Mark Hart is a blogger for Lifeteen, which is kind of the Roman Catholic Young Life. He wrote the basis of today’s post, in hope of helping skeptical teenagers in a skeptical world consider what it means to follow Jesus. I vividly remember my own skepticism and my own journey into faith as a teenager, and lists like this were very helpful to me. They convinced me that I might not be crazy to have faith. I had faith, but I suspected it might be delusional. I still needed to meet the resurrected Christ, person to person in the Spirit, to convince me I was on the right path. But getting hold of the facts helped me too — reasoning has a part in how we come to believe, too.
Many people tell Jesus followers, young and old, that “based on human logic” the resurrection of Jesus makes no sense. They have a point. But, of course, they could make the same point about many of the things “human logic” comes up with — it is not known for making consistent sense, either. Nevertheless, it is true, that though God has used every means possible to make sense to us, the Lord still admits that “My ways are not your ways, nor are my thoughts your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). What is illogical is to think that humans are the center of the universe. But people still bet their lives on that premise. The resurrection re-centers logic where it belongs: on God’s thoughts, not ours. But there is a lot of human reasoning that can help us get to faith in that.
Any conversation about God is a lot more involved than mere logic. Any talk about Jesus and his resurrection will need to include an assumption that humans are also spiritual beings and having faith is what we do. Considering the resurrection won’t get too far If we are not humble enough to admit that we don’t already know everything we might need to know. One will at least need to assume that “it is possible that God exists” and that “we are not God.”
When it comes to resurrection of Jesus, to say that there is no logical reason to believe it happened and it meant something is short on facts and somewhat absurd. Like I said, deciding whether the resurrection is logical or not will not be enough to move someone into faith — at least it was not enough for me. I had an entire spiritual territory that was unexplored and Jesus became my personal guide. But reasoning helped get me started. So maybe this post will reinforce some of the basic facts of faith in Jesus for you, too. To get started, here are 15 quick facts that validate the reality and meaning of the resurrection. These are not exhaustive or highly detailed; they are quick points that further strengthen what humble-hearted believers receive in faith:
1. There was an empty tomb
The founders of other “faiths” are buried in tombs or had their ashes sprinkled over foreign lands. Not Jesus. Modern scholars and CNN can claim what they want . . . the truth is that the tomb was empty.
2. The tomb had a Roman seal
Clay was affixed to a rope (stretched across a rock) and to the tomb, itself. The Roman seal was pressed into the clay. Break the seal, you break the law; break the law –- you die.
3. The tomb had a Roman guard stationed there
The “guard” was at least four men, possibly more, of highly trained soldiers. These soldiers were experts in torture and in combat, not easily frightened off by a band of fishermen and tax collectors. Had they fallen asleep or left their post they would have violated the law, resulting in their own execution.
4. The tomb had a stone in front of it
Most scholars put the weight of the stone at about 2 tons (4000 pounds), probably at least seven or eight feet high. This was definitely a “team lift” or “team roll,” not movable by just one or two men.
5. There were post-resurrection appearances, to hundreds
Over a span of six weeks after he rose, Jesus appeared to a variety of groups of various sizes in different locations. He appeared to over 500 at one point –- a huge number to be an outright fabrication. Not to mention, the people to whom he appeared didn’t just see Him, but ate with Him, walked with Him, touched Him. Jesus even made breakfast (John 21:9) at one point.
6. The martyrdom of witnesses offers proof
Would people leave their businesses, careers, homes and families, go to the ends of the earth, die horribly gruesome and painful deaths and forsake their previous religious beliefs about salvation all to protect a lie? Not one of them, while being beheaded, fed to lions, boiled in oil, crucified upside down or burned alive changed their story. Instead, they sang hymns of trust and praise, knowing that the Lord who defeated death would raise them up, too. People do weird stuff for religious reasons, of course, but their faith is compelling.
7. There is still a Church
If the resurrection were a lie it would have died off centuries ago, wouldn’t it? The Christian Church is the largest movement of any kind in the history of humanity. It began with the apostles being commissioned by the risen Lord, then filled with resurrection life on Pentecost. That life keeps undermining empires, withstanding attacks (from inside and out) and growing in spite of the sinfulness of its members. It is a testimony to the presence of the risen Lord, guided and protected by the Holy Spirit, a living body both human and divine, like Jesus.
