Posts Tagged Easter2020

500 witnesses to the resurrection of Christ

Resurrection © 2020 Simon Peter SutherlandEaster is a ‘Christian festival‘ that celebrates and remembers the resurrection of Jesus Christ. All around the world, Christians and religious persons gather to remember an event that has changed the face of the world we live in.

For many Christians, Easter is a very special time. But as with most Christian or religious festivals and practices, Easter attracts a wide variety of opinion and belief.

For some, Easter has become a time for organisations to make a profit. For others it is a time when families get together and give people chocolate eggs. For others, Easter is just a paganised festival and not in the Bible. For others Easter is just a time when religious people sit in churches listening to texts being read over and over. As I say, there are many thoughts and beliefs.

But laying aside the varying ideas of religious paganization, ritualistic services and fairytale like storytelling and chocolate eggs, let us remember that Easter represents a very real and verifiable historic occurrence. Let us remember that this occurrence is an event that no serious historian or Theologian does or can satisfactorily deny.

This event happened 2000 years ago in Israel and this event has changed the face of the world we live.

To clarify the familiar story, I am writing about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

History and the Bible shows that sometime around AD 33 Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in Jerusalem by the Romans. The Messiah had been betrayed by His friend Judas and arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus withstood six trials during the night, and the early morning, and after being punished by Pontius Pilate He suffered an extreme beating and scourging by Roman solders. He was then sentenced to death and after carrying His own cross, He was crucified outside the city walls of ancient Jerusalem. After six to nine hours on the cross, He was certified dead.

By all accounts the story should have ended there. But it didn’t. His body was wrapped in a shroud, placed in a rich mans tomb. A large stone was rolled over the entrance, and it was then given an official Roman seal. Guards were then placed (night and day) around the tomb to keep watch so that His followers could not remove the body and simulate a resurrection. Three days later however, the tomb was found empty and the stone was rolled away.

Jesus was then seen alive by Mary Magdalen, a woman and after He was seen by His Apostles and then by five hundred people at one time.

This event is called the resurrection of Jesus Christ and it is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity is just another religion and faith is useless.

Writing about this event some 20 or so years after it happened, Paul was writing to believers in ancient Corinth. This city was (and is) in southern Greece and in the 1st century Corinth was situated on a trade route.

In 1 Corinthians 15: 3-7 Paul had this to say:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.

This claim is extraordinary. Some may say ‘well, that’s just what the Bible says...’ as though the resurrection of Jesus is just a claim made in the Bible alone and that the Bible is just another religious book. But the problem is, even if the entire New Testament, or the individual writings were not part of the Bible, the letter of Paul to the Corinthians would still be extant. Even as a singular document, Corinthians would still stand as a historical source by itself.

By saying this, I am claiming that there was a time when the Books of the New Testament were individual works, written by individual persons to specific peoples. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are like that.

If we take our minds back and add some imagination, it would not be difficult for us to imagine the things people were saying about the resurrection of Christ during the time of St. Paul. Some said there is no resurrection of the dead. Others said there is no life after death. Others said the disciples could have made the stories up. Others may have said the disciples were hallucinating and saw Jesus alive due to being overcome with enormous grief over His death.

But Paul appealed to his original readers and invited them to check his facts with the original eye witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If they didn’t believe Paul, they could go and interview the eye witnesses themselves. These eyewitnesses were likely to have been the people living in Galilee. At the time of writing most of these eye witnesses were still living.

Thus, modern reader, I invite you to consider the following points:

  • All scholars, modern and ancient, accept that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians.
  • All scholars, modern and ancient, accept that Paul was an actual historic 1st century person.
  • All scholars, modern and ancient, accept that there was a Church in Corinth.
  • All scholars accept that 1 Corinthians likely dates to around AD. 55, 56 or earlier.
  • History shows that Corinth was under Roman rule at the time of writing and no charge was raised against Paul for claiming Jesus’ death and resurrection was historical fact.
  • Mass hallucinations do not occur. It is impossible for over 500 people to hallucinate the same thing at the same time.

For the modern reader, I close with these words. It is my belief that Jesus Christ is proof of God. I believe that Jesus Christ is proof that there is life after death. I believe that Jesus Christ is proof that God has power over life and death and that the Bible is true.

Real Christianity has something that no one else has. That something is The Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

People, let us remember that life is so uncertain and fragile and can pass away at any moment. We live but we do not live by our own control. Christ is the One who holds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1: 3) Paul said to the philosophers in Athens, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17: 28). Let us remember that life is beyond us. We are but dust and from dust we came and to dust we will return.

It is to be believed, that those who believe in Jesus Christ and trust in Him, will live forever. Will you this day, turn from your sin, put your trust in Jesus Christ, believe in Him and receive the gift of everlasting life.

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