Author: Steve Adams
Tuesday 04th April 01:58pm.
This is the second blog post in a series of articles examining the historicity and significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The first article specifically addressed the evidence for Jesus found in historical writings outside of the Bible. You can view that article at https://www.eastgatebiblechurch.com/blog/evidence-for-jesus-outside-the-bible/
Today we look at why the Bible's claims that Jesus was raised to life on the third day after his crucifixion are paramount to Christianity. This is potentially the most important question for the Christian faith. After all, if Jesus was not raised, Christians have committed themselves and all their hopes to a decomposed corpse. Even the Bible itself testifies to the foolishness of Christianity if Jesus was not raised. In 1 Corinthians 15:4-19, Paul lays bare the embarrassing implications for Christians if Jesus was not raised. I have underlined each of these for emphasis.
1 Corinthians 15:14–19 (ESV)
14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
The apostle Paul who wrote these words knew exactly what was at stake if Jesus was not actually raised. Just look at the implications:
Cornelius Tacitus (1st Century Roman Historian) - Annals 15.44
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
Tacitus tells us that Christians were torn apart by dogs, crucified and set on fire - sometimes their burning bodies being used for lighting at night. Nobody would endure such treatment for something they were not convinced to be true and important! Knowing that early Christians believed that Jesus was raised from the dead is one thing. The big questions are "Why would they (or anyone) believe that Jesus was actually raised from the dead?", "Is it actually true?" and "Why does it matter?" These questions will be addressed in following posts.