Let me share with you my favorite quote about Easter or the Resurrection of Jesus from William Lane Craig, one of the foremost Christian philosophers and theologians of our age:
Most people probably think that the resurrection of Jesus is something you just believe in, by faith or not, but there are actually three established facts recognized by the majority of New Testament historians today, which I believe are best explained by the resurrection of Jesus.
Fact #1: On the Sunday after His crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was discovered empty by a group of His women followers.
According to Jacob Kremer, an Austrian specialist, “By far most scholars hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.”
Fact #2: On separate occasions, different individuals in groups experienced appearances of Jesus alive after his death.
According to the prominent New Testament critic Gerd Lüdemann, “It may be taken as historically certain that the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.” These appearances were witnessed not only by believers, but also by unbelievers, skeptics, and even enemies.Fact #3: The original disciples suddenly came to believe in the resurrection of Jesus despite having every predisposition to the contrary.
Jews had no belief in a dying, much less rising, Messiah. And Jewish beliefs about the afterlife prohibited anyone’s rising from the dead before the resurrection at the end of the world. Nevertheless, the original disciples came to believe so strongly that God had raised Jesus from the dead that they were willing to die for the truth of that belief. N.T. Wright, an eminent New Testament scholar, concludes, “That is why, as a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.”
Attempts to explain away these three great facts—like the disciples stole the body or Jesus wasn’t really dead—have been universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. The simple fact is that there just is no plausible, naturalistic explanation of these facts. And therefore it seems to me the Christian is amply justified in believing that Jesus rose from the dead and was who he claimed to be.