The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
The Gospel was proclaimed for the first time by the Apostles at Pentecost. It had, of course, already been proclaimed by Jesus and its message is to be found in the writings of the Old Testament prophets, but the Apostles proclaimed it for the first time at Pentecost.
Pentecost is a Jewish festival which takes place fifty days after Passover. On this particular occasion the disciples had seen a vision of flames and had found themselves able to speak in foreign languages which they had not known before. They went out and began to explain the word of God to those around them.
The Apostles proclaimed their message many times. They proclaimed it in Jerusalem and took it to distant places, to Turkey, to Greece and even to Rome. It never changed. The main message was delivered by them in a series of speeches, summaries of which are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. These speeches have a common form. They begin with a section which comments on the circumstances in which the speech is given and then move on to a presentation of the core facts of the Gospel. At Pentecost a speech was delivered by the Apostle Peter, one of the foremost disciples of Jesus, who had travelled with him when he was teaching. The Gospel is summarised in Acts 2 and the core Gospel begins at verse 22.
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know — this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men". (Acts 2:22,23)
The Gospel begins and ends with Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was born more than 2,000 years ago in Judea and grew up in Galilee. At the age of about thirty he began to proclaim the Gospel, but after only three and a half years he was arrested in Jerusalem and condemned to death. He was taken to the place of execution and there killed by crucifixion.
But this is not the end. On the third day after the crucifixion, God raised Jesus from the dead.
"God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." (Acts 2:24)
This is the basic fact of Christianity. Jesus did not remain dead in the tomb. On the third day after the crucifixion the tomb of Jesus was empty and Jesus had been raised to new life by God.
The Apostles didn’t expect their hearers to believe this without reason. Peter provided evidence which shows that Jesus really did rise. The first evidence that he gives is a series of prophecies from the Old Testament. Peter shows that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is consistent with the predictions of the Old Testament.
He then goes on to the main evidence put forward by the Apostles. There are two kinds of evidence here, eyewitness evidence where people met Jesus alive after the resurrection and physical evidence - the evidence of the empty tomb.