The Apostles affirmed their faith in the resurrection of Jesus by confessing, with the Apostles’ Creed, “The third day He rose again from the dead.”
Acts 1:3 says, “To whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” The phrase, “after His suffering,” refers to the complete death of Christ. There are many proofs showing us that Christ died completely, but in particular, John 19:34 states, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.”
The fact that Jesus was crucified to death has been recognized by everyone of everywhere. This punishment of crucifixion, a condemnation that the Romans dealt to foreigners, was a cruel punishment sentenced to political insurgents and slaves. Before the rise of the Roman Empire, crucifixion was generally carried out by hanging a convict on a cross by tying his hands and feet to it, and then killing the condemned by piercing his chest with a spear.
But the Roman version of crucifixion was a punishment that nailed, instead of tying, the hands and feet of a convict to a cross and left him hanging on the cross to die a slow death. As such, it is said that it took a considerable time for the condemned to die, usually 3-4 days, but at times even a week. We cannot even begin to imagine how painful it must have been to be punished in such a way, being nailed, drained of blood, suffering from increasingly unbearable thirst, bombarded relentlessly by the sun, and encircled by flying vultures. The condemned were made to suffer until the very last moment of death. Because of the extreme cruelty of this punishment, the Emperor Constantine, it is said, eliminated this particular form of punishment.
What, then, explains the fact that Jesus died in just six hours? As mentioned above, when one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, blood and water came out. As this shows, Jesus died so soon because He suffered such a great heartache for sinners that it literally broke and burst. In other words, He died from a ruptured heart.
In three days after His death, Jesus rose again in a perfect body. What is strange is that despite this, some people hesitate to believe in the resurrected Jesus, even as they profess to recognize His death. This can only be seen as a work of the Devil trying to prevent mankind from believing in this truth, as stated in Luke 8:12: “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” To deny the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, the Devil therefore advocates through unbelieving, secularized scholars such false hypotheses as the apparent death hypothesis, the spiritual resurrection hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, the manipulation hypothesis, the stolen body hypothesis, and others. But the verity of the resurrection of Jesus has many definitive proofs, including Acts 1:3.
The Fact That Jesus Presented Himself Alive Is the Proof
Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus presented Himself alive to His disciples by many infallible proofs. No matter what people say, when our Lord Himself declares to be alive, there is then no ground for any dispute.
Jesus had liberated power over life and death. As John 10:17-18 states, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
In Revelation 1:18, Jesus also says, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Our Lord has the power to rise from the dead to live again, for He is God the Almighty and a perfect man at the same time.
“The wages of sin,” as Romans 6:23 tells us, “is death.” This is the unchangeable, righteous law of God. Like this, Jesus took care of the sins of the world and blotted them all out through His baptism and blood. Because He made all the sins of the world disappear, He rose from the dead again and has become the God of those who believe in Him. This is how the righteous law of God is established.
That His Tomb Was Empty Is the Evidence
Matthew 27:57-66 tells us that a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, laid the dead body of Jesus in a tomb hewn out of rock, and that he sealed the tomb by rolling a large stone against its door. The passage also tells us that a guard was placed at the tomb to secure the tomb. But the tomb became empty as the Lord rose from the dead with His power and came out of His tomb. Luke 24:3 says, “Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” What else can this be but the proof of the Lord’s resurrection?
Jesus is a great, historic figure. One of the proofs is the chronological use of Anno Domini (A.D.), which means “in the year of our Lord.” Years and months have been set, in other words, based on the day of His coming. He is the Lord of history, creation and salvation. If He had not been able to rise again from the dead, His tomb would have remained closed as a great historical landmark. The tombs of the great figures of history still remain as places of great interest. For example, Confucius’ tomb is in China, Buddha’s tomb is found in India, and that of Mohammed is at Mecca, Saudi Arabian.
If Christ had not risen from the dead again, His tomb should still remain closed like theirs. But because He rose from the dead in three days, His tomb has been opened. This is believing in our Lord, the one and only God.
That He Ate after He Rose from the Dead Is the Proof
Spirits do not eat. But the resurrected Lord ate. Luke 24:40-43 states, “When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, ‘Have you any food here?’ So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.” Acts 10:40-41 also testifies, “Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.” That Jesus ate provides us the explicit proof of His resurrection.
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul also testifies, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” The Bible is the inspired Word of God with absolute authority that can be neither added to nor subtracted from. As this Bible had prophesied, Jesus died and rose again.
Around the time of Jesus’ death, His disciples had been trembling in fear. But after they were convinced of His resurrection, they became bold to spread the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. As Acts 4:18-20 tells us, “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Peter and other Apostles also replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Although Jesus’ disciples had trembled before the dead Jesus, once they saw the living Jesus, they became bold. From then on to the very present, the reason why the saints have spread this gospel even as they have been persecuted for Christ, and why they have been willing to die for its sake, is because of the certainty of the resurrection of Christ and the assurance of their own resurrection as well.
Jesus’ resurrection is a prelude to our own resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:20, it is stated, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Like this, the teachings of the Pauline Epistles are also centered around, first of all, the core truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and then on the message that this resurrection also brings us our own resurrection.