Were you there?
1 > 2 > 3 > 4
4 KEY POINTS ABOUT THE CROSS AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS
As a bridge between Part 1—‘WERE YOU THERE WHEN THEY CRUCIFIED MY LORD?’ and Part 2— ‘ WERE YOU THERE WHEN HE ROSE UP FROM THE GRAVE?’ we now look at four categories of reasons showing why you can safely believe in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But first, please read the Bible’s summary of some of the appearances of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:1-20.
ONE WAY ONLY TO BE SAVED
1. Risen Jesus is the only Saviour and perfect God-Man.
The Bible says there is only one way to have our sins forgiven – one way to avoid Hell’s eternal judgement and enjoy Heaven’s blessing forever. Only through the risen Lord Jesus Christ can we receive eternal life now and never lose it.
When, with shame, we turn from our sins and trust Jesus Christ personally as our Lord and Saviour, we admit our failures and guilt, and turn our back on them. We thank Jesus for having borne those sins and their punishment in our place on the cross and for having risen again. and ask Him, the ever-living Saviour, to enter our life through the Holy Spirit. He does this to answer our heart-felt cry to Him in prayer. We individually ask Him to enter our sinful heart, cleanse it, and ‘be merciful to me, a sinner.’
Jesus said: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life: no-one comes to the Father except through Me.’ (John 14:6). The historic God-given message of Christianity about the Lord Jesus Christ is clear: ‘There is no other name given under Heaven amongst men whereby we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only Saviour. No-one else can forgive and save guilty people. ‘Jesus’ means ‘God saves.’ He is both fully God and perfect, sinless Man. He is ‘Emmanuel—God with us.’
TWO THINGS JESUS DID TO SAVE THOSE WHO TRUST HIM
- Jesus died as a perfect sacrifice.
- He rose from death & lives now.
Because Jesus was sinless, He never had to pay the penalty for His own sins. He had none to pay for. His thoughts, words, deeds and intentions were all entirely without fault and pleased God the Father—unlike you and me. Because He was eternally God, by dying on the cross He frees from sin and judgment forever any sinner coming to Him. He gives eternal life now to all who believe in Him.
Because Jesus rose again from the dead on the third day, He defeated death and indwells anyone who asks Him into their life. The power of His resurrection life in the new Christian produces the great joy of becoming a ‘new creation’ in Christ, a 2 Corinthians 7:7 proclaims. Why? Because he has been ‘born again’ by God’s Spirit, as Jesus promised in John 3:1-17.
But a vital result of Jesus’ resurrection is that because God the Father raised Jesus from death, He thereby showed that He accepted Jesus’ payment for my sins in full at Calvary’s cross. I go free because He paid for me. As one hymn puts it:
Because the sinless Saviour died,
my sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me.
THREE REASONS WHY WE ARE SURE JESUS ROSE AGAIN
- The Bible says so.
- Overwhelming evidence.
- Changed lives.
But how can we be certain that all this is right? How can we know it is true?
First, because the Bible says so. The Bible is God’s written word, written by fallible, but Holy, men under the inspiration of the infallible third person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. In context, there is no contradiction in the Bible. Jesus taught that was so, and so did the apostles. Everyone born again person comes to know the infallible Author, God Himself, and begins to understand, read and love His infallible book, the Bible. We need no other authority to rely on.
Second, there is overwhelming evidence that Jesus died and rose again. Non-Biblical writers and sources also evidence the fact of the resurrection. No properly constituted Court of Law would deny that there were far more credible, good character, and corroborating, first-hand witnesses to the resurrection than are needed to ‘prove’ anything in court today. Many of those early witnesses were so assured of the truth of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave that they suffered cruel persecution, imprisonment, and even death rather than deny it.
And third, the changed lives of all who met the once crucified and now living Jesus demonstrated it was so. Some were always open minded. Some, like Thomas, started as sceptical doubters. Others once cruelly opposed Christ. Think of the arch-persecutor, Saul, who was miraculously changed by the living Saviour. He became Paul, the apostle, and wrote a huge proportion of the New Testament as led by the Holy Spirit. Each changed person said the change was because they had met and yielded to Jesus after He rose again. They knew He had borne their wrongdoing and judgment, and rose to grant them eternal life now, and forever.
FOUR CONVINCING PIECES OF EVIDENCE THAT JESUS ROSE
- Christ is unique.
- His resurrection was an accepted fact then.
- Where was Jesus Christ’s dead body?
- Lives are changed even today.
Christ is unique
First, the Lord Jesus Christ is unique. There is no-one like Jesus. He is not a religious leader among religious leaders: He is God in flesh amongst mere men. Expect the miraculous about and from Him. Did He provide the miraculous? Yes, He did! He was conceived by God the Holy Spirit through Mary, a virgin. His flawless, loving, holy and perfect life showed He was God in flesh. His teaching has never been surpassed by anyone or any religion anywhere. Even as a young boy in the Temple He taught deep truth to experienced teachers of God’s law. His amazing miracles acted as signs to show that He was God the Son, the ever-living Son of God, and one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. His death on the cross, as our substitute, sin-bearer, and Saviour—and the timing of that death—could only have been arranged by God’s divine mind and hand. So, we should expect Jesus’ miraculous resurrection from the dead and then an equally miraculous ascension to Heaven. One day He will return to earth in great power and glory as ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’.
