Christians believe the impossible happened.
This belief, Jesus was raised from the dead, is not based upon irrational myths or baseless hope but upon historical truth. Christians believe Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. Without this core truth all of Christianity is another easily ignored religion. Being a Christian does not mean being a follower who adheres to a religious system or abides by the wit and whim of a religious leader. Each Christian grapples with the death and resurrection of Jesus, finally accepting the truth of the historical evidence and beginning a relationship with the God who created them.
If this belief is a lie, that Jesus died and was raised from the dead when he did not, then all Christians are deceived and worthy of great pity. However, there is too much evidence for the historical truth of the resurrection. I am not going to try to answer all of the arguments denying the resurrection. I will offer my perspective, and what I believe is the perspective of those who are truly Christians, on this truth.
Too many people knew Jesus while he was alive and then saw him die. Denying the historical reality of the man is absurd. Those who refuse to believe he was a true person will never be convinced otherwise. I am not speaking to them. Nor will I speak, at this time, to his words and works, the evidence of his life. None of the evidence in the reliable historical accounts of his life is contradictory.
Those who knew him gave us the truth about him. People did know him. Real people with real intelligence and emotions, with active wills and good memories, knew him. He was not a figment of their imagination. They told stories about what he did, what he said, how he impacted their lives and their community and country and world. Neither were the Romans figments of their imaginations. Too many people saw Jesus, knew Jesus, watched Jesus interact with the religious leaders of the day just as they knew the truth of the Romans, watched the Romans occupy their land, take their money and goods, and were forced to abide by their laws. These facts are not open for debate.
Too many people saw him die at the hands of the Romans. They had seen many die by crucifixion. No one ever came down alive from a Roman cross. Jesus was no exception. When the Romans beat him, tortured him and attached him to the cross it meant he was going to die. Just as his life was real so his death was real, an historical, undeniable truth.
If you have ever seen a dead person, or watched a person die, you know no one can bring them back to life. I have watched my father die and my mother die, and have seen my brother in death. No amount of wishful thinking, medical wizardry or cultic conjuring will bring a dead person back to life. It is impossible.
Here is the problem, the paradox of belief, the demanding crux of the matter. Too many people knew Jesus alive, then saw him dead, then saw him alive within days of his death. These are the same people who watched him in life. They knew his words and the evidence of his works. They heard him say things and remembered what he said. They were not irrational or insane or easily deluded. They were thinkers and reliable witnesses to history. They saw him die and grieved and scattered, disjointed by the horrendous trauma suffered by someone they knew and loved. Those who knew and hated him saw him die and rejoiced. But loving or hating someone, when faced with their death, especially by Roman execution, does not manufacture delusion. These were not a people fooled by fancy.
Too many people saw him alive after he died. What they saw changed their lives. They were willing to give up everything, their possessions, their families, their lives because they saw Jesus alive after he had died. There is too much evidence of the lives of these people available and none of it contradicts the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. Had those who killed him been able they would have produced a body immediately upon hearing the rumor of his resurrection. They did not because they could not.
Only God can do what we deem impossible.
What do we believe? No one who dies can then be brought back to life. Jesus died. Yet, all of the evidence says he is alive. Christians believe the impossible. His resurrection is the foundation upon which the life of the Christian is built. His resurrection is the beginning of a life in relationship with God. His resurrection is the evidence for the truth of what he said, what he did, who God is and the intimate spiritual relationship we have with Him.
Being a Christian is not a religious activity but an eternal relationship based upon the true God and His work, beginning with the impossible, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.