THE RESUTTECTION: FACT OR FICTION
Ahmad Deedat a Muslim scholar challenged Josh McDowell in a debate on the subject "was Christ crucified"? The debate took place in August 1981, in Durban, South Africa. Deedat posed the following challenge to McDowell “Throughout the length and breadth of the 27 books of the New Testament, there is not a single statement made by Jesus Christ saying "I was dead, and I have come back from the dead." The Christian has been belaboring the word resurrection. Again and again, by repetition, it is conveyed that it is proving a fact. You keep on seeing the man, the man's eating food, as though He was resurrected. He appears in the upper room - He was resurrected. Jesus Christ never uttered that word that "I have come back from the dead," in the 27 books of the New Testament, not even once.” What do you think?
Josh replied, “I'm not sure that I heard, but did you say, "Nowhere in the 27 books of the New Testament did Jesus ever say He was 'dead and now alive'"? May I read to you from the book of Revelation, chapter 1, verse 18? He said, "I am the living one. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore." Also, Mr. Deedat, He appeared to the Jews. The whole New Testament Church was started with Jews. He appeared to the Jewish antagonist, the apostle Paul, when he was Saul of Tarsus. Deedat: “I will conclude that here are one thousand million people being taken for a ride on a cross. In Durban, every week, we have horses taking thousands of people for a ride - every horse. But here, you are being taken for a ride on the cross. Josh: Yes, Mr. Deedat, one billion Christians are riding on the cross. We are being taken for a ride. I believe God has provided the cross as the chariot to heaven, through the shed blood of His divine Son.
The Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus are like two central pillars of Christianity and the only hope we have for the world. If you remove these two core beliefs there is no Christianity and we have no reason to be here in the Church. Since, that day of the Resurrection, I believe Satan had tried his best to discredit this amazing fact but he has not succeeded since, he will not succeed ever. In the midst of age old controversies and skeptics who continuously reject the Resurrection of Jesus Christ how can we hold on to this precious truth firmly and defend our faith? It is the resurrection of Jesus that brings hope to the individual, to our nation and the nations of the world. Many evidences in the scriptures indicate that Christ was raised from the dead. I would like to share five scriptural evidences that explain the resurrection of Christ.
1. The Resurrection of Christ was prophesied in the Old Testament: You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Psalm 16:10)
2. Jesus himself prophesied about His resurrection
"Listen," he said, "we're going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead."(Matt 20: 18-19)
3. The Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law could not contain Jesus in the grave.
The next day the chief priests and the Pharisees went up to Pilot saying that “we remember that while he was still alive.. He said, “After three days I will rise again.” Pilate said take a guard and secure the Tomb as secure as possible.”(Matt 27: 62-65).
The Greek word was Kustodia that’s where we get the word custodian. Kustodia was a 16-man security unit. Each man was trained to protect six square feet of ground. The 16 men, according to Roman history, were supposed to be able to protect 6 square yards against an entire battalion and hold it. Each guard had four weapons on his body. He was a fighting machine.” If the Pharisees didn’t believe that Jesus may be raised from the dead then why would they take such trouble to secure the tomb? Would it be possible for eleven fearful disciples to come secretly and steal the body of Jesus in the watch full eye of the powerful Roman Guard?
4. The Empty Tomb :( (LK 24:1-6)
On the first day of the week very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus… two angels appeared and said to them why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here, he has risen.
Not only the women knew that the tomb was empty and the body of Jesus was not there but the guard also knew what had happened. “The guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with 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. If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble. So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.”(Matt 28:11-15)
5. Jesus appeared to many people for a period of 40 days: Jesus appeared to the women, his eleven disciples on the mountain, he walked with two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. He appeared to his disciples while they were in a room but one disciple by name Thomas was not there. When he came back, the disciples reported to him that they had seen Jesus. “But he said to them, unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later his disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked Jesus came and gave a personal appearance and dialogue with the doubting Thomas.
After that encounter Thomas never doubted that Christ had indeed risen and boldly proclaimed that truth even to the point of death. (John 20:24-28). Church tradition tells us that Thomas was the first one to take the gospel to the subcontinent of India. Until today there is the thriving church of Marthoma in South-West India.. Jesus not only showed himself to Thomas, at one point he had appeared to more than 500 people at the same time. (I Cor15:6). Many of those who had seen the risen Lord were totally convinced of that fact and they were willing to give up everything including their very own lives in order to take the Good news to the four corners of the globe.
On Easter Sunday we join more than one billion Christians who are celebrating celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ around the world. For some Easter means the Easter egg hunt and the Easter bunny. Others view Easter as religious tradition not a historical fact. Some carry a 'so what' attitude. Some are like Thomas wanting to see Jesus face to face then only they will believe. I would like to invite you to be like the apostle Paul who said, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead. “Phil 3:7-11).
Praise God Jesus Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. HE IS ALIVE.