For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)
What if Jesus didn’t live, die, and come back to life? What if this whole Jesus thing is just a story that was made up? What if none of it is real? If that’s the case, then those who claim to be followers of Christ have a lot of problems.
First, if there is a god, then those who follow Christ have been leading others away from the real god for a long time, and they will need to answer for what they’ve done. Secondly, the people who have placed their trust in Christ’s death for the forgiveness of their sins have believed the wrong thing for a long time. If there is a god, then they haven’t appeased him the way they need to, and they are now dead in their sins. Finally, the hope that followers of Christ have placed in their loved ones being taken to heaven because of their trust in Him have been hoping in vain. Why? Because all of this rests on whether or not Jesus came back from the dead.
But consider this: how did this faith now known as Christianity make it beyond the first century? Why are we still talking about a lowly, Jewish carpenter nearly 2000 years after his death? How, in spite of the efforts of many Jews and the Roman government, did Christianity survive? Paul and the others who were witnesses of Jesus resurrection were convinced of what they saw. Jesus appeared to more than 400 people at one time after his death. Some have claimed that these people were simply hallucinating, but 400 people don’t have the same hallucination at the same time. They believed they saw something, and this belief was the catalyst behind everything they taught. It’s the same catalyst today behind everything the church should be teaching: Jesus lived, He died, and He came back to life – in so doing He brought forgiveness for the sins of those who are willing to trust Him.