DID THE RESURRECTION REALLY HAPPEN?
In considering the matter of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is important to show that each and every one of the present “theories” claiming that it did not happen is dealt with, in turn. Therefore, it is on this basis that we will show by the elimination of any other possibility, that the Resurrection not only occurred but that all known arguments against it are unfounded and can be rejected as invalid
Any explanation of the resurrection MUST take into consideration the following features:
1. It must incorporate all known facts surrounding the resurrection event.
2. We cannot “whittle” the evidence into a presupposed mold. We must evaluate the evidence or events in context and within reason of logic, or, “could it have happened that way?”
In this vein, there are two major considerations – CHRIST’S TOMB WAS EITHER (1) OCCUPIED OR IT WAS (2) EMPTY.
I. CHRIST’S TOMB WAS OCCUPIED
A. Unknown Tomb
This theory was based, primarily, on the historical documentation that indicated that crucified victims were cast over a particular wall in Jerusalem and burned in a trash pit. This theory was difficult to
refute – other than the Gospels – until 1968 when the grave of a crucified victim was located in a family tomb just outside of Jerusalem (Yohanan ben Ha’galgal). The other major failings of this are (1) even if the disciples and the women did not know where the grave was, Joseph of Arimathea DID; (2) the Roman Guard knew where it was and (3) the women sat at the entombment and dressing of the body.
B. Wrong Tomb
This theory is a variation on the Unknown tomb theory in that the women went to the wrong tomb. The major proponent of this heresy is one Professor Lake. He concludes that the “gardener” told the women,
“He is not here, but see the place where they laid Him.” The complete text of what was said is recorded in the Gospel as “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” Matthew clearly shows in 27:61 (Mark in 15:47 and Luke in 23:55) that the women had clearly noted the location of the tomb less than 72 hours before. The professor notes that this explanation provides a natural explanation for the rock not being at the opening. The professor picks and chooses his information, but the parts that he ignores clearly refute his position. An additional thought is not as clearly refuting it, but have you buried a loved one and ever lost the location of that grave in your mind?
C. Legend Fantasy
This theory fails immediately when we read Paul’s comments that there were over 500 eyewitnesses still alive to prove the resurrection. History proves the writings of the Gospels and the accounts of the resurrection to be no later than 56 A.D. The writings were directed to people that could have, easily, gone to the grave themselves and verified if the grave was empty. The FACT is that the accounts were NOT written many years later.
D. Spiritual Resurrection Only
In Luke 24:39, Jesus Christ, himself, demolishes this theory. READ that verse. Later on, Jesus even eats some fish. This, again, proves a body. Matthew tells how they grabbed the feet of Jesus. I do not believe that you can grab the feet of a spirit! This is a major precept of the Jehovah Witnesses.
DEFINED: “wandering of the mind, idle talk, etc.” But the American Psychiatric Association defines it as “a false sensory perception in the absence of an actual external stimulus.” And elsewhere it is defined as “an apparent perception of an external object when no such object is present”. It is also recognized by science that hallucinations occur only in certain people and are linked to the person’s personal experiences. The fact that many diverse people saw Jesus and all concurred with their versions of that sighting negates this theory completely. A hallucination does not sit down with you, eat with you, allow certain persons to examine the wounds, or talk with certain individuals of a group. Hallucinations are highly subjective and no two people have ever been found to experience the same hallucination – how then can 500 people do so?! Hallucinations recorded are within a specific time frame and under favorable conditions – usually the person having the hallucination had been concentrating on the object or desiring the object prior to the
hallucination. These conditions are absent in the resurrection. No expectancy, fifteen different appearances, many different people, 500 at one time to one or two people. Hallucinations usually occur with regularity and this is not the case here. When the day of Pentecost came, no other reports or stories occurred as to having seen the risen Lord!
I wish to point out that NONE of the above theories uses the two “rules” of evidence spoken of at the beginning of this session.
If the tomb were EMPTY, then there are two additional possibilities. These are (1) it was by NATURAL causes and (2) it was due to SUPERNATURAL causes.
II. CHRIST’S TOMB WAS EMPTY DUE TO NATURAL REASONS
A. Stolen by Disciples
This theory is the most common (especially in Jewish communities) possibility expressed. In fact, Matthew even records this theory, but did not take time to refute it as it was so false that he didn’t feel the need to refute it. It is recorded that the Roman guard went to the high priest and were bribed to tell the stolen body story. This also refutes the idea that it was Temple Guards that guarded the tomb – the high priest would not have needed to bribe his own guards. (Matthew 28:11-15)
Let’s take the matter on logic. If the Roman guard had fallen asleep how could they have known that it was the disciples that took the body. If you have ever watched Perry Mason, you could well imagine an attorney getting this testimony in court! The other factor is to look at the possibility of the ENTIRE guard unit falling asleep. This SECURITY UNIT of the Roman army was the most devoted to duty because the failure to be on guard meant certain death if discovered! This unit was highly skilled in fighting and would have made mincemeat of the disciples had they attempted to steal the body. (Also look to Matthew 26:56 where he describes the courage of the disciples “All the disciples left him and fled”!)
