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 March 31, 2013, 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 questioned by those not so faithful. 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.
In his book “Why I Believe” the late Dr. D. James Kennedy shares the following statement of Scottish theologian Dr. Principal Hill. Hill said, “But if notwithstanding every appearance of truth, you suppose their [the apostles] testimony to be false, then inexplicable circumstances of glaring absurdity crowd upon you. You must suppose that twelve men of mean birth, of no education, living in that humble station which placed ambitious views out of their reach and far from their thoughts, without any aid from the state, formed the noblest scheme which ever entered into the mind of man, adopted the most daring means of executing that scheme, and conducted it with such address as to conceal the imposture under the semblance of simplicity and virtue. You must suppose that men guilty of blasphemy and falsehood, united in an attempt the best contrived, and which has in fact proved the most successful, for making the world virtuous; that they formed this singular enterprise without seeking any advantage to themselves, with an avowed contempt of loss and profit, and with the certain expectation of scorn and persecution; that although conscious of one another’s villainy, none of them ever thought of providing for his own security by disclosing the fraud, but that amidst sufferings the most grievous to flesh and blood they persevered in their conspiracy to cheat the world into piety, honesty and benevolence. Truly, they who can swallow such suppositions have no title to object to 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?
This is the point Dr. Hill makes so cogently. There is no evidence that the disciples profited by preaching the Resurrection. On the contrary, they were forsaken and disinherited by their families and ostracized by their countrymen. They were maligned as fools, they were pursued, arrested, tortured and martyred because they were faithful to declare the things they had witnessed.
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 of a surety that the Resurrection was a lie? No, ours is not a blind faith. An empty tomb gives mute testimony to the angel’s words “He is not here, but He has risen” Luke 24:6.