He is Risen
The greatest distinction among religious beliefs is that Jesus not only lived, died but that he rose from the grave. Other religions can account for the death of their leader. There are historical accounts outside the Bible to testify of Jesus’ life and tortuous death on the cross.
Account outside the Bible
There are numerous ancient historians who penned the existence of Jesus Christ, his followers, his impact to the region and their complete faith in Him as God. Here are a couple accounts.
His followers who were called Christians “They were committed to their belief Jesus was God and withstood the torment and punishment of the Roman Empire. Jesus had a curious and immediate impact on His followers, empowering them to die courageously for what they knew to be true.”
“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account….You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.” (Lucian, The Death of Peregrine. 11-13)
Accounts inside the Bible
In the Bible the four Gospels account Jesus’ resurrection and the events that led up to and that occurred afterwards. Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, 10, John 20:1. These passages recount the women who went to the tomb and finding it empty. Each Gospel account focuses on different women, the consensus is that there was a group of women who lodged in Bethany, rose before dawn to go to the tomb to attend to the body of Christ.
Mary Madgalene’s account in John: “Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” John 20:2
After the Crucifixion
Even Jesus’ own disciples were scattered, frightened and confused. They still did not understand the words Jesus’ had been foretelling them of his death and of his resurrection. Even then, some of them were looking for an earthly King. They believed Jesus was sent from God, but did they fully understand at first. There were many people who followed Jesus, saw the miracles over the course of the three years of his ministry. They all were confused and scattered. Until afterwards; until after the resurrection.
Accounts of His Resurrection by the Angels and of Jesus Himself
“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Matthew 28:1-10
In the other Gospels you can find the account recorded:
“And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.” Luke 24:30-31
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.” John 20:19-24
Then there was Thomas
“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:24-29
Jesus’ Continued Appearances
After his resurrection Jesus not only appeared to his disciples but also to many people.
“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.” I Corinthians 15:6
The disciples and early Christians steadfastly believed in Jesus Christ, his resurrection and that he was God. There were accounts of how they lived and worshipped afterwards. Also, of how they suffered great persecution. That they did is a testament of their complete faith and belief in Jesus Christ.
“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.” Cornelius Tacitus
“They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.” Pliny the Younger
The Joy of the Resurrection
I recall the day when I first heard and understood what Jesus did for me. See it is quite personal. He took on the punishment for my sins to give me the opportunity to have a relationship with Him. Jesus did this not only for me but for all. The only thing is that salvation from our sins is offered as a gift – He doesn’t make us believe. It’s a choice. One I’m so thankful I made many, many years ago. Knowing that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…means so much more each day to me. God’s love is immeasurable and eternal. On Easter we celebrate this resurrection with thanksgiving and with joy. Jesus lived, died and rose again. Those who saw Him believed in faith – seeing; those who’ve lived afterwards believe in faith – not seeing.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. John 20:20