By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the foundational “proof” of the Christian religion.
“It is an historical fact that the Lord Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead, and ascended up to heaven….Prove it, and you prove Christianity. Disprove it, and you disprove Christianity. The truth of Christianity hinges on the fact of the resurrection of our Lord.” (Algernon J. Pollock and edited by John D. Rice, The Resurrection Of The Lord Jesus Christ, 58-67 (Kindle Edition); Crewe, Cheshire; Scripture Truth Publications)
In this article, I want to suggest to you three ways that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead furnishes the ultimate proof of at least three of His claims.
It’s The Ultimate Proof Of The Deity Of Jesus
The first area in which the Resurrection of Christ provides ultimate proof is in regards to the claims of the Deity of Jesus.
While speaking to a group of rebellious Jews who had already witnesses several miracles of Jesus (which authenticated His claims), Jesus reproved them for their wicked unbelief:
Matthew 12:39-40-39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The Bible teaches us about Jonah, who was in the belly of the “great fish” for three days (Jonah 1:17).
Jonah figuratively talked about his time there as being dead (Jonah 2:2), yet he was saved by God (Jonah 2:10).
This served as a “prefiguring” of what would take place with Jesus Himself.
By His Resurrection from the dead, Jesus would provide the greatest evidence of Who He is: the Son of God.
Looking Closer: Three Days And Nights
This passage, of course, raises some excellent questions.
On what day of the week was Jesus actually crucified?
How long was Jesus in the tomb?
On what day did Jesus actually arise from the dead?
A careful investigation of the New Testament will show that Jesus was crucified on Friday, and was in the grave part of the day in Friday, all of the day on Saturday, and part of the day on Sunday; and that He arose from the dead on Sunday.
First, we are told that it was on the Preparation Day that Jesus was crucified:
John 19:14-Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
Please notice that this passage tells us that Jesus was being crucified on the Preparation Day.
Second, we are specifically told that this Preparation Day was the day before the Sabbath:
Mark 15:42-Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,
Since the Sabbath is Saturday, or the seventh day of the week (Exodus 20:9-11), and since Jesus was crucified on the Preparation Day (I.e., the day before the Sabbath), then Jesus was crucified on Friday.
Third, we are told that Jesus was buried on the Preparation Day, before the Sabbath approached:
Luke 23:53-54-53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. 54 That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.
So Jesus was crucified and buried on Friday.
However, some have suggested (based on this passage in Matthew) that Jesus must have been crucified on Thursday, and that He arose from the dead on Saturday (the Sabbath) and not on the first day of the week.
They argue this way because they claim that Jesus said He would be in the tomb “three days and three nights,” and that this must be literal.
Could this be possible?
First of all, we need to understand that no matter what day Jesus was crucified on, He COULD NOT have been in the tomb for three literal days and nights (72 literal hours).
Why is this the case?
The New Testament makes it clear not only that Jesus was crucified on Friday, but that He arose from the dead early in the morning:
Matthew 28:1-6-1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Luke 24:1-Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.
Please notice that it was on the first day of the week, after the Sabbath, that the stone was rolled away and Jesus arose.
Furthermore, it was early in the morning.
Now, we are told that Jesus died about the ninth hour of the day (or around three o’clock in the afternoon on Friday-Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:34-37; Luke 23:44-46).
If Jesus were to stay in the tomb for three literal days and nights (72 hours), then He would HAVE TO ARISE FROM THR DEAD AT THREE IN THE AFTERNOON.
This is why Jesus could not have been in the tomb for literal three days and nights.
Archer has explained it well:
“Matthew 12: 40 states: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” If the general tradition—that Christ was crucified on Friday of Holy Week, died at 3: 00 P.M. (the “ninth hour” of the day), and then rose again from the dead on Sunday at dawn—is correct, how can it be said that Jesus was three days and three nights in the grave? He was interred about 6: 00 P.M., according to Luke 23: 54. (“ And it was the day of preparation [hēmera paraskeuēs] and the Sabbath was coming on [epephōsken]”) This would mean that the period of interment was only from Friday night to Saturday night before the Resurrection on the dawn of Sunday; and it would also mean only one dawn-to-sunset day, namely Saturday, had passed. How do we get “three days and three nights” out of two nights and one day? Must not the actual day of crucifixion have been Thursday or even Wednesday? It is perfectly true that a Friday Crucifixion will not yield three full twenty-four-hour days. But neither will a Thursday afternoon Crucifixion, nor a Wednesday afternoon Crucifixion either. This results from the fact that Jesus died at 3: 00 P.M. and rose at or about 6: 00 A.M. The only way you can come out with three twenty-four-hour days is if He rose at the same hour (three days later, of course) that He was crucified, namely, 3: 00 P.M. Actually, however, He rose “on the third day” (1 Cor. 15: 4). Obviously, if He rose on the third day, He could not already have been buried for three whole nights and three whole days. That would have required His resurrection to be at the beginning of the fourth day.” (Gleason L. Archer, Jr., The New International Encyclopedia Of Bible Difficulties: Informed Answers To Your Most Troublesome Questions, 8531-8548 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Jesus was not in the tomb for three literal days and nights.
