What Do We Know About
Resurrection of Jesus?
Bible students are familiar with the events recorded in Acts 17. Paul had been sent on ahead to Athens. There he waited for Silas and Timothy. While he waited he was upset over all the idolatry that he observed. He went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke to everyone that he could about the Christ. Among those that he had discussions with were the Epicureans and Stoics. They took Paul to the Areopagus, the judicial body of that day. There before them on Mars Hill Paul delivered his famous sermon about "The Unknown God." He explained to them about a God that they worshipped, but that they did not understand. This God had made the world and everything in it. This God does not dwell in hand made temples. He gives life, breath, and everything else to all people. He wanted them to know that they could have a relationship with this God because He is not far from any of us. We are His children. He gave us life, the power to move and made us who we are. Sadly we have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory. (Romans 3:23) Sinners must turn to God in repentance because Judgment Day is coming. (Acts 17:30-31) God has given proof of this to all of us by raising Jesus from death. As soon as they "heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter." (Acts 17:32) What is your reaction when you hear of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead?
The early Christians preached the resurrection of the Christ as a central part of the gospel message. The resurrection of Christ is crucial both to our faith and to our future. The resurrection of Jesus proves that He is no mere man. It declares Him to be the Son of God. Paul wrote in Romans 1:4 that Jesus was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." The resurrection from the dead proves Jesus to be worthy of our honor, respect and of our worship. Jesus said to Martha, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." (John 11:25-27) Our salvation is dependent upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! (1 Corinthians 15:1-9) What do we know about Jesus' resurrection?
We know that Jesus died according to the scriptures. Paul wrote, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) Christ died according to the prophecies of the Scriptures. His death for sins was foretold in many Old Testament passages. No prophecy was more vivid concerning the death of Jesus than Isaiah 53. The prophet wrote, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken." (Isaiah 53:7-8) God made his soul an "offering for sin." (Isaiah 53:10) Paul said that Jesus was "delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (Romans 4:25) When Jesus died, He died for a reason. Jesus died to save us from our sins. Sin is anything that is contrary to the nature of God.
We know that Jesus was buried according to the scriptures. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) Bible students are familiar with the kindness of Joseph of Arimathea toward Jesus that was shown in our Lord's burial. Matthew wrote, "When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed." (Matthew 27:57-60) Observe that Joseph, (1) Went into Pilate, (2) begged the body of Jesus, (3) Took Jesus' body down from the cross, (4) Wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, (5) Laid Jesus in his own new tomb, and (6) Rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre. This fulfilled scripture. Isaiah had prophesied, "And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." (Isaiah 53:9)
We know that Jesus arose the third day according to scriptures. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) Jesus had predicted that He would be raised on the third day. "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day." (Matthew 16:21) It was prophesied in sixteenth Psalm that Jesus would not remain in the grave. Peter quoted the prophecy from David in Acts 2:25-28. "I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." (Psalm 16:8-11) The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is one of the cornerstones of the Christian faith.
We know that the resurrection of Jesus is an undeniable fact. There were many that saw Jesus after His resurrection. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome were the first to learn of the resurrection. (Mark 16:1-6) Paul wrote, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." (1 Corinthians 15:3-9) Two disciples walked, talked and ate with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-35) Jesus appeared to the apostles without Thomas being present. (John 20:19-24) Jesus appeared a second time to the apostles. This time they were all present. (John 20:26-29) Jesus appeared to seven disciples by the Lake of Tiberias. (John 21:1-23) Many others also saw Him, including Paul who said, "And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." (1 Corinthians 15:8-9)
We know that when the gospel was preached the resurrection was preached. When it was time to select an apostle to take the place of Judas it had to be a person that had been a witness of the resurrection. "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection." (Acts 1:21-22) When Peter preached the first gospel sermon as the church began on Pentecost He preached the resurrection. (Acts 2:31) A little later we read, "And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead." (Acts 4:1-2) In Acts 4:33 we read, "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." In Romans 6 Paul used the resurrection in order to teach about baptism. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." (Romans 6:3-5) Our hope is connected to the resurrection of Jesus. (1 Peter 1:3) Baptism has meaning only through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:21)
We know that without the resurrection our faith is vain. If Jesus was not resurrected then our faith is useless. (1 Corinthians 15:12-23) "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." (1 Corinthians 15:14) The resurrection of Christ is at the very heart of the Christian faith. The apostles gave up their lives because of faith in the resurrection of Jesus. Not long after the beginning of the church the apostles were arrested for preaching the resurrection. "And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead." (Acts 4:1-2) They just kept preaching what they had seen and heard. It might cost their life but because of the resurrection their desire was to obey God instead of men. (Acts 5:28-32) Saul of Tarsus came face to face with the resurrected Lord on the Damascus road and his life was changed forever. "He, who knew all of the arguments that the high priest and the others gave for not believing in Jesus, came to be the foremost proclaimer of the risen Christ." In Romans 5:10 we read, "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." The "life" by which we are saved refers to Jesus' resurrection. We are reconciled by His death and saved by His life. Death came first and then the life followed. The "life" that saves us is Jesus' life after His resurrection.
Will you accept God's wonderful good news that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and was raised on the third day? Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. Those that become children of God have reason to rejoice. (Acts 8:39) Rejoicing follows man's response to God's good news of forgiveness by the death of Jesus.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA