Is faith “blind”, like some people claim? They claim that faith is opposed to knowledge, and “unscientific”. While of course some, maybe many, Christians have “blind faith” or credulity, far from being unscientific (in fact most all the founders of modern science were Christians) the Christian faith is based on solid facts and evidence. This is particularly true in regards to the stupendous claim that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead on the third day.
The Christian faith stands or falls on the resurrection of Christ more than any other doctrine. “If Christ is not raised,” says St. Paul, “your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins.” I Cor. 15: 17
The neat thing, however, is that we don’t have to believe it simply because the Bible says it’s true: there are historical evidences for the resurrection of Christ. Here are some of them.
1. The Empty Tomb. Many years ago an agnostic lawyer set out to disprove the Resurrection of Christ, but couldn’t do it, became a Christian and wrote a book on the empty tomb. If Christ wasn’t raised supernaturally, Who Rolled Away the Stone?, he wrote. The soldiers? No, they’d have been executed. The Jewish leaders? No, they would have quickly stopped the disciples’ preaching with “No, we know where the body is.” The disciples? No, it is impossible to both preach and be willing to die for a lie. And since it was guarded by soldiers, how could they have done it? (Bart Ehrman, Ph.D., ex-Christian religions professor, claims Jesus was not really placed in a tomb in the first place, but dumped in a common grave, which is nonsense. The Romans respected Jewish burial customs more than that.)
2. The Appearances of the risen Christ. I Corinthians 15: 3-8: (NIV) For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried,that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
3. The Change in Peter and other disciples. An authority writes: They had seen their Master die, and through that death they lost all hope. Yet hope returned three days after, and sadness was replaced with gladness, hopelessness with certainty. Furthermore, they were transformed from being cowards like Peter to men who were willing to die—and did—in the cause of the Good News of the risen Christ and his Cross.
4. The existence of the early Church. This happened so soon after the resurrection that there was no time for legends about Jesus to have developed.
5. Extra-biblical Attestations. For instance, the Shroud of Turin, which has been thoroughly examined by many diverse scientists, is a burial cloth which contains the very image of Christ, apparently caused by the power of God at the resurrection. (You can google this.)
Here’s a vivid story of two followers of Jesus, who went from discouragement to joy. . . Read Luke 24:13-35
A dusty road is where they tried to do theology—
to make sense of a spiritual disaster—the death of their Messiah—
but despair and doubt clouded their thoughts.
Suddenly a stranger appears, and walks with them,
to whom they bear witness to perplexity.
But to them he bears witness to light and joy inexpressible,
full of hope and glory,
because he was life resurrected,
the light of men,
and a burning in their hearts.
And then in the first communion with the risen Lord
their eyes are opened, and they hurry back to Jerusalem
to proclaim the extraordinary news to the disciples.
You win, Lord.
No more maybes, no more “yes, buts…”
no more hanging around,
waiting for some celestial sign
before I’ll rise and follow you.
I’m tired of letting you down (let alone myself!)
of allowing commitments to go sideways,
and my dreams turn to doubts.
My attempts to love get trapped in this
sinful old me.
And yet, time and again,
on lonely roads or teeming streets,
or in worship and communion and prayer—
but also right in jail, as I’ve connected with
your people and your pain—
I’ve sensed your hand reaching out
to touch and energize and redirect
this self-centered, stubborn old me.
Oh Spirit of the Risen Christ, draw me from afar,*
and teach me, over and over, who you are.
Lord, here I am: I gaze upon your Cross,
ready to pray to let all strayings cease.
Here at your feet and before your empty tomb
Draw me from sin and death’s dark womb;
help me surrender all my sin and doubt and loss,
and bring to life the life that must, and will, increase.
* “But Peter followed him at a distance.” Matt. 26: 58.