Up From the Grave He Arose

April 13, 2017

by J. Gresham Machen

Please enjoy the following excerpt from The Person of Jesus by J. Gresham Machen (published by Westminster Seminary Press):

The truth is that the origin of the church in Jerusalem is explicable if Jesus really rose from the dead, and it is not explicable if he did not so rise. The very existence of the Christian church is a mighty testimony to the resurrection of our Lord. But, it will be objected, that is all very well, but the trouble is that the thing we are asked to believe is really unbelievable. We are asked to believe that a dead man rose from the dead, and we have never seen a man who did that.

What is our answer to this objection? It is very simple. You say, my friend, that you have never seen a man who rose from the dead after he had been laid really dead in the tomb? Quite right. Neither have I. You and I have never seen a man who rose from the dead. That is true. But what of it? You and I have never seen a man who rose from the dead; but then you and I have never seen a man like Jesus.

You and I have never seen a man who rose from the dead; but then you and I have never seen a man like Jesus.

Do you not see, my friends? What we are trying to establish is not the resurrection of any ordinary man, not the resurrection of a man who is to us a mere x or y, not the resurrection of a man about whom we know nothing, but the resurrection of Jesus. There is a tremendous presumption against the resurrection of any ordinary man, but when you come really to know Jesus as he is pictured to us in the Gospels you will say that whereas it is unlikely that any ordinary man should rise from the dead, in his case the presumption is exactly reversed. It is unlikely that any ordinary man should rise; but it is unlikely that this man should not rise; it may be said of this man that it was impossible that he should be holden of death.

The point is that this thing hangs together. We have in the Gospels an account of a person who was entirely unique. He was totally different from other men in his moral purity and strength. Yet he made the most stupendous claims—claims that place him beyond the bounds of sanity unless the claims were true. The claims are true if the resurrection really happened; they are a hopeless puzzle if the resurrection did not happen.

Do you see what I am driving at, my friends? The evidence of the truth of Christianity must be taken as a whole. The direct evidence for the resurrection must be taken together with the total picture of Jesus in the Gospels, and then that must be taken in connection with the evidence for the existence of God and the tremendous need of man which is caused by sin. If you take the Bible as a whole you have a grand consistent account of God, of the world, and of human life. If you reject the Bible, and particularly if you reject the fact of the resurrection, you have a jumble of meaningless and detached bits of information that dance before your imagination in a wild and riotous rout.

Oh, that God would open men’s eyes that they might see, that they might detect the grand sweep and power of his testimony to himself in his Word! Oh, that he would take away the terrible blindness of men’s minds! Has he taken away the blindness of your minds, my friends? Do you know the risen Christ today as your Savior and your Lord? If you do not yet know him, will you not bow before him at this hour and say, “My Lord and my God!”

This post is adapted from J. Gresham Machen, The Person of Jesus, (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 2017), 99–101. Used with permission of the publisher.

J. Gresham Machen

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