“I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead . . .”
Christianity is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20; John 5:39; Revelation 19:10). The central and foundational doctrinal claim of Scripture is that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Today we consider two subtle “twin witnesses” to these amazing facts. First, to prove that the redemptive ministry of Christ was indeed prophesied by God’s servants of old, the New Testament writers pointed to passages from the Old Testament. They insisted that Christ was not only the promised Deuteronomy prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18-19; John 1:45; Acts 3:22-23; 7:37), but that His death and resurrection were pointed to as well (Acts 2:23-31; 13:33-37 cf Psalms 2:7; 16:9-11). Here is the wisdom of God on display. These passages can indeed be taken to predict and point to Christ and His redemptive work. Even so, it is difficult to imagine anyone interpreting them this way before His coming. This is sort of like watching our kids grow up into adults. We notice certain traits, strengths, and weaknesses as they grow and develop, but we can’t imagine what they will end up doing later in life. Years later, after they’ve moved out and established their careers, we begin to see how their childhoods actually provided pretty good indicators of where they were headed; what is now obvious was invisible at the time. The New Testament authors’ use of the Old Testament is proof positive that they did not “invent” a Jesus to fulfill Old Testament prophecy. Rather, knowing about His blessed life and ministry, they went into the Old Testament looking for references to Him. This is, I think, astounding evidence for the historical reliability of the New Testament. The second witness to the factual nature of Christ’s death and resurrection is the Gospel’s insistence that it was a group of women who first discovered the Lord’s empty tomb (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24). The empty tomb is an important piece of evidence showing that the Lord’s post-resurrection appearances (the first of which was to Mary Magdalene; Mark 16:9) were not mere hallucinations. In that culture, women were often considered less than men; their testimony was not even admitted in court of law (how shocked Christ’s disciples were when they found Him treating the Samaritan woman with love and respect cf John 4:27). God in His wisdom chose to make women His star witnesses in His case for the resurrection of His dear Son. What was an awkward fact for the apostles proves to be an unlikely invention also, and another piece of powerful evidence for the veracity of Christianity’s claims.