Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

After posting a 15 part series on the historicity of the resurrection I thought I needed to write a summary defense of the resurrection.  This is a tool to print out and hand to a seeker of spiritual truth.


Some believe the Resurrection of Jesus is a story, myth, or legend. Others believe it is the truth.  Why should you believe that the resurrection of Jesus is a real event?  Here are four evidences to consider. The Resurrection of Jesus is…


Women made the initial discovery of the empty tomb.  “After the Sabbath …Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb… The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” Matthew 28:1-5  Women during this time period had extremely low social status.  In fact, in a court of law a woman's testimony was not even accepted[1].  Yet not only are women the first to discover the empty tomb, they are portrayed as courageous.  “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy and ran to tell his disciples” (Matthew 28:8).

The male Disciples, however, are portrayed as cowards.  “…Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” Matthew 26:56  To create a credible legend about Jesus, men should have been recorded as discovering an empty tomb and been portrayed as men of courage, not cowards!


The body of Jesus was gone and the women who witnessed this were on their way to report the event.  The guards went to the priests. Knowing that word would spread about the missing body, the chief priests make up a story about the disciples stealing the body.  “When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, ‘ You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.'” Matthew 28:12-13

Why did they do this?  Why didn't they just produce the body?  For the simple reason there was no body to produce.  Today, we still do not have the bones of Jesus because He rose from the dead!


After Jesus' resurrection, he instructs his followers to go to all nations and tell others and make them disciples.  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19  So what do we find Jesus' followers doing just weeks after this big event?  Luke records in the book of Acts, detailed descriptions of the disciples making bold proclamations that Jesus had risen from the dead.  “Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘…God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.’” Acts 2:14; 32.  If the resurrection account was a legend then the disciples should have waited before spinning their tale.  Experts state that you need at least two generations removed from the incident to create a legend[2].

These disciples went right back to Jerusalem where Jesus had been crucified. This would not have been a good strategy if the resurrection was a myth. A better strategy for creating a legend would be to take the message of the resurrection to far away places, many years later, and then look for people who have no information about Jesus.  To go right back to the place of his death, burial and resurrection is simply lunacy unless it was true.  Finally, what did the disciples receive for proclaiming Jesus was raised from the dead?  It was not fame and fortune but poverty, persecution, torture, and death. Why would these followers of Jesus die for a lie?  The answer is they did not die for a lie but for the truth!


Five weeks after Jesus was crucified, the book of Acts reports that thousands of Jews were now followers of Christ.  “Those who accepted his message were baptized and about 3000 were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:41  “…And the lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47  “But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about 5,000.” Acts 4:4

Why would religious people give up beliefs they had been taught since they were a child to embrace a new religion and risk social persecution and their eternal destiny?  The best explanation is they believed Christianity was true and that Jesus had truly risen from the dead!

[1] Stobel, Lee, “The Case for Christ,” Zondervan Publishing House, 1998  pg. 217, 218

[2] Craig, William Lane, “Reasonable Faith,” Crossway Books, 1984  pg. 285

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