How do we know that Jesus rose from the dead?
While most scholars agree there was a man called Jesus who existed some 2,000 years ago and that He was put to death by crucifixion, the resurrection of Jesus continues to be debated. What basis do we have for believing it happened?
Women were the witnesses
In first-century Palestine, women were considered unreliable and their testimonies were questionable. Yet, all four Gospels record women as the first witnesses to the resurrection. If the Gospel writers were making up the resurrection, they would not have named women as witnesses.
Jesus’ body could not be found
Jesus was publicly crucified in Jerusalem. When the disciples claimed He rose from the dead, the easiest way to disprove it would have been to show everyone Jesus’ dead body. Yet, this did not happen. There was no body!
Few would die for a lie
Could the disciples have been lying? Perhaps they hid the body? Many of the first disciples were actually willing to die for saying Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. We see this in the Bible (in Acts and Paul’s writings) and outside the Bible (first-century Bishop Clement of Rome spoke of Peter’s and Paul’s martyrdoms). We also have evidence of second-century Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna dying for refusing to renounce Christ as Lord. Would early believers have been willing to die for something they knew was a lie?
While the above evidence is not exhaustive, it helps us understand why we can trust Jesus really rose from the dead.
Believing in Jesus is not just intellectual
We all know that exercise is good for us. Research shows immense benefits of exercise, such as a longer lifespan, increased concentration, and better health.
Yet, we find it difficult to even put on our running shoes, favouring instead a comfortable day lounging at home. Why is there a disconnect between what we know, and what we do?
Some have not looked enough into the benefits of exercise to be convinced. Others have chosen to ignore the issue and blindly hope they won’t be struck by disease. Still others are fully aware of the research but won’t take it seriously — this would warrant a serious change in lifestyle, which they aren’t ready to make.
Likewise, even though there is evidence that Jesus existed, died, and rose again, some have never explored the claims of Christianity; they may rely on what they hear in the media or through others but never think through it for themselves.
Others don’t find it important to think about God and eternity because the present reality seems more pressing.
And while compelling or irrefutable evidence should logically lead to change, logic alone is not always enough to sway a person. Christianity is a reasonable faith, but believing in Jesus and His resurrection requires more than just intellectual agreement.
If Jesus really is who He says He is, a Saviour who redeems us from our sin, it means that we no longer get to do whatever we want if we want to follow Him. It requires a total lifestyle change — putting aside our sinful nature and acknowledging that His way is better than ours. That’s saying goodbye to living on our own terms, and hello to seeking holiness!
For some, this is too much. They like autonomy and independence. They don’t like being told what to do. Jesus’ claims and authority are too demanding and that is enough for them not to believe.
We should not give up hope that God can meet them where they are. God has made Himself known to all of humanity and to you and me. He knows how to reach us even when we are uninterested in Him. So, let’s be patient with those who are rejecting Him, and continually love them, talk with them, and pray for Jesus to encounter them.