Sudbury faith: Christ is risen. Fact or fiction?

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Easter is the greatest celebration of the year for those who have faith in Jesus Christ. Most people tend to decorate more for Christmas than for Easter and celebrate more at Christmas than at Easter, but really, Easter is, and should be, the greatest celebration.

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At Easter, we celebrate and remember the death of Christ on the cross, where He willingly gave up His life to pay the penalty for our sins. Amazing love. We also celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Christ not only died, but He also conquered death and rose again.

Some people might think death, or at least the resurrection of Christ, is just a fairytale. But it actually has good historical support. It does take faith to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus. But it is not blind faith, it is a very reasonable faith based on known historical facts and evidence. As Antony Flew, the famous atheist who eventually became a theist has said, “The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity.”

Here is some of the evidence for the resurrection:

Evidence #1. Jesus truly died by crucifixion. Ancient non-Christian historians such as Josephus and Tacitus wrote about Jesus’ death by crucifixion and modern-day, non-Christian critical scholar John Dominic Crossan has written and admitted, “That (Jesus) was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”

Evidence #2. The empty tomb. When the disciples, and soon afterward many others, started to claim to have seen the risen Christ, the Jewish leaders who had gotten Jesus killed in the first place would have been strongly motivated to stop any talk about Jesus’ resurrection and squash Christianity once and for all. And they knew exactly where Jesus’ dead body had been placed. But they were unable to put a stop to the talk about His resurrection because they were unable to produce Jesus’ dead body. The tomb was empty.

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Some might suggest that the disciples stole Jesus’ body and hid it but we know that Jesus’ body was guarded by Roman soldiers so that would have been impossible. Furthermore, the disciples had scattered like a bunch of scaredy cats when Jesus was arrested and killed, so they were clearly in no frame of mind to hatch a body stealing plot. Which leads to the next evidence …

Evidence #3. The changed lives of the disciples. The disciples went from being scared and scattered, to courageously telling everyone about Jesus’ resurrection. What could have changed them from timidly hiding out to courageously claiming to have seen the risen Christ? Only truly seeing the risen Christ would have changed them. They had no motivation to make up a lie about seeing the risen Christ. And, one by one, most of them ended up dying martyrs’ deaths for their claim that Jesus rose from the dead. If they were making the whole thing up, when they got threatened with death, they would have admitted to lying. No one would knowingly die for a lie.

Evidence #4. The origin and spread of the Christian faith. Every scholar knows Christianity exploded out of Israel in the first century and very quickly grew all over Europe, Africa, and Asia. What explains the rapid growth of Christianity if Jesus never rose from the dead? If Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead, Christianity would have sputtered and died out shortly after Jesus had died. The best explanation is that Jesus really rose again and appeared to many people who became passionate witnesses to the fact that Jesus truly was the crucified and risen Savior of the world.

Rev. Mark Smith is the senior pastor of Lansing Avenue Baptist Chapel and he is very thankful for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He referenced while writing this article and recommends reading it for even more evidence of the resurrection.

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