Romans 1:4 tells us that Jesus Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” The resurrection of Jesus, more than perhaps any other single event, demonstrates to mankind the Deity of Jesus of Nazareth.
People being raised from the dead, while not an everyday occurrence in Bible times, certainly happened occasionally. Jesus raised Lazarus, the widow’s son at Nain, the daughter of Jairus, and perhaps others (John 11; Luke 7:11-15, 22; 8:49-56). None of these individuals are thought to be “gods” because they were raised from the dead.
The case of Jesus is plainly different. As Jesus lies in the tomb, there is no human standing outside calling him to come forth, no one taking Him by the hand and commanding Him to arise. His body lies alone in Joseph’s new tomb and the tomb is sealed and closely guarded. No human even witnesses His actual resurrection — when the angel rolled away the stone the guards “became like dead men” (Matthew 28:4). Jesus’ resurrection was accomplished directly by the power of God. The fact that “God raised up” Jesus is declared many times in the Book of Acts (2:24, 32; 3:13; 4:10; 10:40; 13:30, 37). And it is this fact that identifies Jesus as the Divine Son of God.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred in such a way as to leave men with physical and testimonial evidence of it. The details of this evidence give us striking proof of the authenticity of the resurrection, and thus of the Deity of Christ. Consider the following details:
The tomb was new and no one had been laid to rest there before (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51). There was no possibility of getting Jesus’ body confused with the remains of another, or failing to remember where it had been placed in a tomb that housed many corpses.
The tomb was sealed with a large stone and guarded. (Matthew 27:60-66). Grave robbers or others could not have taken the body.
The grave clothes were left neatly in the tomb. When Peter and John went into the tomb after the resurrection, they “saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.” (John 20:6-8). Who would steal a body and take the time to unwrap it and neatly fold up the clothes? Who would not take the expensive grave wrappings if they had been raised from the dead? (Perhaps Someone who knew that He would never need them again!)
The scars in Jesus’ resurrected body were examined. On the very evening of the day He was raised, Jesus appeared to His disciples and “showed them His hands and His side” (John 20:20). While wounds in the hands could be observed on anyone who had been crucified, Jesus’ wound in His side was somewhat unique. It offers gruesome evidence not only of His identity, but also of what His now living body had once endured.
Many saw Him alive. The number of witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection makes it all the more credible. In a court of law, facts can be demonstrated on the basis of two or three reliable witnesses. Many, many more than that saw the resurrected Christ, including the apostles, Mary Magdalene, Cleopas, James, 500 brethren at once, and finally the apostle Paul.
The detailed and reliable evidence we have been given for the resurrection of Jesus should make it all the easier to believe that it occurred. And believing in the resurrection of Jesus is the key to our salvation and the cause for our commitment to Him. “Knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:14).
— Steve Klein