Question: How would you address high school or even junior high students (perhaps even unbelievers) about the resurrection? How would you point out the particulars of doing history?
Answer: I might try to get them to think through the subject along with me, by asking: how do we know when something happened in history? For example, how do we know that the Magna Carta was really signed, or that Julius Caesar or George Washington ever lived? Ask what sorts of criteria we would need. Point them in the direction of needing good records, especially those by eyewitnesses. Reading someone’s account of walking and talking with Washington would be a good example. A copy of the Magna Carta would be nice, etc. Maybe write these historical criteria on a board or somewhere.
Then tell them that we have that sort of evidence for the resurrection–many reliable writings, eyewitnesses like the apostle Paul, an empty tomb (archaeology), possibly the Shroud of Turin (more archaeology), and so on. Attempts by critics don’t disprove this event. So what we are left with is that Jesus died by crucifixion and his disciples believed they saw him afterwards. Virtually every critic admits these two facts. But here’s the key: since natural hypotheses don’t explain these two facts, as these same critics usually admit, now we’re pretty close to a resurrection.
Further, we have the disciples’ transformations due to their beliefs. These high school students would probably like to hear details about how some of these disciples died for the resurrection message. This proves the sincerity of their beliefs. Tell them that two ancient critics, James the brother of Jesus and Paul, both were unbelievers before they met the risen Jesus.
After making a simply but exciting case, I would tell them that if Jesus rose from the dead 2000 years ago, then this message is still relevant and can change their lives today. If God raised his Son from the dead and God was in charge of the world in 30 AD, then he is still in charge today. This says something about pain and suffering, for example. And the New Testament repeatedly links the resurrection to the believer’s resurrection and eternal life (almost 20 times in the New Testament). Then I would leave them with my testimony–as a real example of life having meaning. It’s so crucial today that young people see the connection between truth and their needs–that Christianity really answers their personal questions. I think it can all be done in an exciting and interactive manner. If the students get their questions answered too, this makes it all the better.