A Crisis of Belief: Believing In Jesus And His Resurrection (Proof that Christ Resurrected)
John 11:25-26 : Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus Christ – undoubtedly the most influential person in history – was both fully human and fully God. According to John 14:6,” Christ is the Truth, the Way, and the Life. No man cometh to the Father except through Christ”. “God so loved the world”, He purposed Christ to be crucified and resurrected three days later to pay the penalty for our sins. If you follow the precepts of Romans 10:9-10, you will be saved. This involves “openly declaring Christ is Lord and believing God raised Him from the dead”. Yes, contrary to what many skeptics say, Christ did resurrected, proving He is deity of God. The only question remains: Is He the Lord of your life?
The following website, https://y-jesus.com/what-impact-has-jesus-had-on-the-world/, cites some examples of how the life of Christ has impacted this world today. They include the following:
a. More books have been written about Jesus than about any other person in history.
b. Nations have used his words as the bedrock of their governments. According to Durant, “The triumph of Christ was the beginning of democracy.”²
c. His Sermon on the Mount established a new paradigm in ethics and morals.
d. Schools, hospitals, and humanitarian works have been founded in his name. Over 100 great universities — including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia, and Oxford – were begun by his followers.³
e. The elevated role of women in Western culture traces its roots back to Jesus. (Women in Jesus’ day were considered inferior and virtual nonpersons until his teaching was followed.)
f. Slavery was abolished in Britain and America due to Jesus’ teaching that each human life is valuable.
More than anything, Christ has given a spiritual freedom to those who accept Him as their Savior. Sin separated man from God, giving every human a death sentence in hell after life on Earth. However, as Romans 5:8 states: “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” Christ’s crucifixion paid the penalty for our sins as Christ was the Lamb of God who lived the perfect life we should have lived, and died the death we should have had to experience. God loves you so much that He made His perfect Son become the substitute for our sins, so you don’t have to experience hell, and also, so you and God can someday spend eternity in heaven forever in intimacy (as well as on Earth). John 3:16 reinforces this truth: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Your free will must first choose to accept this free gift of God in order to receive it. Love cannot force a gift to be received by someone; it must be accepted by the receiver of the gift. If you reject God’s gift by not accepting Christ as your Savior, you will be doomed to hell, be forced to live without God’s perfect provision, joy, and peace, not experience intimacy with the Father, and not go to heaven in the afterlife. Only God’s peace can truly satisfy the void inside our souls. True joy and contentment can be experienced by you if you become a Christian. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
In John 14:6, “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” What Christ did on the cross is the only way to get to heaven and to escape hell. Christ on the cross, during His crucifixion, is symbolic to the Biblical passage of Numbers 21:5:9 (where Moses made “a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole, and those Israelites who were bitten by a fiery serpent, looked at the bronze serpent, shall live.”) “Look at the pole in faith and you will live” was the concept back in Numbers 21:5-9. The same principle follows with Christ being on a pole called the “cross” during His crucifixion: Look at the cross in faith and you will live (have freedom). John 3:14-15 says, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” That was the purpose of Christ’s crucifixion.
Please read Plan of Salvation on this website to see how to become a Christian.
According to Romans 10:9-10, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” “Declaring Jesus is Lord” first require understanding that Christ is deity (both fully man and fully God) and that He is the Lord of your life. (Nobody is perfect in having God consistently being the Lord of your life, but you should have desire in your heart to become a Christian. Once saved, you can never lose your salvation.) Believing that Christ resurrected is also an essential to getting saved. The remainder of this article talks about the deity of Christ and His resurrection.
Colossians 2:9 states the following: “For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.” Christ had all the unique characteristics of God (sovereignty, judgment, divine authority, forgiveness of sins, and preexistence). ”Though he was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11).
“Christianity is the only religion which stands or falls by supposed historical happening.” Michael Grant
In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, the Apostle Paul says: “But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” Basically, “if the resurrection didn’t happen, Christianity would be false and untrustworthy in nature”.
If Jesus hadn’t been resurrected, none of following would be possible.
a. Sending of the spirit (Acts 2:33)
b. Physical healings (Acts 3:15-16)
c. Conversion of sinners (Acts 3:26)
d. Salvation by union with Jesus (Acts 4:11-12)
f. Jesus’ role as the leader of his church (Acts 5:30-31:9)
g. Forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:30-31)
h. Comfort for the dying (Acts 7)
i. Commissions of the gospel messengers (Acts 9-10:42)
j. Freedom from the penalty and power of sin (Acts 13:37-39)
k. Assurance that the gospel is true (Acts 17:31)
l. Our own resurrection (Acts 17:31)
m. Jesus’ future judgment of this world (Acts 17:31)
(Warnock, RC 113-116) Evidence That Demands A Verdict.
