Astounding Claims and Reliable Proof - Gordon Conwell

Astounding Claims and Reliable Proof

Dr. Jeffrey Arthurs

When we say that “Jesus rose,” we mean more than “he rises in our hearts,” as when we remember personnel of the armed services on Veterans Day; or—“he rose in the Church,” as when Walt Disney “rose” in the Disney Empire. No, we mean that a man named Jesus died, was placed in a tomb, stayed there for three days, and then came back to life. His heart gave a great lurch, his synapses fired again, his waxy flesh grew warm, and he walked out of the tomb in power and glory. The resurrection of Jesus is an event in time and space, not simply a literary, mythological, or psychological event. It is a historical event that has implications for this day.

One of the implications relates to the amazing claims Jesus made: I give my life as a ransom for many; I am coming again to judge the world; and I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one can come to the Father except through me.[1]

What if I said that? You’d conclude that I was delusional, and you’d be right because there is no evidence to support those claims.

What about Jesus? Is there anything to support his astounding claims? That’s where the resurrection comes in. He predicted his own death and resurrection and then it happened.

He took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”[2]

And that’s just what happened. We can believe him and stake our lives on his promises. His claims are right, his power real, and his promises reliable. He said that just as he rose, so would all who believe in him. That’s what the Apostle Paul meant when he called Jesus the “first fruits” of the coming resurrection. “First fruits” means the first part of the harvest that is presented to God in faith that more will follow.

Before Christopher Columbus sailed, Europeans thought the world ended somewhere out beyond Gibraltar. The royal motto of Spain was Nec Plus Ultra, “Nothing more beyond.” Tradition says that that phrase was etched into the Pillars of Hercules at the western end of the Mediterranean where it flows into the Atlantic. It warned sailors: “Beyond this point, there is no more.” Then Columbus sailed and they had to change the motto! Plus ultra, “There is plenty more beyond.”

Before the resurrection we may have thought that there was nothing beyond the grave. But now we know that there is much more beyond the grave. Christ has risen as the first fruits of a coming resurrection, and those who believe in him will live forever.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”[3]

[1] Mark 10:45, Matthew 16:27, John 14:6
[2] Mark 10:32-34, NIV.
[3]Romans 15:13, NIV

Dr. Jeffrey Arthurs is the Robinson Chair of Preaching and Communication and director of the Haddon W. Robinson Center for Preaching. He is the author of several books, including Preaching As Reminding (IVP, 2017) and Devote Yourself to Public Reading of Scripture (Kregel, 2012).