Week 7 - How can we believe that Jesus rose from the dead?

posted 1 Apr 2012, 04:16 by Peter Booth
This week we looked at why we can believe that Jesus really did rise from the dead. 

There are two main possible reasons for not believing in Jesus:

The first explanation could be that Jesus never really died. I find this hard to believe for a couple of reasons. Jesus was killed by the Romans. The Romans were the best killers in the business, they had invented crucifixion where a man is nailed to a wooden cross because it was the most agonising and painful way to die. Secondly, because Jesus died quicker on the cross than people usually did they put a spear through his side (John 19:34). The fact that blood and water poured out only happens when a man is dead.

Secondly, maybe the disciples stole Jesus’ body and then told people that they had seen him alive? Maybe the disciples made the whole thing up?
I find this hard to believe for the following reasons. Firstly the Bible tells us that Jesus appeared firstly to the women Mary, Mary and Joanna, then to Peter, to the rest of the disciples and to more than 500 people at one time (1 Corinthians 15:5-6). This takes out the explanations that the disciples dreamt that Jesus rose from the dead, or that they had a hallucination. Dreams and hallucinations can only happen to one person at once. Paul even says in that verse, 'look you can go and ask these people yourselves, most of them are still alive,' when Paul was writing this. Would Paul have said this if he didn’t really believe it was true?

Secondly, when Jesus was arrested the disciples ran away and hid. They were scared for their lives. What would it take for these same 11 people to 10 days later be speaking in front of 3000 people telling everyone that Jesus was alive? They knew that Jesus had died. Something incredible must have happened for them to be changed from cowardly men hiding in a room in fear for their lives to bold, joyful men declaring that Jesus was alive. How could that have happened if Jesus wasn’t alive?

Thirdly, all the disciples gave the rest of their lives to travelling and telling other about Jesus rising from the dead. The fact that many people in those early days believed that Jesus had risen means that it can’t have been made up. It would have been easy to disprove, but it wasn’t. Most of the disciples ended up dying for what they believed to be true. If the disciples had made up the story, then surely they wouldn’t have been willing to die for it? They would have known whether it was true or false.

So maybe it is true that Jesus rose from the dead, but if it is, why is it so important? Three things that it means for us are:

There is a God. There is no other explanation for how Jesus can rise from the dead. The only answer is that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Secondly, it means that Jesus was God. We have heard about the claims that Jesus made. He said that he was God and he showed it by the miracles that he did. But if he had just died, how would we know if he was truly God? Jesus rising from the dead proves that he was God.

Thirdly, if Jesus has risen from the dead then there is a way that we can be made right with God. It means that through the cross Jesus has taken the punishment for our sin. He has restored our relationship with God if we believe in him. If Jesus hadn’t risen again, his death would have been no more significant than anyone else’s death but the fact that he rose again shows that he is God, and that he has forgiven our sin. (1 Corinthians 15:14)

If it is true that Jesus rose from the dead the only thing we can logically do is to ask Jesus to forgive our sin and live a life that is pleasing to him.

by Paul Zealey