Would Christianity be the same today if Jesus’ Resurrection had never occurred?
In I Corinthians 15:17, Paul wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (NIV)
There are many indisputable historical facts about the life of the man, Jesus of Nazareth. For example:
- No one disputes that Jesus lived.
- No one disputes that Jesus preached to large crowds, seemed to perform miracles, spoke with authority about the Law of Moses, and made the religious leaders very uncomfortable.
- No one disputes that Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
- It is documented and never disputed that Jesus’ body was taken by Joseph Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin the council that voted to condemn him to death.
- It’s well-established and never disputed that Jesus was buried, most likely in a private tomb.
- No one disputes that, soon after the crucifixion, the disciples were discouraged, scared, and seemed to have lost hope.
- No one disputes that three days after the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty.
- No one disputes the disciples had experiences that they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.
- No one disputes that, due to those experiences, the disciple’s lives changed dramatically.
- No one disputes that shortly after the, so called, Resurrection a new church began based on the preaching and Resurrection of Jesus.
- No one disputes that the teaching and preaching of Jesus’ disciples took place in the city of Jerusalem, where Jesus had been crucified.
- No one disputes that these new Jesus followers changed the century-old Jewish tradition of a Saturday sabbath to Sunday to commemorate the supposed day of his Resurrection.
- No one disputes that James, the brother of Jesus, a skeptic of his brothers divinity, was converted because he believed he also saw the risen Jesus.
- No one disputes that a few years after the crucifixion, Saul of Taursus (Paul) became a Christian believer, due to an experience that he also believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus.
Given those series of reasonably agreed upon facts about the life and influence of Jesus of Nazareth, it isn’t hard to imagine why so many people became and continue to become Christ followers. However, without the Resurrection, would Christianity – the worship of Jesus Christ – even exist today? Non-believers claim that Jesus was a prophet. He was a philosopher. He was a great thinker. Do people build cathedrals and churches for the worship of prophets, philosophers, and smart people?
What happened after the apparent Resurrection of Jesus that has had such a profound influence on the lives of billions of people? How do you explain the survival and thriving of the Christian religion that started with a carpenter in the desert in the Middle East, who only preached for three years? THE RESURRECTION!
His disciples changed! The people in the community that supposedly saw the resurrected Jesus changed!
The early Christian church were founded by people who saw Jesus after his Resurrection. They saw him, touched him, spoke with him, and ate with him! That gave them the bold faith they needed to go out and preach the Gospel. After the crucifixion, the Jesus movement was dead in its tracks. The so-called Messiah was dead. One of his disciples turned him over for a bag full of silver, another denied he knew him. It was over! After the Resurrection, they devoted the rest of their lives to spreading the gospel because they had seen him crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.
What did Jesus’ disciples get for their trouble? They were ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned, tortured and many were executed. There are misguided people who are willing to die for a lie that they think is true but only the truly insane or mentally ill will die for a lie they know is a lie!
The disciples knew Jesus was who he said he was because they saw it with their own eyes and were willing to put their lives on the line to tell anyone who would listen. I, for one, am glad they did so. And I believe Christianity would be a shell of its current self (most likely non-existent) had the Resurrection not occurred.
If you want to go deeper into the topic of Jesus and Christianity, I would recommend you start with: