Why I Believe In The Resurrection

Title: Why I Believe In The Resurrection

Bible Book: Selected Passages

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Resurrection



Just as a keystone at the top of an arch holds the other stones in place, even so the resurrection of Christ is the keystone of the Christian faith. It is the centerpiece, upon which all else stands or falls.

I’m thankful that there are strong evidences that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, and lives today--and I want to explain some of the reasons that I believe he did. That’s my subject this morning: WHY I BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION. My prayer is that these reasons will also resonate in your heart, and that each of us will respond to these truths as God directs us. Some here this morning need to repent of your sins and commit your life to him. Others of us, though already saved, need to confess our failures and reaffirm our allegiance to him.

Here are some important reasons why I believe that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, just as he predicted.


In Luke 24:1-8 we read:

“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words.”

Three days after the death of Jesus on the cross, his disciples were joyfully and enthusiastically proclaiming his bodily resurrection. Both the Roman and Jewish authorities were anxious to silence them. The Jewish leaders looked upon the Christian movement as heresy and they regarded Jesus as a blasphemer. The Roman authorities wanted to squelch the Christian movement because they didn’t want the status quo upset. This new Christian movement was stirring up the Jews and others and causing controversy, and the Romans wanted to stop it. The surest way to have stopped the Christian movement dead in its tracks would have been to disprove the resurrection, for that was the major theme being preached--and the surest, most obvious way to disprove the resurrection would have been to produce the dead body of Jesus for all to see. That would have absolutely “nipped it in the bud,” and Christianity would have faded from the scene, to become only a distant memory.

The Roman government had at their disposal tens of thousands of soldiers well trained in questioning and search procedures. They had the resources to search not only in Jerusalem but also the large surrounding area with a “fine-tooth comb,” and there is no doubt in my mind that they did exactly that. But they failed to find the dead body of Jesus, because there was no dead body to be found--Jesus had risen from the grave, just as he had promised. That is the only reasonable, fair-minded explanation.


A. A Documented Event

In spite of what some critics say, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the best documented events in all of history. Acts 1:8 says, “To whom he [Jesus] showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

In 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 Paul wrote: “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”

Paul was saying that the resurrection of Christ, upon which Christianity stands or falls, is not a “will o’ the wisp,” or a mere hypothesis--it is a verifiable fact. The risen Christ was seen not by just one or two people in one particular place, but by numerous people at different times and in different settings--and in those verses Paul named several of those appearances. In addition, we learn in the gospels that Jesus was also seen by still others.

B. A Bible Event

It is profoundly significant that the accounts of the risen Lord’s appearances are recorded in the Bible, because the Bible is the best attested of all ancient documents. The Bible’s veracity is attested by the fulfillment of so many Old Testament prophecies which were written centuries before the events they predicted. The trustworthiness of the Bible is also affirmed by the fact that so many archaeological discoveries have been made which verify its accuracy. But the greatest proof of the Bible’s accuracy is that when you and I put the Bible’s promises to the test of personal experience, those promises invariably prove to be true.

C. Some Still Refuse To Believe

Even though grudgingly admitting that the Bible accurately reports that various people claimed to have seen the risen Christ, some skeptics still refuse to believe those claims, and they have concocted various theories to try to explain away the resurrection.

1. Some claim that Jesus didn’t really die but only fainted, and that while in the tomb he revived and then came out. To believe that would require an astonishing stretch of the imagination. All four gospels plainly state that he was dead. The soldiers on the scene pronounced him dead. To be absolutely certain that those crucified were actually dead, the soldiers were sent to break their legs--and they did so in the case of the two thieves crucified alongside Jesus. However, John 19:33 says, “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.”

The next verse, John 19:34, says, “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”

When you consider the fact that Jesus had been beaten unmercifully, nailed to the cross, had hung there for hours, had been lanced in the side with a spear--tearing his internal organs--and pronounced dead, it is unthinkable that he was actually still alive.

2. Other skeptics say that those witnesses who claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus simply were lying--that they were fomenting a conspiracy--that they had actually stolen Jesus’ body from the grave and fabricated the story that he had risen. The enemies of Christ tried to get that rumor started immediately following the discovery of the empty tomb. In Matthew 28:11-15 we read these words:

“Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”

For one thing, to claim that these disciples lied was then, and is now, an unwarranted attack on their character. Further, the soldiers said that the disciples stole his body “while we slept”--but how would they have known it if they were asleep? Moreover, three days after the crucifixion the disciples began to preach with power that Jesus had risen--could they have spoken with such conviction and authority, and with such marvelous results, if they knew they were proclaiming a lie? Later, when threatened with death, they could have been spared if they had simply admitted their deception--but they continued to preach the resurrection in spite of the opposition, in spite of the beatings, and they died declaring what they knew to be true--that Jesus had, indeed, risen from the dead. There is not a shred of evidence to support the idea that the disciples lied.

3. But some skeptics take a different approach. They say, “All right, we admit that they weren’t lying--but maybe they were hallucinating. Maybe they really THOUGHT they saw Jesus alive, but were simply mistaken.” But that idea is absurd on the face of it.

For one thing, the disciples were NOT EXPECTING him to rise from the dead, and they were surprised when it happened. Indeed, even after seeing him it took some convincing for them to believe it. Even though Jesus had predicted it, they had failed to grasp what he had been saying. In John 20:9 we read: “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.”

Furthermore, it is totally unreasonable to think that all those witnesses, who claimed to have seen Jesus at different times and in different locations, could have had precisely the same hallucination. No reputable psychiatrist would support such a ridiculous idea. Think about all the appearances that he made.

