Thursday, April 21, 2016

Witnesses - Then and Now

Jesus said, " it is written that, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day, ... You are witnesses of these things." Luke 24:46-48

Numerous and reliable historical records, both religious and secular, speak of Christ's resurrection. Biblically, the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) which were written 20-30 years afterwards, and the Gospel of John (50-70 years after) list many witnesses to this supernatural event. The book of Acts and Paul's writings also make references to witnesses. Details in Luke come from "the early disciples and other eyewitnesses". In contrast to the rumors of the disciples stealing Jesus' body and bribes that the Chief Priests pay the guards to pass along this story, God carefully crafts official records of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection making sure accurate historical evidence remains.

Of the many eyewitnesses, there are angels, Mary Magdalene, the disciples, the two on the road to Emmaus, and other believers. During the forty days after His resurrection, Jesus shows himself to the apostles "by many convincing proofs...speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God." (Acts 1:2-3)  They ate with Him, touched Him, listened to Him teach. According to John 20:30-31, "Jesus' disciples saw Him do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. But these were written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life." John's testifies, "This is that disciple who saw these events and recorded them here. (John 21:24)

From the Scriptures we know that Jesus' brothers did not believe (John 7:3-5) until after His death. Through Paul's writings we know that Jesus appears to His brother James, who later becomes head of the Jerusalem church. In 1 Corinthians 15:6 Paul notes that "more than 500 of His followers" witness Jesus after the crucifixion. And the final eyewitness to Christ's resurrection is Saul on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians.(Acts 9:1-19) The zealous Pharisee with a history of violent persecution of Christians is renamed Paul. When reason doubts and culture discounts even the possibility of resurrection, history's eyewitnesses establish a detailed archive that prevails for more than 2,000 years.

So what stands today as evidence of Jesus' resurrection besides words on paper? We are the proof! The Holy Spirit sent by the living Christ dwells within each believer. With our testimonies of redemption and everlasting life to come, we become the spiritual witnesses of a resurrected Messiah, contemporary vessels of His Presence. The living Christ embodies the hope and peace and love we find by believing in Him. The resurrection is an integral truth of Christianity, a truth confirmed by eyewitnesses. ~dho

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