The resurrection … really?

Alex Hawke // April 5, 2021, 1:57 pm


"The resurrection matters because we all die," writes Alex Hawke as he explores the arguments against the resurrection of Christ. Photo by Jonny Gios.

To state the obvious, the resurrection of Jesus is a very big deal. If it’s true.

The past year has shown how fragile we are, reminding us of our mortality and challenging what we put our hope in.

If the resurrection of Jesus is true, we can live with unshakeable hope.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe the resurrection of Jesus is not a myth or legend but true and of such significance for all our lives that it cannot be exaggerated. 

#1 Nothing less than death

First of all Jesus definitely died. The Romans were experts at killing people. The whipping Jesus endured often killed people. Crucifixion definitely did.

Jewish and Roman sources of the time concur that Jesus was killed and was buried. He didn’t faint and get resuscitated. He was crucified. That Jesus was not dead is not an option.

#2 God of miracles

If there’s a God who created the universe, the resurrection of Jesus is not difficult for Him. He is not God if miracles are hard for Him. We can’t just discount the resurrection because it sounds strange. If we accept the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus is totally plausible.

#3 The Church

Christianity only exists because the first disciples really believed in the resurrection of Jesus. 

They preached this everywhere they went.

Of course it’s true that religions have been founded by leaders who then died and whose followers continued passing on their teaching. But not Christianity. The cross and the resurrection are the epicentre of belief for Christians.

The Church came from those beliefs; it didn’t invent them later.

#4 Uncertain roots

Maybe the disciples invented the idea of Jesus’ resurrection to try and kickstart a religion?

Several of Jesus’ disciples were later killed because they believed in and proclaimed the resurrection. Many others were persecuted but never recanted. They could have produced the body or confessed to making it up to escape persecution. But they didn’t.

Christianity only exists because the first disciples really believed in the resurrection of Jesus. 

They really believed it and only because they really believed they’d seen Jesus alive.

James, one of Jesus’ half brothers, was a skeptic but then became a follower of Jesus and a key leader of the early church. What changed? He believed he’d seen Jesus alive. James was also later martyred.

The disciples wouldn’t have given their lives for something they knew wasn’t true, for a lie they invented themselves.

Chuck Colson, who went to prison for his part in the Watergate scandal, has said that it was impossible for the disciples to have kept up a lie for 40 years, suffering and eventually dying for it when the men involved in Watergate couldn’t keep up a lie for three weeks.

#5 Transformative witness

The disciples were radically changed. After Jesus’ death they were hiding, bewildered, afraid.

Because the tomb is empty, our hearts can be full.

Later, the same men and women who proclaimed Jesus as risen were bold and determined, joyful and willing to die. Something happened to them.

Today, all over the world people talk about having a relationship with Jesus. Not primarily about being adherents to a religion. They talk like they know Jesus. Not just His teaching, but Jesus Himself.

Historical evidence combines with personal experience. The stories keep coming: Housewives, gang members, bankers, farmers, teachers, rich and poor, young and old, from the east and the west, the north and the south all telling of how Jesus has changed their lives.

Because the tomb is empty, our hearts can be full.

#6 Radical choices: Women

The Bible records that women were the first eyewitnesses. Their testimony was not valid in that day.

If you were inventing the resurrection you wouldn’t pick women to be the first eyewitnesses.

#7  A missing body

The empty tomb. If the authorities had the body they would have produced it.

They hoped they’d got rid of Jesus; the last thing they would want is for people to proclaim Him alive.

No-one ever produced the body of Jesus. The disciples could not have preached in Jerusalem that Jesus was alive if the tomb wasn’t empty. People would just go and check. Even skeptical scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

#8 Just a scam?

Was Jesus’ body stolen? This accusation proves the tomb was empty. But who could have stolen it?

Jesus’ followers were afraid and in hiding. They had no motive to steal it. They were beaten, imprisoned or killed because they preached the resurrection. There was nothing to gain.

The Jews and Romans wouldn’t have stolen the body – they were trying to suppress this Jesus movement, not encourage rumours that he was alive. Oh, and the tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers.

#9 Delusional disciples?

Maybe those who believed they saw Jesus alive were hallucinating?

One person might hallucinate something. Multiple people never hallucinate the same thing, let alone hallucinate seeing the same person multiple times in different places.

We can read the writings of several of Jesus’ disciples in the New Testament – it’s not the work of people who hallucinated or were gullible and unstable.

A message from God

Dr Simon Greenleaf, who was Royal Professor of Law at Harvard, was convinced that “according to the laws of legal evidence, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is proven by more substantial evidence than any other event of ancient history.”

This accusation that Jesus’ body was stolen proves the tomb was empty.

That Jesus was raised from the dead makes the most sense of all the possibilities.

So, if there’s even a possibility that this is true, and the evidence points to much more than a possibility, then it’s definitely worth exploring more.

But what does it mean? So what if Jesus is alive? Christians believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection solve our greatest problem and meet our deepest need, namely reconciliation with God.

The resurrection is like an enormous “Trust Me!” from God to mankind.

If the resurrection of Jesus is true then everything else the Bible says about Him is true. And that is a very big deal.

It proves Jesus is the true King, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, God and not only man, worthy of worship. It is confirmation that our sin has been paid for, our forgiveness secured and our broken relationship with God restored. It’s like the dawning of a new day.

The resurrection is like an enormous “Trust Me!” from God to mankind.

The resurrection matters because we all die.

With our hope in Jesus, death is not to be feared; it has been conquered and is the door to eternal life. If Jesus is alive, we can be truly alive too.

The resurrection is the guarantee that all things will be made new, that everything wrong will be put right.

It also means Jesus is with us, just as he promised. We can actually experience a relationship with Jesus.

Does that sound weird? Not if He’s alive.

And as He did for the first disciples, Jesus gives His followers purpose, peace and the power to live the lives He calls us to.

It’s all seriously good news. 

If you are interested in exploring more about Jesus and Christianity, Alex Hawke recommends the book More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell and the website www.christianityexplored.org.


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About the author

Alex Hawke

Alex Hawke is a country team leader with Interserve (www.interserve.org) in South East Asia where he serves with his wife Ellie and their two sons.