If Christ Has Not Been Raised: Reasoning Through the Resurrection
By Kenneth R. Samples
Jesus’ being raised to new life three days after His execution pumps the heart of the Christian gospel (doctrine), and is Christianity’s central supporting fact (apologetics). The truth of Christianity uniquely stands or falls on Christ’s resurrection. The apostle Paul explains: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:14). “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).
Since the truth-claims of Christianity hinge on the Resurrection, the New Testament accounts of Christ’s resurrection warrant careful analysis and reflection. The writers of these accounts not only report the Resurrection as a factual event but also provide a theological context and explanation of its overall significance to God’s historical redemptive plan.
The entire New Testament was written in light of Christ’s resurrection. Each book therein bears witness to its reality. In fact, this testimony was the essential function of the apostles (Acts 1:22). Jesus’ resurrection was not merely a coming back from the dead (resuscitation, near-death experience, reincarnation) but a resurrection into a new type of human life eternal life with a transformed, glorified physical body no longer subject to weakness, pain, sickness, and death. By His resurrection, Jesus Christ fully and completely conquered death .
The New Testament Resurrection Scenario
The four New Testament Gospels and various New Testament epistles reveal essential data concerning Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. The following sections summarize these intriguing events. (See Matt. 26:47-28:20; Mark 14:43-16:8; Luke 22:47-24:53; John 18:1-21:25; Acts 9:1-19; 1 Cor. 15:1-58.)
Jewish religious leaders (chief priests and elders) arrested Jesus of Nazareth and tried Him for blasphemy. The Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty and subsequently took Him to the Roman governor for sentencing. Despite finding no basis for a charge against Him, Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to death as an insurrectionist. Roman soldiers beat, mocked, and crucified Him. His lifeless body was taken down from the cross, covered with a burial cloth, and placed in a newly cut tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea (a wealthy and prominent member of the Sanhedrin). A large boulder sealed the entrance to the tomb, and Roman guards were stationed there to ensure that Jesus’ body was not disturbed…
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