Did anyone see Jesus after He rose from the dead who could testify to the event?
One of our guest speakers was Dr. Ron Rhodes, the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.
Dr. Rhodes' topic at our conference was "The Truth of the Resurrection" (watch). He did a remarkable job in the following segment of listing the many, many reliable testimonies authenticating Jesus' resurrection as an actual event.
Many Who Bear Witness
All of what's been recorded concerning Jesus' resurrection comes to us from reliable testimony. I wish I had two hours to spend on this alone, because what we have documented in Scripture is only as good as the witnesses. That is why I would like to spend a lot of time, but let me just give you a quick summary.
For forty days Jesus appeared to reliable witnesses on 12 different occasions. And, on two of those occasions, He showed the very scars from His crucifixion. He even appeared to over 500 people at a single time.
Let me just share with you a summary that I came up with:
- Mary saw, heard and touched Jesus Christ.
- Mary and the women, according to Matthew 28 saw, and heard, and touched Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 15 indicates that Peter saw and heard Him.
- Luke 24 says, "The two disciples saw and heard Him."
- Luke 24 goes on to tell us that the 10 Apostles saw, heard and touched Him.
- The 11 Apostles are said to have saw, heard, and touched Him according to John 20.
- In John 21, seven apostles saw and heard Him.
- All the apostles according to Matthew 28 saw and heard Him.
- 500 brethren at the same time saw and heard Him.
- James, the half brother of Jesus, according to 1 Corinthians 15 saw and heard Him.
- All the apostles in Acts 1, saw and heard Him, and even ate with Him.
- In Acts 9, Paul had a rude awakening when he encountered the risen Christ and he saw and heard Him.
Now, this is just a brief testimony here, a brief summary. The thing of this is, all these people that were appeared to were typically schooled in Judaism and they were taught, "Thou shalt not bear false witness." They were taught, "Thou shalt not lie." These were honest people and all these people combined constitute an incredible body of evidence and a body of witnesses. In any court of law, if you had this number of witnesses come forward and give a testimony, it would be case closed. Nobody would argue with it.
Here is a very significant fact. Now, when I use the word "significant" let me tell you, it is significant. This is a very significant fact — Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. Jesus appeared first to a woman.
Why was Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene first significant? It is significant because it is a highly significant indicator of the authenticity and the reliability of the Resurrection account. The reason I say that is if the Resurrection was fabricated by the disciples, nobody would make it up that way, just nobody would make it up that way. The thing of it is, is that woman were looked down upon among the Jews. In fact, they actually had a prayer back then that said, "Lord, God, I thank thee, that I am not a Gentile, a woman, or a dog." So, you see, women were looked down upon. Of course, when Jesus came on the scene, Jesus changed all of that. Jesus stood against the way that the Jews were treating women back then. But, nevertheless, woman were held in low regard. They didn't have any authority in terms of a court of law. Nobody would ever call a woman to a court of law because their testimony was considered worthless. That's the scenario that I want to paint for you as you understand the significance of Christ appearing first to Mary Magdalene. If somebody was making it up they would never make it up this way. They would make it up by having Christ appear to Peter or one of the other disciples. And yet, the biblical text of Mark 16:9 says, "he appeared first to Mary Magdalene," because that is the way it actually happened. Mary then went on to tell the disciples the glorious, good news. So, this is the beginning point. The very fact that Christ appeared to Mary really indicates that what we read in the New Testament is a reliable testimony, and not fabricated.
Don't miss this, this is really important. Only the Resurrection can explain the transformation of the disciples. Only the Resurrection can explain the transformation of the disciples.
The disciples came away from the crucifixion frightened and full of doubts. They were discouraged. They were depressed. The life had been just sucked dry out of them. They had no hope for the future. But, following the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, their lives were virtually transformed. That is to say they suddenly braved opposition that they wouldn't have before such as cynicism and ridicule. They suffered hardship and prison and even death. Some of them were tortured to death, and some of their family members were tortured to death. What is it that caused them to become so fearless overnight? It was the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.