Category Archives: Resurrection
I’ve recently picked up and began reading Tim Keller’s newest book, King’s Cross; The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus. In the book Keller works through the Gospel of Mark and carefully unfolds the life of Jesus. At the end of the book Keller naturally looks at the resurrection and calls the last chapter, The Beginning. Given the fact that Easter is upon us, I thought I would pass on a couple of passages about the resurrection that I found helpful. Keller writes on page 222:
And to the extent that the future is real to you, it will change everything about how you live in the present. For example, why is it so hard to face suffering? Why is it so hard to face disability and disease? Why is it so hard to do the right thing if you know it’s going to cost you money, reputation, maybe even your life? Why is it so hard to face your own death or the death of loved ones? It’s so hard because we think this broken world is the only world we’re ever going to have. It’s easy to feel as if this money is the only wealth we will ever have, as if this body is the only body we will ever have. But if Jesus is risen, then you future is so much more beautiful, and so much more certain, than that.
Do you really believe that Jesus was raised from the grave, conquering sin and death? Because if you do it will change how you live. If you live and react like there is no resurrection then perhaps you are not convinced, and that could be eternally problematic (1 Cor. 15:1-8). The Bible portrays the transformed disciples/apostles as those who really believed in the resurrection, and their lives validated what they said they believed.
Keller writes on page 224:
And if you know that this is not the only world, the only body, the only life you are ever going to have-that you will someday have a perfect life-who cares what people do to you? You’re free from ultimate anxieties in this life, so you can be brave and take risks. You can face the worst thing, even life in wheelchair, with joy, with hope. The resurrection means we can look forward with hope to the day our suffering will be gone.
Keller’s application is helpful, though not easy, but do we hope in the resurrection of Jesus, believing that His resurrection will result in our resurrection? What we really believe will have bearing on how we really live.
So think hard about the resurrection and why it can be believed, but also think about what it should mean for those in Christ. And pick up Keller’s book and study Mark with his guidance. You will see we have much reason to hope in King Jesus.
I’ve read quite a lot about the resurrection and the case for it. Lee Strobel calls it the “best attested fact in ancient history.” The one historical fact that I can’t get over is the willingness of the apostles to die for the Jesus they tried desperately to disown. I am fully aware the people will die for a lie. Many have. But would a group of twelve men, everyone of them, lay down their life for a lie? If Jesus was a sinner, a mere human, just like His disciples, isn’t it likely that James, Jesus’ half brother, would have remembered the time adolescent Jesus stole a piece of bread from the market or back-talked to his mom? Wouldn’t he have thought in the moment that he was about to brutally die for his brother, “Jesus wasn’t really the messiah and there is no way I am dying for lying that He was and is. It was the people that knew Jesus the best that gave the most after He was resurrected.
Again, there is so much evidence for the resurrection, but it seems significant that the men who once were locked away in a room because they were scared of the same people who had Jesus crucified, are the ones who eventually gave their lives for Jesus. Not only that, but apparently they were so convincing that people like the gospel writers Mark and Luke also gave their lives for Jesus, though they never physically saw Him; as far as we know. The bottom line is this, the apostles believed that Jesus was resurrected and they lived like it.
Here is a list of some of the apostles and men they influenced who gave their lives for the Jesus the saw, heard and touched. (1 John 1:1-3) (There is some debate about the details of the deaths of these men, but it is certain that all but John died for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I tried to use the best sources. If you know differently, please feel free to correct what I have.)
|James the Great – Apostle||According to Luke, in the Book of Acts, James the son of Zebedee, the elder brother of John, and a relative of our Lord (his mother Salome was the cousin of Mary). It was not until ten years after the death of Stephen that this second martyrdom took place. Herod Agrippa upon being appointed governor of Judea, raised a sharp persecution against the Christians and was determined to make an effective blow against the Church by striking at their leaders. The account given to us by Clemens Alexandrinus, tells us that, as James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was brought to repentance by the apostle’s extraordinary courage and undauntedness. Falling at James’ feet to request his pardon, he professed himself a Christian and resolved that James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. So, they were both beheaded. Two others were martyred at about the same time, Timon and Parmenas; the one at Philippi, and the other in Macedonia. These events took place A.D. 44. (Foxe’s book of Martyrs)|
|Philip – Apostle||Born at Bethsaida, in Galilee, he was first to be called by the name of “disciple”. He labored diligently in Upper Asia, and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was flogged, thrown into prison, and crucified in A.D. 54. (Foxe’s)|
|Matthew – Apostle||Whose occupation was that of a toll-gatherer was born in Nazareth. He wrote his gospel in Hebrew (some state Aramaic), which was afterwards translated into Greek by James the Less. The scene of his labors was Parthia, and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah, in A.D. 60. (Foxe’s)|
|James||The half brother of Jesus. He was elected to the oversight of the churches of Jerusalem; and was the author of the Epistle of James. At the age of ninety-four he was beaten and stoned by the Jews; and (taken to the roof of the temple, thrown off then) finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club. (Foxe’s)|
|Matthias – Apostle||Of whom less is known than of most of the other disciples, was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded. (Foxe’s)|
