Let us ask ourselves today a serious question, even if I had been a Christian for a long time, do I really believe 100% that Jesus rose again from death? Do you have a good argument that Jesus rose again? Today we will think about some arguments.
1. Arguments against Jesus’ resurrection
There are scientific, biological, historical, archaeological points of view.
2nd century AD – Celsus a Greek philosopher took a systematic approach to attack Christianity, especially that Jesus rose again. The book he wrote is: The true word.
Census tried to show the foolishness of Christian faith, he drew from Jewish sources to discredit Jesus, that Jesus had staged magic, that Jesus was a coward because He prayed for Father to remove the cup from Him, that Jesus was not a good teacher because all the disciples ran away as they know He is not the true God, and Jesus did not rise from death. He said if Jesus rose from the dead, He should have showed His body to Caesar, roman officials and other influential people to spread the word that He rose. Celsus goes on further to speak of John’s account in John 20, of the first witness of Jesus’ resurrection, Mary Magdalene. Celsus wrote: How can anyone expect rational man to listen to the testimony of a hysterical woman who was known to have 7 demons, probably a prostitute or something similar.
2. Arguments for resurrection of Jesus Christ
We will look at 3 arguments:
(i) Argument by theologians -> Response to Celsus
But the early forefathers of the church refuting Celsus, especially Origin (early church fathers) who wrote an entire article called “Contra Celsum, against Celsus” where he refuted every point that Celsus wrote to attack Christianity. “If I were to create a false story, would I use Mary Magdalene? The disciples wrote the events as it happened, that is why Mary Magdalene is the first one to testify of Jesus’ gospel. That is why even doubting Thomas was included in the story. Even if Jesus appeared to all the high officials, Roman Caesar and kings, do you think they would have believed?” That does not fit with God’s intention of His redemption story. He is not here to receive any social or political recognition. Jesus is here to save those who believe Him.
Pastor Tim Keller said Christianity offers something intensely rationale, it is more than rationale, it is merciful, personal and wonderful. Apostle Paul says, hearing the Word of God, will lead us to faith. So our faith, is not from ignorance, this Word of God is not irrational, and all knowledge comes from God.
It took a whole lot of reasoning and evidence for the disciples to believe –
Peter, John, Thomas all did not believe in the beginning until they saw evidence of Jesus’ nail marks. What about us? Jesus didn’t appear to us in His physical resurrected bodies for us to believe. That is why we need to see & understand Him in the bible. The Word of God is written and inspired by the Holy Spirit, no fallacy and no errancy. If we believe that God created the whole universe, we should be able to believe this bible is true, and Jesus resurrected.
(ii) Argument by disciples -> Apostle Paul’s writing
Apostle Paul wrote less than 20 years after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. He said at one point in time, more than 500 people all saw Jesus’ resurrected body, and you can go find them, some of them are still alive. Paul was saying this was public knowledge, most of these eyewitnesses were still alive.
(1 Cor 15:1-9) Apostle Paul was saying, I am not speaking to you about what you heard from rabbis or from church, but I am speaking to you about what we saw and heard. I really met Him. You met Him. Many people met Him. Resurrection was not just an inference from an empty tomb. It was not because Peter and his disciples went into the empty tomb, but Jesus really appeared to them.
(iii) Argument by the people
Disciples ran away when Jesus was crucified, even when Jesus resurrected, they initially couldn’t believe. Suddenly these were changed overnight. Even Peter who denied Jesus, was crucified upside down. People were martyred as witnesses to Jesus Christ. Why would they do that? There were other Messianic pretenders and they died later and their followers never died for them.
Human created stories cannot last. Jesus’ resurrection has made a change, not only in individuals but the whole world. Even today, your lives and my life have changed. Can you say: Look at me, I am the proof that Jesus is alive.
Conclusion. Life with peace, is life with testimony
Have you ever felt the peace that the world cannot give? You experienced it when you came to Jesus. If you have not experienced that peace, please pray “Lord please give me that peace, help me to experience that peace.” Apostle Paul told us and told the early Christians what was at stake if Jesus was not alive. Everything would be in vain and meaningless.
Jesus entered in that room where the disciples were. Before they even asked, He knew they wouldn’t believe. He showed them the nail marks. Only then did they rejoice, and fear left. That is when Jesus said: Peace be with you. This peace is possible only when we can believe and trust. After saying that, Jesus showed them His hands and allowed them to believe, then said “Peace be with you.” When Jesus said to give us peace, that means He will help us.
Jesus then said “Receive the Holy Spirit, for I am sending you just as My Father sent me.” He gives us faith, allows us to believe, gives us the Holy Spirit.
That peace in our life is our testimony. Our testimony is not that I believe 100%, but our testimony is even if I fall and do not believe, Jesus comes and we have that relationship, gives us His peace, and we get up again, our darkness goes away. That continued relationship, that kind of life, is the testimony that Jesus is alive.