Throughout the annals of history, no religious figure has endured the relentless scrutiny and targeted attacks quite like Jesus Christ. As the central figure of Christianity, Jesus has faced unyielding opposition from various quarters, both in ancient times and in our modern era. The contemporary landscape bears witness to a resurgence of such attacks, with assailants seeking to undermine the very foundations of the faith.
Among the myriad tactics employed, one of the most prominent and insidious methods of attacking the person of Christ is the assault on the doctrine of the Resurrection. This demonic and calculated strategy seeks to erode the credibility and power of the Christian faith, and in so doing, diminish the transformative impact of the Gospel message. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that we, as believers, stand steadfast in our conviction and unwavering in our defense of this crucial tenet of our faith.
Two particularly notable heresies that deny the belief in a literal resurrection are Docetism and Gnosticism. Docetism, from the Greek word “dokein” meaning “to seem” or “to appear,” posits that Jesus only appeared to have a physical body and suffer on the cross. This belief undermines the significance of the physical resurrection by claiming that Jesus did not truly experience human suffering and death.
Gnosticism, on the other hand, is a diverse collection of beliefs that teach that salvation comes through secret knowledge, or gnosis. Many Gnostic sects regard the physical world as evil and corrupt, believing that Jesus, as a divine being, could not have had a physical body. Consequently, these sects reject the idea of a physical resurrection.
We as Bible-believing Christians are called to defend the doctrine of Jesus’ physical resurrection in the face of these and other mounting attacks against our faith. Without the resurrection, as the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14, our faith would be in vain, and we would be left without hope. In this article, we will explore the biblical foundation for the resurrection and examine its significance for our faith.
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Jesus Himself made several predictions about His death, burial, and resurrection, as recorded in the Gospels. For example, in Matthew 16:21, we read, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” This prediction is reiterated in Matthew 17:22-23, where Jesus said, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” Furthermore, in Matthew 20:17-19, Jesus once again foretold His fate to His disciples, stating, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus also explicitly foretells His death and resurrection. In Mark 8:31, we find a similar account: “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Furthermore, Mark 9:31 and 10:33-34 recount Jesus’ prediction of His passion and resurrection with striking clarity.
The Gospel of Luke likewise presents Jesus’ predictions of His impending crucifixion and resurrection. In Luke 9:22, Jesus proclaimed, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Additionally, in Luke 18:31-33, Jesus informed His disciples of the events that would transpire in Jerusalem, including His death and resurrection.
These multiple instances of Jesus predicting His death and resurrection, repeated across the Synoptic Gospels, underscore the importance of this divine event in His mission to save humanity. By foretelling His passion and resurrection, Jesus was not only preparing His disciples for the forthcoming ordeal but also reinforcing the significance of His victory over sin and death, which would ultimately bring salvation to all who believe in Him.
Furthermore, the Gospels provide multiple eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection which demonstrate its historical and factual nature. In John 20:11-18, we read about Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Jesus, and in Luke 24:13-35 we see a description of Jesus’ appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. John 20:19-29 recounts Jesus’ appearance to the apostles, including the famous encounter with the doubting Thomas.
The Apostle Paul, who was once a fierce persecutor of Christians, experienced a dramatic conversion after encountering the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). Paul later wrote extensively about the resurrection and its centrality in the Christian faith. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul famously declared, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
The resurrection is the ultimate validation of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:4, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” The resurrection confirms that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the long-awaited Savior of the world.
Through His death and resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and death, providing hope and salvation for all who believe in Him. In Romans 6:5-10, Paul explained that by being united with Christ in His death and resurrection, we too can experience new life and victory over sin. And not only that, but Jesus’ resurrection is a promise of our own future resurrection, as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
The resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith as Christians. It validates the truth of Jesus’ teachings, His divine nature, and His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Without the resurrection, Christianity would be just another moral philosophy or religious system. As Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
Through Jesus’ resurrection, we can have assurance that our sins have been forgiven and that we have eternal life. As Paul wrote in Romans 4:25, Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification,” meaning that because of the resurrection, we can stand before God, justified and forgiven, knowing that we have been reconciled to Him through Christ’s sacrifice.
As we navigate a world besieged by skepticism and falsehoods, the relentless attacks on Scripture and its essential doctrines, such as the resurrection of Jesus Christ, call us to steadfastly anchor ourselves in the authority of God’s Word. It is incumbent upon us, as believers, to delve deeply into the sacred text, discovering its timeless truths and fostering an intimate understanding of the teachings of Christ. In doing so, we hone our discernment, enabling us to distinguish between genuine doctrine and the treacherous snares of those who seek to lead us astray.
Empowered by this knowledge, we are summoned to be vigilant guardians of our faith, ready and equipped to contend for the Gospel’s truth in the midst of doubt and disbelief. Let us embrace our divine calling to immerse ourselves in the wisdom of Scripture, allowing its profound insights to guide, fortify, and embolden us as we champion the cause of Christ and His triumphant resurrection, for it is in this life-changing historic event that we find the cornerstone of our hope and the very heart of our Christian faith, resplendent in its beauty and truth.