For 2000 years, Christians have persistently claimed that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a Roman cross and laid in a carefully guarded tomb, dead—only for hundreds of eyewitnesses to see him physically alive again. It’s a claim that has echoed down through history and transformed countless lives. But can we really be sure it’s true? With clarity and biblical insight, Matthew Jensen takes us back to the most reliable sources and answers the questions that really matter: How do we know Jesus rose from the dead? What does the earliest evidence (the New Testament documents) say about these claims? What does the resurrection tell us about Jesus’ identity, and how should it shape our lives today? Whether you’ve been a Christian for many years, are new to the Christian faith, or are still investigating the extraordinary claims around Jesus, these studies will open your eyes to the life-changing truth about the resurrection.
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Table of contents:
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Cor 15:17)
The resurrection of Jesus is at the very heart of the Christian faith. Without it, our faith is futile and we are still in our sins.
When asked about what they believe, most Christians would begin by explaining Jesus’ death for sin and his resurrection. The apostle Paul’s gospel message shows how central the resurrection is in the earliest proclamation of the gospel. His gospel message also includes a detailed list of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after he was raised from the dead, clearly establishing the fact that Jesus was raised (1 Cor 15:5-8). For Paul, it was very important that Jesus was raised from the dead and that there were people who could testify to seeing him. In a world where there are many objections to Jesus’ resurrection, we need to know this evidence and have confidence in the historical reliability of this fact.
Also, almost every speech in Acts by the apostles is about what the resurrection means and how important it is. The apostles taught that Jesus’ resurrection changed the whole order of the world. The resurrection meant that God had finally acted to fulfil his promises to Israel (Acts 13:32-33).
But the resurrection of Jesus does not seem to be as earth-shattering for many people today. It can begin to seem like an ancient event with little relevance for us today. Even for Christians, the truth and importance of the resurrection can be lost.
These studies aim to bring us face-to-face with the resurrection. The studies are split into two parts. The first part looks at the eyewitness evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. The second part explores what Jesus’ resurrection means for Christian living, hopes and certainty.
Each study in the first part investigates the resurrection appearances of Jesus found in one of the four gospels, building up a table of the appearances and eyewitnesses. In the appendices at the back of this booklet you will find some extra material on the evidence for the resurrection, a timeline for the empty tomb’s discovery, and some extra material on Jesus’ resurrection appearances.
After looking at the evidence for the resurrection, we will then move on to consider what the resurrection means for Christians today. For example, what does the resurrection tell us about who Jesus is, and about how we should respond to him? What is the relationship between Jesus’ resurrection, our resurrection and the gift of the Spirit? How does the resurrection shape our lives?
My prayer is that these studies will give you great confidence that “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead”, and that “in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:20, 22). May these truths shape your life in every way.
— Matthew Jensen, October 2013