The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead resulted in changed lives of those who witnessed it. Profound differences are seen in the behavior of those who saw the resurrected Lord that are inexplicable if He did not rise from the tomb.
The apostles who had followed the Lord during His earthly ministry had all claimed that they would die before they forsook Him (Mark 14:31). However, in that fearful encounter with the mob Judas led to the garden later that Thursday evening, they all forsook Him and fled (Mark 14:50). Though Peter followed from a distance, when pressed, he thrice denied any involvement with Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 26:69-75). This lack of bravery displayed on the part of the apostles is suddenly changed by the time of Pentecost, fifty days later, when Peter and the rest of the apostles stand up before a vast multitude to preach Jesus Christ to those who were guilty of crucifying Him (Acts 2:14, 36). What is the reason for this dramatic difference? Peter explains in Acts 2:32, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” Because the apostles were witnesses of Christ’s resurrection they were going to boldly proclaim Him to everyone beginning at Jerusalem, then moving to Judaea and Samaria, and finally to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8).
The fleshly family of Jesus was also changed by His resurrection. Though Mary had kept the things prophesied concerning her son in her heart and pondered them (Luke 2:19), the other children of Mary were not so thoughtful during Christ’s ministry. After challenging Jesus in opening verses of John 7, an explanation is given in verse five that even His brothers did not believe in Him. James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, half-brothers of Jesus Christ, were antagonistic toward Him during His life. However, in Acts 1:14 the record states, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Thus, along side the apostles who witnessed resurrection appearances, the fleshly family of Jesus Christ was continuing in prayer, evidently believing and being persuaded that He was the Son of God who rose from the dead to save all mankind including them. James, the brother of the Lord, wrote the book of the New Testament that bears his name. He identifies himself not according to his fleshly connection to Jesus Christ, but rather by stating, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” (James 1:1). He now identified Jesus Christ, not as he once did: a half brother he did not believe in, but as the Lord. A similar attitude is reflected in Jude 1:1, where Jude (Judas) identifies himself as, “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James….” What can account for this but the fact that Jesus’ resurrection made believers out of his doubting kin?
Finally, we should not neglect to mention Saul of Tarsus, one of the most remarkable cases of a changed life due to appearance of Jesus Christ. An avid opponent of Jesus and His followers, Saul was present at the first recorded Christian martyrdom, keeping the garments of those who stoned Stephen (Acts 7:58). Saul was zealous in his persecution of Christians, dragging men and women out of their homes and committing them to prison for following Jesus (Acts 8:3). It was on a mission to bring any Christians he found in Damascus bound back to Jerusalem, that the Lord appeared to Saul blinding him while opening his eyes to the spiritual truth that Jesus Christ is Lord (Acts 9). Saul would spend the remainder of his life suffering for Jesus (Acts 9:16). Why? The resurrection of Christ changed him and gave him hope (Acts 17:18; 23:6).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ changed the lives of these people; it can change yours too (Romans 6:8-9).