Mobile, Ala. (WKRG) — Blake Newsom with Dauphin Way Baptist joins us on Easter Sunday 2019. Here’s a look at our conversation.
1) It’s Easter Sunday, arguably the most important Sunday in Christianity where Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, what is the case for the resurrection?
When Jesus’ critics asked him for a sign, he pointed them to His resurrection, indicating that if He indeed rose from the dead, He and His teachings are truth.
While other religions invite you to a subjective experience, Christianity invites you to investigate objective historical facts that serve as the foundation for our Christian faith.
2) What is the historical evidence and are their resources people can look to beyond the Bible for evidence?
Using facts with evidence to such a high degree of historical certainty and scholarly consensus that even skeptics affirm, we can make certain factual statements.
1. Jesus was crucified.
· This, of course, is taught in the New Testament, but it also is recorded in writings such as Josephus, a Jewish historian as well as in the Talmud, a book of Jewish oral tradition; Tacitus, a Roman historian; Lucian, a Greek writer; and even pagan writers of antiquity.
2. Jesus was buried.
· John A. T. Robertson said it was one of the best attested historical facts about Jesus.
· We have a historical location associated with a specific person that could have been refuted in the times it was written but wasn’t.
3. Jesus’ tomb was empty.
· Gary Habermas, a resurrection scholar, studied over 2000 sources on the resurrection, published in multiple languages and found that approximately 75% of the surveyed scholars accept the empty tomb as a historical fact.
· The Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers actually affirm the body was not in the tomb.
If the tomb was empty, that leads us to ask the question: what is the best explanation of the empty tomb?
Chad: 3) What is the best explanation of the empty tomb?
The most plausible explanation given the historical evidence is that Jesus resurrected from the dead for several reasons:
1. The Jerusalem Factor
· The followers of Jesus began preaching that He was resurrected within 50 days of the crucifixion, burial, and suggested resurrection. And, they began preaching in Jerusalem, not some far off place. So, the opposition parties could have simply exhumed and produced the body to refute the claims, but they did not and could not.
2. The disciples were convinced they had seen the resurrected Jesus.
· We have multiple accounts in the Gospels of women who followed Jesus as well as the disciples themselves believing that they saw the resurrected Jesus, talking with Him and seeing Him perform activities consistent with a person who was alive.
3. The disciples were transformed by their encounter with the resurrected Jesus.
· The disciples prior to the crucifixion, abandoned and denied Jesus, fleeing in panic. After the resurrection, their lives were radically altered to the point where they faced martyrdom, claiming it was the resurrection that changed their lives.
4. Paul and James, the brother of Jesus, both transitioned from skeptical unbelievers to believers and leaders in the Christian church because they claimed to see the resurrected Jesus.
5. 1 Cor. 15 says that 500 other people had seen the resurrected Jesus, a claim that could easily have been checked since many of these people would have still been alive.
Chad: How do you counter the argument that Christians just stole Jesus’ body to perpetuate the resurrection myth?
· People are willing to die for their beliefs, but the disciples’ belief was based on an event that they knew to be either true or false.
· How many would die for a belief that they knew wasn’t true? They believed in the resurrection, and this transformed their lives, and I submit to you that the resurrection of Jesus can still transform lives today