By Phillip Trawick
“Are the spices ready?” asked Mary Magdalene to Mary, the mother of James. The two of them, along with Salome, had bought spices so they could apply perfume to the slain body of their rabbi and master, Jesus Christ.
It was the dawn of the third day since the death of Jesus. Making their way to the tomb they wondered, “Who will roll away the stone so we may have access to the body?” When they arrived, they saw the rolled back stone and the angel of the Lord sitting on it. He said, “Don’t be afraid. I know you are seeking Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here. He is risen, as he said!”
Throughout the course of history, the resurrection of Jesus has been a controversial subject. In his book, The Case for Christ, author Lee Strobel says, “The idea that Jesus never really died on the cross can be found in the Koran, which was written in the seventh century…”1 Strobel further states, “As the nineteenth century dawned, Karl Bahrdt, Karl Venturini, and others tried to explain away the resurrection by suggesting that Jesus only fainted from exhaustion on the cross, or had been given a drug that made him appear to die, and that he had later been revived by the cool, damp air of the tomb.”2
The fact that God knew these and other theories would abound is evidenced in the inspired prophetical writings of such people as David, king of Israel (Psa 16, 22, etc.), and Isaiah, a court prophet of a later era (Isa 53). These writings are reflected in Paul’s New Testament letter to the Corinthian church when he asserted the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus were “according to the scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3-4). To disbelieve the resurrection of Jesus is to disbelieve the prophecy and witness of Scripture. The resurrection of Jesus Christ clearly defies the false doctrine of no resurrection.
One who actually witnesses an event can give credible evidence to its accuracy. In the court system of our nation, an eyewitness is given priority. Simply stated, it is difficult to form an argument against the testimony of one who was “on the scene”.
Such is the case of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He did not leave his resurrection to mere speculation or his own witness only; he appeared to others. Had his post-resurrection appearance been to one person only, it is possible that a skeptic could formulate a shrewd argument against the evidence of the resurrection, so he appeared to many.
Paul skillfully uses this evidence to build a solid case against the Gnosticism experienced by the Corinthian church by listing various occasions of the appearance of the resurrected Christ. He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve as a group. Afterwards, he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at once, most who were alive at the time of Paul’s writing.
That he made a personal appearance to James is significant in the fact that he is the half-brother of the resurrected Christ. In his writings, John said his brothers did not “believe in him” (Joh 7:5). Could it be that this appearance was evidence enough to convince James that his half-brother, the carpenter Jesus, was indeed the Resurrected Messiah? It obviously was! Luke recorded in the Book of Acts that the family of Jesus was in the Upper Room. Paul stated the Apostles as well as himself were also eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. The emphasis of Paul was, “… to offer undeniable evidence by the separate occasions and number of people who were witnesses to His resurrection”.3
Finally, Paul gives the importance of the resurrection: valid preaching, faith, and deliverance from sin. If there is no resurrection, why preach that Christ rose from the dead? That preaching would be foolish, empty, of none effect what-so-ever. And what about your faith? If you have faith in the resurrection of Christ when, in reality there is no resurrection, what is your faith producing? It is also empty and worthless. The result? You remain in your sins.
Thankfully, the skeptics and Gnostics are incorrect — there is a resurrection! There is hope beyond this present life and world. Jesus declared, “In the world you shall have tribulation…” (Joh 16:33). Despite the fact that some are attempting to create an earthly “utopia”, no one can deny the veracity of Jesus’ statement. This world is in deplorable condition! Paul uses the evidence of the resurrection to assert the future hope of the church; “If in this life only (emphasis mine) we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Co 15:19). Thank God for the Resurrected Christ, for it is the hope of us all! Hallelujah!
The above article, “Christ Resurrected,” is written by Phillip Trawick. The article was excerpted from Focus on Alabama Magazine – March/April 2014.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.