The resurrection is a well-documented phenomenon. The apostle Paul stated in very clear words how important the resurrection of Jesus was to Christianity. He said, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:17) If Jesus’ resurrection can be proved false, then the faith of Christians crumbles. This is the single event that the entire faith hinges upon.
Jesus offered himself as the evidence for the existence of God when he said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father,” (John 14:9) He did not leave off there, but went a step beyond. He presented his death and resurrection as a conclusive proof that he had the power to reconcile mankind to its original design and purpose, which was right relationship with God.
Many years have passed since those events transpired. Is there any evidence to be seen today, or must all simply believe because of his words? In Gary Habermas’ book, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus he presents a compelling and yet simple defense of the resurrection. He calls his method the minimal facts approach. He seeks to compile a short list of facts that are well established, and accepted by virtually all scholars, even the skeptical ones.1 Habermas gives five basic facts that virtually all scholars agree on. Here are the facts that he presents.
1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
2. The disciples believed that Jesus rose and appeared to them.
3. The church persecutor, Paul, was suddenly changed.
4. The skeptical James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed.
5. The tomb of Jesus was empty.2
The facts culminate in a powerful quintet that begs the question, what happened? Many lay Secular Humanist attempt to sweep these facts under the rug with mediocre scholarship, and misinformation. The facts, established by an army of scholars both secular and religious, agree on at least these things. When put together they create an incredibly compelling case that Jesus did, in fact, raise from the dead.
1 Habermas, Gary R., and Michael R. Licona. The case for the resurrection of Jesus. Kregel Publications, 2004. 47.
2 Ibid., 75.