THE RISEN CHRIST
Immortality was not a common term among the first Christians. A resurrection had taken place, a new age had begun, and a new promise of life after the grave. Clocks and calendars were affected; time had begun again! Resurrection, not immortality, had become the word of the early church! With Christ’s coming back to life (three days after his death) validates all his claim that he is God’s Son, who came from above. His authenticity as the Savior of mankind is proven by the fact that he was bodily raised from the grave. The historical truth of his victory over death and his consequent eternal kingship over the world affirms Jesus’ claim to be God. The resurrection establishes Christ’s authority and thus validates his teachings about the Bible and himself.
Paul minced no words about this when he said—“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.” Some might think Paul rashed for staking the case for Christianity on the bodily resurrection. But Paul was absolutely certain about Christ’s resurrection. He had encountered Jesus face to face on the road to Damascus and had talked both with the apostles who were with Jesus and many of the five hundred eyewitnesses who saw the resurrected Lord. There were three witnesses to the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
a) The Gospel record which were written by contemporary of Jesus who had firsthand knowledge of His life and the events of the early church (unlike Buddhist literature which was developed two centuries after Buddha’s death).
b) The extra-biblical writings by people who are not Christians i.e. Tacitus, Josephus, Pliny, Suetonius, Appian, Cassius Dio, and Plutarch.
c) The life testimonies of people who have encountered Jesus Christ. The secular mind could hardly explain the rise of Christianity as a belief—a belief that the resurrection happened. The early believers were willing to die, suffer the ignominy of death (burned at stakes, fed to wild beasts, and killed in the arena of blood-thirsty mobs) on the belief that as Christ had conquered death, and all the believers will also be resurrected when they die.
The chief ambition of the enemies of Christ was not to remove the dead body of Jesus, but to keep it in the tomb. They even asked Pilate for soldiers to guard the tomb to secure the non-disappearance of Christ’s body. If there is any claim that Christ had risen from the dead, the religious leaders could easily produce the body to prove that Christ remained dead. But the empty tomb prove them wrong. The Empty Tomb had a message for the disciples as it has for us. It says to science and philosophy, “Explain this event.” It says to history, “Repeat this event.” It says to time, “Blot out the event.” It says to faith, “Believe this event.” Indeed, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ resolves his authenticity.
By: Rev. ELMER MANZO