Let’s start with some basic things what we do know with some certainty…
There is no serious doubt among contemporary historians regardless of their religious faith that Jesus was a real person who lived in Palestine in the First Century. We know that he was an itinerant teacher who traveled and taught throughout Palestine and who gathered disciples around him through the force of his personality and the compelling nature of his message. He was viewed by the Romans who occupied Palestine in those days as a religious radical and a disturber of the peace. He was arrested by Temple police and was finally executed by the Romans in the fashion of his day by public crucifixion.
Immediately after Jesus was arrested and executed his disciples were initially discouraged, disappointed and frightened. They feared for their safety as they contemplated the fact that they too might be arrested and killed. They abandoned Jesus to his fate and ran.
However some time shortly after his death the crushing sense of disappointment, frustration and defeat that his disciples experienced at the death of their leader suddenly gave way in the face of what we term the Easter Event – the life-transforming conviction that Jesus was alive in them.The Easter Event meant a radical transformation of their lives and commitments.
It is clear that the disciples had a resurrection experience through which their lives acquired a new meaning and importance. They interpreted this life-transforming experience as new life or a rebirth. This new life came with a sense of freedom that reoriented their priorities from things that were inconsequential to a new way of thinking about what was seriously important. They understood this to mean two things: they were to model their lives in the spirit of his life, and they were to carry on his teaching ministry about the kingdom of God and its implications for their situation. This new life demanded their commitment to continue the ministry of Jesus and to do so fearlessly and courageously.