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Don Stewart :: What Historical Facts Are Undisputed about Jesus and His Resurrection?

Don Stewart

Brought to you with permission of Don Stewart, the Bible Explorer

As we begin to look at the case for the resurrection we will start by examining certain undisputed facts that both believers and unbelievers can agree upon.

1. Jesus Existed

Jesus was a historical figure who lived two thousand years ago. The primary source for His life and ministry is the New Testament. Eyewitnesses or people who recorded eyewitness testimony wrote this document.

2. Jesus Performed Miracles

Another historical fact about Jesus is that He was a miracle worker. Both friend and foe testify to this fact. In the first five centuries of the Christian era, every report that has come down to us about Jesus, whether from friend or foe, has Him working miracles. There is no doubt that miracles were a central part of His ministry.

3. There Was No Dying Redeemer In First Century Judaism

Another fact beyond dispute is that the disciples of Jesus were not prepared for His death. First-century Judaism had no concept of the Messiah dying and then coming back from the dead. The disciples were not expecting the resurrection of Jesus because they were not expecting Him to die.

4. Jesus Died On A Cross In Jerusalem

Another fact that is beyond dispute is the manner of death of Jesus - He died on a cross. All four gospels make it clear that Christ was crucified in Jerusalem. The testimony of the Book of Acts concurs as do the writings of Paul. Jesus was executed by means of crucifixion in the city of Jerusalem.

5. Jesus Was Buried

The New Testament also states that Jesus was buried after His death. All four gospels testify to this fact as well as Paul's statement.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

6. The Tomb Was Empty On Easter Sunday

A further fact is that the tomb of Jesus was empty on Easter Sunday morning. Had the body of Jesus remained in the tomb it would have been a simple thing for the authorities to remove the stone and produce it.

The Sanhedrin itself testifies that the tomb was empty. They concocted a story in which they commanded the soldiers to repeat thereafter to explain how the tomb became empty - the body was stolen by the disciples.

7. Jesus Was Reported To Have Risen

The New Testament is unanimous in the fact that Jesus' disciples saw Him after His death. This was the message they brought to the world - Jesus Christ has risen from the dead!

8. The Message Was Preached In The City Where The Events Took Place

When the account of the resurrection was first proclaimed, it occurred in Jerusalem - the same city where Jesus was buried. The disciples did not go away to some distant place where it would have been hard to check out the facts. They began in the very city where all the events took place. If their testimony were not true, then their enemies would have promptly corrected them.

9. The New Testament Writers Believed Jesus Had Risen From The Dead

When the New Testament was committed to writing, it was from the perspective that Jesus had risen from the dead. All of the New Testament writers believed the resurrection occurred. Obviously something led them to that belief. The question, of course, is, "What made them believe?"

Summary

There are a number of facts about the life of Jesus that are not in dispute. Jesus existed. There is no reason at all to doubt this fact. Also during His earthly ministry Jesus reportedly worked miracles. This is the consistent portrait of Jesus. In addition, we know that His disciples were not prepared for His death - they were expecting the Messiah to bring in God's kingdom. They were certainly not looking for a resurrection because they were not expecting him to die. It is also clear that Jesus was dead and buried - all sources testify to this fact. Yet it is also clear that the tomb was empty on Easter morning. The disciples of Jesus testified they saw Him alive after His death. They began by proclaiming the message of the resurrection in Jerusalem - the very city where all the events took place. Finally, all the New Testament writers believed the resurrection was a reality. They wrote from the perspective that Jesus had risen. These are all reliable historical facts that friend and foe can agree upon.

Psalm 138:2

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