A Historical Defense of the Resurrection
Christians maintain that Jesus bodily rose from the dead. This belief arises from Scripture (e.g., Matt 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6; John 20:15). It also arises from historical inquiry. Consider these four historical facts.
First, Jesus Christ died by crucifixion. The crucifixion was scandalous in the ancient word (see 1 Cor 1:23). No one would choose to establish a new movement based upon a Roman cross. Yet, that is exactly what early Christians did. They preached the cross because Jesus was crucified. Second, early Christians stated that women first spoke of Jesus’ empty tomb. This posed a problem because a woman’s testimony was not highly regarded in the ancient world. Still, it is women, not men, who first observed the empty tomb. Why would early Christians tell their story in this socially-unacceptable way? Because that is what happened. Third, early Christians believed that Christ had risen from the dead. They spoke constantly about Jesus’ resurrection, which indicates, at minimum, that they believed that he had. Fourth, early Christians died for what they believed. Take, for example, the apostle Peter. Jerome, an ancient historian, writes, “At Nero’s hands, Peter received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross.” If Peter knew Jesus’ resurrection was a lie, he would not have been crucified for it. People don’t die for beliefs they know are lies. Yet, Peter did die for his belief. Why? Because Peter saw the risen Lord.
Christianity is not poppycock. It’s the truth. Jesus really did rise from the dead. Both the Bible and history show that. Let the reader understand.