(1) Can you discoun
resurrec tion of Jesus?
I can’ t. The trouble is, if the resurrec tion did no t happen, one has to answer the following ques tions regarding Jesus dea th and the subsequen t founding of Chris tiani ty wi th a be t ter explana tion than the resurrec tion:
a. Who was Jesus? - All his
sources of the time agree tha t Jesus really lived and died. Chris tian sources affirm his iden ti ty
in the gospels; the Jewish his torian Josephus affirms his exis tence and those of his followers; Cornelius Taci tus, a Roman His torian, affirms tha t Jesus really lived and died under the reign of Pon tius Pila te.
Several o ther la ter his torians, wri ters, and philosophers assume Jesus’ exis tence.
tus wri tes regarding the persecu tion of Chris tians by Nero: “Bu t no t all the relief tha t could come from man, no t all the boun ties tha t the
prince could bes tow, nor all the a tonemen ts which could be presen ted the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagra tion, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged wi th guil t, and punished wi th the mos t exquisi te tor tures, the persons commonly called Chris tians, who were ha ted for their enormi ties.
Chris tus, the founder of the name, was pu t to
dea th by Pon tius Pila te, procura tor of Judea in
the reign of Tiberius; bu t the
pernicious supers ti tion,
repressed for a time broke ou t again, no t only through Judea, where the mischief origina ted, bu t through
the ci ty of also.” (Annals XV.44) Rome
tus is in comple te agreemen t wi th gospels on the time period of the exis tence and dea th of Jesus of Nazare th.
to sa tisfy the crowd, Pila te released Barabbas for them, and af ter having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified” (Mark )
took Jesus, therefore, and He wen t ou t, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew,
Golgo. There tha they crucified Him and wi th Him two o ther men, one on ei ther side, and Jesus in be tween.
Pila te also wro te an inscrip tion and pu t i t on the cross.
I t was wri t ten, Jesus the Nazarene, The King of the Jews.” (John 19:17-19)
te summoned the chief pries ts and rulers of the people, and said to them, ‘You brough t this
man to me as one who inci tes the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him
before you, I have found no guil t
in this man regarding the charges which you make agains t Him…Bu t they
were insis ten t, wi th loud voices asking tha t He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail.
And Pila te pronounced sen tence tha t their
demand be gran ted.”
(Luke 25:13-14, 23-24).
b. Why was
the tomb emp ty? – all par ties ( the disciples and those opposed to Jesus) agreed tha t Jesus’ Tomb was emp ty on Eas ter Morning.
The disciples claimed Jesus resurrec ted, the Jews tha t opposed Jesus claimed tha t the
body was s tolen.
c. Why did
the church s tar t in ? – The church began in Jerusalem based on Jerusalem the fac t of the resurrec tion. This
is recorded by Luke in the book of Ac ts, and is corrobora ted by Taci tus in the quo te above.
Since Jesus was crucified in , why would people believe in Jerusalem the resurrec tion if the loca tion of His dead body was readily known? Why would the disciples of Jesus s tar t a religion based on false informa tion in the same loca tion where tha t informa tion could readily be refu ted? If there was no resurrec tion, i t would have been smar ter, obvious ra ther, to s tar t a new religion based on false informa tion in a differen t loca tion.
d. Why did all
the disciples suffer persecu tion and ul tima tely dea th for their proclama tion of the resurrec tion? – People of ten lie for some type of personal benefi t for themselves; money, power, fame, e tc.
People even die for lies which they believe to be true.
However, people do no t
of ten lie in order to lose ma terial possessions and have their lives threa tened, when they made up the lie and know i t to
be false. In the face of opposi tion, the tru th will come ou t. Why
did all 12 disciples never change their s tory in the mids t of opposi tion? Why
were all of them willing to die for their message?
e. Why did
the resurrec tion accoun ts rely heavily on the tes timony of women?
- Women in tha t cul ture had li t tle au thori ty as cour troom wi tnesses.
If the early Chris tians wan ted to crea te a fabrica tion, they would no t have used the voice of women to help propaga te the s tory.
f. Why did devou
t Jews abandon their beliefs in order to follow Jesus? – To follow Jesus as God was
considered blasphemy by the religious au thori ties tha t were no t convinced tha t Jesus was the Messiah.
g. Several al
terna te theories have been proposed in order to evade the conclusion of the resurrec tion. My
convic tion is tha t all of these explana tions fail to accoun t for all the fac ts surrounding the resurrec tion, and none of them carries the explana tory power tha t the
resurrec tion i tself holds.
terna te explana tions tha t have been proposed are (the following is an adaptation from Duane Morris' "On Reasonable Ground" lecture notes - www.onreasonableground.org):
i. They wen
t to the wrong tomb
– this explana tion fails to accoun t tha t the
Jews confirmed tha t the
tomb was emp ty (Ma t thew 28:11-15). I t also fails to recognize tha t Jesus body was buried in the family tomb of Joseph of Arima thea (Luke -55), a well-known Jew and member of the Sanhedrin.
