George Bowers Sr.: The resurrection deserves celebration!
Sunday marks the observance of the greatest miracle in human history. The resurrection of a human being who had been dead for three days was unprecedented until it occurred just outside Jerusalem in the first century. There have been reports of miraculous healings, incredible weather changes, sudden provisions, military turnarounds, and many others, but in none of those instances did a dead person live again.
As we take time to remember this event, we should consider what it means to all of us in the human family, for the one who rose promised that all who put their trust in him would also rise from the dead one day. Up to that first resurrection, no one thought Jesus would rise, but he did. Today, many do not believe in a future resurrection because they doubt him. Although resurrection itself seems illogical, the fact that he pulled it off once indicates he has the power to perform it for others as well.
Sadly some disbelieve that Jesus ever rose from the dead. I would encourage those with that persuasion to research the facts. Many who started out doubting this historical event have returned convinced after seriously examining the evidence. Thankfully, much of the proof has already been provided for us, not only by the four Gospel writers, but also by non-Christian sources whose own admissions underscore their inability to explain away the empty tomb.
Some of the brightest minds in history have set out to disprove Jesus’ resurrection and to date, not one has succeeded. Theory after theory has come and gone, but the empty tomb continues to defy all attempts at explanation. According to Frank Turek, we have more eyewitness testimony and earlier documents to confirm the resurrection than we do for anything else from the ancient world.
No one doubts the conquests of Alexander the Great nor the legendary status he attained. And yet, we have not one single historical source from his lifetime. Almost everything we know about this great world leader of antiquity comes from writers who described him 300-500 years after he died.
Contrast that with four authors who were either eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ or who interviewed eyewitnesses who were still alive. They wrote what they saw and experienced. Manuscript evidence for some of the Gospels goes back to less than 50 years of Jesus’ lifetime. Keep in mind that these authors recounted these events knowing that they would likely be persecuted and even killed for doing so. Why would they make up stories to get themselves executed? And if their facts were false, why couldn’t anyone soundly refute them then or since? Instead, a group of followers founded a new religion at their own peril in the very place where these events occurred. Something extraordinary obviously happened that could not be convincingly disproven.
The empty tomb was an established fact that the Jews and Romans both tried to explain away by claiming his disciples had stolen the body. This alibi is so obviously false, it’s not even funny. How and why would the cowering disciples overpower armed Roman guards who would be executed for allowing such a thing? They were the Navy Seals of the first century and Jesus’ followers were fishermen, tax collectors, and the like.
Simon Greenleaf was not a pastor or a theologian. He wasn’t even a Christian until he scrutinized the Gospels from a legal perspective. After a thorough and rigorous examination of the Bible, this Harvard University law professor not only began trusting Jesus, but he also determined that the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John “would have been received in evidence in any court of justice, without the slightest hesitation.” That means they are trustworthy and deserve careful examination by all, for their claims affect the eternity of every human being.
People may choose to disbelieve the resurrection because they don’t want to deal with Jesus and his teachings, but they cannot disprove it happened. Instead, why not embrace this greatest miracle as the gift that it is and recognize that God did this to deliver us from the clutches of mankind’s greatest enemy, death itself. Examine the unity of the Biblical text and see how Jesus, after paying for sin on the cross, defeated its chief consequence by rising from the dead. The fact that he did and that he promises to do the same for all who follow him is truly the greatest news any mortal human could ever hear and deserves our greatest celebration! Let’s do that this Sunday! Resurrection blessings, George
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored eight books, including his latest, “Celebration Time, A Collection of Brethren Love Feasts.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.