12 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus, Part 5

Doorway to a tomb in a rock in the Holy Land

Does every historic movement emerge from a specific cause? If so, what caused the Christian religion to come into being? According to the original followers of Jesus of Nazareth, the church sprang into existence and was deeply shaped because of the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The first four parts of this series (see part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4) have catalogued five evidences for the resurrection of Jesus. This article will briefly consider two more important elements in support of the truth of the resurrection

6. Emergence of the Historic Christian Church

What initiated this religious movement that within 300 years dominated the entire Roman Empire and over the course of two millennia dominated all of Western civilization? In a very short time span, Christianity developed a distinct cultural and theological identity apart from that of traditional Judaism. According to the New Testament, the unique religion of Christianity came into being directly because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The extraordinary historical emergence of the Christian church needs an adequate explanation. According to the Christian Scriptures, the apostles turned the world upside down with the truth of the resurrection, and the historic church emerged. This is why many have called the historic Christian church the community of the resurrection.

But if the resurrection didn’t cause the emergence of Christianity, what did? There seems to be no other adequate natural explanation. Thus the heart of historic Christianity is found in the remarkable happenings of Easter Sunday.

7. Emergence of Sunday as a Day of Worship
The Hebrew people worshiped on the Sabbath, which is the seventh day of the week (measured from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). Nevertheless, the early Christian church (which was viewed initially as a sect of Judaism), gradually changed the day of their worship from the seventh to the first day of the week (see Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; “the Lord’s Day”: Revelation 1:10). For the early Christian church, Sunday uniquely commemorated Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

Sustained reflection on Christ’s resurrection to immortal life transformed Christian worship, uniquely influencing the formulation of the sacraments of the early church (baptism and communion), and thus it distinguished the Christian faith in its theology and practice from traditional Judaism. Apart from the resurrection, no reason existed for early Christians (as a sect of Judaism) to view Sunday (the first day of the week) as having any enduring theological or ceremonial significance. The resurrection of Jesus therefore set historic Christianity apart from the Judaism of its day. That same truth of resurrected life sets the faith apart from all other religions through the centuries.

So the happenings of Easter Sunday—Jesus’s resurrection—explains two things well: First, why the Christian religion emerged as a historical movement; and second, why Christians worship on a different day of the week from the Jews. And, in turn, both of these historical elements support the factual nature of Jesus’s resurrection.

Reflections: Your Turn

Many believers describe their Christian faith in very personal terms. But why is it important to also understand that Christianity was a dynamic historical movement?

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  One thought on “12 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus, Part 5

  1. April 11, 2017 at 5:08 am

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

    • April 11, 2017 at 9:29 am

      Thanks for the reblog, Vincent.

      Ken Samples

      • April 11, 2017 at 12:05 pm

        You’re very welcome Ken, love your blog 😎🙏

  2. Dan
    April 11, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Gotta be careful using reason #6. Mormonism and Islam have persisted throughout the years but we can’t say that’s evidence of the historicity of their claims

    • April 12, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Dan:

      Yet the historic emergence of Islam and Mormonism also need an explanation. The appropriate question is which religion can genuinely back their claims.

      Ken Samples

      • Russell W. Aubrey
        April 12, 2017 at 5:56 pm

        I tend to agree with Dan on this one. Islam and Mormonism spread quickly without a resurrection claim. It would be the last I would appeal to, for the reason just stated. If someone wanted to challenge the Christian on this point, it would take an hour, at least, to try to answer your “genuinely back their claims.” counterargument. It would be unnecessary mud in the water.

      • April 12, 2017 at 6:17 pm

        Russell:

        Historic Christianity arose almost exclusively because the apostles claimed having eyewitness experiences with Jesus. A mere crucified (dead) Messiah would be viewed by Jews as a false prophet and as cursed by God. So the resurrection appears to be the central cause of Christianity’s sudden emergence.

        Islam has experienced enormous growth through the centuries but I think the causes are more diverse. Yes, Muhammad claimed to have had divine visions and verbal messages, but his success also had to do with military and political factors as well as combining a broad religious culture.

