There’s a phrase that I’ve always loved concerning the Resurrection of Jesus. It comes from Acts 1:3 where Luke says that after Jesus died he appeared alive with “many convincing proofs.” What an amazing thing to say. I’ve often wondered exactly what Luke was thinking of when he wrote that.
Looking at what is revealed to us in the Bible, I think we can come up with at least a few of the things he might have been thinking of. So I invite you to look at the Scripture with me and to ask yourself the question, what were the convincing proofs that Luke was likely thinking of when he wrote that statement?
Here are eight possibilities that I thought of:
1) The Empty Tomb
Luke himself records this occurrence in Luke 24:2-3: “And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Now this is impressive for a number of reasons, first of all the tomb had been guarded (Matthew 27:66). Second the stone would have been heavy and difficult to move. Finally, Jesus had no chance of moving it being dead.
Now of course, the empty tomb by itself doesn’t prove that Jesus rose from the dead, but taken with everything else it becomes a pretty compelling piece of corroborating evidence.
2) It Was Declared By Angels
It’s one thing for a heavily guarded tomb to be empty, it’s another for angels to declare that the former inhabitant of the tomb rose from the dead. Here’s how Luke records the incident: “While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen'” (Luke 24:4-6). The angels clearly declare, Jesus is alive; he rose from the dead.
3) He Appeared to Over 500 People
One of the explanations that’s usually put forward for why the disciples thought that Jesus was alive was that they were hallucinating. The problem is that 500 people don’t simultaneously have the same hallucination of a dead man speaking to them.
Paul recounts that at one point after Jesus rose from the dead, he “appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time” (1 Corinthians 15:6). There were a lot of people that saw Jesus alive after he had died. Paul goes on to say that most of them are still alive — i.e. at the time he was writing he was telling his readers that they had multiple witnesses the could consult if they wanted to.
4) The Resurrected Jesus Bore the Wounds of His Crucifixion
In his famous interaction with “Doubting Thomas” (John 20:26-29), Jesus tells Thomas to verify that he rose from the dead by feeling the holes in his hands from where he was nailed to the cross and the hole in his side from where they pierced him with a spear.
The holes in his hands indicate that Jesus really was crucified. The hole in his side indicates that he really was dead. The Bible says that when he was pierced in his side, blood and water came gushing out (John 19:34). The blood is pretty self-explanatory, the “water” was likely fluid that had built up inside his pericardium due to trauma.
The fact that he appeared after his death with the holes in his hands and side is astounding.
5) Jesus Ate Broiled Fish
In Luke 24:36-42 the disciples think that they’ve seen a ghost. Jesus tells them to come touch him so that they can see that he has a physical body.
Then he takes things one step further and takes a piece of broiled fish from them and eats it. To state the obvious, ghosts don’t eat broiled fish. Hallucinations don’t eat broiled fish. The disciples had a fish, and then they didn’t anymore because Jesus ate it.
6) The Resurrected Jesus Was Omniscient/Omnipotent
After Jesus had died some of the disciples went fishing. When Jesus appeared and ask them if they had caught anything the told him they hadn’t. He told them to let down their net on the other side of the boat and they couldn’t even haul it in because there were too many fish.
Now, I’m not sure if this indicates Jesus’ Omniscience (he knew if they would just try the other side they would have success) or his Omnipotence, (he caused them to have success on the other side), but it clearly indicates the presence of at least one of those divine attributes.
7) Jesus Demonstrated Complete Mastery of the Bible
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus ( Luke 24:13-27). During this interaction “he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). These two disciples not only had a feeling in their hearts (Luke 24:32), but had an encounter where they were taught the scriptures by Jesus.
These two disciples walked away from that conversation with arguably a deeper knowledge of the Old Testament than anyone had ever had before them. They had just heard the author explain it.
8) Jesus Ascended Into Heaven
One of the most amazing and miraculous things that the disciples probably saw was Jesus ascending into heaven. Luke reports that while Jesus was with the disciples he “was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51), and that after seeing him go the disciples “worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52). Let me ask you something: what would prompt you to worship someone that you knew and followed around for three years? I’m guessing if he died and then rose from death three days later and then ascended into heaven, that would probably do the trick.
It must have been amazing to be a disciple of Jesus between his resurrection and ascension. You had seen your leader betrayed, you watched him die, and then three days later you saw him alive again and saw “many convincing proofs” of his resurrection.
The disciples were absolutely convinced that they saw their leader rise from the dead, and they had good reason. They had at least eight convincing proofs, as well as any that don’t happen to be recorded for us in the pages of Scripture.
I hope you enjoyed this little thought experiment and were able to step into the disciples’ shoes for a minute. We don’t have the same direct access to the same primary evidence that they did, but we are very fortunate to have the account of such things in the Bible for our benefit.
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