There are some who even today propagate the theory that Jesus' disciples didn't really see a physically resurrected and living Jesus after his crucifixion and burial. Some believe that the disciples just made everything up. This isn't a new theory. The Jewish leaders said basically the same thing to cover up the empty tomb in Matthew 28:13. It sounds logical. Even as a pastor, I have been to many funerals and never once witnessed a body get up out of a casket and walk off! The problem is that those who believe the disciples made up Jesus' resurrection have a worldview that doesn't allow for miracles. Instead of being close minded, we should examine the facts and allow them to lead us where they may, to the truth.
III. Eyewitnesses: the writers of the Bible saw the things they wrote about, and refused to give up their testimony, even in the face of persecution and martyrdom.
One of the most powerful confirmations that the Bible is reliable and trustworthy is that the Bible is an eyewitness account of historical events. In 1 John 1:1-3 the disciple John states, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." John is reminding us, over and over again, that he and the other disciples merely recorded everything they had seen, heard and even experienced through physical touch (nail holes and pierced side included) about the life of Jesus. They were not making this up!
In fact, we can know for certain that they did not make any of this up. The certainty comes by knowing that eleven of the disciples became martyrs. They did not give up their testimony of the truth even in the face of persecution and eventually death. The logic is as follows. If they made everything up about Jesus' resurrection, then they would know it themselves to be a lie. The problem is, no one in the history of the world has ever died for a lie they knew to be untrue. You could even picture them breaking under the threat of death. The disciples would have said, "wait a minute guys, I was just kidding! There's no need to kill me, because I made the whole thing up!" Well, that is not what happened thanks be to God! The disciples told the truth and then gave their lives for that which they knew to be true, so you can be confident that it is true yourself. Human beings will only die for that which they know to be certainly true and the disciples who witnessed Jesus resurrection told the truth and were willing to die for that truth.
We also know that the witness of martyrdom of the early church was so powerful that it won over the very empire that persecuted Christianity, killed the disciples and cheered the death of Christians in the gladiatorial pregame shows. In 315 AD, the Roman Empire made Christianity legal through the Edict of Milan. Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and from that time on, the faith that had previously been persecuted became the dominate religion. How can this be? How can the most powerful empire be won over by a faith that never fought back? The only explanation is the power of the truth with which it stood upon and even was willing to die for, rather than give up!
"And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also." Revelation 6:11