On the Resurrection
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of the redemption story of the Bible, it is the single event that proves His power over sin and death. Without this event, the Christian is a hopeless individual. The apostle Paul writes that we should be pitied without the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:17-19 (ESV) If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Since this event is the capstone, the cherry on top if you will, of the Christian faith, there are many who seek to disprove it. If this event can be proven false then the Christian faith would essentially dissolve. This is where the field of apologetics becomes very useful. Apologetics is of some value in evangelism, but I would argue its of much more value in building up one’s own faith. So let’s take on the apologetic behind the resurrection for just a moment. Let’s debate a few of the most widely accepted theories against the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will merely dip a toe in the shallow end with this exercise so feel free to dive deeper.
Theory #1 – No Historical Evidence Outside of the Bible
Clearly, if the only ones writing about this resurrection are the ones who had something to gain from it then there is credibility issues. Unfortunately, this claim is made by those who have not done enough research into the subject of the resurrection. There are actually several non-biblical, non-Christian writings that verify the resurrection. The Jewish historian Josephus mentions the resurrection occurring, Roman historian Tacitus mentions the crucifixion of Jesus and the spread of Christianity, Roman historians Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, and Thallus all mention the crucifixion, and Celsus confirmed that the resurrection occurred. Simply put, other historians of that day mentioned Christ’s crucifixion and some mentioned His resurrection.
Theory #2 – Hallucinations
The women at the tomb, the disciples, and all these individuals surrounding Jesus had been through a great deal of grief surrounding His death. Hallucinations can occur among individuals with great grief or eager expectation and these people would have had plenty of both. There are a lot of problems with this theory though, like the rareness of these instances and the unlikeliness of a hallucination being multi sensory, but the biggest problem is group hallucinations. There is simply no documentation anywhere about a group hallucination, there is no evidence at all that this can occur. Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room, and to over 500 people at one time. Hallucinations do not occur in groups of this size.
Theory #3 – Swoon Theory
Also known as “apparent death theory,” this theory is that Christ was crucified but merely swooned or passed out on the cross and didn’t die. There are simply too many problems around this theory. First, he was nearly beaten to death even before being nailed to the cross, the nails themselves pierced nerves that would have caused excruciating pain, and the cause of death from crucifixion is asphyxiation as the breathing process becomes impossible because of the pain of pulling up on these nails. And second, if Jesus could roll the stone away and walk to see His disciples wouldn’t they see Him and run because He looked like the walking dead. None of the disciples would have thought Him resurrected in that condition.
There are other theories which are interesting to analyze. Here are two books to chew on if you’re interested:
The best and easiest answer for the empty tomb is resurrection. It just makes the most sense. But it also creates the largest impact on humanity. If Jesus did die for us and did raise from the dead then we have to change everything. Well … that is exactly what happened so what will you do with this news? Jesus, thank you for the cross and the resurrection. To God be the glory!