Today, we are in chapter 28 of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. As I write this, we are by God’s providence nearing the Easter season, therefore it is very timely. Today, I will only speak about the resurrection.
I believe that everyone would agree with me that if Jesus actually raised himself from the dead on the third day, then everything changes. No one can argue that the resurrection of Jesus would be a game changer if it truly happened. Even the most hardened atheist would have to agree that a prophesied Messiah being killed and coming back to life would require a reexamination of one’s belief system.
As I regularly say, almost all legitimate scholars (both Christian and non-Christian) agree that Jesus of Nazareth existed 2000 years ago. Likewise, almost all of them believe that he was crucified by Rome. The debate is not about his existence and his death. The debate is about if he came back to life. So did he?
First, we have been given the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each one of these ancient writings testifies that Jesus came back to life on the third day. These writings were unabashedly and widely circulated within one generation of Christ’s death. Second, we have the ancient writings of Paul, specifically 1 Corinthians 15:4-8, whereby Paul states that Jesus appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve, then to 500 people at one time, then to James, then to the rest of the apostles, and then to Paul. Paul even informs the Corinthians that the some of the eye witnesses were still alive if you want to ask hem about it. Third, James (Jesus half-brother) and Paul did not believe in Jesus during his life, yet after his death, not only did they believe but they gave up everything for Jesus. Why? The resurrected Jesus appeared to them, once again if Jesus is alive it is a game changer. Fourth, we have the ancient writing of the book of Acts, whereby we have the account of the early Church testifying to the resurrected Jesus, even to the point of being killed for it. Would they refuse to recant and die for a lie that they know to be a lie? Fifth, we have the writings of the Old Testament that prophesied that the Messiah would be resurrected (Isaiah 53:10, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 40:1-3, Job 19:25). The resurrection was not backfill, it was fulfilled.
All of these facts point to the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. Which leads to the greatest truth, we have eternity written upon our hearts. We long to live. Death feels broken. If death is just natural, then why do we attempt to escape it? It is because death is a curse and we know it, and if death is a curse, what is the cure? Christ is the cure. He is the firstfruits.