Jesus was whipped with a cat-o-nine-tails, beaten with sticks and crowned with thorns. Large spikes were driven into His hands and feet and He was in incredible pain every time He slightly moved his body. His torture was so brutal that He lasted only a few horrible hours on the cross, instead of the days it took most people to die during crucifixion. Yet, when God wanted an animal sacrificed, they were humanely sacrificed and never tortured. This is because Jesus had to take the sins of humanity on Him and suffer the most He could possibly suffer without dying instantly. Before Jesus's arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to God and asked Him if there was any other way. The Bible mentions Jesus "sweated blood" as He prayed. This makes perfect sense when you understand that there is a condition called "Hematidrosis," It is a rare, but very real medical condition where one’s sweat contains blood. The sweat glands are surrounded by tiny blood vessels. These vessels can constrict and then dilate to the point of rupture where the blood will then effuse into the sweat glands. It is caused by extreme anguish. Jesus knew the suffering He would have to endure, but He obeyed God and went through with it. However, I believe the greatest suffering Jesus endured was while He was on the cross, God the Father turned His back on Jesus and allowed Him to die. During those few hours I believe Jesus was heartbroken and cried out to God, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46 God loves us so much that He turned His back on His only beloved and perfect Son Jesus and allowed Him to suffer and die on the cross for us, so that we may have life eternal.
The evidence of the resurrection is extremely important because if there was no resurrection than Jesus was merely a good man or a Prophet at best.
1. The Empty Tomb of Jesus: Two major theories have been advanced by unbelievers: someone stole Jesus' body or the women and disciples went to the wrong tomb. The Jews and Romans had no motive to steal the body. Christ's Disciples proved to be too cowardly (they ran away when Jesus was arrested) and would have had to overcome the Roman guards to steal Jesus body. The women who found the tomb empty had earlier watched Jesus being laid there. They knew where the correct tomb was. Even if they had gone to the wrong tomb, the Sanhedrin could have produced the body from the right tomb to stop the resurrection stories. Jesus' burial cloths were left neatly folded inside, hardly the act of hurrying grave robbers. Angels also had said that Jesus had risen from the dead. Because Jesus had risen, there was no body to steal.
2. The Women Eyewitnesses: The women eyewitnesses are further proof that the Gospels are accurate historical records. If the accounts had been made up, no ancient author would have used women for witnesses to Christ's resurrection. Women were second class citizens in Biblical times. Their testimony was not even allowed in court. Yet the Bible says the risen Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene and other women. Even the Disciples did not believe Mary when she told them the tomb was empty. Jesus, who always had special respect for these women, honored them as the first eyewitnesses to his resurrection. The male Gospel writers had no choice but to report this "embarrassing" act of God's favor, because that was how it happened.
3. Jesus Apostles New Found Courage: After the crucifixion, Jesus' Apostles hid behind locked doors, terrified they would be executed next. But something changed them from cowards to bold preachers. Anyone who understands human character knows people do not change that much without some major influence. That influence was seeing Jesus risen from the dead and the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Jesus appeared to them in the locked room, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and on the Mount of Olives. After seeing Jesus alive, Peter and the others left the locked room and preached the risen Christ, unafraid of what would happen to them. They quit hiding because they knew the truth. They finally understood that Jesus is God incarnate, who saves people from sin and death.
4. Changed Lives of James and Others: Changed lives are more proof of the resurrection. James, the brother of Jesus, was openly skeptical that Jesus was the Messiah. Later James became a courageous leader of the Jerusalem church, even being stoned to death for his faith. Why? The Bible says the risen Christ appeared to James. What a shock to see your own brother, alive again, after you knew he was dead. James and the apostles were effective missionaries because these men had touched and seen the risen Christ. With such zealous eyewitnesses, the early church exploded in growth, spreading west from Jerusalem to Rome and beyond. For 2,000 years, encounters with the resurrected Jesus still go on today (dreams and visions) and have changed countless lives.
5. Large Crowd of Eyewitnesses: A large crowd of more than 500 eyewitnesses saw the risen Jesus Christ at the same time. The Apostle Paul records this event in 1 Corinthians 15:6. He states that most of these men and women were still alive when he wrote this letter, about 55 A.D. Undoubtedly, they told others about this miracle and who is Jesus. Today, psychologists say it would be impossible for a large crowd of people to have had the same hallucination at once. Smaller groups also saw the risen Christ, such as the Apostles, Cleopas and his companion. They all saw the same thing, and in the case of the Apostles, they touched Jesus and watched Him eat food. The hallucination theory is further debunked because after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, public sightings of Him stopped.
6. Conversion of Paul: The conversion of Paul records the most drastically changed life in the Bible. As Saul of Tarsus, he was an aggressive persecutor of the early Church. When the risen Christ appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, Paul became Christianity's most determined missionary. He endured five floggings, three beatings, three shipwrecks, a stoning, poverty, and years of ridicule. Finally the Roman emperor Nero had Paul beheaded because the Apostle refused to deny his faith in Jesus. What could make a person willingly accept, even welcome such hardships? Christians believe the conversion of Paul came about because he truly had encountered Jesus Christ, whom had risen from the dead.
7. They Died For Jesus: Countless people have died for Jesus, absolutely certain that the resurrection of Christ is an historical fact. Tradition says ten of the original Apostles died as martyrs for Christ, as did the Apostle Paul. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of early Christians died in the Roman arena and in prisons for their faith. Down through the centuries, thousands more have died for Jesus because they believed the resurrection is true. Even today, people suffer persecution because they have faith that Christ rose from the dead. An isolated group may give up their lives for a cult leader, but Christian martyrs have died in many lands, for nearly 2,000 years, believing Jesus conquered death to give them eternal life.