Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Christ. If it didn't happen, there is no forgiveness or eternal salvation for anyone. But if it didn't happen, surely the critics of Christ would have easily been able to produce His dead body. After all, they had plenty of time to do it, and all the clout to get the job done. And yet they came up empty.
The Messiah's critics couldn't find the very One they had crucified. You must admit that such a development is beyond staggering. In fact, it is inconceivable, unless of course Jesus had risen from the dead. In the minds of His critics, Christ was still dead. But they couldn't prove it. Imagine that. They lost track of the body of the most important figure in history, even after they had gone to such great lengths to kill Him.
There is no way a group of ragtag fishermen could have stolen the body of the Messiah, and then kept it a secret. If they had stolen His body, do you honestly think they would have gone on to willingly give their lives for the Christian message? It would be the only time in history that a group of people would have died for a lie while "knowing it was a lie." That just doesn't happen.
Do you realize how much faith it takes to believe Christ didn't rise from the dead? And not only faith, but faith in something which is not supported by the evidence. All the evidence points to the fact that Christ did indeed rise from the dead.
What is the one thing that works against man's ability to accept the evidence for the resurrection? It's a little thing called "sin." It predisposes man's heart against the message. In other words, man has a built-in bias against accepting the truth of Christ's resurrection.
Do you recognize how that bias has played tricks on your mind over the years? It leads people to assume the resurrection couldn't have happened. And yet, an honest review of the facts reveals that it did indeed happen.
What happened to the dead body of Jesus? That's all the critics needed to produce, and Christianity would have been shut down before it even started. But they couldn't find Him. Why? Because the risen Lord was hanging out with His disciples. And you really don't even need faith in the Bible to recognize that the resurrection must have happened. All you need is an honest realization that a scared and dejected group of Christ followers were not transformed into warriors by coming up with a make-believe story of the resurrection.
My goodness. Prior to Christ's crucifixion, Peter was too scared to even acknowledge that he had been with Jesus. So do you honestly think he would have gone out after the crucifixion to preach about Christ's resurrection if it was just a big lie? No way. Not in a million years. It goes completely against human behavior and common sense to think Peter and the other apostles would do such a thing.
So a group of fishermen allowed themselves to be killed for a lie, after watching their Messiah die for a lie? Not a chance. Such a forced perspective requires a total commitment to reject the resurrection at any cost. But why? What is it about the resurrection that natural man simply abhors?
Well, if Christ rose from the dead, then He is the Messiah. This means He truly is God. And He is your Creator, your Savior, and your ultimate Judge.
Surely the mighty Romans would have been able to produce the dead body of the One they had sealed in a tomb. Surely a dejected group of disciples would not have been able to keep the Roman soldiers from maintaining control of His dead body. That is, unless the Lord's body came back to life. In that case, everything would have changed.
If Christ came back to life and appeared to His followers, they would have needed to become convinced of His bodily resurrection. If they doubted it, Christianity would have died out immediately. If the disciples were unsure of Christ's resurrection, they would have remained confused and paralyzed by disappointment. But if Jesus rose from the dead, those same disciples would have gone out and set the world on fire with the truth of the resurrection. And the message would have continued down to this day.
And what have we seen over the past 2000 years? Millions of people claim to have met the risen Christ through faith. They claim to talk to God through prayer, and they claim to know they are going to heaven when they die. They believe the Word of God, and they believe in Christ as their Savior. They have received the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus. And the peace it brings them is incredible.
Life change. Heart change. World changers. Just look at all the good Christians have done to help heal the hurts of bodies and souls throughout the world. And who is motivating them to do it? None other than the living Lord of the universe, Jesus Christ, the risen King and Redeemer.
If you are determined to allow sin to blind you to the truth of the resurrection, that is your choice. But if you will open your heart and follow the evidence, it will bring you to the place it has brought millions of others.
At the end of the day, you can lead a person to an empty tomb, but you can't make him believe. Such is the nature of sin and faith, death and resurrection, belief and unbelief.
Jesus summed it up this way: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though He dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." And then He asked Martha, "Do you believe this?" (John 11:25,26) Today the risen Christ is asking you the same question.
Just follow the evidence. It will lead you home to your Creator.