It is written:
“But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:39-40)
Jesus declared that the sign (miracle) of His resurrection from the dead would be the sign that would be given to a skeptic to help him see that He is, indeed, the Son of God. This fits perfectly with the statement of Paul that by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power (Romans 1:4).
But is the evidence of the resurrection powerful enough to convict an unbeliever that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God?
We could ask the Apostle Paul and James, the half-brother of Jesus, who were both skeptics of Jesus-until the encountered Him after He arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
However, in this study, we are going to ask Jeffrey Morrow.
Who is he?
According to him:
“Did Jesus rise from the dead? I still remember that fall evening back in 1997 when I attended my first Bible study. One of the Bible study’s leaders had read from 1 Corinthians where St. Paul stated emphatically that if Jesus never rose from the dead, then the Christian faith is in vain. At the time I self-identified as a Jewish agnostic. I was a skeptic. I listened attentively and I debated forcefully. I was convinced that nothing like what Christians claim concerning Jesus’ resurrection could actually have happened in reality.” (Jeffrey L. Morrow, Jesus’ Resurrection: A Jewish Convert Examines the Evidence (Principium Institute Historical Background to the Bible Book 1), 79-85 (Kindle Edition); Toledo, Ohio; Principium Institute)
Morrow was a very skeptical skeptic. He believed that Christianity would be able to be disproven easily. However, he became increasingly anxious when he saw through the arguments of many opponents of Christianity, and their failure to in any way effectively answer the defenses of Christianity. He tells of one of his most powerful memories:
“One of the pivotal moments was when my Bible study leaders arranged for me to participate as a panelist in an open forum debate on Christianity. I protested that I didn’t believe any of this stuff. They asked me to do it anyway, because I knew the arguments better than anyone available. In the end I agreed but only because I hoped that I might find someone in the audience who could help me disprove Christianity. So I presented the basic claims of Christianity, and I gave some of the more powerful arguments in its favor. There were a number of students present, from all different majors, including graduate students. At one point one of the graduate students shouted, “you’re only arguing this because you already believe in Christianity.” At which point, I shot back, “no I don’t, I’m Jewish and an agnostic. I don’t believe any of these, but I was hoping I could find somebody to help me shoot it down.” I didn’t dare add, “at this point, it seems the Christian arguments are most persuasive,” because I wasn’t ready to admit that to myself.” (Jeffrey L. Morrow, Jesus’ Resurrection: A Jewish Convert Examines the Evidence (Principium Institute Historical Background to the Bible Book 1), 169-174 (Kindle Edition); Toledo, Ohio; Principium Institute)
After carefully examining the arguments for the resurrection of Christ and the skeptics objections, what did he conclude?
“The fact that Jesus’ followers believed Jesus had been raised bodily from the dead coupled with the fact that the tradition identifies women as the first to discover Jesus’ body missing, supports about as conclusively as anything in ancient history, that Jesus’ tomb was in fact empty. The fact of the burial and empty tomb, coupled with the numerous accounts of the actual appearances of the risen Jesus, make it likely that He rose from the dead. If we were to limit ourselves to historical investigations governed by the canons of modern historical inquiry, then we would have to conclude, along with the Jewish scholar Geza Vermes: “in the end, when every argument has been considered and weighed, the only conclusion acceptable to the historian must be that . . . the women who set out to pay their last respects to Jesus found to their consternation, not a body, but an empty tomb….The Orthodox Jewish historian of the New Testament, Pinchas Lapide, for one, eventually came to the conclusion, through studying the historical accounts offered in the Gospels in light of the historical evidence, that Jesus actually rose again from the dead. Lapide writes that, “I accept the resurrection of Easter Sunday not as an invention of the community of disciples, but as an historical event.” Lapide never became a Christian, and he explicitly denied that Jesus was God or the Messiah, but he believed simply that, based upon the historical evidence, God raised Jesus from the dead.” (Jeffrey L. Morrow, Jesus’ Resurrection: A Jewish Convert Examines the Evidence (Principium Institute Historical Background to the Bible Book 1), 639-651 (Kindle Edition); Toledo, Ohio; Principium Institute)
My friends, Jesus arose from the dead, after having died for our sins and being buried in the tomb.
Today, He extends mercy and forgiveness to all believers who will repent of their sins and join Him in the watery grave of baptism, where each will be washed clean of their sins by the blood of the Lamb (Romans 6:3-4).
He also reaches out to those Christians who have backslid back into the world, offering to forgive their sins if they will simply return to Him in repentance and prayer (1 John 1:7-2:2).
We stand ready to assist you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.