Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

Extraordinary Claims And Extraordinary Evidence

Three weeks ago today was “Good Friday,” the day many Christians commemorate the death of Jesus by crucifixion. It was on that day, as I made final preparations for the busy Easter weekend, that I recalled the statement by the late scientist Carl Sagan, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” For an increasing number of people in our day, the claim that Jesus was crucified, died, buried, and was resurrected on the third day is truly extraordinary to the point of being unbelievable.

With all due respect to the late Carl Sagan, I think a more accurate statement, at least to my mind, would be, “Extraordinary claims require sufficient evidence.” There seems to be no logical reason that the amount of evidence would need to equal or surpass the grandeur of the claim.

Nevertheless, on that Good Friday a few weeks back, it occurred to me that the Bible would agree with Carl Sagan, at least to a point, in reference to the extraordinary claim that Jesus was resurrected after His crucifixion, death, and burial. The Apostle Paul declared, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Corinthians 15:14). The Bible agrees that the claims of the resurrection do deserve evidence, for if Jesus is dead, then Christianity is dead along with Him.

So what could possibly be the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? Over the years, a number of possibilities have been put forward by various people. Here is a brief summary:

1) Jesus died by means of Roman crucifixion.

2) Upon confirmation of His death, Jesus was buried.

3) The death of Jesus caused His closest friends and followers deep grief and a sense of hopelessness.

4) The tomb of Jesus was found and reported to be empty a few days later.

5) After the discovery of the empty tomb of Jesus, His friends and followers declared that the risen Jesus had appeared to them.

6) The followers and friends of Jesus were profoundly changed by their experiences of the risen Jesus.

7) The news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection became the heart of the message that these transformed followers and friends of Jesus proclaimed.

8) The message that Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected was openly and expansively declared, starting in Jerusalem, the very place where the events had occurred.

9) On the foundation of the message that Jesus had been crucified, buried, and resurrected, the early Church was born and built, and continues to this day.

That is a pretty good list of evidence to support an extraordinary claim. It is enough to convince me to trust the message of good news that the Apostle Paul declared:

“For I delivered to you first of all that which 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 was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

I find the evidence overwhelmingly convincing that Jesus was crucified for sin, died, was buried, was resurrected, and lives today. I hope you are convinced by this evidence as well.

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