Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. All four canonical Gospels are testimonials to the evangelists’ powerful belief that Jesus was miraculously raised from the dead. Resurrection was the central theme of the apostles’ preaching in the book of Acts. And St. Paul went so far as to say that “if Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:7).
The centrality of the resurrection in Christianity is amazing when you consider that there are no scientific or historical grounds for believing in it. Keep in mind, no one even witnessed the resurrection itself, arguably the most important event in salvation history. The New Testament reports various postmortem sightings of Jesus, seemingly very much alive, but nobody was actually in the tomb to see what happened to Jesus’ body. And the scriptures also report that some people believed the disciples stole his corpse (Matt. 28:13). Could the resurrection be a fanciful story made up to console grieving disciples or, even worse, to dupe credulous people?
Why should we believe in the resurrection? The late New Testament scholar George Eldon Ladd answered this question, at least for himself:
In the end, I accept the biblical witness to the resurrection not because of logical proof or historical reasoning, but because of an inner quality of the gospel, namely, its truthfulness. It so overpowers me that I am rendered willing to stake the rest of my life on that message and live in accordance with it. My faith is not faith in history but faith in the God who acts in history. It is faith in God who has revealed himself to me in the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, and in his resurrection, who continues to speak to me through the prophetic word of the Bible. (I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, 140)
To that I say, Amen! Happy Easter.