Friday, April 10, 2009
“Easter is not primarily a comfort, but a challenge. If it is true [as he and others indeed demonstrate], then it is the supreme fact of history, and to fail to adjust one’s life to its implications means irreparable loss.”
— J.N.D. Anderson, late Dean of the School of Law at the University of London, The Evidence for the Resurrection (Downer’s Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1966), p. 4. (I haven’t read this book — all I know about it is this quote.)
On this side of the resurrection the cross is no less vulgar–the vulgarity of the cross is the vulgarity of the sin that erected it–but the cross flames with light, the light of the glory of the grace of God, Who took sin into His own heart and canceled it by the shedding of blood. —G. Campbell Morgan
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the birth of a new, glorious, immortal life on the realms of the midnight of death, the rising of the new sun on the terrors of darkness and night. It is the opening of a bright and noble highway to Heaven where everything had been closed and sealed and every hope withered. The resurrection of Christ not only lifts darkness and dread from the tomb but also spans the abyss which separates us from our loved dead and puts into us the strength and hope of a glorious reunion. — E.M. Bounds
God expects from men something more…at such times, and that it were much to be wished for the credit of their religion as well as the satisfaction of their conscience that their Easter devotions would in some measure come up to their Easter dress.
— Robert South
Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf of springtime.–Martin Luther
Spring bursts to-day,
For Christ is risen and all the earth’s at play.
– Christina Georgina Rossetti, Easter Carol
Was it not most meet that a woman should first see the risen Saviour? She was first in the transgression; let her be first in the justification. In yon garden she was first to work our woe; let her in that other garden be the first to see Him who works our weal. She takes first the apple of that bitter tree which brings us all our sorrow; let her be the first to see the Mighty Gardener, who has planted a tree which brings forth fruit unto everlasting life.
– Charles Haddon Spurgeon
We greatly need the cheer of this precious Easter truth. We make too little of the place our Lord has gone to prepare for us. We rob ourselves greatly when we try to reduce heaven to a mere state of ecstatic feeling. We need the cheer which comes of having the eye of faith fixed on the better country and the city that hath the foundations. Such a certainty of an inheritance that is real and that cannot fade away goes far to mitigate the pangs which come of the fires and floods and disasters and frauds which so often despoil God’s people of their earthly possessions; for we know that the things seen are temporal, but the things not seen are eternal, and they are only a few heart-beats away.
– E.P. Goodwin
IF you come to seek His face, not in the empty sepulchre, but in the living power of His presence, as indeed realizing that He has finished His glorious work, and is alive for evermore, then your hearts will be full of true Easter joy, and that joy will shed itself abroad in your homes. And let your joy not end with the hymns and the prayers and the communions in His house. Take with you the joy of Easter to the home, and make that home bright with more unselfish love, more hearty service; take it into your work, and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; take it to your heart, and let that heart rise anew on Easter wings to a higher, a gladder, a fuller life; take it to the dear grave-side and say there the two words “Jesus lives!” and find in them the secret of calm expectation, the hope of eternal reunion.
– John Ellerton
The following quotes are all taken from chapter 20, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ” of the book A Ready Defense by Josh McDowell. You can see more excerpts from this chapter here:
1. “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”– Thomas Arnold, author of History of Rome and chair of modern history at Oxford
2. “If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy or archaeology that would disprove this statement.”
– Dr. Paul L. Maier, professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University
3. “My faith began with and was grounded on what I thought was revealed in the Bible. When, particularly, I came to the New Testament, the Gospels and other writings of the men who had been friends of Jesus Christ seemed to me to make an overwhelming case, merely as a matter of strict evidence, for the fact therein stated … The same approach to the cardinal test of the claims of Jesus Christ, namely, His resurrection, has led me, as often as I have tried to examine the evidence, to believe it as fact beyond dispute.”
– Lord Caldecote, Lord Chief Justice of England
4. Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University and author of A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, examined the value of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ to ascertain the truth. He applied the principles contained in his three-volume treatise on evidence. His findings were recorded in his book, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. Greenleaf came to the conclusion that, according to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.
5. Dr. Frank Morrison, a lawyer who had been brought up in a rationalistic environment, had come to the opinion that the resurrection was nothing but a fairy-tale happy ending which spoiled the matchless story of Jesus. He felt that he owed it to himself, and to others, to write a book that would present the truth about Jesus and dispel the myth of the resurrection. Upon studying the facts, however, he, too, came to a different conclusion. The sheer weight of the evidence compelled him to conclude that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. Morrison wrote his book-but not the one he had planned. It is titled, Who Moved the Stone? The first chapter, very significantly, is called, “The Book That Refused to Be Written.”
