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The Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:14, that “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” He continues this thought in verse 19 stating, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable.” (1599 Geneva Bible)
The person and deity of Christ have been under intense scrutiny in the last few years. There was Brian Fleming’s DVD documentary, The God Who Wasn’t There, which denied that Jesus ever existed. Then there was Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, presenting Jesus to be a mere man who married Mary of Magdalene and had children. Most recently there was the Discovery Channel documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus where the claim is made that the 2,000-year-old “Tomb of the Ten Ossuaries” belonged to the family of Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus was buried there.
Ironically, most “enlightened” and skeptical scholars disagree with the conclusions of Brian Fleming, Dan Brown, and James Cameron. That’s because they are convinced that Jesus never rose from the dead—and in their minds that’s enough to bury Christianity. If the skeptic can prove that Jesus’ life ended in the cold dark tomb, then Christianity is truly dead. The Gospel has no real power and there is no hope of eternal life. Have the skeptics been successful in proving that the resurrection is a hoax? Or, is Jesus’ triumph over the grave a confirmed fact of history?
In his book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell states:
Jesus has three basic credentials: (1) The impact of His life upon history; (2) Fulfilled prophecy in His life; and (3) His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and Christianity stand or fall together. A student at the University of Uruguay said to me: “Professor McDowell, why can’t you refute Christianity?” I answered: “For a very simple reason: I am not able to explain away an event in history—the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Before I go much further, it is important to clarify that we believe in the Resurrection of Christ because the Bible says it happened. Facts do not interpret themselves. The Bible is a history book. There were those who were witnesses to these events (Luke 1:1–4). The burden of proof is with the skeptics to prove otherwise. With the presuppositional truth of Scripture, we can look at the facts and draw rational and compelling conclusions. The inspiration and material for this series is drawn greatly from Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict.
As we conclude this brief introduction, I encourage you to read the Scriptural account below from Matthew 28:1–11 (1599 Geneva Bible). See also Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20–21):
Now in the end of the Sabbath, when the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, came to see the sepulcher. And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. And his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him, the keepers were astonished, and became as dead men. But the Angel answered, and said to the women, Fear ye not: for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified: He is not here, for he is risen, as he said: come, see the place where the Lord was laid, And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead: and behold, he goeth before you into Galilee: there ye shall see him: lo, I have told you. So they departed quickly from the sepulcher, with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, God save you. And they came, and took him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid. Go, and tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were gone, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the high Priests all the things that were done.