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by John Piper
1. Jesus Christ, as he is presented to us in the New Testament, and as he stands forth from all its writings, is too single and too great to have been invented so uniformly by all these writers.
The force of Jesus Christ unleashed these writings; the writings did not create the force. Jesus is far bigger and more compelling than any of his witnesses. His reality stands behind these writings as a great, global event stands behind a thousand newscasters. Something stupendous unleashed these diverse witnesses to tell these stunning and varied, yet unified, stories of Jesus Christ.
2. Nobody has ever explained the empty tomb of Jesus in the hostile environment of Jerusalem where the enemies of Jesus would have given anything to produce the corpse, but could not.
The earliest attempts to cover the scandal of resurrection were manifestly contradictory to all human experience—disciples do not steal a body (Matthew 28:13) and then sacrifice their lives to preach a glorious gospel of grace on the basis of the deception. Modern theories that Jesus didn't die but swooned, and then awoke in the tomb and moved the stone and tricked his skeptical disciples into believing he was risen as the Lord of the universe don't persuade.
3. Cynical opponents of Christianity abounded where claims were made that many eyewitnesses were available to consult concerning the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
"After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:6). Such claims would be exposed as immediate falsehood if they could. But we know of no exposure. Eyewitnesses of the risen Lord abounded when the crucial claims were being made.
4. The early church was an indomitable force of faith and love and sacrifice on the basis of the reality of Jesus Christ.
The character of this church, and the nature of the gospel of grace and forgiveness, and the undaunted courage of men and women—even unto death—do not fit the hypothesis of mass hysteria. They simply were not like that. Something utterly real and magnificent had happened in the world and they were close enough to know it, and be assured of it, and be gripped by its power…
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