Everything about Jesus was always miraculously different. He was, is, and always will be unique. But, amazingly, His birth, life, teaching, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension were all foretold accurately in the Scriptures either by direct prophecies or by providing other events that pictured those amazing truths about Jesus hundreds of years before He came. Prophecy said He would rise!
His resurrection was an accepted fact then
Second, it was an accepted fact, with no counter argument at the time, that Jesus had risen again. When I wrote this, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was in intensive care (ICU) with Coronavirus 19. No-one argued about that well- known fact and common ground. It’s the same about Jesus’ resurrection Those living when it happened never needed to prove it. Over 500 people saw Him at one time. People in large crowds, in groups, individually and in pairs met Him in various places and circumstances, and at different times. Everyone knew that many people had seen and met the risen Jesus after His very well-attested death on the cross in crowded Jerusalem. When the apostles preached about Jesus, very soon after His death and resurrection, they never tried to prove that He had died and risen. They did not need to. Everyone knew about it.
Where was Jesus Christ’s dead body?
Third, where was Jesus Christ’s dead body? It was never produced. All that a person or faction needed to do to undermine the claim that Jesus rose again, was to provide the corpse. No-one ever did. Neither were any remains found. And neither was anyone found alive who had previously claimed to have been Jesus. Where did Jesus go? There was never a trace of this high profiled person. Not a single witness came forward to say ‘I saw the failed Jesus there’, or ‘I found His body, remains or skeleton.’ We know why! Jesus rose from the grave and then ascended into Heaven.
Friend or foe, Christian or atheist or agnostic, religious or irreligious, all agree that Jesus, His death and His resurrection were very high profile. So was His body. It was battered, scourged and nailed to a cross, where a Roman spear finally pierced it. That body was moved from the cross to a tomb, by approval and oversight of the Governor, Pilate, and a senior Roman centurion. All those denying that Jesus rose had to do was to show where His body was. To destroy Christianity, they simply needed to disprove the resurrection by producing His dead body. The opposing Jewish religious leaders would have loved that, as the last nail in the coffin of resurrection! It would have ruined Christianity. The Romans, too, would have welcomed that, in order to crush another possible popular uprising in following another ‘king’. The disciples’ testimony would have died overnight. If Jesus stayed dead, why did no-one produce the body? Those saying He did not die at all must explain why no-one saw Him somewhere else, or revealed a cowering fraudster trying to hide from everyone? Why has no trace of the ‘non-resurrected Jesus’, or of His corpse, skeleton, or human remains ever been produced? A fake resurrection could so easily have been exposed.
Lives are changed even today
Fourth, millions of people throughout history, and today, insist that the risen Lord Jesus has changed them. They testify that when they trusted in the risen Saviour, who was punished for their sins on the cross, their lives were changed from the point in time when He came into their hearts. Some are in the Bible. Some are historically well known. Some are little known. And there are millions today worldwide.
I just received an email from a once violent prisoner. He claimed a few years ago that he met the risen Jesus by faith. He turned from his sins to receive Jesus in his life as His living Lord and Saviour. First his cellmate, then his two grandparents, then his sister and mother came to rejoice in knowing Jesus living in them too! They were all convinced by how God changed his life since he received Christ. Think of Dr Barnardo, William Booth, William Wilberforce, or Florence Nightingale. All were saved by Jesus and changed. Millions of others know that too. Do you?
Romans 10:9 says: ‘if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’ That shows how to become ‘born again’. It confirms 2 Corinthians 5:17: ‘if anyone is in Christ. He is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.’ One of those changed people is sharing these words with you now! I love the rousing hymn and chorus, ‘He lives!’ The chorus of that hymn declares:
He lives! He lives!
Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives! He lives!
Salvation to impart.
You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart!
The Lord Jesus Christ, who died and lives forever, is still the only Saviour from sin. He pardons, cleanses, changes, blesses and helps everyone who trusts in Him. That includes you. If you do not know Him yet, please come to Him now
There is no shortage of objective and factual evidence that Jesus’ resurrection is a historical fact. But the final piece of compelling evidence is that you can have your own your personal testimony to its truth if you receive Christ in your heart. (John 1:12). If you do not repent of sin and receive Him, you can have no such testimony to give. If you do receive Him, eternal life and knowing the risen Jesus in your life begin and are a reality. And Heaven awaits you after this life!
One strong branch of evidence that you know the risen Lord and are yielded to Him is that others will see it in your life. Romans 14:9 says, ‘For this reason Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.’ The ‘dead’ who know the risen Jesus have no problems. They are in Heaven now! The ‘living’—which (hopefully!) includes you and me!—belong to Jesus because we repented of our sins and trusted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Repentance from sins is the first step we take to make Jesus Christ our Lord. But it does not finish at conversion. It carries on day by day as we continue to turn from sin and selfish choices and move off the throne of our lives to bow before King Jesus. When we fail, we ask Him to forgive and cleanse us, and we yield to Him afresh. We now need to have audience with this King of kings every day when we read our Bibles and have a quiet time of personal prayer. We are on duty for our King 24/7. We must honour Him in what we do, what we say, what we do not do, and what we do not say. We represent Him in this sinful word and work and pray to help other sinners bow to Him too, and in so doing have their sins forgiven and receive eternal life and a home in Heaven! Meanwhile we meet with others who know Him in the church for Bible study, prayer together, fellowship, friendship and for worship together on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.