Christianity without the Resurrection of Jesus is useless. But, did Jesus rise from the dead? How do we know the Resurrection is true? Can we believe it? I believe there is one reasonable piece of evidence that is compelling enough for us to believe Jesus rose from the dead.
There are a number of reasons why I believe the resurrection of Jesus is true, the empty tomb and the testimony of the women, to name a couple. But, the transformation of skeptics is another compelling reason to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. If someone who adamantly didn’t believe in Jesus before he rose from the dead, and then became a passionate believer in him after the resurrection, we would consider that compelling evidence for the truth of the resurrection. Well, this is what we have in the New Testament.
The Resurrection Transformed James
The resurrection transformed James, the biological brother of Jesus. James, along with other family members, didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah (John 7:3-5). Jesus’ family members thought he was nuts (Mark 3:20-21). But, later on in the New Testament, we see James playing a prominent role in the Church. In fact, he is a leading apostle (Acts 15:12-13; Galatians 1:18-19). What happened that he went from a skeptic to a Christian leader? Paul, who was a skeptic himself (we’ll get to him later) gives us the answer. The resurrection of Jesus happened to him.
I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:3-7)
What makes this even more compelling is that James was an insider. He saw Jesus up close and personal because he was his brother. James was a skeptic during Jesus’ life but became a staunch believer after hsi death and resurrection. What is even more compelling is, in A.D. 62, enemies of Jesus killed James (stoned to death) because he believed Jesus was Messiah and God.
The Resurrection Transformed Paul
The resurrection transformed Paul. Paul’s skepticism was a lot different than James’. Paul was a religious zealot. But, he hated Christians. He saw them as a dangerous cult that threatened Judaism. Paul hated Christians to the point of persecution and murder (Acts 9:1-2). What changed Paul from killing Christians to becoming someone who passionately defended Christianity? An encounter with the risen Christ (Acts 26:12-18). When he embraced this encounter with the risen Savior, Jesus transformed him from murderer to minister, from persecutor to preacher (Acts 26:19-23).
Because of his reputation for persecuting Christians, initially, the apostles and other disciples were skeptical of Paul’s transformation (Acts 26:26). But, Barnabas saw how the resurrected Lord Jesus had changed Paul, and he vouched for him. Eventually, the disciples accepted Paul as one of the Apostles.
For his faith in Jesus, Paul suffered the same persecution he administered to early Christians (2 Corinthians 11:23-25). Eventually, enemies of Jesus beheaded Paul for his faith in Jesus.
The Resurrection Can Transform Us
If the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical event, and it can transform skeptics like James and Paul, it can transform us as well. If the unbelievable HAS happened, then we should believe the unbelievable CAN happen. The Risen Christ can and will change our most stubborn doubts to passionate devotion. The resurrection of Jesus can transform the harshest critics into the biggest advocates.
What other arguments, for the resurrection of Jesus, do you find reasonable and compelling?
How has the resurrection of Jesus transformed your life?