What is the meaning of His expression that He would be in the tomb three days and three nights?
The phrase “three days and nights” was simply a Jewish figure of speech that meant three days.
“That’s right. But you have failed to recognize that the phrase “three days and three nights” is a Jewish idiom meaning a short period of time and does not necessarily have to include three days and three nights.[ 3] Today we might speak of a long task taking “forever.” We mean that it will take a long time. We do not mean that it will take an infinite amount of time and is incapable of being completed. Likewise, someone may say that something will take “only a minute.” This means a very short time, not sixty seconds. These are simply English idioms. Idioms exist in all languages. In the book of Esther, Esther tells her fellow Jews the following: Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.[ 4] Now, notice what happens two verses later: Now it came about on the third day[ 5] that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace in front of the king’s rooms, and the king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room, opposite the entrance to the palace.[ 6] Esther did not wait a full three days and three nights. She went to the king on the third day. So that would be two days plus a number of hours. Let’s look at one other passage. Matthew 27: 63–64 reports that after Jesus’s crucifixion, the Jewish leaders approached Pilate and said: Sir, we remember that while living that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise.” Therefore, order the grave to be secured until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him away and say to the people, “He was raised from the dead,” and the last deceit will be worse than the first. Matthew, the same author who reported the “three days and three nights” in the sign of Jonah, is later reporting the request of the Jewish leaders. Notice that they say that Jesus predicted he would rise after three days. So what do they do? They request that the grave be secured by guards until the third day. If the term “after three days” is a Jewish idiom that does not mean a full seventy-two hours, this passage has no conflict. But if by it Jesus meant he would be dead at least seventy-two hours before rising, then the Jewish leaders are foolish to request that the grave be secured “until the third day.” In other words, they intend to pull the guard just before Jesus said he would rise, which would leave nearly twenty-four hours for the disciples to steal his body. You see? Understanding “three days” in a literal sense does not make sense. Therefore, when we consider two Jewish writings, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, the terms “after three days” and “three days and three nights” seem to be a Jewish idiom that is not in conflict with the earliest Christian claims that Jesus was raised “on the third day.” (Michael R. Licona, Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate On The Resurrection, 1087-1111 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
It’s The Ultimate Proof Of The Day Of Judgement
The Apostle Paul talks about how the Resurrection of Jesus is also the ultimate proof that there is going to be a Day of Judgment.
Acts 17:30-31-30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Please consider several things from this passage.
First, there is clearly a day that God has determined or appointed in which He will judge the world.
The date is fixed; nothing will alter that day. It is a day known only to God:
Matthew 24:36-“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Mark 13:32-“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
There have been many people who have tried to guess the time of the Second Coming and Day of Judgment, and they have all failed.
For example, one of the founders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, J.F. Rutherford, wrote these words in the early 1900’s:
“It must be conceded, then, by all that the first important question for our determination is, When does this world end? If we can definitely fix this period, then it is an easy matter to determine when the divine promises with reference to life everlasting will be opened to the world in general. We therefore propose to prove in this argument that the social order of things, the second world, legally ended in 1914, and since that time has been and is passing away; that the new order of things is coming in to take its place; that within a definite period of time the old order will be completely eradicated and the new order in full sway; and that these things shall take place within the time of the present generation and that therefore there are millions of people now living on earth who will see them take place, to whom everlasting life will be offered and who, if they accept it upon the terms offered and obey those terms, will never die.” (J.F. Rutherford, Millions Now Living Will Never Die! 120-128 (Kindle Edition); Brooklyn, NY: International Bible Students Association)
The founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith, declared the following about the Second Coming of Christ:
“and it was the will of God that those who went to zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh-even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.” (B.H. Roberts, History Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints: An Introduction And Notes In Seven Volumes, 27447-27453 (Kindle Edition)
There have been many false prophets throughout time; yet only God knows when the Day of Judgment will be.
Second, we see that when Christ returns all people will be judged.
This is also what Jesus taught throughout His personal ministry:
Matthew 25:31-32-31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
We are all going to appear before the Lord in judgment friends.
Third, we will all be judged “in righteousness.”
It is by the Word of God that we will all be judged:
John 12:48-He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
Revelation 20:12-And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
Finally, please notice that the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead has given the ultimate assurance that this Day of Judgment will take place.
It’s The Ultimate Proof Of The Destiny Of The Justified
Finally, I would like to suggest that the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the ultimate proof of the destiny of God’s people.
When the Apostle Peter wrote to the Christians in the first century, they were facing persecution on every front for their faithfulness to Jesus.
In the beginning of his Epistle, he reminds them of the hope that we have as Christians:
1 Peter 1:3-5-3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
The word “hope” is a very interesting word in the Greek New Testament.
