Having gone through the non-biblical evidence for Christianity, in this article we have a look at the biblical evidence. Since we’ve established the Bibles’ historical accuracy, let’s for a moment analyse it not as God’s inspired word but as a piece of historical literature. I’ll start by going through a list of facts in the bible that majority of New Testament scholars have come to accept as legitimate and accurate. I believe these facts support the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here they are;
FACT #1: Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea
The establishing of this as a fact killed off any validity of claims by radical critics that the location of Jesus’ burial site was unknown and hence, it would be impossible to prove his resurrection. This fact was established by a number of evidences. One of which is the fact that the story in the bible, of Jesus being buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea couldn’t have been made up. This is mainly because the disciples and followers of Jesus resented the Jewish Leadership (Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Jewish leadership) as they played a significant role in the condemnation of Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75). Hence, it is very unlikely that the disciples would’ve included this story in the Gospels unless it was the truth. Just imagine someone close to you was murdered and then a wealthy, powerful someone who had a part in your close one’s murder insists on organizing the burial ceremony, it’s very unlikely you’ll be happy about it. This was the same with the disciples.
Furthermore, no other contradicting burial story exists. If the burial by Joseph were false, then at the very least we would expect to find either some historical evidence of what actually happened to Jesus’ corpse or at least some competing legends. But all our sources are unanimous on Jesus’ honorable burial by Joseph.
FACT #2: The tomb of Jesus was found empty by a group of his women followers.
One major theory has been posited by unbelievers as an explanation of the empty tomb; ‘someone stole the body’.
First we can agree that this confirms one fact about Christ; that his tomb was found empty after three days. With this out of the way let’s now tackle the plausible explanations for the empty tomb.
It seems to me that there’s no way anyone could have stolen the body of Jesus from the tomb. The Romans didn’t have any motive to, after all they wanted him dead to quell his growing number of followers. As for the disciples, I suppose there’s a good argument that they might have had a motive to steal Jesus’ body; so that it would seem that Jesus resurrected and legitimacy of their teacher would be saved. But even with that granted, I find it hard to see how these weak, cowardly disciples (John 18:15-27) could have man-handled at the bare minimum 11 well-trained Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:65; here Pilate tells the Pharisees to take enough soldiers and make the tomb “as secure as you can”). We know that there are at least 11 disciples now as Judas has committed suicide. Therefore, I would presume the Pharisees would have taken at least 11 soldiers. Therefore, there were probably dozens of guards about. Even if the guards were sleeping they would have heard something. Rolling a heavy stone away would have required lots of grunting and probably the use of some tools. This is not a quiet task. Then the disciples would have to slip away with every one of the guards remaining fast asleep, and not be spotted by any of the thousands of people camped out as it was the Passover feast. Imagine going to a New years’ eve festival and smuggling an already stiff, rotting, at least 70kg, dead body out by hand without being spotted by anyone. From this it’s not hard to see why the story that Jesus’ body was stolen was not believed at the time, resulting in the rapid growth of Christianity.
Furthermore, women were second class citizens in Bible times; According to Josephus, the testimony of women was regarded as so worthless that it could not even be admitted into a Jewish court of law. Yet the Bible says the risen Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene and other holy women. Even the apostles did not believe Mary when she told them the tomb was empty. Out of Jesus’ respect for these women, he honoured them as the first eyewitnesses to his resurrection. The male Gospel writers had no choice but to report this embarrassing testimony of God’s favour, because that was exactly what happened.
FACT #3: On multiple occasions and under various circumstances, different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.
This fact has become accepted by majority of New Testament scholars for this particular reason among others;
A large crowd of more than 500 eyewitnesses saw the risen Jesus Christ at the same time. The Apostle Paul records this event in 1 Corinthians 15:6. He states that most of these men and women were still alive when he wrote this letter, about 55 A.D. Suggesting that sceptics can search out the eyewitnesses to confirm his writings. Some critics have suggested that the 500 eyewitnesses must have been hallucinating, and they didn’t really see Jesus. Today, psychologists say it would be impossible for a large crowd of people to have had the same hallucination at once. Smaller groups also saw the risen Christ, such as the apostles, and Cleopas and his companion. They all saw the same thing, and in the case of the apostles, they touched Jesus and watched him eat food. The hallucination theory is further invalidated because after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, sightings of him stopped.
FACT #4: The conversion of Paul.
The conversion of Saul who later became Paul is the most drastic conversion recorded in the Bible. He was an aggressive persecutor of the early Christians. Saul approved the murder of Stephen, who was a leader in the early church and was stoned to death, he also persecuted the Christian Congregation-Acts 8:1-3. When the risen Christ appeared to Paul on the Damascus Road, Paul became one of Christianity’s most devoted missionary. He went on to write 11 books of the 27 in the new testament, he suffered 39 lashes on 5 separate occasions (2 Corinthian 11:24), three beatings (Acts 16:22), a stoning (Acts 14:19), imprisonment (2 Timothy 2:9). Finally, the Roman emperor Nero had Paul beheaded because the he refused to deny his faith in Jesus. What could make a person who was an aggressive persecutor of believers willingly accept and welcome such hardships? Christians believe the conversion of Paul came about because he encountered the risen Christ on the Damascus road.
FACT #5: Reversal of James’ (The brother of Jesus) skepticism
James the brother of Jesus was openly skeptical about Jesus’ claims that he was the God;
“Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”- John 7:3-5
“Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”- Mark 3:20-21
Actually it’s very easy to see why they thought Jesus was crazy. Imagine having a perfect brother: one who always has the right answers; one who never deserves a spanking and thought he was God. I’d be angry too. However, we see later after Jesus’s death and resurrection that James, Jesus’ skeptical brother became a courageous leader of the Jerusalem church, and eventually was killed for his faith in Christ. Why? The Bible says the risen Christ appeared to him. What a shock it would’ve been to see his brother, alive again, after he knew he was dead. James and the apostles were effective missionaries because people could tell these men had touched and seen the risen Christ. With such testimony, the early church exploded in growth, spreading west from Jerusalem to Rome and beyond. For 2,000 years, encounters with the resurrected Jesus have changed lives.
There are many more evidences such as; the martyrdom of the once cowardly apostles etc.