"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and crucified and on the third day rise.'" (Luke 24:1-7)
Later Paul wrote, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me." (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
Why is the resurrection so important? Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:14: "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." The entire Christian faith rests on this one miraculous event in history. I believe we have good reason to believe that Jesus did rise from the dead, just as these eyewitnesses testify.
When we look at the many people to whom Jesus appeared alive, we see that most were severely mistreated, tortured and killed for their testimony of Christ's resurrection from the dead. If we look at human nature, we see that men and women do not willingly die for something that they know to be factually false. We certainly wouldn't see the mass commitment of so many testifying to the resurrection. These individuals had seen first hand the resurrected Christ and refused to state otherwise - even if stating otherwise would have saved their lives.
Considering the eyewitness testimony and understanding how strongly they held to their testimony has literally changed my life. It's given me great confidence in knowing that this event did in fact occur. And if this event did occur, it changes everything!