Have you ever heard anyone say, “Well, I think Jesus rose from the dead spiritually, but his body didn’t really come back to life. The Bible is just using figurative language to describe his spirit going to God after his death.”
But if you read the various accounts, the testimony is very clear — this event was not just spiritual, but physical. Jesus’ body really did come back to life, he exited the tomb where he had been buried, and was seen by numerous people before he finally went up in the air bodily to heaven.
What does the New Testament say about the Resurrection?
Jesus appeared in His resurrected body and was seen by many people. — 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 states that after his resurrection, Jesus was seen by more than 500 people on 12 different occasions. He had a physical body of flesh and bones, walked and talked, ate fish, and was touched. He was not a mere figment of the imagination.
Women were the first to discover the empty tomb. Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-10; John 20:1-8. As a woman myself, this one is my favorite. In the USA we have trouble realizing just how inferior women were considered 2,000 years ago (and in some parts of the world even today). In that time, the credibility of women was substantially discounted, so it is unlikely that these accounts would be included in the Gospels unless that actually happened. [For a modern example of the misapplication of Jewish law, see See e.g. Jewish Rabbis refuse women’s testimony).
Even the disciples didn’t believe the women. Luke 24:11-12: “But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb ; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only ; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.” They finally believed when they themselves saw him.
But the Disciple Thomas was not present at that first appearance to the other disciples and did not believe in the resurrection until later when he personally saw Jesus and touched his wounds. John 20: 24-31. You’ve probably heard the phrase “a doubting Thomas.” This is where that saying came from. When Jesus did appear before him, Thomas said, “My Lord and My God!” For Thomas, seeing was believing.
Soldiers guarding the Tomb reported that it was empty. Matthew 27:62-66; Matthew 28:11-15. If you have ever served in the armed forces, you know what a serious situation this was for those soldiers. Normally, at a minimum, they would have been guilty of dereliction of duty, which often carried the death penalty. If Jesus were still in his grave, they would have known and produced the body. Instead, the religious leaders ordered a cover-up, just what we would expect when their plans to destroy Jesus and his movement didn’t work.
Of course, the Bible does not contain the only evidence for the Resurrection. My previous post discusses the many accounts given by sources outside the New Testament. Did Jesus Really Exist? Non-Biblical Sources
So, what do you think? Do you find this evidence convincing? Why or why not? What evidence would convince you?