The resurrection of Christ proves Jesus is the Son of God; all His teachings are true; every sin of the Christian is forgiven; there is life after death; miracles happen; and thus, God is real! Since the Bible teaches us many aspects of life and about God, there is more certainty about our futures. Since we can focus upon the promises of God, we can experience comfort that there is a God who cares and fully capable of taking care of His children. We can find hope and peace that, regardless of how bad the present is, there will someday be a life in heaven without weeping! It also tells us that there is a hell that the unbeliever must be take heed of. It reveals that every man is accountable for his actions.
Did the Resurrection Really Happen? Here’s Proof that Christ Resurrected.
The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity.” – Antony Flew, former atheist
Theologian Wolfhert Pannerberg – “As long as historiography does not begin dogmatically with a narrow concept of reality according to which ‘dead men do not rise’, it’s not clear why historiography should not in principle be able to speak about Jesus’ resurrection as the explanation that is best established of such event as the disciples’ experiences of the appearances and the discovery of the empty tomb.”
Today I intend to give you solid historical evidence in favor of Christ’s resurrection really happening. My sources include Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Jesus: Man, Myth, Messiah, the Bible (including the Gospels), Gary Habermas Minimal Facts, Non-historical sources (like Josephus and Tacitus), Dave Maynard, and the Internet in general.
Jesus Predicts His Own Resurrection
Jesus is crucified for blasphemy. Before He is crucified, Jesus predicts His own resurrection. Below are verses in Bible where Christ predicts His own resurrection:
The Authoritativeness of the New Testament
The Gospels are historical biographies on the life of Jesus, written by some of His disciples, who were eyewitnesses. The Gospels and rest of New Testament are historically reliable documents that testify the fact Christ resurrected. Both history and scriptures confirm this fact.
Gospel writers had access to other leaders who repeatedly for decades repeated the story of Christ, plus other written records. They simply didn’t write their information from distant memory. According to Bloomberg, the disciple writers were able to write “trustworthy historical and biographical documents” of Christ: “We may affirm that the Synoptic Gospel writers would have wanted to preserve accurate history according to the standards of their day, that they had every likelihood of being able to do so, and that the overall pattern of widespread agreement on the essential contours of Jesus’ life and ministry coupled with enough variation of details to demonstrate at least some independent sources and tradents on which each drew makes it very probable that they did in fact compose trustworthy historical and biographical documents.”
Leading New Testament scholar, Richard Bauckham reinforces this point further by saying: “The Gospels were written within living memory of the events they recount. Mark’s Gospel was written well within the lifetime of many of the eyewitnesses, which the other three canonical Gospels were written in the period when living eyewitness were becoming scarce, exactly at the point in time when their testimony would perish with them were it not put in writing. This is a highly significant fact, entailed not by unusually early dating of the Gospels, but by the generally accepted ones.”
Gospels writings of Jesus’s life were highly authoritative. The vast number of Bible manuscripts in circulation since the original writings, many written extremely early, ensure we know the substance of what was original for great majority of gospel texts. Because there are far greatly more copies of original books of NT scriptures than any other piece of ancient history, plus the fact the Gospels have a shorter time interval between the originals and the earliest copy, the Gospels are immensely more authoritative books, in the contexts of accuracy, than any other ancient history book.
Look at the following chart to notice where the New Testament compares to other writings, in retrospect to the time gap (between original and earliest copy) and the number of copies. Note that NT has a far smaller time gap in years and lot more copies, making it again more authoritative than other books. (Check out the last two columns).
Author Book Date Written Earliest Copies Time Gap # of Copies
Homer Illiad 800 BC 400 BC 400 years 643
Herodotus History 480-425 BC 900 AD 1,350 years 8
Thucydides History 460-400 BC 900 AD 1,300 years 8
Plato 400 BC 900 AD 1,300 years 7
Demosthene 300 BC 1100 AD 1,400 years 200
Caesar Gallic Wars 100-44 BC 900 AD 1,000 years 10
Livy History of Rome 59 BC – 17 AD 4th century partial 400 years 1 partial
Mostly 10th century 1,000 years 19
Tacitus Annals 100 AD 1100 AD 1,000 years 20
Pliny Secundus Natural History 61-113 AD 850 AD 750 years 7
New Testament Greek manuscripts 50-100 AD 114 AD (fragment) 50 years 5,686
200 AD (books) 100 years
250 AD (most of NT) 150 years
325 AD (complete NT) 225 years
New Testament Non-Greek manuscripts 19,284
New Testament Total manuscripts 24,970
Statements in a book are more likely true if multiple independent sources make references to these claims. Below is a chart showing that many early church fathers quoted the gospels.
