Biblical Christianity is based upon one thing: the eyewitness testimony that Jesus rose from the dead. And this testimony is reliable, because:
- All the witnesses were willing to suffer torture and death rather than renounce their testimonies
- Hostile witnesses abounded but did not contradict the facts
- Extra-biblical historical testimony agrees with the facts of the Bible
1- Friendly WitnessesThe formerly fearful followers, who fled when Jesus was arrested, turned into bold leaders and martyrs who started a revolution lasting thousands of years. Even their persecuters saw something too: “When they saw the confidence of Peter and John and grasped the fact that they were uneducated and untrained people, they were amazed. They fully realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13). Sadly though, what they saw did not change them. But later Paul, the former rabbi and strict Pharisee, was changed by what he saw on the road to Damascus.
And between the original 12 close disciples of Jesus and the scattering of the church that Saul (later Paul) helped to cause, there were many ordinary people who were eyewitnesses of the years of Jesus’ public activities. Some became bold and were martyred for it. Others were driven away from their homeland, having the effect of spreading the gospel beyond Israel.
They saw Jesus live, they saw Him perform miracles, they saw Him die, and they saw Him rise again. The legendary Roman guard in front of the tomb ran away in fear when they saw the earthquake as the angel rolled away the stone. In the weeks that followed over 500 people saw Jesus physically alive. All of these people were suddenly and extremely changed by what they saw.
2- Hostile WitnessesSkeptics should consider the eyewitness testimony Christians have as the basis for their faith. But there is one glaring fact that is rarely mentioned concerning the resurrection: Rome, whose seal had been broken, never ordered a search of the area for the stolen body or the disciples who allegedly stole it! No arrests were made, no one was investigated, nobody lifted a finger to put the “rumors” to rest. The Jewish leaders who hated Jesus enough to kill Him never had the disciples arrested until after Pentecost, after they started their public teaching.
As Paul later testified in his defense before King Felix in Acts 24, those who could have refuted his claims or proven his alleged crimes never brought charges against him. And in Acts 26 he testified to Festus that all of these things had happened out in the open, where it should have been easy for any false claims to be exposed. Yet nobody ever presented proof to the contrary of what Paul and the other witnesses claimed about Jesus. Where were they? Why were they silent?
3- Extra-Biblical WitnessesHistory itself saw the effects of all this, which continue to this day. Yet many refuse to accept it, even though the evidence is far better than for many other things they accept without question. The manuscript evidence for the Bible itself, which is the primary historical record of these things, is phenomenal. No other ancient writings enjoy the quantity, quality, and chronological proximity to the events they relate than those of the New Testament. Nothing in the Bible has been shown to be false or inaccurate by secular research; in fact, the Bible has proven to be more accurate than many other writings.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not based upon blind faith at all, but trust in what amounts to a solid legal case for a historical event. People can no more demand to see God or Jesus than they can demand to see Plato or Kant before they’ll believe these people ever existed. No event in history can be proven scientifically, so demands for scientific proof cannot be made against the Bible without demanding the same from all other writings. This, of course, would reduce historical research to a mere curiosity instead of a search for facts.
So by the standards used for all historical documents and events, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead stands out as among the best supported and most likely to be true.
ConclusionThe Bible teaches that we “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), but this faith is based upon reliable eyewitness testimony. So why is it that so many people keep demanding to “see”? They want God to do tricks for them or they won’t believe, yet they happily swallow many other beliefs without any reason at all, or very poorly-supported ones.
How about you, do you see the Truth? If so, have you lived like you saw it? Can you believe the evidence in favor of Jesus’ resurrection, yet never do anything in response? The whole point of all this testimony is to cause belief:
Indeed, in the presence of his disciples Jesus did many other miraculous signs, which aren’t written in this book. But these ones are written so that you will go on believing that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God and so that by believing in him, you will have life by the power of his Name. (John 20:30-31)The choice a person makes in the face of this evidence is clear:
Now we do accept the testimony of people, but the testimony of God is greater, because the testimony of God is this - he has testified and is testifying about his Son.If you want “life”, that is, eternal existence in heaven instead of hell, you must choose to accept the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, proving Him to be God. And if you have done that, then ask yourself if you are living in a way that honors Him.
The person who believes the Son of God has the testimony inside themselves. The one who does not keep believing God is making him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony that God has confirmed about his Son. And this is the testimony - that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
The person who has the Son has life. The person who does not have the Son does not have life. I am writing these things to you who believe the Name of the Son of God, so that you will know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:9-13)
That’s what should come to mind when believers hear the word “saw”. Filling our minds with the trash associated with that word is stupid and sinful. Instead, we are to follow Paul’s words:
Finally, fellow believers, analyze these things: things which are true, things which are revered, things which are just, things which are sacred, things which are kindly disposed to another person or situation, things which cause one to abstain from speaking the wrong words, things which are excellent and noble, things which are praiseworthy. Analyze these things, the things I have passed on and you learnt from me, things you heard me say or saw me do. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:8-9)Note: Bible quotations are from The Source NT
I encourage you, fellow believers, through God’s compassion, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, sacred, pleasing to God, which is your rational worship. And do not go along with the way of this present period of time, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, so that you will examine God’s purpose which is good and pleasing and complete. (Rom. 12:1-2)