Why Does the Claimed Resurrection of Jesus Matter?

aaron-burden-40490-unsplash

Why do Christians make a big deal about the resurrection of Jesus? The claims made in the Bible texts are that Jesus was conclusively killed on a Roman cross, but that a few days later he was conclusively experienced as being alive by multiple hundreds of people. Why should I care about this odd claim? After all – odd things happen every day. This resurrection report was made a long time ago. Why is this report any more significant than any other unexplained phenomena that happens today in our mad world?

I’d suggest that it is because this is not just an isolated, strange event. Rather – it is a central part of a sequence of events that has been trans formative for this world as a whole. I’m talking about the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus.

What I’m saying here is – the events surrounding Jesus – point to God’s existence, and Jesus identity as God’s Son…saviour of the world. So…how does that work?

1 – Jesus made some very bombastic claims about himself.

I’ll summarise some of those below.

2 – The historical record points to Jesus’ physical, bodily resurrection from the dead.

3 – Given these premises, we can conclude not only that God exists but God verified the bombastic claims that Jesus made about himself and therefore Jesus identity.

So first then, what bombastic claims did Jesus make about himself?

In a religious, monotheistic culture (ancient Israel), Jesus made two mind bending claims:

1 – That he personally had the authority to forgive people’s sins.

For example, “[Jesus] said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’ ….’[Some people thought] he’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’”[1]

2 – That he personally is deity, that he is God.

He did this in many complex ways that Jewish hearers would understand by calling himself the Son of Man and the Son of God. One brief incident that makes more sense to Western ears is found in John’s gospel, “before Abraham was born, I am!”[2]

3 – What people do with Jesus – determines where we will spend eternity.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”[3]

No other ancient religious founder that we know of has done this. Jesus wasn’t following the common trend of religious leaders saying, “I’ve got important words here you must listen to.” No – Jesus was different. He said, “I am personally those words of life.” I’m the saviour.

Some might suppose – maybe Jesus was a cosmic prankster, a twisted person taking advantage of people’s ancient, religious naivety? Well – sure – you can claim that. But you won’t have any historical evidence to support your claim. And you will have a lot of evidence to the contrary that you’ll have to refute!

Second, why do I say the historical record points to Jesus’ physical, bodily resurrection?

I’ve laid out some key parts of this historical record in another blog here.

https://respondblogs.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/respondblogs-do-any-natural-explanations-for-the-resurrection-work/

In summary, these two premises lead me to conclude that it’s no accident Jesus resurrection happened. It wasn’t just a random, unexplained event. There was purpose here, it happened for a reason. God exists and he is verifying Jesus’ identity, and the truth of what he did and said in his life.

Because Jesus’ resurrection happened at a point in time, we can conclude not just that God exists, but that Jesus claims about himself are true and so Christianity is also true. Jesus is the saviour of the world.

That’s one big reason why Christians make a noise about Jesus’ resurrection.

Media from unsplash.com

Blog adapted from Gary Habermas, The Resurrection of Jesus, Credo Courses, http://www.credocourses.com.

[1] Mark 2:5-6, NIV.

[2] John 8:58, NIV.

[3] John 14:6, NIV.

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stuartgrayuk

I live in the UK, I'm married to Janet and I'm passionate about proposing a case for the historic Christian faith. You can find me on Twitter at @stuhgray.

4 thoughts on “Why Does the Claimed Resurrection of Jesus Matter?”

  1. I see you posted this with the Atheism tag so I figured you wanted an alternative view.
    The Resurrection is something that may be believed conclusively by Christians but there are many other who doubt the divinity of Jesus, it’s just not atheists who share that view.

    I often hear the claim “500 Witnesses”, so where is the list of these witnesses and their corroborating stories?

    It was also known that many people before and after Jesus’ time purposely removed bodies from tombs to show their loved ones were “divine”.

    I’m not convinced from my research.

    …and while I have commented with the above. I do not wish to take away from your Holiday. Happy Easter.

    1. Hi there David

      You bet…dialog on these issues is great!

      It is interesting that Jesus is claimed by so many of the world religions as being on their team in some authoritative capacity…although you’re right that Muslims (for example) say he’s not divine. It’s interesting that he’s so popular…why might that be?

      The “more than 500 witnesses” comes from 1 Corinthians 15:6. This is the earliest evidence on the resurrection. Scholars believe Paul, the author of the letter, is quoting a Christian creed that can be dated back to a year or so after Jesus actual crucifixion…a creed that the recipients of his letter would know well. Wouldn’t that mean this creed counts as early evidence?

      Your comment on people removing bodies from tombs to show they were divine is interesting to me – what’s your source on that? And I wonder how that scenario…the disciples stole the body…squares with the other historical evidence around the resurrection?

      Thanks so much David – hope you have a very happy and peaceful holiday yourself.

      Stu

  2. “It is interesting that Jesus is claimed by so many world religions….” You may need to expand on this. Followers of Judaism basically believe him to be a teacher but not God or the son of God. Some followers of Islam either believe him to be just a teacher or a prophet.
    “It’s interesting that he’s so popular…why might that be?”
    Christianity has about 2 billion followers. Islam 1.3b. 500 Million Harry Potter books have been sold. 🙂 I much prefer the “Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” by Thomas Jefferson myself.

    In reference to Paul’s letter..etc. There are many questions surrounding Paul’s letter- A creed is not evidence.

    As for removing bodies showing divinity, I don’t have my notes with me but off the top of my head: Alexander the Great wanted his body removed to show his divinity. “Revisiting The Empty Tomb” (Daniel Smith), I believe, had more examples. Otherwise, I’ll have to go into my archive and get you more examples.

    Enjoy your day!

    “Wouldn’t that mean this creed counts as early evidence?”

    1. Hi David –

      I’ve not read Jefferson on Jesus…but if he leaves him just as a moral teacher…then the historical record doesn’t unfortunately leave that option open to us. That’s a fascinating discussion right there.

      What questions are you referring to about 1 Corinthians?

      The reasons scholars take creeds like 1 Cor 15 so seriously as historical record is that they distill down early eyewitness experience and testimony into an easily memorable form to be used by the new Christian converts. “We’re Christians because this happened.” That’s why scholars view this as historical evidence. It records eyewitness testimony.

      That’s an interesting comparison you’ve made with Alexander the Great and Jesus…I’d love to know more.

      cheers for now

      Stu

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