(published date unrecorded)
“There is only one bit of evidence for life after death that is convincing to Christians. It is not philosophical arguments for the immortality of the soul. It is not supposed spiritualist conversations with loved ones who are ‘on the other side.’ It is not medical testimony from those who have experienced near death experiences. It is that Jesus was dead and lived again.”
Stephen T. Davis, Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Claremont McKenna College gives reason for the Christian faith in that one short statement: “Jesus was dead and lived again.”
Some people reject the Bible as a historical document yet other ancient writings speak of Jesus and His resurrection. For instance, the Roman historian Tacitus quotes Roman Emperor Nero in A.D. 115. A fire had destroyed most of Rome and they blamed Nero. He tried to pass the guilt to Christians and called them people named after “Christus” (Christ). He went on to say Christ had “suffered the extreme penalty . . . at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition (Christ’s resurrection) . . . again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome . . . “
Untrue stories fade away and become non-threatening, non-issues, but Nero was upset that nearly one hundred years later, people were still saying “Jesus is alive.” He scorned the resurrection as superstition, yet was sufficiently threatened that he killed many who believed it.
The Apostle Paul at one time did not believe it either. Called Saul of Tarsus, he was on his way to Damascus to kill Christians when the risen Christ confronted him and changed his life. He became Paul the Apostle, a great preacher of the Gospel who risked his life to tell others about the One he once denied. Seeing Jesus alive made the difference.
Later, Paul said more than 500 people saw the risen Christ after He had been crucified and buried. Seeing Jesus changed them. Before that happened, they were terrified of Jewish and Roman authorities. When Jesus was arrested, “all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” While in hiding, they did not expect Him to return and were startled, even terrified, when He appeared. At that everything was different.
After seeing Jesus, the disciples feared nothing and no one. They became a band of bold-hearted, unstoppable men and women who turned the world right-side-up with their goodness and righteousness. Why? Because they knew He was alive again, and they were not afraid to die!
Paul said the resurrection is the proof and the power behind our faith. He argues, “If Jesus has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith . . . you are still in your sins . . . if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”
How futile to believe in the resurrection if it were not true, yet millions have been backed to the wall over this issue. Those convinced it is true have given their lives rather than deny it.
Today, Jesus continues to changes lives. We cannot see Him with our eyes, yet by faith we read and believe the testimonies in the Bible of those who witnessed His life, death resurrection. Our faith uses our eyes but it is not a faculty of the eyes.
Faith is deeper, more powerful than sight. It is a conviction and determination of the heart to turn from ourselves to God, trusting Him with everything. It is relying on the inner voice of the Holy Spirit that aligns itself with the written words of Scripture. While it is based on hearing and reading, faith is more about putting our lives in the hands of the One who conquered death. We trust Him because He is alive!