We must obey God rather than men.
This week, we are looking at indisputable proofs of Christ’s resurrection. First, consider the proof of human nature. We are born with an instinct for self-preservation. But think about the disciples. On Friday they had deserted Christ, but within 48 hours they became courageous proponents of Christianity. In Acts 5, Peter was arrested for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. When questioned by the high priest, Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men” (5:29). When threatened with death, the apostles were willing to give up their lives. Why? Because they had seen the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. The transformed lives of these disciples, as well as thousands of followers of Jesus since that time, argue for the resurrection.
Second, consider the proof of early acceptance. Liberal scholars used to try to cast doubt about the New Testament by claiming that it was written many decades after the life of Jesus and was, therefore, subject to great embellishments. As the years passed, the theory went, Jesus’ followers added fictitious events like the miracles and the resurrection to make Christianity more appealing to potential converts. However, even liberal scholars now accept that the majority of the New Testament was written between AD 40 and 65, making the addition of fictitious events highly unlikely. For example, suppose a book were published today that said three days after Ronald Reagan’s funeral in 2004, he arose from his grave and was seen by over 500 people. The book’s credibility would be destroyed by those who were alive at the time. Such a book could only gain traction once everyone who was living at the time of Reagan’s death had died and, therefore, could not dispute the story. Similarly, the fact that the New Testament was written within a few years of the events it reports–and was accepted as fact–is great evidence for its authenticity.
Third, consider the proof of eyewitnesses. In 1 Corinthians 15:6, Paul said 500 people saw the resurrected Christ. Some dismiss these witnesses’ experiences as wish-fulfillment–they so desperately wanted to see their leader again that they imagined they saw Him. However, this theory contradicts known facts. The actions of Christ’s followers demonstrate that they had no expectation of His resurrection. Had they believed His resurrection was imminent, why wouldn’t they have camped out at the tomb Saturday night in anticipation of the greatest event in history? They were not expecting to see Christ again, but they did. And they were so convinced of what they saw that, with the exception of John, the disciples experienced martyrs’ deaths. Beyond eyewitnesses who saw the resurrected Christ, countless others claimed to have a life-changing encounter with the risen Jesus Christ. More than 2,000 years later, millions of people around the globe are still enduring persecution and death because they claim to have had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. A willingness to die for a claimed experience with God argues strongly for the veracity of that experience. As Blaise Pascal famously said, “I believe those witnesses who get their throats cut.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Resurrection: Foolish, Fake News, Or Fact?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.