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This devotional was adapted from John Maisel‘s booklet “Is Jesus God?” Click here to receive a free PDF copy.

Last week, we ended with three possibilities concerning the person of Jesus Christ: either He is a liar, or He is a lunatic, or He is the Lord. I believe this next issue of His statement is the key to the other two claims.

Jesus said, “‘I am the way and the truth ... (John 14:6).’” And then He said He is the life. This is the most important aspect of Jesus’ claims. Jesus’ claim to be the life implies that He must live for eternity if He is to give eternal life. This claim had to do with His resurrection, the most important aspect of the credibility of Christianity.

If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, He is not the truth and He is not the way. The whole basis for the credibility of the life of Christ is found in the resurrection.

If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead and conquer death, Christians would be the biggest fools in the world. If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, I am communicating nothing but lies to you. If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith is useless and in vain.

The whole focus of the life of Christ related to substantiating His claims was His statement that He must be rejected and “‘must be killed and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31).’”

Historian Philip Schaff, who wrote “The History of The Christian Church,” said, “The resurrection of Christ is therefore emphatically a test question upon which depends the truth or falsehood of the Christian religion. It is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records.”

Dr. William Lyon Phelps of Yale University has also said, “The test question for the life of Christ is the resurrection.”

Even well-known atheist H. L. Mencken said, “There is no possibility whatsoever of reconciling science and theology, at least in Christendom. Either Jesus arose from the dead or he didn’t.” But he added, “If He did, then Christianity becomes plausible; if He did not, then it is sheer nonsense.”

We are left with a question: Did Christ rise from the dead? If so, what proof, what evidence, exists to reach that conclusion with intellectual integrity?

Evidence leading to proof usually is gathered in one of two ways. First is the scientific method—an experiment conducted in a controlled environment, usually a laboratory. This means exact circumstances may be recreated and the experiment repeated. Scientists form hypotheses from the data gathered.

Historical events, on the other hand, occur at one moment in time and cannot be duplicated. We cannot use the scientific method to prove that Julius Caesar existed. So we apply another method of proof, the legal historical method. It is used in courts of law to prove guilt or innocence. It is also used to verify the reliability of reported historical events. To safeguard our intellectual integrity, we should not be afraid to apply this method to our study of Jesus Christ, to help us substantiate the claims He has made of being the Savior of the world and the personal Savior and Lord of them who receive Him. After all, His life, death, and resurrection are reported in historical documents.

If our knowledge of the past is always based upon evidence and testimony from the past, then the next logical question related to that premise is whether the testimony is reliable. Is testimony regarding the resurrection reliable?

When testimony is being evaluated, it must be open to both verification and falsification for those evaluating it. If I say it is snowing outside, that statement is open to verification or falsification. So when I begin to deal with the testimony regarding the resurrection, those same principles must be applied as they would in a court of law or the examination of the reliability of any historical evidence. Listen to what some legal experts whose thinking is guided by these principles have to say about the evidence related to the resurrection.

Professor Thomas Arnold, the Lord Master of Rugby School for 14 years, author of “The History of Rome,” and holder of the Chair of Modern History at Oxford University, was well acquainted with evaluating evidence to determine historical fact. After carefully sifting the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ, this great scholar said, “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.”

John Capeley, a professor at Cambridge University who rose to the highest office in the judgeship in England and was recognized as one of the greatest legal minds in British history, said, “I know pretty well what evidence is, and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never been broken down yet.”

Lord Darling, who was another chief justice of England said, “No intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the Resurrection Story is true.”

I have a friend who graduated first in his university class, a brilliant thinker. Somebody once asked him why he embraced Christianity. My friend replied, For the simple reason that I cannot refute the resurrection.”

I wish everyone would try to refute the resurrection of Christ because that would mean that each would conduct his own investigation. Some skeptics in history started out to disprove the resurrection but when confronted with the evidence came to faith in Christ.

Frank Morison, a British lawyer who set out to write a book repudiating the resurrection of Christ, did write a book, but it was not the book he had meant to write. As he examined the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, this skeptical lawyer found it so overwhelming that he was forced to accept it and became a believer. The book he wrote, “Who Moved The Stone?” sets forth the evidence for the resurrection of Christ.

Lew Wallace also set out to write a book disproving the deity of Christ and His resurrection and ended, instead, defending it in his famous book, “Ben-Hur.”

It is clear that historical evidence points to the validity of Christ’s resurrection, begging us to acknowledge Jesus as Lord.


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