I finished Tim Keller’s book King’s Cross this week. I read it slowly and with my Bible open; I’ve greatly enjoyed this study. And then my pastor began a series on the book of Mark, so I’ll be studying this book for a while longer. Tim Keller has some good one-liners, but I usually find the extended passages and arguments to be the most helpful and interesting. Here’s a quote from the last chapter, “The Beginning.”
“Paul mentions five appearances of the risen Christ, including five hundred people at one “sighting.” Seven appearances are recounted in the four Gospels. And Acts 1:3-4 tells us that for forty days Jesus appeared constantly to numerous groups of people. the size of the groups and the number of the sightings make it virtually impossible to conclude that all these people had hallucinations. Either they must have actually seen Jesus, or hundreds of people must have been part of an elaborate conspiracy that lasted for decades. Paul suggests to his readers that they can go and talk to any of the five hundred witnesses they like. If this was a hoax, it would have had to last for years, and each of the dozens of conspirators would have had to take the secret to his grave.
Moreover, there has to be some explanation for how the cowardly group of disciples was transformed into a group of leaders. Many of them went on to live sacrificial lives, and many of them were killed for teaching that Jesus had been resurrected.
Three fundamental lines of evidence intertwine to convince us that Jesus rose from the dead: the fact of the empty tomb, the testimony of numerous eyewitness, and the long-term impact on the lives of Jesus’s followers.
Jesus had risen, just as he told them he would. After a criminal does his time in jail and fully satisfies the sentence, the law has no more claim on him and he walks out free. Jesus Christ came to pay the penalty for our sins. That was an infinite sentence, but he must have satisfied it fully, because on Easter Sunday he walked out free. The resurrection was God’s way of stamping PAID IN FULL right across history so that nobody could miss it” (218-219).