by Rob Lundberg
What makes Christianity different from other religions is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. As you celebrate this resurrection season, allow to share with you three facts which give validity to Jesus’ resurrection.
His resurrection was foretold in the Old Testament, prophesied by Jesus himself, and those who claimed to be eyewitnesses were willing to die for believing in a resurrected Christ. These are three truths you can use to start in sharing from internal sources. This post will lay out the first two but then I will share with you three more facts that dovetail with the first three. Using these will equip you for sharing with others on why you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ.
Let’s look closer at three truths and get to the real issue.
Truth #1: Old Testament Prophecy Predicted Jesus’ Resurrection.
Jesus is unique among all people in history in that He is the fulfillment of centuries of Messianic prophecies, which are found in the Old Testament. These prophecies foretold His place of birth, details of His life, His mission, His nature, His death, and His resurrection. Some scholars estimate that there are more than 300 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to the Messiah (Jesus). One is Psalm 16:10-11:
You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy. In Your right hand are pleasures forever.
Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost uses this Psalm referring to a prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection (see Acts 2:25-28 & 31) − Jesus’ body would not undergo decay. The Apostle Paul, speaking at a synagogue service, also connects Psalm 16 with Jesus’ resurrection:
Therefore David also says in another psalm,
“You will not let your Holy One see corruption.”
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption (Acts 13:35-37).
Truth #2: Jesus Prophesied His Own Resurrection.
Jesus spoke openly about what would happen to him when He came to Jerusalem:
The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31; see also Matt. 17:22; Luke 9:22; and John 2:18-21).
Those who consider the resurrection of Christ unbelievable conjecture that the early church put these statements in Jesus’ mouth well after His death. But anyone giving an honest reading of the Gospels must come to their own conclusion that Jesus Himself often spoke of His resurrection.
Truth #3: The Change in and Commitment of the Eyewitnesses.
Up to this point we have seen that the Old Testament predicts the resurrection of the Messiah. Second we see that Jesus makes more than one statement about his own death and resurrection. This now brings us to a quick look at four key facts that cannot be denied. In fact most scholars, believing and skeptical, find these facts hard to refute and find themselves willing to accept them.
First, it is a historical fact that Jesus was crucified by the Roman government (Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-30). Secular writers like Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Mara-Bar Serapion, and the Talmud all record his crucifixion as a historical fact!
Second, the tomb of Jesus was found empty. The question is what happened to the body. There are three key factors known as the Jerusalem Factor that solidify the start of the Christian faith, the validation of the Christian faith, and the progressive forwarding of the historical Christian faith. Each of which could make up a short to medium scoped blog posting. Let me just list them and give a sentence or two explaining.
Jerusalem Factor When the Apostles began publicly preaching that Jesus had been physically resurrected from the dead, it is not as if they began by travelling to some faraway land, to tell people who had no means of investigating the veracity of the event. It wasn’t like “Star Wars” – “Let me tell you about something that happened ‘a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.’” No, the Apostles began proclaiming the Resurrection in Jerusalem – the very city where Christ had been publicly killed. There is simply no way they could have done so if it were not true.”
Enemy attestation. What is enemy attestation? Enemy attestation is where you have a testimony about an event or person is given by a source who does not sympathize with the person, message or cause that benefits from the affirmation, then there is reason to believe the authenticity of the testimony. The empty tomb can be found either implicitly or explicitly stated in the works of Flavius Josephus, Justin Martyr’s “Dialogue with Trypho,” Tertullian’s “On Spectacles,” and in the Jewish Toledoth (a derogatory version of Jesus’ life in Jewish tradition).
And then there is the conspiracy in Matthew’s gospel, which is more embarrassing testimony for the guards, who were enemies. I wanted to insert this in this section on enemy attestation,
“11 Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’14 And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” 15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.”
Transformed Lives of the Disciples What did the disciples see that caused them to turn from cowards to bold witnesses that would turn the world upside down with the gospel. What was it that emboldened them to tell the Caesars that Jesus was risen, and Jesus is God? This brings us to the third fact.
