How do we prove that Jesus rose from the dead? The first way to prove that something happened is through the testimony of witnesses who saw it happen. No one saw Jesus rise from the death, but a number of trustworthy people encountered him after his resurrection, and they have left a record that they saw him, and that he had truly risen from the dead. That record is the core of the four Gospels.
The second way to prove an event is to look at the impact that event had. We know Mount Vesuvius erupted because people wrote about it, but also because it buried Pompei under a layer of ash. We can apply the same evaluation to the resurrection: 1) the tomb of Jesus was empty and his body has never been recovered 2) the Roman guard would have made it nearly impossible for the body to be removed in any normal way 3) the Shroud of Turin corresponds in every way to the Biblical accounts of the crucifixion, and the image that is on the shroud was not made by any known method 4) a band of underfunded and uneducated disciples whose leader was a failure in every possible way somehow managed to convince a good portion of the world that he rose from the dead – if Jesus did not rise, Christianity is the greatest hoax ever pulled.
Another way to demonstrate that the resurrection is probably or very likely to be true is by showing that “Jesus Christ has risen from the dead” is the best explanation for phenomena that are happening right now. For example, Christian faith is based on a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, whether that happens through the Church or through the Bible or in some other way. Around 2.2 billion people belong to the Christian faith, meaning that an enormous number of people believes that at least one event in their life, if not many events, were an encounter with the living, resurrected Jesus Christ. This evidence is strengthened by the fact that many Christians live a serious prayer life, meaning that they believe they are in constant contact and conversation with Jesus every single day.
Another startling piece of evidence that Jesus is alive is the witness of those in consecrated life, that is, Christians who have promised never to marry because they feel that Jesus Christ has invited them to a spousal relationship with him. Some time ago there was an article in the popular news about a way of life in the Catholic Church known as consecrated virginity. This form of life is not as well known as priesthood or religious life, but the simplicity of this commitment makes it even more startling. You can see that article here. The woman in this article, Elizabeth Lee, was consecrated by her bishop as a bride of Christ, meaning that she will spend her whole life living like a single woman visibly speaking, but spiritually speaking living as a married woman who is in love with a patient and caring husband, Jesus Christ.
It is not a surprise that those who do not believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead have a hard time dealing with this sort of marriage. The suspicion against celibacy comes exactly from the direction of people who doubt that Jesus is alive. The popular media generally sees celibacy as an unnatural behavior, essentially another version of a woman who married herself in North Dokota, or the woman who married herself in Taiwan, an action that is some sort of unhealthy coping mechanism by people who cannot fit in in the normal way.
The Church treasures consecrated celibacy and virginity, because it is a witness to the Gospel. If consecrated virgins are actually healthy and happy and fulfilled just like any happily married woman, then we are left with one startling conclusion: Jesus must be alive, because Elizabeth Lee is happily married to him. +
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