Times Early Church Fathers Quoted Gospels
Justin Martyr` 268
Grand Totals 19,368
Even many non-Christian writings confirm New Testament documents. This strengthens the claims made by the disciple writers. For example, citing a document given to me by Dave Maynard, here is a list of some of the secular writers whose writing support New Testament writings:
- Tacitus, a Roman considered one of the accurate 1st century historian.
- Suetonius, chief secretary to Roman Emperor Hadrian
- Josephus, a Jewish priest, general and historian who confirms many, many Bible people and events including stating that Jesus was the Messiah who rose from the dead.
- Thallus, who talks about the “darkening of the skies” and an earthquake when Jesus was crucified.
- Pliny the Younger, a Roman administrator
- Trajan, a Roman Emperor
- Jewish Talmud, saying Jesus was crucified at Passover
- Lucian of Samosata, a Greek writer who was very critical of Jesus, His crucifixion, and Christianity.
- Mara Bar-Serapion, a Syrian writer
- The Gospel of Truth, a gnostic document that confirms that Jesus was a historical person
- The Acts of Pontius Pilate, an apocryphal document describing Jesus crucifixion.
- All of the gnostic, pseudepigraphon and apocryphal writings. Who would write about a person that didn’t exist?
- the Dead Sea scrolls
The Bible is a highly authoritative historical document, whose facts are supported by many agnostic writers, including the infamous Tacitus and Josephus. The New Testament is far more reliable book than any other ancient writing. 99 percent of the copying errors in the Bible are either spelling or word order errors, which are language translation mistakes that change meaning of sentence. This can be easily corrected by knowing a bit about different foreign languages or reading a Bible difficulty book that cites these examples. Still, eyewitness historical evidence of the life of Jesus remains highly authoritative.
Gary Habermas Minimal Facts
Habermas Minimal Facts is “a compilation of over 2,200 sources, from 1975 to present, where experts write about the resurrection of Christ. Gary Habermas identified minimal facts that are strongly evidenced as being historical by a large majority of scholars – including skeptics.” Gary deems a historical fact as being reliable if made by multiple independent sources; the source originates soon after actual events; and if recorded details are considered embarrassing to author’s reputation. The greater degree a historical fact meets these criteria, the more weight is given in being considered a fact. Here are some of Habermas Minimal Facts:
- Jesus lived.
The fact that Roman historian (Tacitus) and Jewish historian (Josephus) gives a reference toward Christ proves Jesus lived. You will see the references in the next section.
- Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.
Other than the fact Jesus lived, the crucifixion of Christ is the most certain of all claims related to Jesus. All Gospels report it. Basically, every early church writing support this.
Here are some references made:
Josephus was a Jewish historian, not sympathetic to Christians, employed by the Romans during time of Christ. Josephus said:
a. When Pilate, upon hearing him accursed by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified.”
Generally considered the greatest of Roman historians, Tacitus, in The Annals, composed the following:
b. “Nero fastened the guilt (of the burning of Rome) and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christus by the populace. Christus, for whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurator, Pontius Pilate.”
2nd century playwright Lucian writes:
c. The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified in that account.”
- 3 days later, tomb was found empty by a few of his female followers.
- Bible states – Women were first to see and proclaim empty tomb
Matthew 28:1-10 Mary Magdalene and other Mary
Mark 16:1-11 Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of Jame; Salome
Luke 24:1-10 Mary Magdalene, Joana, Mary the mother of James, and other women
John 20:1-18 Mary Magdalene
The fact that women during Christ’s time were considered low status as credible witnesses in the perceptions of courts and people makes it reasonable to believe it happened and wasn’t something the women would intentionally fabricate.
- Multiple Attestations to Empty Tomb (in NT sources)
Different witnesses to the empty tomb
- Empty tomb became center of church preaching few weeks after the crucifixion.
The fact that a church centered, claiming that Christ resurrected, shortly after the women claimed there was an empty tomb, strengthens the argument that Christ indeed rose from the grave. Moreland, cited in Evidence That Demands A Verdict, reinforces this point by saying: “It is highly probable . .. that the resurrection was preached in Jerusalem just a few weeks after the crucifixion, If the tomb had not been empty, such preaching could not have occurred. The body of Jesus could not have been produced, and since it is likely that the location of Joseph of Ariamatha’s tomb was well known (he was a respected member of the Sanhedrin), it would not have been difficult to find where Jesus was buried.”
- Common knowledge of the empty tomb throughout community.
The question wasn’t whether or not the tomb was empty, but why was it empty?
- Jewish response assumes an empty tomb
Moreland says, again in Evidence That Demands A Verdict: “The only polemic offered by the Jews for which one have any historical evidence is the one recorded in Matthew 28:11-15… The text could not have been written if, at the time of writing, there was not a Jewish counterargument to the Christian understanding of the empty tomb,. But the Jewish polemic does not dispute that the tomb was empty; it gives an alternate explanation. This is a significant historical fact. This is strong evidence that the tomb was in fact empty.”
