“…that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” — 1 Corinthians 15:4-8 (NIV84)
Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Yes! It’s a simple answer because it’s a historical fact. Christians don’t wish the resurrection to be true. They know it to be true, and so they stake their lives on it and put their hope in it. In our verses for today, Paul tells us that Jesus appeared to more than 500 disciples over a 40-day period after His resurrection. As Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, Paul said that most of the 500 were still living and could testify to seeing Jesus alive. Jesus didn’t just appear to his Apostles, He appeared to many of His followers. The book of Acts tells us that when He appeared to them He spoke of the ministry of the kingdom of God that they were to be involved in.
Paul went on to tell us that he, too, was a witness to the resurrection of Jesus as one “abnormally born.” You see, Paul did not see the risen Jesus during the 40 days after His death and resurrection. Paul met Jesus after He ascended into heaven. Paul (Saul) was persecuting the Church and Jesus knocked him off his horse and blinded him for 3 days. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul was converted to the faith. It was after his conversion that Jesus appeared to him and revealed the truth about the kingdom of God. Paul actually spent time being taught by Jesus in preparation for his ministry. Let’s stop to understand this from a historical perspective. A man who openly admitted to being a persecutor and unbeliever of Jesus Christ also professed to being confronted and taught by this same Jesus months after His death. Would it make sense for Paul to make that up? Would it make sense that believers during this time would rather die than deny the fact that they saw Jesus risen from the dead? Of course not! These men and women saw Jesus after His resurrection. It is a fact.
Finally, something for everyone to consider: Since Jesus rose from the dead, He has accomplished something that no other religious leader has ever been able to do. Jesus alone completely bore humanity’s sins and victoriously rose from the dead just as He said He would. There is not another religious leader throughout history who has done, or ever will do, what Jesus has done. He defied death itself!
He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life!