“The Greek noun elpis means “favorable and confident expectation.” It has to do with the unseen and the future (Romans 8:24, 25)….In 1 Corinthians 15:19, the phrase “we have hope in Christ” more literally means “we are men that have hoped in Christ.” This expresses the idea that Christ is our hope for all eternity, not merely for this life….Most people tend to use the word hope to express a wish or desire. “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow,” we will say, meaning that we have a desire for sunny weather. In fact, this use of the word often expresses an underlying doubt, a sense that there’s a good chance it will rain tomorrow, regardless of our wishes. But the word hope does not refer to this kind of thinking; it refers to a confident expectation that something that does not currently exist will in fact exist one day in the future, and the element of doubt does not enter in: the expectation of that fulfillment is confident and secure, the person knowing without doubt (having hope) that the earth will still be rotating tomorrow just as it is today.” (W.E. Vine with reflections by Gregory C. Benoit, Reflections on Words Of The New Testament, 1012-1023 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson)
The word is powerfully expressed by William Barclay:
“The Christian hope is not simply a trembling, hesitant hope that perhaps the promises of God may be true. It is the confident expectation that they cannot be anything else than true. (William Barclay, New Testament Words, 1088-1156 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)
We have this certainty from God because of two factors.
First, we have this hope of Heaven through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In His Resurrection from the dead, Christ has given assurance to all of His people that one day, death will lose its’ power!
John 11;25-26-25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
1 Corinthians 15:20-20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:23-23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
The power of Christ’s Resurrection is what provides us the assurance that we are going to be resurrected one Day when the Lord returns.
The resurrection of Jesus also is what gives the new birth its’ power (the second ground of our assurance).
Romans 6:3-4-3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
In every way, the Resurrection of Jesus provides the ultimate proof of the destiny of God’s people.
There are many in the world who deny that Jesus arose from the dead: yet the evidence itself is overwhelming.
One investigative journalist named Lee Strobel set out to disprove Christianity after his wife became a follower of Jesus.
Going around the country and posing the hardest questions that he could to the leading defenders of the Christian faith, Lee was quite shocked at what the evidence actually showed.
“The evidence for the post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus didn’t develop gradually over the years as mythology distorted memories of his life. Rather, said Resurrection expert Gary Habermas, the Resurrection was “the central proclamation of the early church from the very beginning.” The ancient creed from 1 Corinthians 15 mentions specific individuals who encountered the risen Christ, and Paul even challenged first-century doubters to talk with these individuals personally to determine the truth of the matter for themselves. The book of Acts is littered with extremely early affirmations of Jesus’ resurrection, while the gospels describe numerous encounters in detail. Concluded British theologian Michael Green, “The appearances of Jesus are as well authenticated as anything in antiquity…. There can be no rational doubt that they occurred.”…J. P. Moreland’s circumstantial evidence added final documentation for the Resurrection. First, the disciples were in a unique position to know whether the Resurrection happened, and they went to their deaths proclaiming it was true. Nobody knowingly and willingly dies for a lie. Second, apart from the Resurrection, there’s no good reason why skeptics like Paul and James would have been converted and would have died for their faith. Third, within weeks of the Crucifixion, thousands of Jews began abandoning key social practices that had critical sociological and religious importance for centuries. They believed they risked damnation if they were wrong. Fourth, the early sacraments of Communion and baptism affirmed Jesus’ resurrection and deity. And fifth, the miraculous emergence of the church in the face of brutal Roman persecution “rips a great hole in history, a hole the size and shape of Resurrection,” as C. F. D. Moule put it….Now consider the case of Jesus. Historically speaking, the news of his empty tomb, the eyewitness accounts of his post-Resurrection appearances, and the conviction that he was indeed God’s unique Son emerged virtually instantaneously. The 1 Corinthians 15 creed, affirming Jesus’ death for our sins and listing his post-Resurrection appearances to named eyewitnesses, was already being recited by Christians as soon as twenty-four months after the Crucifixion. Mark’s account of the empty tomb was drawn from material that dates back to within a few years of the event itself. The gospels, attesting to Jesus’ teachings, miracles, and resurrection, were circulating within the lifetimes of Jesus’ contemporaries, who would have been only too glad to set the record straight if there had been embellishment or falsehood. The most primitive Christian hymns affirm Jesus’ divine nature. Blomberg summed it up this way: “ Within the first two years after his death, then, significant numbers of Jesus’ followers seem to have formulated a doctrine of the atonement, were convinced that he had been raised from the dead in bodily form, associated Jesus with God, and believed they found support for all these convictions in the Old Testament.” (Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation Of The Evidence For Jesus, 4508-4540 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zomdervan)
Jesus arose my friends.
And His Resurrection provides the ultimate proof for His Deity, for the Day of Judgment, and for the Destiny of His people.
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus from the dead on the third day form the Gospel, or “Good News,” that the church is built upon (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
It is by this Gospel that we can be saved from our sin:
Romans 1:16-For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
The Word of God to those who are lost is simple.
Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
If you are a child of God who has turned away from Christ, having been baptized into Him but for whatever reason leaving Him, will you not today return to Him?
1 John 1:9-If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Your church family is ready to welcome you back and pray with you friends.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.