The historic crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection that followed three days later is the ultimate verification of the truth of His deity. It was predicted in the Jews’ own scriptures (Psalm 16; Isa.53), and that is no small thing to deal with. If Jesus’ body could have been kept in the grave, the church of Christ would never have gotten started. Peter spoke in Jerusalem just 50 days after the crucifixion had taken place. There could be no credibility in a man like Peter talking about a resurrected Jesus if it were not for the fact that the Jews’ own scripture predicted it, the tomb was empty, the body of Jesus was missing, and witnesses were willing to testify to having seen Jesus alive again. In Acts 2 we find the presentation of evidence, and no Jew was able to refute any of the evidence Peter presented. Miracles were also adding credibility to Peter and the other apostles. The evidence stood that day and every day since.
It was the ultimate proof that Jesus was not only human but divine. Rom 1:4 says He was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” The idea is that the powerful proof of Jesus’ resurrection “declared” Jesus to be the Son of God. Only deity could make it happen. It did happen, and therefore it makes a declaration for all time. The evidence of Jesus’ resurrection converted 3,000 Jews on the feast day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and spread to the world from Jerusalem.
Think about how easy it should have been to refute a claim that a dead man was raised. Yet, everywhere the disciples went, the resurrection of Jesus was presented. The prophetic evidence combined with eyewitness testimony. Here we are almost 2,000 years later and the church of Christ is still very much alive based upon the same testimony.
It was this evidence that Paul used in Athens, Greece (Acts 17:30,31) to urge people to repent because the resurrection of Jesus was “assurance” of a coming day of judgment. He was not willing to admit that his belief and preaching was “in vain.” He wrote the Corinthian church about the issue of our resurrection.
Did the church get started based upon something that never happened? No! Paul said he suffered and endured persecution because he knew the gospel of Christ was true. He encouraged the church to continue to “stand” on the evidence that convicted them and brought about their conversion to Christ.
1Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6After 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. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. (I Cor. 5:1-8; NKJV).
Thus, the assurance of our future resurrection and immortality is based upon the Jewish “scriptures” of the Old Testament prophesying Jesus, His death and resurrection for our sins, and the eyewitness testimony of those who saw Jesus alive again, which testimony is given to us in the New Testament. The evidence of eternity, the judgment to come, and the truth of Jesus Christ is in what no other religion can claim, namely, powerful evidence in prophecy and eyewitness testimony of a risen Savior. Muhammad is still dead. Confucius is dead! Ghandi is dead! Joseph Smith is dead! But, Jesus Christ is alive forevermore! Therefore, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). If we live this brief life without Him at the center of it, we will have lived and died in vain. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to study more of the evidence.
—Terry W. Benton