6. “What does the critical historian do when his evidence points very strongly to the reality of an event, which contradicts his expectations and goes against the naturalistic view of reality? I submit that he must follow his critically analyzed sources. It is unscientific to begin with the philosophical presupposition that miracles cannot occur. Unless we avoid such one-sided presuppositions, historical interpretation becomes mere propaganda. We have a right to demand good evidence for an alleged event, which we have not experienced, but we dare not judge reality by our limited experience. And I would suggest that we have good evidence for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.”
– Historian Ronald Sider
7. “If the stone were simply rolled to one side of the tomb, as would be necessary to enter it, then they might be justified in accusing the men of sleeping at their posts, and in punishing them severely. If the men protested that the earthquake broke the seal and that the stone rolled back under the vibration, they would still be liable to punishment for behavior, which might be labeled cowardice. But these responsibilities do not meet the case. There was some undeniable evidence, which made it impossible for the chief priests to bring any charge against the guard. The Jewish authorities must have visited the scene, examined the stone, and recognized its position as making it humanly impossible for their men to have permitted its removal. No twist of human ingenuity could provide an adequate answer or scapegoat and so they were forced to bribe the guard and seek to hush things up.”
– Dr. Bill White
8. “What gives a special authority to the list [of witnesses] as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.’”
– Dr. Ewin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio
9. “It is noteworthy that these appearances are not stereotyped. No two of them are exactly alike. The appearance to Mary Magdalene occurred in early morning; that to the travelers to Emmaus in the afternoon; and to the apostles in the evening, probably after dark. He appeared to Mary in the open air. Mary was alone when she saw Him; the disciples were together in a group; and Paul records that on one occasion He appeared to more than five hundred at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6).
“The reactions also were varied. Mary was overwhelmed with emotion; the disciples were frightened; Thomas was obstinately incredulous when told of the Lord’s resurrection, but worshiped Him when He manifested Himself. Each occasion had its own peculiar atmosphere and characteristics, and revealed some different quality of the risen Lord.”
– Professor Merrill C. Tenney of Wheaton College
10. Dr. Maier accurately observes that since the testimony of a woman was deemed unreliable, the “initial reaction of the Eleven was understandably one of suspicion and disbelief. Again, if the resurrection accounts had been manufactured … women would never have been included in the story, at least, not as first witnesses.”
11. “A third factor very crucial to interpreting Christ’s appearance is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced. Over and over again I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive after His death and burial only by His friends and followers. Using this argument, they attempt to water down the overwhelming impact of the eyewitness accounts -but this line of reasoning is so pathetic it hardly deserves comment.
“No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus to have been a follower of Christ. The facts show the exact opposite. He despised Christ and persecuted Christ’s followers (Acts 8:1; 9:1,2; Philippians 3:5,6). For Paul it was a life-shattering experience when Christ appeared to him (Acts 9:3-6). Although Paul was not at the time a disciple, he later became one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.”
– Josh McDowell
12. There was the skeptical family of Jesus (John 7:1-5). His brothers did not believe in Him. They were embarrassed to hear their brother say to the people, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Me,” and “I am the vine, you are the branches,” and “I’m the shepherd, you are the sheep” (John 14:6; 15:5; 10:11). What would you do if your brother did that?
There was James, His brother. He was found in the company of the Pharisees. James and his brothers mocked Jesus. However, after Jesus went to that degrading death on the cross, disgracing the family, and was buried, where do we find those hardest to convince -His own family?
We find them in the upper room with the disciples waiting for the Holy Spirit to be sent (Acts 1:13,14). Now, since they mocked Him while He was alive, what happened in a matter of a few days to turn their lives upside down?
James became a leader in the early church and wrote an epistle stating, “I James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ [his brother]. . ” (James 1). Eventually, for the cause of Christ, James died a martyr’s death -he was stoned.
The best explanation I know is recorded by Paul: “Then He appeared to James” (I Corinthians 15:7).
– Josh McDowell
13. “It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unflinching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths they asserted.”
– Harvard law professor Simon Greenleaf
From Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh McDowell:
“I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .”
– E. M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics, Auckland University