- Tradition of Empty Tomb is Very early
Moreland quote: “The pre-Markan passion narrative includes the account of the empty tomb as an essential ingredient, and since this narrative is quite early, it provides good evidence for an empty tomb.”
D.H. Van Doalen quote: “It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds; those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions.”
The tomb of Christ had a rock-cut with a roll-stone for the door. The roll-stone, circular in shape, was probably at least four foot in diameter, rolling in a track. During the time period of Christ’s crucifixion, the circular rolling stone was usually either disk-shaped or cork-shaped, which could be rolled in place or rolled away. Since the “sealing stone weighed 440 lbs or more”, it would take considerable effort by more than one person working together to move it.
Quote by McDowell, cited in Evidence That Demands A Verdict, sheds more light on the difficulty of moving the rolling stone of the tomb: “A stone used in time of Christ would have a mimum weight of one and one half to two tons. “If the stone was that big, how did Joseph move it into position? Gravity. Stone held in place by a wedge as it sat in a groove that sloped downward to the entrance of the tomb. When the wedge was removed, the heavy circular rock just rolled into position. Although it would be easy to roll stone into place, it would take considerable manpower to roll it back uphill from the tomb entrance. The large stone would have provided additional security against the Jewish suspicion that the disciples of Jesus would try to steal the body.”
Matthew 27:66 records the actual sealing of the stone of Christ’s tomb: “Then they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting the guard.” According to historian Paul Maier, “The seal was nothing more than a cord strung across the rock and fastened at each end with clay. Like any seal, its purpose was not to cement the rock but to indicate any tampering with it.”
There were normally four to sixteen Roman guards who held watch during the guarding of a tomb. There was probably more since Christ predicted to the Sanhedrins that He would resurrect after His crucifixion. Matthew 27:62 through 28:15 tells the story of Christ’s resurrection:
“On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people,”‘He has risen from the dead.” So the last deception will be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightening, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’ And they came and held Him by the feet and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.’ Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, ‘Tell them, “His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.” And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.’ So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”
Since it was normal procedure for a guard to be killed if a tomb was found empty, and or found asleep at the watch, it is unlikely presumably that the guards were sleeping. Thomas Thorburn reinforces this point: “The soldiers cannot have alleged they were asleep, for they knew well that the penalty of sleeping upon a watch was death – always rigorously enforced.” Thorburn later adds: “Here the soldiers would have practically no other alternative than to trust the good offices of the priests. The body (we will suppose) was gone, and their negligence in any case would (under ordinary circumstances) be punishable by death.” This all gives evidence that the resurrection really happened.
The Jews and Romans claimed the “disciples stole the body”, whereas Christians said, “Jesus was risen.” The question again wasn’t whether or not the tomb was empty, but why. An empty tomb was there for anyone to take notice of. So Jews and Romans were compelled to accuse the disciples of grave robbery. William Lane Craig describes the “claims and counterclaims” made between the Jews and Romans versus the disciples and the church body: ““Think about the claims and counterclaims about the Resurrection that went back and forth between the Jews and Christians in the first century. The initial Christian proclamation was, “Jesus is risen.” The Jews responded, “The disciples stole the body.” To this Christians said, “Ah, but the guards at the tomb would have prevented such a theft.” The Jews responded, “Oh, but the guards at the tomb fell asleep.” To that the Christians replied, “No, the Jews bribed the guards to say they fell asleep.
Now, if there had not been any guards, the exchange would have gone like this: In response to the claim Jesus is risen, the Jews would say, “No, the disciples stole the body.” Christians would reply, “But the guards would have prevented the theft.” Then the Jewish response would have been, “What guards? You’re crazy! There were no guards!” Yet history tells us that’s not what the Jews said. This suggests the guards really were historical and that the Jews knew it, which is why they had to invent the absurd story about the guards having been asleep while the disciples took the body.”
All the Romans and Jews had to do was the show everyone the body of Jesus and the resurrection story would come to a halt. But they couldn’t, because Christ arose from the dead. Instead, they continue to claim the disciples stole the body. During the fourth century, John Chrysostom, questions how the disciples could possible steal the body: ”How did they steal Him? O most foolish of all men! . . For how, I ask, did the disciples steal Him, men poor and unlearned, and not venturing so much as to show themselves? What? Was not a seal put upon it? What? Was there not so many watchmen, and soldiers, and Jews stationed round it? What? Did not those men suspect this very thing, and take thought, and break their rest, and continue anxious about it? And wherefore moreover did they steal it? That they might feign the doctrine of the resurrection? And how should it enter their minds to feign such a thing, men who were well content to be hidden and to live? And how could they remove the stone that was made sure? How could they have escaped the observation of so many? Nay, though they had despised death, they would not have attempted without purpose, and fruitlessly to venture in defiance of so many who were on the watch. And that moreover they were timorous, what they had done before showed clearly, at least, when they saw Him seized, a rushed away from Him. If then at that time they did not dare so much as to stand their ground when they saw Him alive, how when He was dead could they but have feared such a number of soldiers? What? Was it to burst open a door? Was is that one should escape notice? A great stone lay upon it, needing many hands to move it.”