I t would be easy to recognize if the disciples wen t to the wrong tomb because Joseph of Arima thea’s tomb would have been rela tively easy to loca te based on his public posi tion. I t also fails to accoun t for the belief held by the early disciples, tha t they
had seen the resurrec ted Jesus, a belief tha t they
promo ted to their dea th. Fur thermore, who would have believed the disciples tha t Jesus had resurrec ted, when they easily could have back checked the s tory and found tha t Jesus was lying dead in Joseph’s tomb? Ins tead we find tha t thousands
of devou t Jews in conver Jerusalem ted and became the firs t Chris tians.
ii. Jesus was really buried in a mass graveyard for execu
ted criminals. Again, this posi tion fails to accoun t for the only his torical s tory tha t Jesus was buried in Joseph of Arima thea’s tomb and tha t all par ties agreed tha t the
tomb was emp ty on Eas ter morning.
I t fails to accoun t for the appearances of Jesus to the disciples tha t convinced them to begin preaching the gospel in ; fails Jerusalem to accoun t for the conversion of Jews to Chris tiani ty in the only ci ty where the cen tral fac ts in favor of Chris tiani ty could be easily refu ted.
William Lane Craig poin
ts ou t tha t since we find no o ther burial s tory, in denying the burial s tory, “One is reduced to denying the his torici ty of one of the mos t s traigh t forward and unadorned narra tives abou t Jesus and giving credence to imaginary al terna tive s tories tha t don’ t exis t.” ( Craig
William Lane. The
Son Rises. 1981. p63.)
iii. The disciples were Hallucina
ting. This explana tion accoun ts for the appearances of Jesus to the disciples, bu t does no t have an explana tion for the emp ty tomb, which is par t of the equa tion tha t one is trying to explain.
Fur thermore, i t is highly unlikely, nay I say impossible, tha t all of the disciples would have had the same hallucina tion a t the
same time. Hallucina tions are generally priva te experiences, and cer tainly no t where everyone has the same hallucina tion a t the
iv. He never
truly died. Known as Swoon Theory, this is the belief tha t Jesus merely passed ou t and was revived in the cool tomb. Bu t come on people! - He was flogged, bleeding ou t, crucified by trained execu tioners, s topped brea thing, double checked wi th a spear thrus t to the hear t sac, ye t wasn’ t dead?
The idea tha t he would have recupera ted in the tomb (had he even been alive before tha t poin t) wi thou t medical supplies, wa ter, or food, is absurd. Crucifixion involves an excrucia ting, painful process ei ther resul ting in dea th by asphyxia tion or cardiac arres t. You
can only fake a dea th by crucifixion for as long as you can hold
your brea th; which isn’ t very long.
Jesus never would have made i t pas t the
roman execu tioners.
v. Graverobbers s
tole the Body. Ancien t graverobbers don’ t s teal bodies, they s teal jewels, clo thes, or any thing of value a t tached to bodies.
This accoun t also fails to address how the graverobbers would have made i t pas t the
roman guard (several trained soldiers); does no t accoun t for the mar tyrdom of the disciples or mass conversion of Jews.
vi. The Disciples s
tole the body. The original coun ter explana tion, which claims tha t the
disciples lied in order to s tar t a new religion. Wha t would they have to gain?
Money, Power, recogni tion? There cer tainly would have been an incen tive. Bu t wha t did they ac tually gain?
Pover ty, persecu tion, and ul tima tely dea th. So this explana tion does accoun t for the emp ty tomb, bu t does no t explain why the disciples would die for a lie tha t they
ini tially crea ted. Fur thermore, i t fails to accoun t for the unlikelihood tha t the
disciples could ge t pas t the
roman army to access the body.
tion accoun ts for all the fac ts the bes t? Apologist Duane Morris explains, "If an
explana tion fails to accoun t for some of the fac ts, then i ts “Explana tory Power” is deficien t rela tive to an explana tion which accoun ts for all the fac ts. If no
o ther explana tion accoun ts for all the surrounding fac ts, the one which does necessarily possesses the mos t 'Explana tory Power.'" Which theory explains the emp ty tomb, the transforma tion/mar tyrdom of the disciples, the church s tar ting in , and Jerusalem the conversion of a large number of devou t Jews? Only
the Resurrec tion explains all the fac ts which follow the crucifixion of Jesus.
this begs the ques tion, why did Jesus have to die and rise from the dead?
Perhaps there has been no grea ter amoun t of wri ting done on this subjec t than
any o ther in human his tory. I’ll
give the shor t answer:
For you. Chris t died for your sins, and rose again, so tha t you wouldn’ t have to pay the penal ty for your own sins, so you wouldn’ t have to face the consequences of falling shor t of God’s perfec t s tandard, which is an e ternal spiri tual dea th. He
rose again so tha t we migh t rise again to newness of life and e ternal life.
This is a free gif t given to anyone who relies upon Jesus for i t. Salva tion, forgiveness of sins, and e ternal life is some thing tha t is unearned and unearnable. I t is impossible to earn God’s favor, i t mus t be accep ted as a free gif t through
the work of Jesus on your behalf. Those who try to earn God's favor and a place in heaven by being a "good person" are deceived as to man's nature and their own moral and spiritual batting average.
"Because by works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for their is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:20-24)
t can man bring to the table, in order to be in righ t s tanding wi th God? Only
sins! Al though we deserve dea th, wha t does God provide and offer for man? Love, mercy, and grace, accomplished through His Son who died and rose on our behalf.
Have more ques
tions abou t the
resurrec tion? Con tac t: