The Historical Jesus
We know that Resurrection Sunday was part of history, but this epic event also changed history, but people still ask, “Is there any real proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” Could you prove it to anyone that asks you about it? You can talk to people about evidence for the resurrection, but many still won’t believe because they choose not to believe. They don’t even think about it, but it’s not a matter of physical or historical evidence that makes a person believe. It’s a matter of the heart. Jesus told His disciples, “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 16:17), and concerning what is to come, the Apostle Paul writes, “God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Cor 2:9), so Jesus won’t be known by empirical evidence, because “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). Only God can change the human heart (Prov 21:1), but He may use us as a means to do so, especially when it comes to loving others (John 13:34-35). Christians already know that their hope in Christ is not a hope-so faith, but a know-so faith. God has shown it to them.
The great lineage of Jesus Christ is recorded at the beginning of Luke. The names of all these men are historical facts. Even the census that Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem for was registered in the king’s census (Luke 2:1-5), and besides that, thousands upon thousands of witnesses not only knew Jesus by sight, but they acknowledged that He was the Messiah and related to King David’s lineage (Luke 1:1-10, 18:35-43). He was referred to as the Son of David (Matt 15:22, 20:30), and not once in the gospels did the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees or the Sadducees ever catch Jesus in a sin or every proved that He ever had sinned or broken the law. Pontius Pilate declared, “I find no guilt in him” (John 19:4), and tragically, many of these religious rulers knew that Jesus was from God, but for fear of losing their authority and positions, or getting put out of the synagogue, most denied Him in the end. The religious leaders all conspired to kill Him, despite the fact that He had not sinned nor broken Jewish or Roman law (Luke 20:20-26, 19:28-40, 20:20-26), and He was hated without cause (Psalm 69:4; John 15:26).
In any court of law, eye witnesses are an invaluable source of finding the truth. In the whole of Judea and Samaria, there were several hundred eye witnesses who saw Jesus before, and more importantly, after His crucifixion, death, and resurrection (Luke 24:15-24, Act 1:3-4, 2:31-32, 9:3, 17, I Cor 15:4-8, 9:1, II Pet 1:16-21, John 3:2, 15:27, I John 1:1-3, 14). Hundreds others saw the empty tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, which Joseph had given for Jesus’ burial site and Jesus public execution was most certainly known by all, as the Roman’s had a custom of crucifying criminals near major roadways. They did this as a “warning sign” for all who entered or lived under Roman dominion, so the knowledge of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection was known even into the Roman Empire, and later, beyond.
The Apostle’s Creed
The resurrection was so important to the early church because it is the essence of the gospel. Paul calls the gospel “of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:3-6). This was so important that within three to eight years after His death, Apostle’s Creed was created with the intent of protecting these eye witness’s accounts and codifying their testimonies accurately, both for present and future generations. Jude wrote “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1: 3), so even in the church’s infancy, they were already contending for the original gospel (1 Cor 15:3-6). Paul told Timothy he must “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1st Tim 6:12), because so many were preaching another gospel and not the one Jesus delivered.
Within a few years, some churches had already been infiltrated with the Gnostics who felt it was only through knowledge that one could be saved, and it was only for a select few, however the Creed announces to everyone publicly that the only way we can be saved is through Jesus Christ (John 6:44) and the free gift of eternal life (Eph 2:8-9). The Creed has grown in the last two thousand years, but its basic tenets have not changed much. If it has grown, it has only grown to resist the plethora of unsound doctrines floating around out there. It should act as a hedge against heresy and other (false) gospels. The Creed was not written from a blind-faith perspective or formulated by suppositions. It was created by eye witnesses who had seen Jesus before His death and after His resurrection. Today, He sits at the right hand of the Father directing His church as its Head. The old saying holds true; most people would live for a lie, but few would die for one. Especially one that they knew was not true.
I have faith in God, but I did not come to believe on my own. I was dead in my sins and needed quickening by God’s Spirt, so I came believe, but only because God wanted me to believe. I have faith, but what is this faith I have? God defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). The Greek word used for “assurance” is hypostasis, and means “a setting, a place,” or “that which has a foundation,” and the Greek word (elegchos) used for conviction means, “a proof, that by which something is proven or a tested conviction.” Webster’s definition of faith seems perfectly fitting: Having an allegiance to duty or a person… loyalty, belief and trust in God, confidence in something or someone, so faith involves an act of the will. It is not blind faith, but faith that has assurance, is foundational, has inward and outward evidence, and has been proven by the person having such faith. For those things not seen (God), we have a foundational belief and overwhelming conviction of its truthfulness, so it’s not a hope-so faith, but a know-so faith…but that’s something only you can prove to be true. That’s my prayer for the reader. Pastor Jack