A young girl lived near a spooky-looking cemetery, and in order to get to the store she had to follow a path that went through the cemetery. Yet the young girl never seemed to be afraid, even when it was dark outside. When someone asked her, “Aren’t you scared walking through that cemetery?” she replied, “Oh, no, I am not scared, for my home is just beyond.”
Because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, Christians believe they have a home just beyond the cemetery and therefore have no need to fear it. Since he conquered death and lives again, they will also conquer death and live again. Here is one of the gospel accounts of that great event:
“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples” (Matthew 28:1-8).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ took place early on the first day of the week. As prophesied (Psalm 16:10) and promised (John 2:19), his brutally beaten body that had been nailed to a cross and sealed in a tomb was brought back to life in a remarkable display of heavenly power and triumph.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundational claim of Christianity. If he was not raised from the dead, every other part of the faith falls flat. Paul put it like this:
“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain… If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17).
As they do with so much of God’s Word, skeptics have offered several theories in an effort to deny the truth about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One theory says that Jesus was not dead when they took him off the cross, he simply fainted. Then in the cool of the tomb he revived and departed. Such reasoning is illogical for many reasons. (1) What are the chances that Joseph, Nicodemus, and the soldiers would all have been mistaken about his death? (2) How could a man who had been scourged and crucified have the energy to move a rock that usually took two or three men to move? It is inconceivable to think that a man who had his hands and feet pierced, not to mention his side punctured with a spear, could have the capability of doing such a thing. (3) What about the guards? How could this wounded man manage to move the rock and escape without being noticed?
Another theory says that the disciples stole the body during the night. Like the previous theory, such reasoning is illogical. (1) What physical benefits would the disciples receive from stealing the body of Jesus and preaching that he was resurrected? That kind of preaching cost many of the disciples their freedom, their possessions, and even their lives. (2) What spiritual benefits would the disciples receive? If they were lying about the resurrection, they would be punished by God and spend eternity in hell. (3) What are the chances that the fearful disciples would suddenly have the courage to sneak by the guards and steal the body of their tortured leader? If they feared the Roman authorities while Jesus was living, wouldn’t that fear increase after his horrific death? (4) It is foolish to think that the disciples could remove the massive rock and carry the body away without the guards noticing. (5) Can you imagine thieves taking the time to unwrap the grave clothes in the tomb? Surely they would have waited until they got to a secure place to do that. (6) If the disciples stole the body while the guards slept (Matthew 28:13), how could the guards have known that the disciples were responsible?
There are other theories as well. For instance, some say that the disciples did not really see Jesus resurrected, but suffered from hallucinations. That is not reasonable, however, considering the fact that over 500 people saw him at once (1 Corinthians 15:6). Can you imagine how much weight 500 witnesses would carry in a court of law? This is not to mention the other appearances recorded in Scripture.
None of the theories are logical. They are weak attempts to deny the undeniable. The gospel accounts of what happened on that memorable morning are true. Jesus Was Raised! His spirit broke forth from the hadean realm and reunited with his body. His heart began to beat, his eyes began to blink, and his lungs began to fill with air. He sat up and walked out of the tomb never to die again. Hope happened! As Peter wrote,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
If you are not a partaker of the blessed hope that Christians have through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we urge you to believe and obey the gospel today (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10)!