If you’re reading this it’s likely you attended an Easter church service yesterday. Some of you are disappointed today because you feel like the pastor missed an opportunity to get the attention of that non-christian friend or family member you brought. Sure, not all Easter sermons are created equal…
However, to be fair, if your church or the church you visited talked about Jesus’ resurrection you should be satisfied. Beyond that, if they talked about the plausibility and probability of the resurrection from a historical perspective you should be ecstatic! According to Paul the Apostle, the historicity of the resurrection is at the very center of The Gospel (See 1 Corinth 15: 1-28) and The Gospel is exactly what your friend (and you) needed to hear yesterday (and every day)!
Regardless, church is over, today is Monday, and life goes on. After resurrection Sunday, life also went on for Jesus’ disciples and other 1st century Christians. Incidentally, the unusual and unlikely historical events that took place shortly after Easter Sunday are almost as miraculous as the resurrection itself. Let me explain…
Gary Habermas is a New Testament scholar, a historian, and a philosopher of religion. He frequently writes and lectures on the historical Jesus and the early church. Habermas compiled a list of facts about Jesus, the resurrection, and the events following the resurrection that are strongly evidenced and which are regarded as historical by most scholars, including non-Christians and skeptics. Regarding these facts, Habermas said, “My bibliography is presently at about 3400 sources and counting, published originally in French, German, or English. Initially I read and catalogued the majority of these publications, charting the representative authors, positions, topics, and so on, concentrating on both well-known and obscure writers alike, across the entire skeptical to liberal to conservative spectrum.”
Here are 5 facts regarding important events that took place after resurrection Sunday:
1. Jesus’ disciples claimed to have had multiple interactions with the physically resurrected Jesus and changed virtually overnight from cowards to bold proclaimers of The Gospel. Many were martyred.
2. The Christian Church was born and grew exponentially under extremely hostile circumstances. The Jews and the Romans worked hard to squash Christianity but couldn’t do so.
3. Orthodox Jews who converted to Christianity rejected centuries of religious tradition and made Sunday their primary day of worship.
4. James, Jesus’ skeptical half brother, converted after he claimed to have had physical encounters with the resurrected Jesus, became a “mega church” pastor in Jerusalem, and was later martyred.
5. Saul of Tarsus, devout Pharisee and Christian killer, converted after he claimed to have had physical encounters with the resurrected Jesus, became Paul The Apostle, wrote a significant portion of the New Testament, and was later martyred.
As strange as they sound, these are the facts. If Jesus’ didn’t rise bodily from the dead, how do we explain all the unusual and unlikely events that unfolded after Easter Sunday? What alternative explanation seems more plausible? A mass hallucination? A hoax? A conspiracy? A body swap? Sure, these alternative explanations are possible but are they plausible? Think about it. Ask your non-Christian friends and family members to think about it with you. Because, the resurrection and the events that followed are anchored to history, you can continue to have objective conversations about Jesus and Christianity after your pastor’s Easter sermon is long forgotten.
Would you like your college bound Christian teenagers to be fluent in and familiar with these facts and other facts supporting the claims of Christ? It’s not too late! You can register them for our 8th annual Base Camp June 26-30 by clicking here.