The crucifixion of Jesus is one of the most well-known stories around the world. With a slew of historical evidence, there’s little doubt — even among critics — His brutal death actually occurred. However, the question then arises: “Did Jesus actually resurrect from the dead, as documented in the Scriptures? Or did something else happen with his body?
Christ’s resurrection is proclaimed throughout the Bible: The Gospel of Luke records in chapter 24 verses 2 and 3, “And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
The Apostle Paul also tells us that if Christ has not been raised, our faith is useless. But Jesus has been resurrected. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is they victory? They have been swallowed up in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Here are five facts from notable Christian leaders to prove Christ’s resurrection is real.
- Jesus’ Execution
Lee Strobel, best-selling author of numerous books including The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith, previously explained that the well-documented execution of Jesus is evidence of His resurrection.
“We have no record of anyone surviving a full Roman crucifixion. The evidence for the execution is so strong historically because not only do we have multiple sources in the New Testament, we have five ancient sources outside the New Testament that confirm and corroborate His execution,” he explained. “I found that there is no dispute among scholars that Jesus was dead after being crucified.”
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical experts analyzed the crucifixion and concluded, “Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross.”
- Early Acceptance of Christianity
Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, said that the early acceptance of Christianity — and especially the resurrection — argues for the validity of the message.
“Unlike what liberal scholars used to tell us, that the Bible was written, especially the Gospel, many decades after the events of Christ, even the most liberal scholars will tell you now that the Gospels were written within a few years of the events that they purport to tell,” he explained.
“So, the fact that the resurrection account came right after Jesus’ life and was widely embraced by people I think argues to its authenticity. As experts tell us, a fictitious event, has to be reported maybe several hundred years after an event before it can gain credibility and corrupt the original source. People in the beginning were willing to die for this truth that Jesus was raised from the dead.”
- The Empty Tomb
Jeffress said a key piece of evidence outside the Bible for the truth of the resurrection is the empty tomb itself.
“People will say, ‘Well that’s in the Bible.’ No, it’s actually outside of the Bible as well,” he said. “We know from external, extra biblical sources that Jesus actually lived; we know that one of the early claims of Christianity was that He was raised from the dead, and the fact is, for 2,000 years, nobody has been able to produce the body.”
The pastor contended that because Christ’s body has never been found, the question arises: What happened to the body if it wasn’t resurrected?
“Some people say it was stolen; well who stole it? The Romans and Jewish leaders had no motivation to steal it, they wanted to stamp out Christianity before it even started,” he said. “The apostles lacked the courage to steal it, they all deserted Christ before his death. Peter, the most courageous apostle, denied the Lord three times before His crucifixion.”
“If it wasn’t the apostles, if it wasn’t the Roman or Jewish leaders, the question is, who moved the stone?” he continued. “I think these are two extra biblical arguments that argue for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.”
- Eyewitness accounts
Strobel said that eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection are the most convincing proofs that point to the resurrection.
“We’re lucky in the ancient world if we have one or two sources to confirm a fact,” he said. “But for the conviction of the disciples that they had encountered the resurrected Christ, we have no fewer than nine ancient sources from inside and outside the New Testament, confirming and corroborating His appearances. The resurrection really confirms His identity of being the Son of God.”
He later argued: “Reports that come so quickly, you can’t just write them off as being a legend. We have one report of the resurrection, including named eye-witnesses, that has been dated back by scholars to within months of the resurrection of Jesus. That is historical gold.”
- The Establishment and Growth of the Christian Church
Blogger and DesiringGod.com contributor Matt Perman says that the existence of the Christian church is strong proof for the resurrection.
“[Even] the most skeptical NT scholars admit that the disciples at least believed that Jesus was raised from the grave,” he writes. “First century Judaism had no conception of a single individual rising from the dead in the middle of history. Their concept was always that everybody would be raised together at the end of time. So the idea of one individual rising in the middle of history was foreign to them. Thus, Judaism of that day could have never produced the resurrection hypothesis.”
“Psychologists will tell you that hallucinations cannot contain anything new–that is, they cannot contain any idea that isn’t already somehow in your mind. Since the early disciples were Jews, they had no conception of the messiah rising from the dead in the middle of history. Thus, they would have never hallucinated about a resurrection of Christ. At best, they would have hallucinated that he had been transported directly to heaven, as Elijah had been in the OT, but they would have never hallucinated a resurrection…So we see that if the resurrection did not happen, there is no plausible way to account for the origin of the Christian faith.”
Why is the resurrection of Christ important? Best-selling author Josh McDowell says that for Christians, the resurrection of Jesus is the “cornerstone to a worldview that provides the perspective to all of life.”
“No matter how devastating our struggles, disappointments, and troubles are, they are only temporary,” he explains. “No matter what happens to you, no matter the depth of tragedy or pain you face, no matter how death stalks you and your loved ones, the resurrection promises you a future of immeasurable good.”