When we were homeschooling, our entire family read Case for Christ for Kids.
Then we read Case for a Creator for Kids and Case for Faith for Kids. It’s fair to say that I now believe that if there is a kid’s book about something, it’s generally my preferred read over an adult book.
I love reading. I even love reading dense theological texts, long and detailed articles about how the nervous system works, thick stacks of data regarding community needs. Sometimes, though, you need plain speaking and simple explanation.
The thing I liked most about the Case for Christ for Kids (and the adult version) was the emphasis on eyewitnesses and what that means for the Gospel.
Even if we had little to no historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God would still be God and salvation in Christ alone would not change. Our faith would not have to exist in a vacuum. These books opened my eyes, by helping me open the Scriptures to discover for myself just how much eye-witnessing went on after Jesus’ resurrection. There wasn’t one disciple involved, or two, or twelve.
There were hundreds of witnesses to the resurrection reality of Jesus Christ.
The purpose of the study today isn’t to convince you of that reality. Lee Strobel and many others are available to help you open the Scriptures for that. Rather, today we’ll focus on something different—the Resurrection is intimately connected to witnesses and witnessing.
This changes everything about the place of faith in our life. Faith isn’t just personal and individual. It was meant for sharing. Faith, by its nature and connection to the Resurrection, is something we experience and communicate about together, as the people of God.
To convince you of the community orientation of the Gospel message, in our post-resurrection reality, read 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 and note, circle, or underline just how many witnesses you can find:
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
This passage strikes me as fun for math people. It maps out as an upside-down pyramid of witnesses, with Cephas, also known as Peter on the bottom, the twelve disciples standing on his shoulders with their own witness experiences, and then 500 (yes, did you catch that…500!) witnesses of the Resurrected Jesus. Next came James, then more apostles/disciples, and lastly Paul had a supernatural Resurrected Jesus sighting during his conversation experience on the Road to Damascus, just in case we thought it had to happen a certain way. It doesn’t. Again, God is God and He bears witness, even when it may or may not fit into our should-look-like-this understanding.
Just how many witnesses does the world need?
We see quickly in the next segment of 1 Corinthians 15 the work of the church witnessing to one another, and that is where you come in, my friend.
Please read 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 below. Consider, what hope is at stake here for the people, for the church?
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Paul writes this while many of the original witnesses to Christ were still alive (1 Corinthians 15:6). A testimony of 500+ strong and they still needed to be reminded to hold on to the hope that Jesus did in fact walk out of that tomb. That hope makes their lives New. We are not people to be pitied. We have hope when things look hopeless. We have Life when there only seems to be decay. We have forgiveness, when every thing we touch feels a little bit dirty.
Christ lives. Christ is risen. This hope stands strong with us for life today and for a greater life tomorrow. Who has witnessed to you in your life? Who has shone that Hope in and Life in and Newness in when you needed it?
Who would miss the message of “He is Risen” without your witness? God works despite our failures, but He uses our witness when we don’t even know. I am positive that all 500 of those brothers and sisters in Christ did not understand that their witness would be written down for you and I to read 2000 years later, to encourage us and give us strength for this day and bright hope for tomorrow.
I don’t know how many witnesses someone needs to believe, but I want to be one of them. May the Holy Spirit work in and through us today in ways we can’t even begin to understand to bring the witness of Hope to whoever He puts in our path.
500, 600, 7,000, 3 million…and you.
*Note: I am a member of the amazon affiliate program, so if you click on a link on my site and buy a book from Amazon, I do receive a small stipend. That isn’t why I load links onto my site. I do that so that you can find good resources. I absolutely only share links of products and resources I love and believe to be beneficial for each of you.