PART TWO: BELIEVING THE RESURRECTION. For why it’s important to believe the resurrection of Jesus and first two evidences — check out the first blog HERE.
Third evidence/logical reasoning to believe the resurrection: belief in the greatest miracle. What is the greatest miracle of history? The first verse in the Bible says it: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” This isn’t necessarily a resurrection evidence, but if you can believe that God created all things from nothing, certainly you can believe He can do all else (including, raise His Son from death to life). This is a great building block to trusting in the radical of miracle of someone going from death to life. The question from here becomes, can you believe in and prove God’s existence? YES! You can logically and reasonably believe that God created all things. This was actually the very first Defend the Kingdom we ever did, so I am going to link that blog HERE if you want to dive deep into proving God’s existence.
Fourth evidence/logical reasoning to believe the resurrection: empty tomb explanations. After Jesus was confirmed dead, His body was buried in a tomb, and three days later that tomb was empty. Even skeptical scholars agree that Jesus’ tomb was empty. If it were not empty, Roman authorities and Jewish leaders (who wanted to get rid of Christianity), would’ve opened the tomb, brought out Jesus’ corpse, and instantly crush the new Jesus movement. It is widely accepted the tomb was empty, but people came up with theories to explain the empty tomb without the resurrection miracle. Below are the leading theories:
Jesus is a myth theory. No respected historian would suggest this theory because the evidence for Jesus’ existence is overwhelming. But for the people who do not take the evidence seriously and use this theory simply say that Jesus never existed. Aside from the 27 reliable New Testament documents that talk about Jesus, there are over 30 sources outside the Bible that refers to Jesus. From these sources, you find more than 100 facts on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Sources include first century historians like Flavius Josephus, Cornelius Tacitus, Suetonius, as well as the Jewish Talmud (collection of Jewish writings). Talmud mentions that Jesus’ death occurred at the same time the New Testament says, which is interesting, because even the Jews who rejected Jesus as Messiah mentioned His existence. Bart Ehrman, author, scholar, and critic of the Bible said this in regards to evidence to Jesus existing:
“There is no scholar in any college, or university in the Western world who teaches classics, ancient history, New Testament, early Christianity, or any related field who doubts that Jesus existed...With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life...sources that originated in Jesus’ native tongue...and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life...Historical sources like that are pretty astounding for an ancient figure of any kind...The claim that Jesus was simply made up falters on every ground.”
Stolen body theory. This suggests that the tomb was empty because Jesus’ disciples stole His body, but this raises some difficult questions. For one, how could the disciples have stolen the body? They would have had to sneak past highly trained killing machine Roman soldiers, break Roman seal that was put on the stone, and move two-ton stone away from tomb (without being detected). Also, if you recall from the Biblical narrative, after Jesus died, the disciples fled in fear thinking their association with Jesus could’ve brought harm to themselves — it’s hard to believe same disciples that fled in fear would risk their lies to steal a corpse from the same people who killed their leader!
Another difficult question raised: why would the disciples steal the body? When they fled in fear, they had the understanding that with the death of their leader, the Jesus revolution was over. Done. Defeated. They went back to their homes, lives, and jobs. What would be the benefit of stealing His body? Is it reasonable to believe they stole the corpse, only to suffer incredibly, ultimately die brutal deaths, to preach a message they would know to be a lie?
Lost tomb theory. In 2007, Discovery Channel did a documentary called “Lose Tomb of Jesus,” claiming they found His tomb containing several of His bones (which would be a problem to the resurrection claim). They made this claim based on names found engraved in the tomb, names such as: Jesus, son of Joseph, Mary, Matthew, Joseph, Mary, Judah, son of Jesus. These all sound familiar, don’t they? Discovery claimed Jesus did not resurrect, that He married Mary Magdalene, and had a son named Judah. This documentary was then immediately blasted by Christian and non-Christian scholars, who provided numerous problems to the documentary.
First, these names were some of the most common name in first century Israel. Joseph was the second most popular male name, Jesus 4th, Matthew 6th, and Mary was far and away the most popular female name. Professor Amos Kloner, one of many scholars who disagreed with the documentary said there’s 900+ tombs like that one within 2 mile radius — 71 of those tombs have name “Jesus” — 3 or 4 of those have “Jesus son of Joseph.”
Also, if the disciples were “making up a religion” based off resurrection, certainly they would not bury his body in same city He was killed in, inscribe His name on tomb, and bury other members of His family in same grave… That would be foolish! If they were trying to prove resurrection, they would want to do everything to get rid of body, evidence of body to securely tell people “Our leader has risen!”
Hallucination theory. Theory that early Christians were hallucinating, and only thought they saw Jesus alive after death. This is not convincing theory for variety of reasons… First, hallucinations are rare and they differ depending on individual. Most hallucinations from drugs, and even if disciples were all on some crazy shrooms, group hallucinations don’t exist — they’re individual experiences. Also, hundreds of Jews in Israel claimed to see Jesus, touch His scars, hear Him teach, and ate with Him. Paul stated that “more than five hundred” people made these claims, and he said that most of 500 “still alive” (1 Cor. 15:6). He was basically saying, “If you don’t believe me… ask those 499 other people!”
Another reason hallucination theory is weak is because hallucinations are typically result from mental disorder or drug use, and the New Testament documents very sane, full of virtuous guidance, wisdom, historical event detail recorded with accuracy. It definitely reads like writings from people with sound minds. Lastly, and probably most importantly, if disciples were hallucinating, Jewish leaders could’ve brought out body. Remember, Jewish leaders and Roman authorities wanted to get rid of Christianity. If disciples were hallucinating, the body would still have been in tomb, and they could’ve rolled stone away and said, “SEE! There He is!”
Last theory to discuss for now: swoon theory. This theory claims Jesus didn’t actually die, but fainted from exhaustion and blood loss. Everyone thought He was dead, but He later resuscitated and the disciples believed that to be resurrection. But according to eyewitnesses, Jesus was viciously beaten, stabbed, suffered internal damage, massive blood loss, asphyxiation, and a spear through His heart. Who could survive that, sit in tomb with no food, water, or medical attention — remove a giant stone door, get away undetected with guards present, and then convince hundreds of people He rose from death and was in good health?
If we can logically believe that God created all things, He is in control of all things, and could certainly raise His Son Jesus from the dead. None of the empty tomb theories make a strong case, but you decided for yourself what you can believe. If you are still skeptical, however, don’t make up your mind just yet, because we have more evidences coming! Stay tuned for more next week!