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He Really Rose!
There is an old Persian legend, which says that the earth was created a great barren plain, without tree or plant. The Creator sent an angel to abundantly scatter the choicest seeds on every spot. Satan, seeing the seeds on the ground was determined to destroy the work of God. He and his helpers buried all the seeds in the soil. They then summoned the sun and the showers to make them rot away. Satan sneered with triumph at the trick he had pulled, but not for long.
In a few days the buried seeds began to germinate and grow beneath the ground. Soon they pushed their shoots above the soil. All the earth sprang up with plants and flowers. The Creator had turned the cunning of the evil one to good account.
In days to come, Satan thought he would destroy the work of redemption by burying the Son of God beneath the ground. But the power of God sprang up from the grave and the crucified Christ came forth on Easter, glorious and victorious. This fact is the foundation of our faith. As Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
"If Christ has not risen, vain then is your preaching, vain too is your faith" (1 Cor. 15:14). If Jesus did not really rise by His own power from the tomb, then He is not God. The Church He established, therefore, would not be the Church of God. But we know, with a certainty greater than that of any other fact in history that Christ really rose from the grave. To prove this we must first of all be sure that Christ really died and was buried.
Christ Truly Died
The Gospels give every evidence that Christ truly died. The Disciples of Christ, the Roman officer, the soldiers, and even the Jews testify to His death. Moreover, it would have been impossible for the Savior not to have died. He had no food or rest for hours before His sufferings; sufferings that would kill the strongest man! Consider also the agony in the garden, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, and the carrying of the cross. In fact, the Jews were afraid that Christ might die before they got Him to Calvary, so they had Simon of Cyrene help carry the cross. Our Lord Himself said: "It is finished." And then a soldier pierced His side with a lance.
It is ridiculous even to suggest that Christ did not really die, yet that is one of the scores of statements made to disprove the resurrection.
Christ was Truly Buried
The evangelists and Saint Paul tell us clearly that Christ was placed in a tomb. They describe how He was wrapped in linens, and how a huge rock was placed before the entrance. Soldiers were assigned to watch day and night. Certainly the enemies of Christ would make sure He was dead, after they had gone to all the trouble of condemning Him to death.
Christ Truly Rose
Yes, we believe it. We have all the evidence to prove our belief. Read the letters of Saint Paul. He clearly shows that this resurrection of Christ, (linked to our own resurrection on the last day), was real and bodily, just as real as His death and burial. Especially clear and convincing is Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, where we read:
“For I delivered to you first of all, what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and after that to the Eleven. Then he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at one time, many of whom are with us still, but some have fallen asleep. After that he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. And last of all, as by one born out of due time, he was seen by me” (1 Cor. 15:3-8).
If there were any reason whatsoever to deny the resurrection of Christ, certainly these men, years after Christ's death, would not be claiming that they saw the risen Redeemer when they knew this claim would bring them persecution and death. In actual fact, the apostles with one exception gave their lives for this belief. Men do not die for a lie. Nor do they die for something uncertain, or something of which they are unsure.
The Gospels are no less clear. They tell us that the tomb was empty, the stone was rolled away, and that the soldiers were paid to say the apostles had stolen Christ's body.
Further proof is given in the eleven appearances of Christ to different individuals and groups: to Mary Magdalene, to the pious women, to Saint Peter, to the disciples on the way to Emmaus, to all the apostles except Saint Thomas, to all of them with Thomas, to five apostles and two disciples at Tiberias, to eleven apostles in Galilee, to five hundred brethren together, to James, and to the eleven apostles in Jerusalem. Jesus not only appeared, He talked and ate to show that He was risen bodily.
The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (AD 37-100?) writes briefly but matter-of-factly about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead:
“Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again at the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him are not extinct at this day (Antiquities of the Jews, book 18 chapter 3, William Whiston translation, The Complete Works of Josephus, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1981, p. 379).
With all this evidence, can we doubt the truth and sincerity of the faith we profess? The whole account convinces us that Jesus Christ was everything He claimed to be. He is the promised One. He taught and founded a Church, which is the pillar and foundation of truth.
Today we glory in the truth, the incontestable fact that Christ rose from the grave. These proofs are given in the hope of bolstering our faith, if need be. We give these proofs to answer the many false statements about the resurrection.
He is risen, we sing with the angels today. He is risen, we murmur in our hearts. He is risen, that is the conviction of our minds. Yes, it is the theme song of our faith. It is the fact that makes Easter truly happy. May the truth of the resurrection bring you joy.
© 2003 – Victor R. Claveau
Part or all of this article may be reproduced without obtaining permission as long as the author is cited.
"Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord
is continually revealing to us the resurrection
that is to be. Of this He has constituted the
Lord Jesus Christ the first fruits, by raising Him from the dead."
-Pope St. Clement