“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen (Luke 24:5-6).”
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most pivotal event in Christianity and human history. Christianity is founded upon it and human history is divided by it. This year on April 8, 2012, Christians around the world from every nation, race and tongue will celebrate Easter Sunday commemorating this singular event.
As Easter approaches the resurrection of Jesus Christ is foremost in the thoughts of the faithful and those not so faithful. Undoubtedly critics will arise. Enemies of the faith point to the miracles declared in the Bible as evidence that it is filled with myths and fairy tales. The Scriptures, they say, cannot be trusted or believed.
Of those miracles recorded in Holy Writ probably the hardest to believe is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To most, the idea that a dead man can live again seems incredible. But this truth is central to the Christian creed, and, indeed, Christianity stands or falls on its historical authenticity. So, what happened almost two thousand years ago?
I have maintained there is a difference in faith and blind faith. Are Christians called to blindly believe in the Resurrection? Where is the evidence for it? While faith will always be a necessary ingredient in the life of every believer, we have not been left totally in the dark. The evidence of the Resurrection can be clearly seen in the lives of the disciples, and the faith that was founded on their eyewitness accounts.
Anticipating that the disciples would attempt to steal the body of Christ and fake his resurrection, the Sanhedrin requested the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to place a Roman seal on the tomb of Christ and to post a Roman guard to prevent the theft of the body. Pilate agreed.
The following statement is a loose adaptation from the words of Scottish theologian Dr. Principal Hill.
If you do not believe Christ rose from the dead you must believe the following. That a handful of fishermen, one ex-tax collector, and some unemployed fellow followers, who were born to a lower class and had no inside connections, who were overcome by grief at the death of their teacher, and whose hopes that He was the Messiah had been shattered when He was crucified, and were afraid of being arrested, regained their composure, formulated a plan, and within three days executed it so well, they completely outwitted the Jewish and Roman authorities, caught unawares and over-powered a fully armed Roman detail superior in number, and did it under cover of darkness without raising an alarm or awakening a single citizen in overcrowded Jerusalem. They hid the body of Christ so well it was never discovered. These same men then proceed to preach this lie of the Resurrection of Christ without ever profiting from it and, in fact, they were disinherited, pilloried, and persecuted, so they could trick the world into being good and honest. Each was eventually martyred, and not one attempted to save himself by revealing the truth. You must believe they suffered ridicule, beatings, persecutions, and death for what they knew to be a lie. If you can believe that then you should not have any problem believing in miracles.
History is inundated with accounts of those who have died for what they believed. But those who sacrificed their lives for the things they believed did so believing them to be true. I am not aware of a single instance in the history of mankind in which someone died for what he knew to be false. If, as some say, the disciples stole the body of Christ and hid it, is it reasonable to believe they gave the remainder of their lives to suffer privations, persecutions and death knowing that the Resurrection was a lie?
What did Peter see that transformed him from the fearful follower who had denied Christ three times, to the man who, when standing before the same Sanhedrin that had condemned Christ, declared, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross…we are witnesses of these things (Acts 5:29-32).” How could Peter fear death when he had spoken with the One who had conquered it? No, ours is not a blind faith.