Top 8 Reasons to Trust the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
by Arthur Khachatryan
Roughly 2,000 years ago Jesus of Nazareth caused the greatest shift in thinking in human history. Amidst the clash of the Roman and Jewish mindsets emerged a figure that would change the course of human history and among other things establish the intrinsic worth of every person. Days after he was crucified by the Romans, his followers claimed that this Jesus had appeared to them in the flesh. As miraculous as it may seem, the reasons for their attestations are consistent with many of the reasons why we can trust that Jesus of Nazareth had come back to life in the flesh. What follow are the most broadly accepted facts across the different viewpoints by scholars of various convictions giving us compelling reasons to believe in this most miraculous event in human history.
1. It is widely accepted that Jesus existed and was indeed crucified.
All credible historians agree that Jesus of Nazareth ben Joseph did exist in the first century and was indeed crucified by the edict from Pontius Pilate as a result of the pressure from Jewish authorities.
A. Josephus ben Mattathias (c. AD 37–100), the Romanized Jewish historian writes,
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principle men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct to this day.”1
B. Suetonius, the Roman historian and court official under Hadrian writes,
“As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [variation of Christus, Christ], he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome.”2 (In the biblical narrative, Luke refers to this event, which took place in AD 49, “There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them . . .” (Acts 18:2)
C. Cornelius Tacitus (c. AD 55-120) writes,
“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, avail to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punishment with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also.”3
D. Lucian of Samosata (Greek satirist) writes,
“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account . . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”4
These are just four extra-biblical references. The actual list of references is rather overwhelming.
2. Jesus’ disciples claimed that He came back from the dead and appeared to them.
Among the key lines of evidence for this is Paul’s testimony about his experience with Jesus and the testimony of the disciples, oral traditions that passed through the early church and the written works of the early church. It is clear from his writings that Paul knew the apostles and was clear that their claims were unanimous: Jesus had come back from the dead.
Some have proposed mass hallucinations as a way of explaining how and why the disciples could have claimed that they experienced the living Christ after His death. While certainly possible as an explanation for one isolated incident, or even two or three, no amount of hypersensitivity could possibly account for mass hallucinations of more than 510 people, who were said to have all witnessed the risen Christ at different times in different places in very different ways…
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