On the very day that he arose he was seen by Mary Magdalene and by several other women, by the two disciples enroute to Emmaus, by Simon Peter, and then that night by the disciples as they assembled together. A week later he was seen by the disciples again as they were gathered. During the following days, prior to his ascension, he appeared to seven disciples by the seashore and ate with them, and in Galilee he appeared to a crowd of five hundred people. He appeared to his half-brother, James, and to the disciples again on two occasions.

The idea that all these people were hallucinating is utterly indefensible--it is ludicrous.

D. Jesus Rose As He Predicted!

In light of all the evidence, the only explanation that makes any sense is that Jesus rose from the dead just as he predicted that he would. People who reach any other conclusion do so because they have a predisposition not to believe, and they refuse to be disturbed by the facts. In some cases, folks know that if Jesus really did rise from the grave and is alive today, he expects them to live differently than they now are living--and rather than face up to their sins and change their lifestyle, they “cop out” by denying the resurrection.


In Acts 10:38-40 we read:

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: WHO WENT ABOUT DOING GOOD, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly.”

1 Peter 2:21 tells us that Christ left us “an example, that ye should follow his steps”--and a lot of Christians down through the years have taken those words to heart. A lot of different people and philosophies, many of them false, have impacted the world, but none in the same way or to the same degree that Jesus has. If you study history objectively, you can’t miss the fact that, over the past two thousand years, most of the great enterprises which have benefitted mankind have been founded on Christian principles.

Have there been mistakes made by those PURPORTING to be Christians? Of course there have--there have at times been serious errors, even gross injustices. But these things have not occurred because of Jesus--they have happened IN SPITE OF the teachings of Jesus--and don’t let the counterfeits cause you to miss the real thing. Whenever Christ’s gospel and his principles have been faithfully received and followed, the results have been to elevate and ennoble the lives of people.

A. Education Institutions Founded By Christians

For example, nearly all of the great educational institutions in our nation’s early history were founded by Christians, with the avowed purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God--even though unfortunately most of those institutions have long since abandoned their founding principles.

B. Hospitals and Orphanages Founded By Christians

Most of the great hospitals, orphanages, ministries to the poor and underprivileged, and other major benevolent institutions, if you trace their history back far enough, were started by people who were motivated by Christian convictions and compassion. For instance, when Danny Thomas, a Catholic, started St. Jude Hospital here in Memphis, it was because of his gratitude for God’s blessings and his desire to help others in the name of Christ.

C. America Founded By Christians

Let me give another shining example, which the secular humanists vehemently deny and try to explain away by dishonestly attempting to rewrite history. But the undeniable fact is that this great nation in which you and I are privileged to live was begun by people who were seeking religious liberty--and the vast majority of those people, almost without exception, were Christians. They sought to found a nation where they would be free to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. Again, we have, alas, drifted a long, long way from those moorings, but the fact remains that America began as a nation founded on Christian principles. To try to explain America’s founding otherwise is a dishonest exercise in futility.


Saul of Tarsus was a persecutor of the church and a murderer, but on the road to Damascus he met the risen Christ, who miraculously appeared to him, and from that moment on Saul--who came to be known as Paul the apostle--was a changed man. He became a mighty, compassionate champion of the gospel and of righteousness.

In 1 Corinthians 15:9-10 Paul said, “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

John Newton, who died in the late 1700s, was a crew member on a slave ship. He was a drunkard and an immoral man. One day while in an alcoholic stupor he fell overboard. Some of his shipmates threw a harpoon into his leg and hauled him in to keep him from drowning. For the rest of his life he walked with a limp. He was gloriously saved, and his life dramatically changed--and he testified that with every step he took, his limp reminded him of the grace of God. He became a mighty witness for the Lord, and wrote the beloved hymn, “Amazing Grace,” as a testimony as to what Christ had done in his life.

I have a friend here in Memphis who years ago was not only a drug addict, but also a pusher. His life was an absolute wreck. He tried and tried to kick his drug habit, but to no avail. Eventually he went into a rehab facility, but when he came out temptation overwhelmed him and he went right back into the same old destructive lifestyle. Finally, in desperation, and with tears, he fell on his face before God and said, “Please help me.” He asked Jesus to come into his life, and his testimony is that at that very moment he was set free from his drug habit. He’s been clean for over twenty years now, and is an outstanding man of God. No telling how many people he has personally led to Christ. He has found from personal experience the truth of what Jesus said in John 8:36: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

I was converted just prior to my twentieth birthday, when I was a junior in college. It was like turning on a light in a dark room. The Lord lifted the burden of guilt from my heart, and gave me a new set of “want to’s.” And even though I’m certainly not all that I need to be, or all that I aspire to be, by the grace of God I’m not what I used to be--and by his mercy and help I’m endeavoring to keep learning and growing.

Not only is Jesus the great change agent, but he is also the great sustainer and comforter. Connie and I have dealt with some heavy disappointments and hurts, as I know others of you have, but we have found his promises altogether true. We have found that his grace is, indeed, sufficient, and he has given us the strength to keep on keeping on even when our hearts were broken. He has given us a purpose in life, and--in spite of the bumps in the road--he gives us joy as we pursue that purpose. I have staked my life and my all, here and hereafter, on the conviction that Jesus is alive and at work--in my life, and in the lives of many others. The song writer was exactly on target when he wrote:

“His power can make you what you ought to be;

His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free;

His love can fill your soul, and you will see

‘Twas best for Him to have His way with thee.”

But let me ask each person here today a question: DOES he have his way with you? He wants to, but he won’t force you. To be saved, you must willingly repent of your sins and commit yourself to him--believing that he died on the cross for our sins, that he rose again, and that he lives today to save, keep, and help all that come unto God by him. Will you come to him today? And will you take a public stand for him today? You’ll have that opportunity as we stand and sing our hymn of invitation.

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