Eyewitness Evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus
1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”
The phrase, “He was raised on the third day” speaks to authority of Jesus offering eternal life to all who trust in Him. The resurrection is the validation. The resurrection is the proof.
I remember when I was in college I was returning a DVD I had purchased at Wal-Mart, and I tried to return the DVD directly to the entertainment part of the store. Rookie mistake!
The person behind the counter says, “You can’t return that DVD here. You need to go to the front of the store.” So I walked to the front of the store to return my previously purchased DVD, and from behind me I hear this man yelling, “Stop, thief, stop thief” and pointing in my direction.
I thought to myself, “Oh my, someone is trying to steal something from the store.” Who could it be? And before I knew it the man is pointing at me, has his hands on me, and yelling, “This guy stole this DVD!”
I politely tell the man, “I didn’t steal this DVD. I purchased this DVD last week and I am trying to return the DVD unopened.” The manager says, “Do you have a receipt?” I say, “Yes, and I pull out my receipt.” The receipt was the authority of my claim. The receipt was my proof.
But, the man from behind the counter says, “How do we know the receipt is real?” The man was questioning the validity of my claim! So I said, “I guess you should check the video tape because you will see me walk into the store with the DVD in my hands!”
Minutes later the manager comes back and says, “We checked the tape. You are free to go!” The videotape was my proof. The videotape was my authority, and in verse 3 the Apostle Paul says, “I got a receipt!” Jesus resurrected from dead. Look at the evidence.
But, the people are skeptical. The people are wondering, “How do we know the receipt is real?” The Apostle Paul says, “Lets look to the eyewitnesses” which is why the Apostle Paul writes out the attendance list in verses 5-8.
1 Corinthians 15:5-8, “5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”
In verses 5-8 there is an attendance list of everyone who visually laid eyes on the resurrected Jesus. Cephas is a reference to Peter, and the Apostles saw the resurrected Jesus. Then, in verse 6 we see the resurrected Jesus appears to over 500 people at one time. It wasn’t someone hallucinating. It wasn’t a conspiracy. It was 500 people who saw the resurrected Jesus.
At the end of verse 6 you see if the Corinthians wanted to go and talk to those 500 people who saw the resurrected Jesus they could, because this is only about 16-18 years after the resurrection of Jesus. Those people were still alive. The Apostle Paul was citing his sources!
Then, in verse 7 the resurrected Jesus appears to James, which was the half-brother of Jesus, who also happened to be one of the last people to believe in Jesus, because most brothers aren’t going to easily jump of the bandwagon of their big brother claiming to be God.
And, at the very end of verse 8 the Apostle Paul mentions himself as “untimely born”, which was a bit of a jab because Paul essentially lost his life proclaiming the name of Jesus. Paul ends up homeless, beaten, shipwrecked, in prison, and gives up everything to proclaim the name of Jesus.
These are eyewitness claims. The resurrection of Jesus isn’t just a “I guess it just takes faith.” No, the purpose of verses 3-11 is there is undeniable evidence. It isn’t just an empty tomb, it isn’t just a raised body from the dead, but it is 100’s of men and women who saw the resurrected Jesus, and they were still alive.
Therefore, we must ask ourselvesa, "What do you do with that evidence?" These 500 men and women didn't get book deals and tour dates. Many of these 500 men and women lost their live professing faith in the resurrected Jesus.
100's of people have claimed divinity throughout history, but why did the claim of Jesus have such formational influence on human history? Jesus didn't even stick around to lead the charge. He resurrected and ascended, and entrusted His name to 100's of people, and today the name of Jesus is on almost every continent, in different ethnic groups, nationalities, and cultures around the world.
Even if you say, “I don’t believe people resurrect from the dead.” Okay. But, what do you do with these people who were spread around the region and said Jesus did resurrect from the dead?