Jesus’ trial before the Roman governor, Pilate, in John 18 is fascinating. Pilate’s primary concern was the political threat Jesus might pose to Rome’s power and at the end of Jesus’ interrogation Pilate announced, “I find him not guilty.” (John 19:6)
Wanting to free Jesus, Pilate reminded the gathered crowd about the annual Passover custom where he released a prisoner. However, the malicious religious leaders stirred the crowd to demand violent revolutionary Barabbas be freed instead. How ironic for the crowd to demand the release of a man they knew was guilty and the death of a man they should have known was innocent.
Jesus was betrayed by one of his own men and abandoned by most of his disciples. At noon on the cross as he was dying, the sky grew dark and remained black for the next three hours. At the moment of his death an earthquake occurred. (Matthew 27:45, 51)
The unexpected events surrounding his death and the way Jesus died made such an impression on the Roman captain responsible for his crucifixion that he said, “Surely he was the son of God.” (Matthew 19:54)
The story of the cross is amazing on many levels, but Jesus’ resurrection is even more remarkable. The religious leaders behind his death demanded a Roman guard be placed at his tomb, inadvertently making his resurrection more believable by providing Roman witnesses.
At a time when women were not considered dependable witnesses, the first eyewitness of the resurrection was a woman. Jesus had predicted his resurrection to the apostles, but even so, they initially refused to believe he was alive. If the story were mythical, a woman would not have been the first witness, and his followers would have believed her immediately.
However, after Jesus appeared to the apostles they were so convinced he had been resurrected that ten of them would be martyred for their claim that Jesus was alive. Many throughout history have died for a lie, but if Jesus was not resurrected, these men were executed for something they knew was not true.
These are a few of the reasons scholars like Simon Greenleaf of the Harvard Law School and John Singleton Copley, one of the most respected legal minds in British history, have argued that the evidence for the resurrection is irrefutable.
You may also be surprised to learn that even in our increasingly secular society according to Lifeway Research’s 2020 State of Theology study, 66% of Americans still believe Jesus’ resurrection as described in the Bible is “completely accurate.”
Here is why the resurrection matters. If God was strong enough to resurrect his Son after he had been dead for three days, he can help you with any impossible problem you face in life. This is one key reason Easter is a holiday worth celebrating.