David Hegg | He is Risen … He is Risen Indeed!

David Hegg
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs Saturdays in The Signal.

All around the world, Christ-followers greet one another on Resurrection Sunday, exclaiming, “He is risen.”  

Their fellow believers reply, “He is risen indeed!” But is the story true? Did Jesus of Nazareth die and then conquer death itself by returning to life? And if so, what are we to think about what would certainly be the grandest of all miracles? 

All four Gospel writers present the story of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. But could there be another explanation? Let’s explore the possibilities. 

Perhaps the tomb wasn’t empty? But, if so, wouldn’t the Romans have gathered it up and paraded it down the streets of Jerusalem and snuffed out the fledgling Christian movement before it even began? 

Well, then, maybe the tomb was empty, which presents several possible explanations. Let’s say Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. Maybe he slipped into a coma, and then the coolness of the tomb revived him, and he snuck out without the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb noticing. 

But that would mean the Romans, usually so efficient in crucifying and killing criminals, didn’t do so well this time. It would also mean that Jesus, having lost copious amounts of blood due to the pre-crucifixion flogging, nails through his wrists and feet, and the spear thrust to his side, actually recovered and woke up. Then, he would have had to roll a stone away from the tomb’s opening, which the women considered too big for them to remove (see Mark 16), and then either evade or overpower the Roman guards.  

Another popular explanation is that Jesus’ disciples stole the body. But think about it. Could these men, untrained in hand-to-hand combat, really overpower a squad of Rome’s finest? And if so, wouldn’t they have been hunted down and captured? But Peter and the others roamed around Jerusalem, freely declaring that Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son, had accomplished redemption for all who would believe. And is it reasonable to think these men, most of whom were martyred for their faith in Jesus, spent their lives proclaiming and then dying for what they knew to be a lie? 

The Bible records that Jesus appeared to many people after his resurrection, many of whom would have still been alive when the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke were written. Indeed, if the gospel writers were lying about the appearances, some would have come forward to say so.  

And finally, the biblical account of the resurrection is the most plausible reason that Christianity, committed to just 12 men in the beginning, has gone worldwide and continues to change lives today. Apart from his resurrection, is it reasonable to believe that Peter and the rest of the Apostles would have spent their lives as they did?  

The most reasonable, logical and plausible explanation is that Jesus rose from the dead.  

But now you may be saying to yourself, so what? Does it matter? The truth is, it matters more than anything else in life. The resurrection validates Jesus’ claim to be God the Son. As necessary, it finished the work of redemption Jesus initiated when he died to pay the debt of sin each of us owes to the court of Heaven. Without the resurrection, the cross is simply another instance of ancient martyrdom. But the resurrection of God the Son affirms the promise of God the Father that all who will turn from their sinful ways and entrust their lives to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will be fully forgiven, dramatically transformed, and eternally loved. Yes, it matters. 

Blaise Pascal, the 17th-century French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher and theologian, would often put forward a wager when discussing Jesus with skeptics. He put it this way: “If I believe the Gospel of Jesus is true and live according to his Word and ways, and it turns out I am wrong, I have lost nothing. But if you don’t believe the Gospel and choose not to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord, and you’re wrong … you’ve lost everything.”  

And so it is on Resurrection Sunday, Christ-followers everywhere will once again celebrate not only the empty tomb outside Jerusalem but also the entire message of Jesus, God the Son Incarnate, that continues to rescue and redeem all who turn to the Savior in repentance and faith, because, “He is risen … He is risen indeed!” 

Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. 

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