Acts 2:22-24 (NKJV)
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—
23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;
24 Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”
As Peter preached his first sermon, the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection were still hot news, less than two months old. Jesus’ execution had been carried out in public before many witnesses. His empty tomb was available for inspection just a short distance away. If Jesus had not truly died, Peter’s message would have been laughed at or ignored. If Jesus had not been resurrected, authorities could have produced His body and put an end to this new faith.
Many do not believe in a historical Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary, and lived on the earth as a human being. In other words, Jesus Christ is viewed by some as simply a mythological figure. However, in addition to the New Testament, several ancient sources refer to the life of Christ. These include secular sources such as the writings of Cornelius Tacitus, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, Thallus, Pliny, Celsus, Lucian of Samosata, and Mara Bar-Serapion. Jewish sources include Flavius Josephus and the Babylonian Talmud. All these non-Christian sources refer to the life of Christ, His crucifixion, His death and His resurrection. In addition, archaeology alone proves that dozens of people mentioned in the Bible really lived. At least 50 different people in the Bible have been verified by real-life archaeological finds, and if all these people lived during biblical times, Jesus probably did too.
According to the apostle Peter, everyone there knew that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person. Everyone also knew that He was the Son of God because of the miracles, signs and wonders that God did through Him in their midst. Simply put, even the religious leaders who hated Jesus and the Roman soldiers who carried out His crucifixion knew that Jesus Christ was a real person who lived on the earth. Historical accuracy proves that Jesus lived.
There have been attempts to prove that Jesus never actually died. In other words, Jesus was only unconscious and later revived. However, not only did Jesus die, but details of His death are revealed in fulfilled prophesies. The phrase, “foreknowledge of God,” refers to prophecy about Jesus including His crucifixion and death.
The prophecy in Psalm 31:5 is fulfilled in Luke 23:46. When someone breathes their last breath, the medical profession pronounces them dead.
The prophecies in Exodus 12:46 are fulfilled in John 19:36. These scriptures in Exodus and Numbers are referring to the Passover Lamb, and in First Corinthians 5:7, the Apostle Paul states that Jesus is our Passover who was sacrificed for us.
The prophecy in Zechariah 12:10 is fulfilled in John 19:37. The Roman soldiers didn’t break Jesus’ legs because He had already died. One of them also pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, and blood and water came out, indicating that He was dead.
The prophecy in Isaiah 53:9 is fulfilled in Matthew 27:57-60. The phrase (in Isaiah 53:9), “And they made His grave with the wicked” refers to Jesus being crucified between two criminals. The phrase (in Isaiah 53:9), “but with the rich at His death” refers to Jesus being buried in Joseph’s tomb – the rich man from Arimathea. Prophetic proof confirms that Jesus died.
More than 100 prophecies found in the Old Testament were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Statistician Peter Stoner (Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969,109) reports that the probability of just eight of these prophecies about one person being fulfilled by chance is 1 in 100 followed by 15 zeros. Consider the chances of one person from the line of King David, being born in Bethlehem, entering Jerusalem on a donkey, being betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, crucified, buried in a rich man’s tomb and rising from the dead. Out of all the prophecies fulfilled in Jesus, more than 50 were fulfilled by His death and resurrection.
Jesus Rose from the Dead
One of the ways we know Jesus rose from the grave is because of the many appearances He made to numerous people after God raised Him from the dead. Here is a list of people who saw Jesus alive after His resurrection:
Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9), the other women at the tomb (Matthew 28:8-10), Peter in Jerusalem (Luke 24:34), the two travelers on the road (Mark 16:12-13), ten disciples behind closed doors (Mark 16:14), the disciples with Thomas (John 20:26-28), seven disciples while fishing (John 21:1-14), eleven disciples on the mountain (Matthew 28:16-17), a crowd of 500 (1 Corinthians 15:6), Jesus’ brother James (1 Corinthians 15:7), those who watched Jesus ascend into heaven (Acts 1:9) and the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8).
The reason for this exhaustive list is to validate that the best way to tell if someone is alive is to verify it by as many people as possible who saw the person alive both before and after they died. Physical evidence validates that Jesus rose from the dead.
Jesus is Alive Today
Peter is referring to Jesus in Acts 2:33, which reads: “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”
Not only has Jesus been raised from the dead, but He is now exalted at the right hand of God. Six different New Testament writers state that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God. This means that Jesus is alive and He is praying for you. Specifically, He is praying that His finished work would be manifested in your life. The finished work of Christ means that everything you need for the rest of your life has already been provided. The role of the Holy Spirit is to now manifest in your life the provision that Jesus died to give you.
Jesus is not only alive, but He sent the Holy Spirit to take His place on the earth (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:5). Through the work of the Holy Spirit, more than 2 billion people around the world call themselves followers of Jesus. Of these 2 billion people, many of them have had a personal experience that includes salvation spiritually, healing physically and deliverance emotionally. In other words, they are not the same people they were before, and many of them can’t give you a medical, scientific or even a logical reason why. These miracles of salvation, healing and deliverance are simply the work of the Holy Spirit and they continue to happen every single day all over the world. Personal experience testifies that Jesus is alive today.
50 days after the resurrection of Jesus, during the Jewish festival called Pentecost, Peter addressed the crowd and specifically pointed out four things:
- Everyone there knew that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person through whom God performed signs, wonders, and miracles.
- Everyone there knew that Jesus was crucified and that His death was part of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind.
- Everyone there knew that David spoke about the resurrection of Jesus in the Psalms nearly 1000 years before, proving that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah.
- Everyone there was a witness to the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead and is alive today.
All of this evidence overwhelmingly supports the fact that Jesus Christ is risen; He is risen indeed!