Jesus’ death and resurrection cause no end of consternation among those who either question or seek to disprove the Christian faith. Should Christians be all hung up on whether or not Jesus really rose from the dead? Does the evidence really prove itself out?
Here are the facts about the resurrection, as we have them:
- The tomb was empty.
- No one could produce a body.
- For several weeks after his death, Jesus’ disciples kept meeting him—and rarely as individuals only, but almost exclusively in groups, some as large as 500 people!
His disciples’ insistence caused them no end of ridicule and scorn, yet they persisted in proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection. They event went so far as to say that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, their faith is in vain and their sins were still on them, and therefore they were utterly without hope (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).
To prove them wrong, all one had to do was produce Jesus’ body. And yet, no one ever could. Why? Because there was no body to be found.
So what is the most reasonable thing to do? We can continue to make up alternative explanations all day long. We can attempt to say Jesus never really existed, or that if he did, he didn’t resemble the man who claimed to be God as described in the gospels.
Or, we can admit, as J.I. Packer encourages, that there is only one reasonable thing to do: believe. He writes:
A Christian in public debate accused his skeptical opponent of having more faith than he—“for,” he said, “in face of the evidence, I can’t believe that Jesus did not rise, and you can!” It really is harder to disbelieve the resurrection than to accept it, much harder. Have you yet seen it that way? To believe in Jesus Christ as Son of God and living Savior, and to echo the words of ex-doubter Thomas, “My Lord and my God,” is certainly more than an exercise of reason, but in the face of the evidence it is the only reasonable thing a person can do.[1. J.I. Packer, Affirming the Apostles’ Creed, Kindle location 800]