Resurrection: legend or fact?
Without the resurrection, the Church is an effect with no cause.
When it comes to determining the historical truth of the resurrection of Christ, many skeptics would be correct by claiming, “the resurrection can’t be scientifically proven.” This is because historical events aren’t assessed scientifically. They can’t be scrutinized by the scientific process, reduced to elements controlled in a laboratory and repeated numerous times. Historical events are assessed with forensics. We approach the resurrection with the same criteria with which we would approach events such as the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Battle of the Bulge or the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Since none of those events are repeatable in a lab, we have to assess source materials relevant to the events. Who saw it? What did they say? Is the source an eyewitness, or speaking secondhand?
In the case of the resurrection, the source materials (both New Testament documents and extra-biblical sources) all corroborate the claim the Jesus was crucified, died, was burried and on the third day was raised from the tomb. In fact, no 1st or 2nd Century document (that I’m aware of) even questions the fact that this event took place!
One more nail in the coffin (what a poor idiom for a blog-post on the resurrection!) for counterclaims of skeptics is the fact that without the resurrection, there is no clear explanation for the birth of the church. Were the disciples and early believers trying to propagate a known myth? They why would they die rather than recant? The fact is, that until Emporer Constantine legalized Christianity in the 4th Century, Christians had all the reason in the world to abandon their new, controversial faith. There was no incentive on this side of the grave that could possibly account for their stubborn adherence to a fake Messiah. However, if they knew that the grave was not the end…
Three ways that the resurrection has power in the lives of Christians today: 1. We don’t have to fear death, because Jesus has already been down that road and beat the monsters at the end. 2. We don’t have to worry about temporary injustices and inconveniences because “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) and 3. We are ruined for the world. With an eternal focus, our priorities, the ways we spend our time and money and the affections of our hearts will be turned upside-down.
Have you been revolutionized by the scandal of the resurrection?