Christianity is based on the event of Jesus’ resurrection. All four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) present three core components of Jesus’ death and burial.
- Joseph of Arimathea takes Jesus’ body and lays Jesus’ body in a tomb.
- Three days later, Mary Magdalene and other women arrive at Jesus’ tomb and find Jesus’ tomb empty.
- An angel is present to declare Jesus has risen from the dead.
Even after a closer exploration of the gospels, some secondary details about Jesus’ burial are different among the four gospels. Still, all three core components are consistent regarding Jesus’ burial. Jesus was declared dead. Jesus was buried, His body placed in a tomb, and then His body was not in the tomb. Below is some evidence to support that Jesus rose from the dead.
The witness of women
All four gospels record women as the first witnesses at the empty tomb. In Jewish history, women were not allowed to be legal witnesses in a Jewish court. All four gospel authors were of Jewish heritage and knew the status of women in the culture at the time. Their inclusion in the biblical narrative lends credibility to the fact that women were actually present at the empty tomb, meaning the gospel writers recorded the events as they happened. Each author recorded the events about the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection, including the women’s direct testimony and their own witness of the events.
The examination by Peter and John
Peter and John investigated the empty tomb separately and after the women. They both are direct witnesses of the empty tomb.
“It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.”
The writings of Paul
Paul’s conversion was followed by early Christian teachings about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, probably by followers of Jesus living in Damascus. Paul wrote churches about Jesus’ resurrection within five years of its occurrence.
The investigation of Paul
Paul visited Jerusalem to meet with Peter and James to investigate the trustworthiness of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul demonstrated diligence in his desire to know the truth about Jesus’ resurrection from Jesus’ disciples, those who are eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus.
The preaching of Paul
Paul preached in Antioch, testifying to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Acts 13:26-33) and his letter to the church in Corinth and the churches of Galatia declaring Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 and Galatians 1:3).
“Brothers—you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles—this message of salvation has been sent to us! The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath. They found no legal reason to execute him, but they asked Pilate to have him killed anyway. “When they had done all that the prophecies said about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead! And over a period of many days he appeared to those who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to the people of Israel. “And now we are here to bring you this Good News. The promise was made to our ancestors, and God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus.”
The testimony of Peter
Peter preached in Jerusalem, testifying to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
Acts 2:22-24, 32
“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. …. God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.”
The tomb was empty, and Jesus had been resurrected, but did anyone actually see Jesus after He was resurrected?