Summary: What is the evidence that confirms what Easter is all about?
Jesus is Alive – True or False?
By Lee Strobel
Who would you guess is the most successful defense attorney in the world? F. Lee Bailey? Well, he’s fallen on hard times. Johnnie Cochran? Let’s check an authoritative source on this: the Guiness Book of World Records. This is what it says on Page 547:
"Most successful lawyer: Sir Lionel Luckhoo . . . (who) succeeded in getting his 245th successive murder charge acquittal by January 1, 1985."
That’s an absolutely astonishing feat that nobody in the world has come close to replicating -- 245 murder trials in a row, either won before a jury or on appeal. No wonder he’s renowned as the real-life Perry Mason.
What skills do you think he needed to rise to that unprecedented level of courtroom success? Certainly he must be smart and savvy. He must have tremendous analytical skills so he can dissect what may appear on the surface to be an air-tight case. And he must be a world-class expert on what constitutes reliable and persuasive evidence.
All of that describes Luckhoo, who was knighted twice by Queen Elizabeth and who also served as a distinguished diplomat and a justice on his country’s highest court.
As we approach Easter, wouldn’t it be interesting to get an opinion from an expert like Luckhoo on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Well, we’re in luck, so to speak. During his own spiritual journey, Luckhoo turned his expertise to the question of whether the resurrection of Jesus Christ fits the test of legal evidence. And here’s the conclusion he ultimately reached:
"I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt."
Amazing, isn’t it? Our everyday experience tells us that pigs don’t talk, regardless of the movie Babe; that Santa Claus doesn’t slide down chimneys; and that dead people don’t spring back to life. And yet here’s the most successful attorney in the world applying the test of legal evidence to the case of Jesus Christ and concluding with absolute confidence that His resurrection is reality. And then Luckhoo did the most logical thing he could do: he gave his life to Christ.
Well, today you and I are going to examine some of the facts ourselves. Last week we looked at the evidence that points convincingly toward Jesus being the unique Son of God. We saw how the record of His life is reliable; how His claims to being God are credible; how Jesus alone fit the fingerprint of the Messiah by fulfilling ancient prophecies against all odds; and how Christ has impacted millions of individuals.
And now here we are on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, which culminates with Easter -- and we’re going to talk about the evidence that confirms what Easter is all about.
I hope I have more success in explaining Easter than my brother-in-law did a few years ago when he was trying to explain it to his 5-year-old son Sean. They were sitting in church on Easter, and just before the service began, my brother-in-law pointed to the cross and said, "See the cross? The people put Jesus on the cross. The people killed Jesus."
Sean looked around very nervously, then asked cautiously: "These people?"
Well, we’re going to get at the heart of Easter today; in fact, to the very heart of Christianity itself. The Apostle Paul wrote in First Corinthians 15:17: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins."
So the resurrection is the linchpin of Christianity and the ultimate authentication of Jesus’ claim that He is God. I especially hope that those of you who are spiritual skeptics or seekers will do that Sir Lionel Luckhoo did -- keep an open mind and let the evidence lead you wherever it points.
I’m going to begin by summarizing how Jesus died, and I’m going to get a little graphic for a very important reason. Some people take the position that Jesus never really died on the cross; in fact, that’s what many Muslims are taught.
It’s called the "swoon theory" -- that Jesus fainted on the cross or took a drug that made Him only appear to die, and then the cool air of the tomb revived Him and He emerged alive. So, they contend, there was no resurrection because He hadn’t died. But as I describe to you what happened to Jesus, you’ll quickly see the fallacy of that position.
After Jesus’ trial in which He was found guilty of blasphemy for claiming to be God, John 19:1 says: "Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged." A medical expert named Dr. C. Truman Davis studied what this involved and concluded this was a brutal beating that left Jesus on the very edge of death.