is the resurrection true?

I understand that not everyone believes in Jesus. Also true is that most every world religion acknowledges Jesus lived, breathed and walked this planet. Most also revere him as at the very least, a wise man; it’s primarily his declaration as the Son of God some deny.

The reality is we each have a right to believe what we want.

The reality is also that just because we believe something doesn’t make it true.

I’ve heard the denials. I’ve heard the slams. Some are indeed fairly harsh. And in some ways I get it. Just like everyone else, Christians have done some stupid things. To be equally clear, many stupid things have also been done not in the name of Jesus. We’re all imperfect people, friends. That’s an additional reality.

One of the reasons I’m a Jesus follower is because of the resurrection— the meaning of this Easter day, Jesus coming back to life after dying on the cross two days prior. Suffice it to say, if true, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant event in history.

It thus begs the question: is the resurrection true? 

I’m no scholar. I’m no fool nor Kool-aid drinker either. Here’s what we know…

Some 2,000 years ago, Jesus was a well-known figure in Israel. He was gruesomely crucified, died, and then buried. His burial site was known by many people. 

Jewish and Roman sources both testify to an empty tomb. The body of Jesus was not there. All the Jewish authorities needed to do to put an end to Christianity was to produce the body of Jesus. But they didn’t. They couldn’t. In fact, not one historical record from the first or second century is written attacking the factuality of the empty tomb or claiming discovery of the corpse.

Here’s where Tom Anderson, former president of the California Trial Lawyers Association, gets my attention: “Let’s assume that the written accounts of His appearances to hundreds of people are false. I want to pose a question. With an event so well publicized, don’t you think that it’s reasonable that one historian, one eye witness, one antagonist would record for all time that he had seen Christ’s body? … The silence of history is deafening when it comes to the testimony against the resurrection.”

What gets me next is the changed lives of the people around him. It is recorded that while Jesus was on trial, his best friends deserted him in fear. I get that. This was against all cultural norms; we struggle with cultural norms still today. Sometimes our eyes are more on culture than on truth.

And yet 10 out of his 11 BFF’S died as martyrs believing Jesus rose from the dead. They were willing to die… to give up their futures and entire lives because of what they witnessed. It doesn’t take any ounce of rocket science to conclude only a very compelling event could account for such a convicted response.

I don’t claim being a Jesus follower never comes with any challenges. I don’t claim all things always make sense. I also don’t claim all Jesus followers reflect Jesus with perfection at all times. We don’t. We can’t. No one (other than Jesus) can claim any impeccable, moral high ground.

But I refuse to let the people around me dictate what I think. In other words, who I believe Jesus to be isn’t based on someone other than Jesus. It makes little sense to base it upon imperfect people, no matter how hard some of our experiences have notably been. Hence, when a Jesus follower acts in a way that doesn’t seem kind, doesn’t seem humble, doesn’t feel full of generous mercy and grace, I don’t allow such to cloud my thinking of the aforementioned historical reality. 

I thus can’t shake that resurrection. I can’t shake the changed lives. And I can’t dismiss that no one ever has done what Jesus has done. The bodies of all other religious leaders remain decaying in a tomb somewhere.

I don’t write this, friends, with any arrogance or judgment. I also will repeatedly say that I am no scholar. I believe God gives us each a ton of grace to move toward him at our own pace, in our own time, in the ways that individually speak loudest and best — in the ways that most get our attention. Way too many of us — Christian or not — are way too judgmental, not respecting the differences in our lives, all those things God uses to get our attention. I wish we were better at that. I also believe our differences are purposeful and good.

On this Easter, I’m humbly overwhelmed with the recognition that we’re in this together. There are no disqualifiers. No matter who we are, what we’ve done, or how our faith or lack of it has played out thus far. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter the adamancy of denial nor the vociferousness of the slams. Nothing changes that we’re on this planet, figuring life and God out together.