s the truth, and what a beautiful truth it is. (John 8:32)