Easter! The greatest story ever told, where Jesus rose from the dead.
The Resurrection of Jesus is of fundamental importance to Christianity because it’s the center of our whole faith. As St. Paul says, “If Jesus didn’t rise, then your faith is in vain.” All of Christianity is based on the supposition that Jesus actually rose. But, did He really rise? Or, is it as skeptics suggest, that it’s all just a myth, a nice story?
The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most reasonable and verifiable facts of history. And, it’s infinitely far more reasonable than any alternative. Here are the alternatives:
- Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross
- Jesus did die but His body was just thrown to the dogs
- Jesus did die but grave robbers, or someone else, stole the body
- Jesus died but never rose, in which case either the Apostles were hallucinating because they really wanted Him to be alive, or they themselves invented this story to deceive others and it’s only a myth.
Answer #1. Jesus did die on the cross. The Romans were experts at crucifixion and no one survived, especially someone beaten as badly as Jesus. Confirming this was the lance that pierced His side causing blood and water flow out. This shows that his lungs had collapsed. All the evidence we have demonstrates that Jesus indeed died. Not to mention the fact that a mostly dead person could not have rolled away a one ton stone and overcame armed Roman guards. Not plausible.
Answer #2. While some say that dead people were often thrown into pits where dogs ate them, there are several independent sources all claiming that Jesus was buried in a tomb. And, there are no sources to the contrary.
Answer #3. One wonders how grave robbers, unarmed Apostles, or anyone else could have overcome professional armed Roman soldiers. And, why would they take the body (worth nothing) and leave the garments, the only things worth anything. Again, not plausible.
Answer #4. Philosopher Peter Kreeft states that hallucinations only happen to individuals, not whole groups. Secondly, they happen once and only for a few seconds or a few minutes, unless certifiably insane. Thus, with Jesus appearing to all of the Apostles multiple times, spending time with them, eating with them, and then appearing to over 500 people, the hallucination argument doesn’t hold any weight.
Answer #5. Many skeptics assert the resurrection was invented, but we need to ask the question. When did the myth start? Who started it? For what reason? Usually the Apostles are blamed, but this cannot be proven. In addition, it doesn’t make sense. What would their motive have been? Fame? Money? Women?
In reality, the apostles lived poor, they were all persecuted, tortured, and killed … all for this “lie.” And not a very good lie since Jews didn’t anticipate a literal resurrection until the end of time. Therefore, there was no good motive for this lie, not to mention there was not enough time for myth or legend to creep in.
Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?
Yes, and this is by far the best explanation of the facts. First off, the tomb was found empty. If it wasn’t empty, the Jews could have just provided the body. End of story. Many people saw Jesus and the empty tomb including women. The mention of women helps validate the account. If this story was invented, why mention women whose testimony meant nothing in court back then?
Of supreme importance, there was never another alternative, competing or contradictory story! This is the one and only account. This story was written by eye-witnesses, people who knew Jesus, touched Him, spoke with Him, and learned from Him every day and night for years (or they knew people who did). Their mention of dates, places, famous people by name, country leaders, knowledge of first century Jerusalem and many other intricacies demonstrate that their accounts were accurate. After all, these were all things that could have been verified or proven to be false since it was written at the time of eyewitnesses.
Also keep in mind that the Apostles weren’t sitting in castles with hoards of money, laughing at the poor people who believed their lie. Rather, they not only preached the resurrection, but they lived it with their lives. They loved their enemies. They served the poor. They helped those in need. And, they gladly died for this message. What else can explain their sudden transformation and turnaround? As stated before, no one dies for a lie. Yet, the Apostles gladly died for what they knew to be true.
Thus, the Resurrection is reasonable and can be believed!