“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 from the Lord descended from heaven 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.” Matthew 28:1-7, ESV
This falls into the realm of apologetics, but our understanding of what happened to Jesus affects how we interpret the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. There are at least seven different evidences that make a compelling argument that Jesus rose from the grave.
- The empty tomb. No one disputes the tomb was empty. Every one would have known which tomb it was, Joseph of Aremethea. It was sealed by Pilate and guarded by the Roman army. Yet, the tomb was empty.
- The first ones to see Jesus were women. No one in the ancient world would have made up a story that said women were the first ones to see Jesus risen from the dead. Women were considered second class in both Jewish and Roman culture. Christianity was the first religion to recognize women are equal to men. It started with Jesus including women in his ministry and them being the first to see Him alive again.
- The disciples claimed to have seen Jesus alive for forty days after He rose. These men were low class citizens, one being a Zelot, and another being a former tax collector. They had no reason to lie. They were persecuted, beaten, lost their homes, and eventually lost their lives for claiming they saw Jesus alive again. No one will die for what they know is a lie.
- Jesus’ enemies claimed to have seen Jesus risen from the dead. These men were Jesus’ brothers James and Jude, and Saul of Tarsus who persecuted the early Church. Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him when He was alive. Yet they believed in Him when they claimed to have seen him alive again. Saul killed Christians until he claimed to have seen Jesus alive. Neither had anything to gain and everything to lose for what they claimed to have saw.
- The handwritten eyewitness testimony is extremely reliable. There are over 5600 Greek manuscripts and 24000 total manuscripts in other languages that prove the New Testament is extremely reliable. The copies are also close to the original documents; some are within a couple of decades. That is significant because all other ancient literature have copies hundreds of years removed from the original documents. There are only minor differences between the biblical manuscripts and no difference affects any Christian doctrine. It also is in harmony with what we know of ancient history. They read reliable.
- It is a fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. Isaiah 53 promised the Messiah would die for the sins of his people and see his offspring. That can only happen if He rose from the dead. The Psalm 16:10 David wrote that said, “You will not let your Holy One see corruption” was seen as a prophecy that the Messiah would rise again before he saw decay (my translation).
- The Bible says it happened. While all scholars have to agree with the first five arguments, and some might accept the sixth, only Christians will accept this. The Holy Spirit testifies to the Words of Jesus, the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word, it is perfect, it reveals the will of God, it is accurate on everything, it makes one wise for salvation, it is without error, and it is completely true. God said Jesus rose from the dead. We must believe it or we are not saved.
What you believe about Jesus affects how you interpret the Bible. These arguments more than make the case that Jesus rose from the dead. I would argue that these truths prove it. But the skeptical mind is so twisted that it cannot see the light unless God intervenes. We must pray God opens the minds of the unregenerate and share the gospel while we still have breath.