Christianity is based on the event of Jesus’ resurrection. Eyewitnesses seeing Jesus after he died and was buried provide further proof that Jesus had risen from the dead. In fact, many people encountered Jesus after his resurrection from the dead.
Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.
Mary Magdalene encountered the resurrected Jesus and reported back to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18). Other women were with Mary Magdalene, and “Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him.” (Matthew 28:9).
Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus not only walked and talked with the resurrected Jesus but also had a meal with him (see Luke 24:13-34). They immediately returned to Jerusalem to inform Jesus’ disciples that they had encountered Jesus after His resurrection. Jesus also appeared to his disciples while Cleopas and another disciple shared with them.
Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched. Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things.
That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!
Thomas was not present with the disciples when Jesus appeared to His disciples, so Jesus returned eight days later.
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
Peter and other disciples decided to go to the Sea of Galilee fishing. Jesus appeared to them and ate breakfast with them.
“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus told them to meet Him.
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
In Acts (written by Luke) and 1 Corinthians (written by Paul), both men, who were not Jesus’ original twelve disciples, whole-heartedly testify that Jesus resurrected from the dead and was seen by many others who could testify of His resurrection.
During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
Paul most likely wrote 1 Corinthians before any of the gospels were written, within five years of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul records the early teachings passed to him that he is now writing about to the early church in Corinth. Still, Paul had already been in Jerusalem with the apostles after his Damascus Road encounter with the resurrected Jesus. Later, Luke recorded about Jesus’ resurrection, which further provides evidence of Jesus’ deity. Jesus established his divinity by rising from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
I [Paul] passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He [Jesus] was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I [Paul] also saw him [resurrected Jesus].
Paul tells these new followers of Jesus in Corinth that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, their faith would be useless, and they are still living in their sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). And suppose Jesus’ resurrection did not happen as all these people witnessed and testified as true. In that case, anyone who believes in Jesus is to be pitied more than anyone in the world (1 Corinthians 15:19) because they believe in a lie and cannot trust Jesus.
But the opposite is true – because Jesus did rise from the dead, you can trust Jesus with your life, and you can believe Christianity is true because it is based on the event of Jesus’ resurrection. Because Jesus conquered death through His resurrection and He is alive, you can encounter the resurrected Jesus and have eternal life with Him.