The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central miracle of the Christian faith. It is the proof that Jesus actually was what He claimed to be, and it constituted the decisive victory over sin and death. Moreover it is the guarantee that we, too, can have eternal life.
But how can we know that it really took place? The event was so extraordinary that many modern skeptics have found it hard to believe that it really happened. The writers of the New Testament, however, were unanimous in insisting that it was a genuine historical event, and the four gospels in particular are aimed at providing the necessary documentary evidence.
By all accounts the first witnesses to the resurrection were a group of Galilean women who rose early that Sunday morning to anoint Jesus' body with aromatic spices. It will be noted that they became the first to learn of Jesus' resurrection precisely because they were busily engaged in meeting the temporal needs of their Lord and Savior. These were women who had been helping Him throughout His earthly ministry, and they continued to care for Him even after His death. Significantly they were up before dawn to engage in their work of devotion.
They went, having every reason to believe that Jesus was really dead, and fully expecting to find His corpse in the tomb. When they arrived, they received instead the surprise of their lives. The tomb was empty, and they were met by a young man with an announcement that scarcely seemed possible: Jesus had risen from the dead and was alive!
The appearance of the young man – he was wearing a shining robe – suggested that he was an angelic being of some sort. In addition to His announcement, "He is risen! He is not here" (Mark 16:6; NKJV), he offered two lines of empirical evidence to verify the claim. The first was the empty tomb itself: "See the place where they laid Him." One might suspect that the body had been stolen, but if they had been the case, all that the Jews or the Romans would have had to do to prove that Jesus was really dead was to produce the body, and they did not. It was, in fact, never found, at least not dead.
The second line of evidence was especially astonishing: the women were to tell the disciples to go to Galilee, where they would actually see Jesus – alive. They would then know for certain that Jesus had risen from the dead.
When we add to this the angel's testimony itself, the women were confronted with a total of three different lines of evidence: the verbal testimony of a heavenly being, the empty tomb, and the possibility of actually seeing Jesus alive again. That Jesus actually rose from the dead may seem hard to believe now, but the first witnesses found it hard to believe, too. The were seized with trembling and amazement, "for they were afraid" (v. 8). But we are confronted with essentially the same three lines of evidence as were the women of Galilee, and to a great extent the record of their discovery forms the basis of our faith today. The resurrection of Jesus is, in fact, one of the best documented facts in history. The available evidence compels faith in Jesus as the risen Lord and Savior. Let us bow before Him in reverence and trust, and own Him as our Savior, too.