        The LDS church has experienced significant growth over almost two centuries. But again the cause seems broader than that of Christianity. Joseph Smith’s life seems deeply at odds with that of a holy prophet.

        I’m not arguing that quick or significant growth make religious truth-claims true. I’m arguing that without Jesus’s resurrection I see no reason why Christianity would emerge as a significant religious movement within Judaism at all.

        I hope this helps clarify the point of my argument.

        Happy Easter.

        Ken Samples

      • Russell W. Aubrey
        April 12, 2017 at 6:48 pm

        Thank you for your insightful answer, Dr. Samples.

        I think I’ve always agreed that this is a chance to bring up the story of the resurrection, and any method that can be used to do that is dead-on target. I just think it opens up needless-to-deal-with challenges. A good card but perhaps better left for last. It is a blessing to have this wonderful series, thanks to you.

      • April 13, 2017 at 10:15 am

        Thanks, Russell.

        Best regards.

        Ken Samples

    • April 12, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks, Stephen.

      Ken Samples

  3. April 12, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    This is a good post.

    • April 12, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks, SlimJim.

      Happy Easter.

      Ken Samples

  4. Rita Gorski
    April 13, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Christianity became a dynamic movement clearly due to the claims of Jesus, those claims being fulfilled, and His resurrection, as no other man has done. Other than that, nice man, but, oh well. If comparing with other movements such as LDS and Islam, what do those individuals they’re based on have to show for themselves? Virtually nothing compared to Jesus, nor the integrity of their holy writings. As for answering someone’s skepticism about Christianity’s claims, it may take an hour if someone is genuinely interested, but a few minutes of seed throwing to others may suffice as the Holy Spirit takes over influencing their hearts, and others throwing more seed.

    • April 13, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Thank you, Rita, for your helpful contribution to the conversation.

      Happy Easter.

      Ken Samples

  5. Douglas Savage
    April 16, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    I respectfully disagree with reason #7. Forgive me if my explanation as to why is a bit long, but I wanted explain it fully.

    Matthew 26:17, 27:62, and 28:1 tell us that Jesus was crucified and resurrected in a year when the Preparation day of the Passover was on the 4th day of the week, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 6th. During the years Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, this occurred once, in 33 AD when the Passover began late on the 5th day, just 2.5 hours before sundown (prior to the Diaspora the Passover began when the full moon appeared over Jerusalem on Nisan 15).

    Hence: Wednesday was the Preparation Day; Thursday the Day After the Preparation Day; Friday the High Sabbath (Feast of Unleavened Bread); and Saturday the weekly Sabbath (Feast of First Fruits).

    Since the Sabbath laws begin at the end of the day of Preparation, and continue to the end of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, followed by the weekly Sabbath, a 72 hour period was covered that week.

    All 4 Gospels record Jesus was crucified on the Preparation Day,(John 19:31 explicitly states for the High Sabbath).

    Matthew 28:1 properly translated from the Greek is: “After the (two) Sabbaths, as it dusked towards the first day of the week…”). When the first set of women (those who came to mourn at the tomb) arrived at sundown Saturday night, Jesus was already resurrected.

    Conclusion: Jesus was crucified on the Preparation Day, and resurrected 72 hours later on the weekly Sabbath.

    I would suggest a better explanation for the emergence of the Lord’s Day, as an addition, not a replacement, for the weekly Sabbath, was it allowed Jews and Gentiles to worship together, something they couldn’t do on the Sabbath.

    • April 16, 2017 at 11:26 pm

      Douglas:

      Greetings.

      I’m curious, are you a Sabbatarian? I’ve interacted with many Seventh-day Adventist scholars in my theological and apologetics career. With all due respect (and I indeed respect Christians who keep the Sabbath), Sabbatarians engage in some interesting attempts to rescue the Sabbath. I don’t know any major evangelical New Testament scholar who believes Jesus rose on the Sabbath day. It is the first day of the week (Sunday) that is the day of Christ’s resurrection.

      The consensus of historic Christianity is that Sunday was totally unique with the early Jewish Christians and that Sunday was to commemorate the resurrection. See D.A. Carson’s book From Sabbath to Lord’s Day.

      Happy Easter!

      Best regards in Christ.

      Ken Samples

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