l. His death was certain
A. Joseph of Arimathaea came to Pilate the Governor after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and requested the privilege of burying his body. Pilate wondered if Jesus was already dead. Therefore, he sent a centurion, a leader of one hundred Roman soldiers, to verify the death of Jesus. A Roman centurion was fully capable of determining if death had occurred. The centurion returned to Pilate and confirmed Jesus was dead. See Mark 15: 43-45.
B. The Jews requested the bodies of Jesus and the two men crucified with Him to not remain on their crosses on the Sabbath day. They asked Pilate to send out an order for their legs to be broken in order to speed up their deaths. The soldiers broke the two legs of the men crucified on each side of Jesus. When they came to Jesus, they could see that he was already dead; therefore, they didn’t harm His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and immediately, blood and water flowed out—thus fulfilling the scripture “not a bone of Him shall be broken” and “they shall look on Him whom was pierced.” Once again, His death was substantiated by Roman soldiers. See John 19: 31-37.
C. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus, bound in its linen clothes, with about 100 lbs. of a mixture of spices, myrrh and aloes. They buried the body in a new sepulcher where man had never lain. They would never have taken these actions unless they were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was really dead. See John 19: 38-42.
II. His burial was secure
The Pharisees and chief priests reminded Pilate that Jesus had said, “After three days, I will rise again.” They requested that the burial place of Jesus be secured by the direct order of Pilate to prevent the disciples from stealing His body and claiming that He rose from the dead. Pilate granted their request, encouraging them to secure the tomb of Jesus to the fullest extent of their abilities. The tomb was sealed. The entrance was tamper-proof. If anyone was caught tampering with the seal, they would be punished with the full authority of the Roman government. A group of Roman soldiers, possibly as many as 10 or 12, was assigned to guard the tomb of Jesus to prevent anyone from stealing His body. They could even be put to death if they neglected their duties. See Matthew 27: 62-66.
III. His resurrection was confirmed
- Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, declared that Jesus Christ showed Himself alive for 40 days prior to His Ascension by many infallible proofs. He also spoke of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. See Acts 1: 1-3.
- Jesus Christ, following His death and resurrection, appeared to different people, at different times and places. One of the most significant post-resurrection appearances of Jesus is recorded by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-8. Here, Paul relates that Jesus was seen on one occasion by more than 500 Christians, and most of them were alive at the time of writing. There were more than 500 people who could therefore testify that they had seen Him alive after His death. Truly, this is irrefutable evidence that Jesus did rise from the dead.
- Prior to and immediately following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His disciples were fearful and hiding behind closed doors. However, once the disciples were thoroughly convinced that He was alive, they became willing to be beaten, imprisoned or even put to death for their faith. See John 20: 19 and Acts 4: 7-10.
- The fact that no one has ever been able to produce the dead body of Jesus confirms His resurrection.
- The growth of the early church in the city of Jerusalem and extending to the ends of the Earth certifies the resurrection of Christ Jesus. If anyone could have proven Jesus was dead, Christianity would have never grown outside the limits of Jerusalem.
- The vast number of lives changed by Jesus in various nations, races and ages attest to the truth of His resurrection.
- The unique influence of Jesus upon human history validates His resurrection. The late Dr. Bill Bright, founder and director of Campus Crusade for Christ International, which serves in 196 countries with 25,000 full-time staff and volunteers, has posed three questions to men of all religions, as well as atheists:
- In your opinion, who is the greatest leader the world has ever known?
- Who has done the most good for mankind?
- Who in all history has lived the holiest life?
The answer from most has always been the same—Jesus.
His followers have:
- Elevated womanhood
- Built hospitals an orphanages
- Sought to eliminate abortion, child abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling and pornography
- Been active in business (J.L., Kraft and J.C. Penny), law and government (George Washington began and ended the day in prayer and often quote the Bible in speeches and writings, and Abraham Lincoln sought the council of God) and the arts (Da Vinci and Michelangelo expressed Biblical themes in art and sculpture, Beethoven, Bach and Handel wrote music on spiritual themes and John
- Bunyun, Dante and Milton centered their literature on spiritual values).
Truly Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be, the Son of God, the unique Son of God. He was and is unique in His virgin birth, His virtuous life, His vicarious death, His victorious resurrection and His visible return in power and great glory.