- His disciples believed Jesus appeared to them following His death.
The Bible gives at least twelve different instances where Jesus is cited “appearing to individuals or groups of people, after His death, burial, and resurrection.”
- Mary Magdalene – John 20:11-18
- women leaving the tomb – Matthew 28:8-10
- Emmaus disciples – Luke 24:13-35
- Simon Peter – Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5
- disciples without Thomas – Luke 24:36-43
- disciples with Thomas – John 20:24-29
- disciples at the Sea of Galilee (Tiberius) – John 21:1-2
- disciples on a mountain in Galilee – Matthew 28:16-17
- disciples – Luke 24:50-52
- 500 believers – 1 Corinthians 15:6
- James (Jesus’ half-brother) – 1 Corinthians 15:7a
- Paul (an enemy of the church) – Acts 9:3-6
People saw a physical body of Jesus. Thomas touched Christ. Others also interacted with the Messiah in some physical way. Jesus was not a spirit, and “His resurrection”, wasn’t simply a figure of speech. Christ actually physically resurrected. Professor of New Testament and theology George Eldon Ladd said: “In light of these facts, the Gospel story is psychologically sound. The disciples were slow to recognize in Jesus their Messiah, for by his actions he was fulfilling none of the roles expected for the Messiah.”
No records of Jewish authorities charging the disciples of grave robbery, desecrating a tomb, or etc. Seems suspicious that that didn’t happen if Jews were convinced the disciples committing any kind of foul play. Disproving the resurrection theory of the church would of easily destroyed the Christian movement. Instead, of showing sufficient evidence that disciples stole Christ’s body, the Romans choose to use violence to discourage Christian discussion of the resurrection. Apostles were threatened, beaten, flogged, thrown in prison, and even killed. The Jews and Romans knew they couldn’t produce the body. As Fairbairn said: “The silence of the Jews is as significant as the speech of the Christians.”
The disciples, before they encountered the resurrected Christ, were dejected, fearful, and indecisive. Some returned to their previous lives before they became disciples (John 21:2-3). Others fearfully hid behind locked doors (John 20:19). Arguing and infighting amongst disciples occurred (Luke 24:13-17). Discouraged and bewildered, they definitely didn’t seem ready to plan grave robbery, amidst armed guards. However, once they seen the risen King, they became fearless warriors, willing to die for their beliefs. Professor of evangelism Paul Kittle talked about this character change of the disciples, after witnessing the resurrected Christ: “What was it that changed a band of frightened cowardly disciples into men of courage and conviction? What was it that changed Peter who, the night before the crucifixion, was so afraid for his own skin that three times he denied publicly that he even knew Jesus? Some fifty days later he became the roaring ion, risking his life by saying that he has seen Jesus risen from the dead. It must be remembered that Peter preached his electric Pentecost sermon in Jerusalem, where all these events took place and his life was in danger. He was not in Galilee, miles away where no one could verify the facts and where his ringing statements might go unchallenged. Only the bodily resurrection of Christ could have produced this change.”
Christianity began because of what the disciples experienced as they were convinced Christ had risen. They were willing to die for their faith and didn’t receive any monetary rewards for their work. Threats and violence by the Romans couldn’t stop the movement, for it was Spirit-filled. The Holy Spirit transformed the lives of weak cowards into fearless followers of Christ who didn’t let persecution back them down.
- Saul of Tarsus, chief persecutor of Jesus folllowers, became a believer.
Saul of Tarsus was a murderer and persecutor who became one of Christ’s greatest saints. It all started on the road of Damascus, where Paul claimed He saw the appearance of the resurrected Christ.
Jesus did arose from the dead, and the radically changed lives of converted Christians is evidence of this fact. The power of God can transform any broken and or corrupt life for the better, regardless of their past. All you have to do is believe in Christ and let Him become the Lord of your life. He can transform your life if you let Him.
Alternative Resurrection Theories
In spite of the overwhelming evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ, many skeptics still choose not to believe. Today, there are several alternative resurrection theories that discount the power of Christ. Here are a few and some reasons why they don’t pan out.
