The essence of our Christian faith rests on the reality of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.
Although C.S. Lewis is often credited with the succinct summary that Jesus Christ was either a liar, lunatic or Lord, it was the Scottish Christian preacher “Rabbi” John Duncan who once observed in 1859:
“Christ either  deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or  He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or  He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable.”
The late Chuck Colson, who mentored me in the last years of his life, once used a colorful illustration to explain why he was so certain Jesus came back to life:
“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world – and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
Indeed, the empty tomb is the foundation upon which all of Christianity rests. In 1 Corinthians 15:17 the Apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”
For centuries, skeptics have argued that faith in Christ’s resurrection is nothing more than a blind step into thin air. Author Lee Strobel, on the other hand, says the evidence for Christ’s resurrection is strong, persuasive, powerful, and based on a solid foundation of historical truth.
Lee didn’t come to that conclusion easily. He was formerly an atheist. He was also an investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune. So when his wife, Leslie, became a Christian, Lee set out to investigate the Bible’s claims. His goal was to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ over a weekend. A year and nine months later, he reached a very different conclusion.
He summarizes his findings in the “Four E’s”:
· The Execution of Jesus. Jesus was truly dead after His crucifixion, not merely passed out or “swooned.” The peer-reviewed, secular Journal of the American Medical Association said, “Clearly, based on the medical and historical evidence, Jesus was dead even before the wound to His side was inflicted.”
· The Early accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. The resurrection is not legend, make-believe, or mythology. The earliest Christian creeds proclaim Christ’s resurrection date to within months of the events of Passion week.
· The Empty tomb. Even Jesus’ opponents admitted the tomb was empty. Their excuses were an attempt to explain how it got empty.
· Eyewitnesses. Ancient sources inside and outside of the New Testament corroborate the conviction of the disciples and others that they encountered the resurrected Jesus. In terms of ancient literature, there is an avalanche of historic data.
Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ, was a bestseller and the basis for a movie of the same name about Lee’s search for the truth. He’s been a popular guest on our radio program and regularly explores the reality of faith and Christ’s impact on our lives.
If you’re skeptical about Jesus’ death and resurrection, I encourage you to consider Lee’s study. Or give us a call at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459), and we’d consider it a privilege to recommend some additional resources.
Holy week provides Christians with a wonderful opportunity to ponder anew what Jesus did for us on Calvary’s cross.