Did Jesus really come back to life?

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1It’s not wrong for us to want to know more about the claim that Jesus came back to life (often called his resurrection). Someone coming back to life is a hard thing to believe in without good reason. So what do we know about Jesus’ death and supposed resurrection?

Jesus died: Let’s start here. After all, you can’t come back to life if you didn’t die in the first place! After many beatings, Jesus was nailed, through his hands and feet, to a wooden cross. Jesus was left bloodied, bruised and gasping for breath as his body sagged under its own weight. When the soldiers came to check on him, they found He was already dead. Yet to be doubly sure, they stabbed him with a spear.

Jesus was buried: Jesus’ body was placed in a private tomb while several of his friends watched. It was also put under heavy guard. The Jewish leaders knew Jesus had said he’d come back to life—and they didn’t want Jesus’ followers to steal the body and pretend he’d come back (Matt. 27:62-66). They also blocked up the grave with a heavy stone. No one was going to get to the body of Jesus.

The tomb was empty: Both Jesus’ friends and the Jewish authorities agreed that Jesus’ tomb was empty three days later! The authorities blamed Jesus’ followers because they knew what this meant; but Jesus’ followers said he came back to life.

[The Jewish leaders] told the soldiers [guarding the tomb], “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.—Matthew 28:13-15

The Jewish leaders started spreading their story of the empty tomb straightaway. Yet none of it stacks up at all. Surely the guards wouldn’t fall asleep on duty? And if they had, how would they have been able to see that Jesus’ friends stole the body? The guards could not have been both asleep and witnesses of the crime at the same time! And a massive thing of course was this: the guards should have been executed for falling asleep! So why weren’t they? Because the Jewish leaders needed them to spread the wacky story

The eye-witnesses: Here are a few key eye-witnesses to think about:

1. In ancient Israel, women were not thought of as reliable witnesses. The fact that they are key witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection makes it unlikely for the story to be made up.

2. “[Jesus] was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died” (1 Cor. 15:6). Many of the people who saw Jesus come back to life were still available for questioning when the news of his resurrection was spreading through the world. Yet there are no records of the Roman Empire or the Jewish authorities successfully proving the resurrection to be a fake. Not one of the hundreds of witnesses ever said “We made it up.”

3. Finally, perhaps the best evidence given to us by the eyewitnesses is how their lives totally changed after Jesus came back from the dead. His friends went from hiding in fear after his death (John 20:19) to boldly talking about Jesus’ resurrection to all who would listen (Acts 2: 14-38). They were imprisoned, beaten and killed by the Jewish leaders, yet the numbers of Christians only grew. Jesus’ followers were so convinced by Jesus’ resurrection that they were willing to die for their belief.

Ultimately, what we make of Jesus’ death and empty grave is our own decision. If he is still dead, there is nothing more to say. But if he is alive, then he really is the only person who can beat death for us.

— Chris, an Our Daily Bread reader

 1 person has responded to this question.
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