- Apparent Death Theory
The theory says “Jesus recovered from His crucifixion injuries while inside the tomb; escaped the grave linens while being in a near death health; removed the seal of the stone of the tomb, secretly in silence while not awaking and being noticed by the guards; then walked seven miles down the road to Emmaus, and then finally, making an appearance in front of the disciples, made them believe He resurrected (and not a wounded Savior barely alive). This theory has many flaws, since no human has ever survived the masterful Roman act of crucifixion punishment. It is impossible for anyone to do all this, unless you are deity, and the deity of God is what skeptics attempt to discard as true when saying it is impossible for a “dead man to rise” because in their false statement, they say “there is no such thing as God”. If God is dead, then it would be impossible for Christ to resurrect. If Jesus survived the crucifixion, then He would be God, You cannot have it both ways.
Since it is impossible for sinless Christ to lie, it is plausible to believe that Christ died and resurrected, rather than miraculously surviving death through the power of Christ, and then lie about it. If Christ is deity, He would not lie about whether or not He survived the death through the power of Christ or not. If Christ did survive, then His purpose of redemption of our sins through crucifixion would fail to be completed, since it requires a death to pay the penalty of our sins.
To describe how impossible if would be for any mortal to survive a crucifixion, I am submitting an article written by Dave Maynard:
Medical description of flogging and crucifixion:
Written by Dave Maynard
Remember, Jesus had just finished a full Passover meal; our equivalent would be a Thanksgiving meal. He then went to the garden of Gethsemane and prayed all night. Since He knew the amount of suffering that He was about to endure, it is sufficient to say that He was experiencing a great deal of psychological stress (Luke 22:44). Sweating blood is called hematidrosis. It’s when severe anxiety causes the release of chemicals that break down the capillaries in the sweat glands, and the sweat comes out tinged with blood. This also makes the skin around where this is happening very fragile and sensitive. Jesus was arrested and taken to Annas where He was hit in the face (John 18:22). He was then taken to Caiaphas and beaten again (Mark 14:64, 65). He was taken to Pilate, Herod and back to Pilate again where He was flogged (whipped).
A Roman whip isn’t like the western whip that we’re used to. The Roman cat-o-9 tails was several whips tied together at the handle. Each individual braided leather whip had pieces of metal and sharp bones ‘glued’ onto the ends of it. When the whips would strike the flesh, instead of leaving a nice, clean laceration they would dig into the flesh and stay. The flogger would then have to pull the whips out, which tore chunks of flesh out with it. The whip lashes that you normally think of are not what is produced here. Whole sections of flesh are torn off. After several bows, the back would be so shredded that parts of the spine may be exposed. The lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh…
The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victims were open to exposure. The whippings go from the shoulders, down the back, the buttocks and to the upper part of the legs. Roman floggings usually consisted of 39 lashes but frequently were a lot more, depending on the mood of the soldier doing it. Many people died from this kind of beating even before they were crucified. At the very least, the person would experience tremendous pain and go into hypovolemic shock. Hypovolemic shock does four things to a person
- the heart races to try to pump blood that isn’t there
- the blood pressure drops, causing fainting or collapse
- the kidneys stop producing urine to maintain what volume is left
- the person becomes very thirsty as the body craves fluids to replace the lost blood volume
Jesus was in hypovolemic shock. Notice that when He was carrying His own cross, He collapsed and had to have it carried for Him (Luke 23:26). Also He said “I thirst” (John 19:28). Because of the terrible effects of this beating, Jesus was already in critical condition even before He was crucified. He probably didn’t have much ‘skin’ left on His back when they were done with the flogging.
But remember, after this flogging, He was beaten again (a third time). See Mark 15:16-20. The purple robe that they put on him would have started to congeal to His body because of the blood. After beating Him with their fists and a rod, they ripped off the purple robe (tearing away the congealed blood) and put his own robe on Him. Judean thorn were anywhere from 2 “ – 5 “ long. They would have cut through the skin on His head (these were much bigger and stronger than the rose-bush thorns that we’re used to seeing). They couldn’t just set this crown of thorns on His head; they had to beat it on with a rod to make the thorns stick into His flesh …
He then carries His own cross up the Via De La Rosa, the path that lead to where He was to be crucified. This path has a relatively steep incline to it, making it even harder to climb. Roman crosses were very heavy (up to 200 pounds) and were made of rough-hewn lumber. While He was carrying it, some of the wood splinters probably pierced His already bloody back …
The Romans used spikes that were 5 to 7 inches long and were tapered to a fine point. They were usually driven through the wrist, not the hand. The wrist was considered part of the hand in Roman times. If the spikes were driven through His palms, His weight on the cross would have caused the skin to tear and He would have fallen off of the cross. A spike through the wrist would have hit and crushed the median nerve. This type of pain was so beyond description that a new word was invented to describe it – excruciating.- which literally means ‘out of the cross’.
