The church historian Jaroslav Pelikan has said that “if Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen—nothing else matters.”
This is my favorite quotation about Easter. All of human history revolves around whether Jesus Christ, the God-man, rose from the dead. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we are still in our sins and the point of life is to pursue pleasure after which we die and rot. This is Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 15. Life is meaningless apart from the resurrection. If Jesus did in fact rise from the dead, then nothing else matters. Our entire life and allegiance should be focused on Christ.
Since this is the pivotal moment of human history, then its truthfulness is of utmost importance. Did Jesus walk out of his tomb 1,987 years ago? Or, was he crucified, buried, and decomposed? Christian apologist Lee Strobel gives four compelling reasons to believe in the resurrection.
- Execution. Jesus died on the cross. This is an indisputable fact across ancient witnesses, even those who did not believe Jesus was the Son of God. Had Jesus been taken off the cross before he was dead, the Roman soldiers would have been crucified themselves.
- Early Reports. The news of Jesus’ resurrection spread quickly and spread far. Even the earliest creeds report that Jesus rose from the dead. The resurrection has always been the centerpiece of Christian belief, not some later mythological fabrication.
- Empty tomb. Everyone in Jesus’ day agreed the tomb was empty, some just believed the disciples stole the body. I have never found this compelling. Why would the disciples, who fled in fear when Jesus was arrested, come to the tomb, take and hide his corpse, and then end up dying as martyrs for something they knew was false? That would be the true scandal of Easter! No one dies for something they know is a lie.
- Eyewitnesses. Not only is the resurrection recorded by eyewitnesses in the New Testament books, but there were many people who beheld Christ in his resurrected body. Paul records that more than 500 people saw Jesus resurrected (1 Cor 15:6). Jesus did not return to life in secret—many beheld his glorious body.
Billions have believed the miracle of Easter throughout the last two millennia. And for good reason. The evidence is trustworthy that Jesus Christ, who died for sinners, was raised to life three days later. The question for this Easter is simply this: how will this change the way you live?
If Christ is risen, nothing else matters!
Brian J. Arnold