Josh McDowell begins his chapter on the resurrection the following way: “After more than seven hundred hours of studying this subject and thoroughly investigating its foundation, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of men, Or it is the most fantastic fact of history” [New Evidence that Demands a Verdict].
Paul Little thinks the “supreme” credential to authenticate Jesus’ credentials for Deity is His resurrection from the dead.
In short, the resurrection is a foundation of Christianity.
Little devotes a chapter to this question alone.
Early church leaders like Paul said “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” [1 Corinthians 15:14]. Attacks on the church have been centered on the resurrection because it is such an important matter, the most important matter in the life of Christ.
Of the four major religions, only Christianity has an empty tomb for its founder.
Abraham, the father of Judaism, died about 1900 BC but no resurrection was claimed for him.
Buddha never has resurrection attached to his divinity. When he died, it was a passing away with nothing remaining behind.
Mohammed died on June 8, 632 AD at the age of sixty-one and his tomb is visited annually by thousands of devout Muslims.
Yet our Christ went into the tomb as a dead man and came out alive.
I am not an expert on any religion but I have studied the ways of Buddha a little and the main message of Buddha is “follow this leader and do your best” and from what little I have read about Judaism and Islam, the message is similar. For Christianity the message is “follow this leader and if you become a true follower, you will be resurrected.”
What a difference.
In previous posts, I have commented and used others to comment on the many miracles of Jesus but this miracle is special.
Jesus predicted it and it came about just as He predicted.
Mark 8: 31
“He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again.”
Matthew 20: 17-19
“Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!’”
Mark 10: 32-34
“They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again He took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to Him. ‘We are going up to Jerusalem,’ He said, ‘and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles, who will mock Him and spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him. Three days later He will rise.’”
Isaiah 53: 1-7
“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.
For a man to predict his future treatment, death and resurrection is amazing and certainly the claim opens one to attack but to read the words of the Prophet Isaiah written around 792 to 740 BC and realize that they predicted the life, treatment, death and resurrection of Jesus is truly amazing and for me awe-inspiring.
I am not going to claim that religions with the message “follow this leader and do your best” are faulty and they are powerless. That would be folly on my part. I am not qualified to make such a judgement. But let me close this post with a quote from William Lane Craig, author of the book Reasonable Faith : Christian Truth and Apologetics: “Without the belief in the resurrection the Christian faith could not have come into being. The disciples would have remained crushed and defeated men. Even had they continued to remember Jesus as their beloved teacher, His crucifixion would have forever silenced any hopes of His being the Messiah. The cross would have remained the sad and shameful end of His career. The origin of Christianity therefore hinges on the belief of the early disciples that God had called Jesus from the dead.”
“Follow Me and if you become a true follower, you will be resurrected.”