The two ton boulder is another matter to contend with. The Greek shows that the stone was not just moved to the side but actually picked up and moved away from the tomb area! I cannot picture any one group of men being able to move such a weight without making enough noise to “wake the dead”! This problem of the stone is really a “roadblock” to any of the theories.
The final feature of this theory is to consider the very character of the disciples. History records that these men, because of some unexplained (secular world only) reason, became men of the highest and purest thought and deeds. Their moral character and honor were NEVER questioned by anyone – even the very people who put them to death. The very idea that these men could conceive of such a lie in direct conflict with what Jesus had taught and to continue the lie EVEN TO THEIR OWN DEATHS is absurd. This one factor is not recorded anywhere else in history. No other person has had the testimony of men such as the Apostles who never recanted their faith or their Lord. If this had been a lie, these “ordinary” men did not break under the most severe pressure. I can only believe that ONLY a face to face confrontation with the Living Jesus could have given them the knowledge that a death on this Planet was only the door to be with the risen Lord!
Finally, if the body had been stolen, how can you explain the manifestations of Christ to the many eye witnesses – including the 500?
B. Moved by Authorities
One of the strangest of all theories is this one about the Priest, or Romans, taking the body themselves to prevent deception should anyone preach a resurrection. If this had been the case, why didn’t the authorities produce the body to silence the preaching of the resurrection that BEGAN in Jerusalem? If the authorities had taken the body, it would have been far better to cart the body down the main street to put an end to the resurrection lies! The ONLY conclusion is that they did not produce the body because the COULDN’T produce the body. We must remember the words of Paul – “If Christ is not risen then our faith is in vain.” History is silent on this point and the “silence of the Jews is louder than the voices of the Christians”. (Acts 5:33-42)
The next one is possibly the saddest theory that is believed by some men in the world today. They believe that Jesus did not die on the cross – but that he only “swooned” or passed out from the exhaustion of the ordeal. The Disciples (who had no medical knowledge and what was known in that day was very poor) mistook Him for dead and placed Him in the tomb as dead. Now, when Jesus had been placed in the tomb, the coldness of the tomb (Solid Rock) revived Him. Because of the ignorance of the Disciples, they could not believe that Jesus had been resuscitated so the believed that he had been resurrected.
First, Jesus was subjected to SIX TRIALS, three Roman and three Jewish. The actuality of a man called Pontius Pilate was considered fable UNTIL 1961, when archaeologists in the city of Caesarea uncovered a large inscription which read, “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea, has presented the Tiberium to the Caesareans” and proved that such a Roman Governor did exist. The trials were  Annas, the high
priest  Caiaphas  the Sanhedrin  Pilate  Herod and  Pilate. History records that there were two Sanhedrin bodies. One consisted of 23 members and tried cases of capital punishment, another
consisted of 71 members and was for trials of Heads of State, High Priests, or matters of crimes against the Temple. The Sanhedrin of 23 was the most probable body that tried Jesus.
Second, the very death by crucifixion was invented by the Persians who felt that the ground was consecrated to their Gods and a death on the ground would be against the gods; so they invented a
method of death that would not defile the ground by placing the people on a stake and later a cross bar on a stake to lift them off the ground and allow the punishment of death to take place without defilement to the gods. Alexander the Great utilized the crucifixion as a major deterrent force. The Romans felt the death was so degrading that a Roman citizen could not be crucified except by order of the Emperor and then this was usually after the person’s citizenship was stripped from him. The Romans usually reserved the
punishment for political cases. The very accusation against Christ was directed as political as you can read in Luke 23:2. The Romans added; However, another twist to the process of crucifixion. The added the “scourging” of the criminal. This consisted of a period of time that was set by the trial or could be set by the scourgers, themselves, of beating the accused with a form of brass knuckled fist and consisting of a minimum of six men. This usually left the facial features of the accused unrecognizable. The next step of the scourging consisted of the whipping of the accused with a Flagrum. This whip had numerous leather thongs of various lengths and braided into each of the thongs were bits of metal and bone. One Dr. C.T. Davis has described the whipping with the flagrum in this manner:
“The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across the accused’s shoulder, back and legs. At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin, only. Then, as the the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from the vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large deep bruises which are broken open by the subsequent blows. Finally the skin of
the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the Centurion that the prisoner in near death, the beating is finally stopped”. A historian of the third century, Eusebius writes “The sufferer’s veins were laid bare and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.
After this ordeal, Christ had a crown of thorns jammed into his head. The blood from this act must have been severe. Jesus was then subjected to another beating with a rod! After all this, our Lord was then forced to carry His “patibulum” to His place of execution. At the place of execution, Christ was nailed to his cross. History was devoid of any proof that nails were used until the discovery in 1968 of another tomb that contained the remains of a person who had been nailed, both hands and feet, to a cross. History then came to the defense of the Gospels and once again, the Bible is proven correct.
Computers for Christ – San Jose