Why Did It Win?
Finally, Morison was bewildered by the fact that “a tiny insignificant movement was able to prevail over the cunning grip of the Jewish establishment, as well as the might of Rome. He explains,
“Within twenty years, the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish church… In less than fifty years it had begun to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire. When we have said everything that can be said… we stand confronted with the greatest mystery of all. Why did it win?”
By all rights, if there were no resurrection, Christianity should have died out at the cross when the disciples fled for their lives. But the apostles went on to establish a growing Christian movement.
Whatever one believes about the validity of Jesus’ resurrection, clearly “something happened” after his death that has made a lasting impact on our world. When world historian H. G. Wells was asked who has left the greatest legacy on history, the non-Christian scholar replied, “By this test Jesus stands first.”
What is that legacy? Let’s look at just some of Jesus’ impact:
- Time is marked by his birth, B.C.– before Christ; A.D. – in the year of our Lord.
- More books have been written about Jesus than about any other person.
- About 100 great universities were established to spread his teaching — including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia, and Oxford.
- Jesus’ teaching that all people are created equal laid the bedrock for human rights and democracy in more than 100 countries.
- The high value Jesus placed on each person regardless of sex or race led his followers to promote the rights of women as well as abolish slavery.
- Humanitarian works such as the Red Cross, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Mercy Ships and the Salvation Army were founded by his followers.
A Surprise Conclusion
In a reversal of his skepticism, Morison changed the title of his book to, Who Moved the Stone, which documents the evidence that persuaded him the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a true historical event.
Another scholar who wrote about evidence for Jesus’ resurrection was Dr. Simon Greenleaf, founder of the Harvard Law School. Greenleaf wrote the rules of evidence still used in our legal system today. Applying those rules to the events surrounding Jesus’ death, Greenleaf concluded that any honest jury would render a verdict that Jesus’ resurrection really happened. As with Morison, it was the sudden change in the disciples’ behavior that persuaded him. He writes,
“It would have been impossible for the disciples to persist with their conviction that Jesus had risen if they hadn’t actually seen the risen Christ.”
Jesus’ resurrection convinced his disciples that he was the Messiah who had died for our sins. He was “the only way to God,” and “the resurrection and the life.”
They now knew Jesus alone had the power over life and death, and they gave their lives proclaiming him as the risen Lord.
Although he was originally a skeptic, Oxford scholar C. S. Lewis explains how Jesus’ resurrection was unique among all events in human history.
“Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door which had always been locked had for the first time been forced open.”