By Judy Brandon: Local columnist
Daddy, Susie and I faithfully used to watch “Dragnet.” Jack Webb was a no-nonsense kind of guy and a skilled investigator. He was focused on getting the facts right. He said many times over in that series, “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.”
Did Jesus really die? Did he really rise on the third day? Do we know that a man called Jesus lived 2000 years ago, and really died and came back to life? What are the facts?
My father was a preacher. Although he died more than 25 years ago, I still have some of his sermon and study notes in boxes. In one of those boxes is where I found a single page torn from a book. There was no book title, just a single page in reference to the facts of the resurrection of Jesus.
A skilled investigator would take notice. Here are those facts:
1) Jesus prophesied that he would die, but also said that he would rise again.
2) Jesus really died on the cross. The Roman soldiers verified that he was dead on the cross. Even Josephus, the Jewish historian and a nonbeliever, spoke of the event in his historical account, and wrote about the people in Jerusalem and how they reacted over the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion.
3) The Roman soldiers confirmed that Jesus was dead because they took his body down off the cross.
4) Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate ordered that it be given to him. He took the bound body of Jesus and buried it in a new tomb that he owned.
5) No one believed, when word spread early on the third day, that Jesus had risen. Even his disciples did not believe.
6) The Jewish leaders were so threatened by the news that Jesus had risen that they immediately started a cover-up story. With no explanation for why his body was gone, they were frenzied to tell the story in their favor.
7) Because Roman law mandated that the tomb be sealed, the authority of the Roman law was behind the decree. Yet in spite of the tomb being guarded, the seal was broken and the stone was rolled away.
8) The angels announced that he had risen.
9) Even though the body of Jesus was not in the tomb, his grave clothes remained.
10) Jesus was not there!
11) No Roman officer and no part of the mighty Roman army located Jesus’ body.
12) Jesus was seen by scores of people after his resurrection day.
13) Jesus showed his wounds to Thomas.
14) Sometime after, Jesus appeared where the disciples were fishing, and they all had breakfast by the Sea of Tiberias.
15) Jesus stayed on earth for 40 days after his resurrection.
16) Jesus’ disciples were utterly changed after they met the risen Christ. In fact, they became even more zealous about the Gospel, and many died martyrs’ deaths because of their loyalty.
17) All the first Christians believed Jesus had risen from the dead. When they went about telling everyone about Jesus and his life, the resurrection was the focus of their preaching.
My father has been dead for 25 years. But he based his faith on the facts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and I know I will see him again because I base my life on those same facts!
For those who cannot believe, think about the evidence, the facts.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org