Think of it like this: Do you know the kind of pain that you feel when you hit your elbow funny bone (which is actually hitting a nerve)? Take a pair of pliers, squeeze and crush that nerve. That’s the kind of pain Jesus was feeling in His arms, all the time. The same thing would be true for the nerves in His feet. Having being lifted up on the cross, His arms would have been stretched about 6’ in length and both shoulders would have been dislocated.
As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep across the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles become paralyzed and the intercostal muscles were unable to act…
Crucifixion is death by asphyxiation. In order to exhale, Jesus had to push up on His feet so the tension on His diaphragm muscles would be eased for a moment. But, by doing this, His foot pushed through the spike, locking up against the tarsal bone, creating incredible amounts of pain. Also, He was scraping His bloodied back against the coarse wood of the cross. After exhaling, He was able to relax and take another breath in. But again, He’d have to push Himself up to exhale. All of this just for one breath. This would go on until the person wasn’t able to push up to breathe anymore…
As Jesus slows down His breathing, He goes into respiratory acidosis. The carbon dioxide in His blood is dissolved into carbonic acid, causing the acidity of His blood to rise. This leads to an irregular heartbeat. In addition to that, the hypovolemic shock would have caused an increased heart rate that contributed to heart failure resulting in pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart) as well as pleural effusion (fluid in the lungs). It is almost over now…
The loss of tissue fluid has reached a critical level; the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues, and the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air, while the markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain. Once feeling in the legs was gone, Jesus would be unable to push up in order to breathe and death would occur quickly…
When the Roman soldier’s spear went through His side (John 19:34), blood and water came out. This is exactly what would happen if the spear ruptured the heart. The blood and ‘water’ would be separated because of pericardial effusion. Medically speaking, there is no doubt.. Jesus was dead!
The articles on the death of Jesus Christ are too numerous to quote but here are a few:
1.’The crucifixion of Jesus: the passion of Christ from a medical point of view’
Arizona Medicine, vol. 22 no. 3 (March 1965), pages 183-187
2.’On the physical death of Jesus Christ’
Journal of the American Medical Association, (March 21, 1986), pages 1455-1463
- ‘Crucifixion in the ancient world’
Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1977
- 4. ‘How Jesus died: The final 18 hours’
A video released by Trinity Pictures,
Dr,. Ramsay MacMullen, Emeritus Professor of History at Yale University
Dr. James Strange, Professor of Religious Studies at University of Southern Florida
Dr. Frederick Zugibe, Medical Examiner
- ‘The Resurrection Factor’
Josh McDowell, San Bernardino, California, Here’s Life Press, 1981
Below is the medical diagnosis of whether or not Christ died or not, during His crucifixion:
Jesus’ death may have been hastened simply by his state of exhaustion and by the severity of the scourging, with its resultant blood loss and preshock state. The fact that he could not carry his patibulum supports this interpretation. The actual cause of Jesus’ death, like that of other crucified victims, may have been multifactorial and related primarily to hypovolemic shock, exhaustion asphyxia, and perhaps acute heart failure. A fatal cardiac arrhythmia may have accounted for the apparent catastrophic terminal event. Thus, it remains unsettled whether Jesus died of cardiac rupture or of cardiorespiratory failure. However, the important feature may be not how he died but rather whether he died. Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between his right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death. Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.
Journal of the American Medical Association, William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabe, Flody E. Hosmer
- Hallucination Theory
The hallucination theory states that disciples did not really see a risen Savior but rather a hallucination due to grief and disillusionment. . Approximately 15 % of general population will experience at least 1 hallucination during their lifetime.
Philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli together give thirteen reasons why halllucinations cannot be considered a reliable alternative explanation for Christ’s resurrection:
- There were too many witnesses. Hallucinations are private, individual, subjective. Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the disciples minus Thomas, to the disciples including Thomas, to the disciples at Emmaus, to the fisherman on the shore, to James, . and even to five hundred people at once (1 cor 15:3-8). Even three different witnesses are enough for a kind of psychological trigonometry; over five hundred is public as you can wish. And Paul says in this passage (v. 6) that most of the five hundred are still alive, inviting any reader to check the truth of the story by questioning the eyewitnesses – he could never have done this and gotten away with it, given the power, resources and numbers of his enemies, if it were not true.
- The witnesses were qualified. They were simple, honest, moral people who had firsthand knowledge of the facts.
- The five hundred saw Christ together, at the same time and place. This is even more remarkable than five hundred private “hallucinations” at different times and places of the same Jesus. Five hundred separate Elvis sightings may be dismissed, but if five hundred simple fishermen in Maine saw, touched and talked with him at once, in the same town, that would be a different matter.
- Hallucinations usually last a few seconds or minutes; rarely hours. This one hung around for forty days (Acts 1:3).
