On Easter Sunday we contemplate afresh the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But how do you know that the resurrection actually happened?
One of the main reasons we believe that the resurrection took place is because Christ’s disciples saw the risen Christ.
But how do you know that the disciples were eyewitnesses? Firstly, the gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all record that Christ’s disciples saw the resurrected Jesus.
But not only do the authors of those gospels tell us that the disciples saw Jesus alive, the Apostle Paul also reported that the disciples saw the risen Christ.
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about Christ’s encounters with the disciples after his death. We read: ‘3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).
But did Paul know for certain that these disciples had met Jesus? After all, the Apostle Paul was not one of the twelve disciples that Jesus spent time with on earth before his death. Paul was converted after Christ’s resurrection, during the period of the early church.
Yet Paul did know the other apostles personally. Paul wrote about his relationship with the disciples in his letter to the church in Galatia we read: ‘15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles– only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie…Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles…they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews…James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do’ (Galatians 1:15-2:10)
Thus Paul can vouch for the truth of the testimony of the disciples concerning the resurrection. Paul knew these men weren’t lunatics. Rather, the disciples were men of sound mind who had witnessed an extraordinary miracle!
So, this Easter, do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Do you realise that if you ignore the testimony of the disciples you will miss out on being resurrected too?