|Andrew – Apostle||Was the brother of Peter. He preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations; but on his arrival at Edessa he was taken and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground. Hence the derivation of the term, St. Andrew’s Cross. (Foxe’s)|
|Mark – Gospel Writer||Was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. He is supposed to have been converted to Christianity by Peter, whom he served as a secretary, and under whose inspection he wrote his Gospel in the Greek language. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria, as a sacrifice to Serapis their idol. (Foxe’s)|
|Peter – Apostle||Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified at Rome. Jerome wrote that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, at his request, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord. (Foxe’s)|
|Paul – Apostle||Paul, the apostle, following his great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ, suffered also in the first persecution under Nero. Paul, a prisoner in Rome, taught daily those who would come to him. Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of Paul’s death. Coming to Paul, and finding him instructing a crowd of people, asked Paul pray for them, that they might believe. Paul told them that shortly after they should believe, they should be baptized at His sepulcher. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers, gave his neck to the sword. (Foxe’s)|
|Jude – Apostle||The brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa, A.D. 72. Preached in several countries, and having translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of India, he propagated it in that country. He was eventually beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters. (Foxe’s)|
|Thomas – Apostle||Called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear. (Foxe’s)|
|Luke – Gospel Writer||The evangelist, author of the Gospel which goes under his name and the book of Acts. He travelled with Paul through various countries, and is supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree, by the idolatrous priests of Greece. (Foxe’s)|
|Simon – Apostle||Surnamed Zealots, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and Britain, where he was crucified in A.D. 74. (Foxe’s)|
|John – Apostle||The “beloved disciple,” was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus, he was sent to Rome where he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped death, by miracle. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos; it is assumed to be a laborer in the mines, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, released him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.(Foxe’s)|
|Barnabas – Apostle||Was of Cyprus, but of Jewish descent, his death is supposed to have taken place about A.D. 73. (Fox’s)|
|Bartholomew – Apostle||(Also known as Nathaniel) was flayed alive (skinned) and then beheaded; some sources locate his death at Derbend on the Caspian Sea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_of_the_Twelve_Apostles)|
Lee Strobel says that the “resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best attested event of the ancient world.”
That is very strong language considering Strobel’s credentials. Strobel was educated at Yale Law School, worked as a legal editor for the Chicago Tribune and was an atheist until 1981. Strobel is not a guy who can easily be accused of drinking the Christian Kool-Aid, he has credibility as one who doubted and opposed the story of Jesus.
It is also a staggering statement in light of all the history we have from the ancient world. Consider for a moment the events to which Strobel is comparing the resurrection. For example, Hannibal’s Carthaginian Wars with the Romans, The Ides of March and Julius Caesar, Spartacus and The Servile Wars; to name a few. Most wouldn’t hesitate to affirm the veracity of these events, though some doubt whether we ever put a man on the moon or whether Jesus was even a real person. Coherent people assume they are true and Strobel apologetically says that the resurrection of Christ is best attested event in ancient history. That is an incredible statement.
But Strobel isn’t the first person to investigate and defend the resurrection apologetically. Paul also asserts the historicity of the resurrection and says that it is irrefutable fact.
Nearly 2000 years earlier in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul devotes 58 verses to the resurrection and says that if a person doesn’t believe in the resurrection then they are not a Christian. That’s how important the resurrection was and is. (15:1-2) In 15:3-11 Paul defends the resurrection of Christ saying that Christ died for our sins according the scriptures, and that He was buried. After all, that is what happens to people who are dead, they get buried. He goes on to write that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.
How do we know he died, was buried and rose? Because verse five tells us that Cephas (Peter) saw Jesus after His death and burial. But not only Peter but also the twelve, and not only the twelve but also 500 people at one time. Not only did Jesus appear to them but Paul is essentially saying, “If you don’t believe me then ask them yourself because they are still alive, though some have died.” If that were all it would be impressive, but Jesus also appeared to James and then to the apostles and lastly He appeared to Paul himself, the once ardent persecutor of all things Jesus.
If we were having a trial to determine the validity of the resurrection of Jesus that would be a lot of witnesses to call to the stand who saw Jesus at one time or another and Paul says they would back up his story. It’s near impossible that at least 515 people would be able to hold a lie in tact and then ultimately die with the lie, and many for the lie as martyrs. Mass Hallucination doesn’t explain it away either and really only validates the story, because a person who hallucinates will do so uniquely not in unified detail with hundreds of other people. If the resurrection of Jesus Christ were a hoax someone would be glad to take the credit for exposing it, but that historically has not happened.
The resurrection of Jesus was so real and true to Paul that it changed his life from one who violently opposed Jesus to one who died violently for Jesus. Thousands of years later the certainty of the man who beat death with His Life is still making believers ought of doubters and staunch atheist. Just ask Lee Strobel.
For other convincing evidence of the resurrection go to YouTube and search Gary Habermas and Anthony Flew, a leading philosophical atheist who is now considering God.