- Hallucinations usually happen only once, except to the insane. This one returned many times, to ordinary people (Jn 20:19-2:14; Acts 1:3).
- Hallucinations come from within, from what we already know, at least unconsciously. This one said and di surprising and unexpected things (Acts 1:4,9) – like a real person and unlike a dream.
- Not only did the disciples not expect this, they didn’t even believe it at first – neither Peter, nor the women, nor Thomas, nor the eleven. They thought he was a ghost; he had to eat something to prove he was not (Lk 24:36-43).
- Hallucinations do not eat. The resurrected Christ did on at least two occasions (Lk 24:42-43; Jn 21:1-14).
- The disciples touched him (Mt 28:9; Lk 24:39; Jn 20:27).
- They also spoke with him, and he spoke back. Figments of your imagination do no hold profound, extended conversations with you, unless you have the kind of mental disorder that isolates you. But this “hallucination” conversed with at least eleven people at once, for forty days (Acts 1:3).
- The apostles could not have believed in the “hallucination” if Jesus’ corpse had still been in the tomb. This is a very simple and telling point; for if it was a hallucination, where was the corpse? They would have checked for it; if it was there, they could not have believed.
- IF the apostles had hallucinated and then spread their hallucinongenic story, the Jews would have stopped it by producing the body – unless the disciples had stolen it, in which case we are back with the conspiracy theory and all its difficulties.
- A hallucination would explain only the post-resurrection appearances; it would not explain the empty tomb, the rolled-away stone, or the inability to produce the corpse. No theory can explain all these data except a real resurrection.
III. Theft Theory
Disciples stole the body, conspired to teach “resurrection theory”.
Conspiracies fail when under pressure and threat of torture and death. It was very unlikely they spent an entire life living a lie that Christ resurrected while building a Christian movement around it, and get nothing to gain for doing so, under Roman threats of torture and death.
Charles Colson reinforces this point: “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned, and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world – and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
Growth of a legend
The empty tomb story grew as a legend one or two generations after the death of Christ is this theory. Believers of this theory disregard the fact that the church preached that Christ raised from the dead, from its inception, occurring in Jerusalem, the same very place where Christ died, was buried, and resurrected (which all began 50 days after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ).
Wrong Tomb Theory
Everyone who went to visit Jesus’s tomb after His burial mistakenly went to the wrong tomb and found it empty, wrongly believing Jesus resurrected.
Habermas and Licona gives six reasons why wrong tomb theory is faulty:
- Even if the disciples went to the wrong tomb, this does not account for their belief that had seen the risen Jesus
- The testimony of the Gospels is that the empty tomb convinced no but John. Mary concluded that the gardener stole the body. The disciples did not believe upon seeing the empty tomb, but rather were confused.
- The church persecutor Paul converted based on the appearance of the risen Jesus, not on an empty tomb, Paul would have assumed that someone had stolen the body or that the wrong tomb was visited.
- The skeptic James would not have been convinced merely by an empty tomb. Like Paul, James was convinced by an appearance.
- No sources support the wrong tomb theory. If the women and disciples had gone to the wrong tomb, all that the Roman and Jewish authorities would have had to do would have to go to the right tonb, exhume the body, publicly it, and clear up the misunderstanding. Yet, not a single critic is recorded to have even thought of this explanation for the Resurrection during the first few centuries of Christianity
- The evidence suggests that the tomb’s location was known, because a well-known man, Joseph of Arimathea, buried Jesus in his own tomb. If the burial by Joseph was an invention, then we might expect ancient critics to state that Joseph denied this version of the story. Or the critics could have denied the existence of Joseph if he had been a fictitious character.
The resurrection proves Christ is the Son of God. According to Romans 10:9-10, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”. This article gives you ample evidence to help you to decide whether or not Christ is Lord, and if He did indeed resurrect from the dead. The question is not whether or not Jesus Christ is indeed deity of God, but rather, is He the Lord of your life? Decisions have consequences attached to them, and there is no greater consequence than not choosing to accept Christ’s gift of Love and thus become a Christian. God wants to desperately to love and give you freedom but love is not love if free will is not involved in the action. Will you declare that Christ is Lord?
“You shape your future every day through the choices you make. That’s sort of a hard one to swallow, isn’t it? It would be much easier to say you are a victim of circumstances. Then you don’t have to act. Your choices create your reality.” (Jason Harvey, Achieve Anything In Just One Year)
“God’s will is not automatic. He allows us to make choices. Many of the things that happen to you are not God’s perfect will. We all have to choose between God’s will and our will.” Rick Warren
Michael Straczynski — ‘I’ve made a decision and now I must face the consequences.’
Evidence That Demands A Verdict. Author: Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell, PhD.
Man, Myth, Messiah. Author: Rice Broocks