8. Jesus prophesied that it was going to happen
Jesus told people he would rise from the dead. It didn’t take Him by surprise. And He didn’t just say “I’m going to be killed” (which others might have seen coming) but also that “I’m going to rise on the third day.” Those details aren’t ironic, coincidental or fortune-telling — they’re prophecy and prophets speak from God. We are called to test whether what they claim is true.
9. It was prophesied in the Old Testament
The resurrection was foretold centuries before Jesus was born. Hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah: what He would say, do, how he would live and how He would die, were offered centuries by a variety of prophets over centuries. David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Hosea, and Micah all pointed to the Christ’s death and resurrection hundreds of years before they occurred.
10. The day of worship changed
Following the resurrection, tens of thousands of Jews (almost overnight) abandoned the centuries-old tradition of celebrating the Sabbath on the last day of the week and began worshiping on the first day of the week, the day on which the Lord, the Christ, beat death sealing the new and final covenant with God. That was a huge thing for them and marks their belief in the event that changed everything.
11. The practices of sacrifice changed
Jews were always taught (and taught their children… Deuteronomy 6) that they needed to offer an animal sacrifice once a year, to atone for their sins. After the resurrection, the Jewish converts of the time, throngs of them, stopped offering animal sacrifices to God. Not only had the ultimate sacrifice been offered, the resurrection sealed their forgiveness and their own hope of resurrection.
12. It is unique among other world religions
Most of the religions of the world have elements of them that point toward Jesus; they represent the same deep desire we all have to be saved from death and freed from sin. But no other religious leader of any consequence ever actually claimed to be God, except Jesus. No other religious leader ever did the things Christ did. No other religious leader ever backed up their “religious voice” with resurrection. Confucius died. Lao-tse died. Buddha died. Mohammed died. Joseph Smith died. Christ rose from the dead. That “scandalous” thought continues to trip people up and continues to guide their steps into eternity.
13. The message is self-authenticating
This proof goes back to the original point, namely, that a humble heart is enlightened and illuminated by far more than logic or reason. A true believer doesn’t need all the facts to believe in the resurrection, because the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us, intimately and powerfully. St. Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 4. Blind and hardened hearts will never see God, not until they acknowledge that they are not God. Obviously, people can use this argument to believe in anything about which they feel deeply. But without this experience of confirmation in relationship to God, mere logic is usually less than convincing.
14. The miraculous ending fits a miraculous life
You want logic? Christ healed the blind, the deaf and the dumb. He fed the masses, cured the lepers, and forgave the sinners. He made the lame walk and brought others back to life. He multiplied food, walked on water, and calmed storms with His mere voice. The miracle that happened during the crucifixion is that He did not preform a miracle. He died. The miracle followed: Jesus rose from the dead. it was a miraculous completion of a miraculous life, exactly what one would expect.
15. Maybe the only reason we need: Jesus is still rising
The world suffers and we all experience it and do something about it. We ignore it, lament it, debate it, bomb it, and medicate it . . . but we can’t find the cure for it or the point of it as long as we are separated from Jesus Christ. In Christ, our suffering has a point and it has worth just as his did. Apart from Christ, suffering is relatively pointless and fruitless. There is no fountain of youth. There is no miracle drug. There is no cure for death except Jesus Christ. What is illogical is to think that the God of life would not want us to live eternally.
If you are convinced this life is your only one, then the resurrection will not fit into your logic. This little blog probably won’t convince you to change your mind, either. But hopefully, this quick reminder the day after Easter gives a few believers some encouragement that the resurrection is not illogical. That being said, I hope it also encourages you to know that it is far from merely logical, as well. It is the work of God, which is far more that we could imagine. But since we are the work of God, too, it resonates in places in us that are longing for life.
”How can some among you say there is no resurrection? If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith; if Christ has not been raised than your faith is in vain; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-18)
Brothers and sisters, because of what happened in that Upper Room, on that cross, and in that tomb nearly 2000 years ago, we know God the Father intimately, we walk with Christ daily, and we are guided by the Holy Spirit eternally. That’s the truth, and it is beautiful (John 8:32). When I was first becoming a Jesus follower, I just barely believed it. But my mind led me to my feelings, and then both led me to my spiritual capacity which enlivened the heart of me so I could walk by faith. I am risen with Christ myself! That’s a beautiful truth, too.