Third, the disciples went from scared believers to bold eyewitnesses of a resurrected Messiah (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16; Luke 24:1-43; John 2:22; ch 20; 21:1-23). They also proved their conviction in Christ’s resurrection by being willing to pay with their lives for saying that “Jesus is Lord”, “Jesus is risen”, and/or “Jesus is God and not Caesar.” For example, Luke records, in Acts, the martyrdom of James, the Son of Zebedee (Acts 12:1-12), one of the apostles of Jesus. Jewish secular historian, Flavius Josephus confirms the execution of James in his Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20 ch. 9. The eyewitnesses were willing to die for their claim of that Jesus was still alive!
Fourth, Jesus appeared to foes and enemies. This fact is equally, if not more interesting when it comes to the post resurrection appearances of Jesus. Let’s start with the foes, or those closest to Jesus who were skeptical. I refer you to Jesus’ brothers.
According to the Apostle John, “not even His brothers believed in Him” (John 7:5). That’s incredible. Those who had lived with Jesus for 30 years really did not know him. Not one of Jesus’ brothers is mentioned as a disciple during his pre-crucifixion ministry. But after His resurrection and ascension, there they are in the upper room worshiping him as God (Acts 1:14).
And then there was a Pharisee by the name of Saul of Tarsus. In our modern vernacular, he would be considered a first century religious “terrorist.” He held the coats of those who stoned Stephen in Acts 7. He supported and approved the persecution of the Christian church.
But, this Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul, claims to have encountered the risen Jesus on his way to imprison Christians (Acts 8:1; 9:1-22; 17, 19, 20; 22:6-21; Phil. 2:2-11). Paul was a fanatical Pharisee and a student of the great Jewish rabbi Gamaliel. All these led him against a belief in Jesus’ resurrection. But his conversion, subsequent mission work, and suffering for his faith are a testimony to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection and of His appearance to Paul (Acts 9:15-16).
The message about Jesus Christ can be summed up this way. Paul said,
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . . (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The resurrection cannot be taken out of the Christian message. IF Jesus is not risen from the dead, Paul himself says that his message and our faith is WORTHLESS! (1 Cor 15:12-19). BUT if Jesus is risen, then we have victory over our sins and hope beyond the grave. We can live life in the power of His resurrection, and. . . in the fellowship of His sufferings if called upon to do so. These three truths give substantial testimony that it is reasonable to believe that Jesus is RISEN!
 Here is a great website if you are interested in a Old Testament fulfillments in biblical prophecy of Jesus’ life and ministry: https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/old-testament-prophecies.html?relatedposts_start=2
 See Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34; and parallels in Matthew and Luke
 Here is a great website blog posting on the subject of the Jerusalem Factor and other factors surrounding it: http://existenceofgod.org/the-jerusalem-factor-an-historical-puzzle-piece/
 See “Authenticating the Christian Faith: The Jerusalem Factor” at http://www.thefaithexplained.com/blog/authenticating-the-resurrection-of-jesus-the-jerusalem-factor/
 http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/justinmartyr-dialoguetrypho.html Accessed on March 30, 2018 “You have sent chosen and ordained men throughout all the world to proclaim that a godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilaean deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb, where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.”
 http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/humm/Topics/JewishJesus/toledoth.html. Accessed on March 30, 2018. It reads as follows, “On the first day of the week his bold followers came to Queen Helene with the report that he who was slain was truly the Messiah and that he was not in his grave; he had ascended to heaven as he prophesied. Diligent search was made and he was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden.”
 A guard was responsible for the prisoner that they were guarding. If the prisoner got away, that guard was not going home to his family, but would be taking the place of the prisoner in their death sentence. Also to be caught sleeping while on guard duty also warrants a commanding centurion’s sword. But another question comes up in this passage. How does one know what goes on around them while they are asleep? How would the guard’s know that the disciples came and stole the body if they were sound asleep? IMHO, Matthew was very savvy in putting this at the end of his gospel record.
Rob Lundberg is an apologetics and worldview instructor with a passion and purpose to equip students and families to know God’s Word and how they can defend their faith in their schools, their workplaces, and in their everyday interactions with strangers, friends and family. Rob has appeared on radio and Christian television (Capital District of NY) as well has spoken in community college and university settings.
Rob is currently a blogger, writer and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to think and articulate what they believe and to communicate the message of the gospel to a confused culture in a confused, chaotic, “brave new world.” He is currently available to speak at conferences, pulpit supply, seminars, break-out sessions, Pastor Q and A, workshops, retreats, or anything else a church or Christian school, or group needs. Find out what people are saying.
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