Sunday, April 1, 2012

Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?

The Garden Tomb - Israel by Lisa@The Warming House
Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Great question. It’s a hotly debated topic. His resurrection is illogical and difficult to comprehend – or is it?

As you consider the resurrection of Christ, here are some things to think about:

  • The gospel writers in the Bible all record Jesus death by crucifixion. 
  • The Talmud (a record of rabbinic discussions on Jewish Law, ethics, philosophy, customs, and history) records a historical account of the death of Jesus by Roman crucifixion. As you contemplate that, keep in mind that the Jewish religious leaders were enemies of Jesus yet their historical writings confirm his death just as it is told in the Bible.
  • Josephus, a famous secular historian who lived Bible times, confirms that Jesus died at the hand of the Romans by means of crucifixion.
  • Thallus, as well as a noted Roman historian named Tacitus, both confirm his crucifixion. 
  • Current day scholars such as John Crossan and Bart Ehrman, confirm his death by crucifixion on orders of the Roman prefect in Judea – Pontius Pilate. They even go so far as to say that this is “a certain fact.”

Three days after his death and burial in a tomb, Jesus’ female followers went to his tomb and discovered it was empty. They were afraid someone had taken his body. An angel informed them that he had risen.

The Garden Tomb (Burial Chamber)
By Lisa@The Warming House
Here’s what we know about his resurrection:

1) The location of the tomb site was known and it was empty.

2) Jesus appeared to hundreds of witnesses after his resurrection providing proof of his resurrection.

3) There was a radical transformation in his disciples. To realize the significance of this transformation, you need to understand that the environment in Jerusalem was hostile. The Jewish leaders hated Jesus and had demanded his crucifixion so who’s to say they wouldn’t do the same to Jesus’ followers? Only the women and one disciple (John) stayed near the cross as Jesus suffered and breathed his last breath. Everyone else had scurried into hiding. When these terrified disciples learned that Jesus had come back to life, they boldly reentered public life – and not just in a quiet, submissive way. They publicly proclaimed Christ’s resurrection, claimed him to be the Messiah, and called people to acknowledge him as Lord. As they did this, they were well aware that they were putting their lives at risk.

4) After his resurrection, many Jews abandoned their deeply embedded Jewish faith and customs to follow Christ and his teachings.

5) The Christian church was begun in Jerusalem. This was obviously the worst place to start. Opponents were still in Jerusalem and still in positions of power.

There are some interesting theories about his resurrection. Here are a few:

1)   The disciples stole his body. Really? The Jewish leaders remembered how Jesus said he would arise again in three days. They were totally freaked out about the possibility that his disciples would steal his body then tell everyone he had risen from the dead. They wanted to prevent some sort of “legendary story” to begin circulating about Jesus so they went to Pilate and urged him to make the tomb secure. Pilate posted a guard and permitted them to seal the stone and make the tomb as secure as they possibly could. The Roman soldiers exercised extra vigilance outside his tomb. They would never have let anyone get past them to steal the body. It’s also important to remember that all of the disciples endured severe persecution, and all but one was murdered because of his Christian faith. It is a well-known fact that no one will ever die for something they know is a lie. Would you? 

2)   Disciples hallucinated the resurrection. Again – really?! The Roman soldiers could have simply gone into the tomb and produced the body.

3)   The Swoon Theory claims that Christ didn’t really die on the cross. He just lost consciousness. The cool, moist air of the tomb revived him. First of allno one survives a crucifixion. The details of a crucifixion are brutal. Second, after suffering the extreme torture of a flogging and crucifixion, how many of you would be able to walk around town without medical attention as though you had endured nothing? Not one of us could do that I’m sure. Yet Jesus did just that. In addition, the Romans went to his cross and pierced him in the side with a spear to make certain he was dead. Blood and water flowed out affirming that he was.

4)   The women were emotionally distraught, made a mistake, and went to the wrong tomb.  Seriously?! Would you forget where you buried someone you loved? I don’t think so!

After hearing about his resurrection from the women, the male disciples went to the tomb. They would have had to go to the wrong tomb too – in their emotional distress. The fact is, this tomb belonged to a well-known religious leader. When the news got out, people would have specifically gone to that tomb to check out the validity of the story.

5)   Jesus body was thrown into a shallow grave and dogs ate his body. Those who loved him deeply would not allow him to be thrown into a shallow grave. Again – there was too much at stake for anyone to just throw his body aside casually. See answer to #1. The religious leaders wanted his body and burial site guarded closely. The tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea – a religious leader on the Jewish ruling council.  Allowing Jesus’ body to be buried in his personal tomb would have invited persecution. If the stories of his burial there weren’t true, he would certainly have denied the truth of those claims. But he didn’t.

6)   Substitution theory offered by Islam. Their claim is that it wasn’t really Jesus who died on the cross. Someone else’s body was substituted for his. Good grief! His own Mama and others who knew him well had watched his trial before Pilate and his flogging. They had followed him as he carried his cross to the execution site. They were near the foot of the cross grieving desperately for him. After his death, they held him, touched him, and dressed his body for burial.  Scripture shows that his disciples were clearly befuddled by what had happened. Their mourning was sincere. They certainly did not expect him to rise from the dead. Besides – who would have raised their hand to volunteer to serve as his substitute? Really?!

Exiting the Tomb by Lisa@The WarmingHouse
Through the resurrection, Jesus fulfilled his own prophecies about himself and proved he is who he says he is – the perfect Son of God who came to pay the ransom to free us from the control of sin and its consequences.

His resurrection was God's "yes" approving and accepting Christ's sacrifice for the sins of mankind. 

His resurrection marked the successful completion of his mission on earth and validated all his claims.

Since Jesus is the divine Son of God, what he taught was true.

Jesus’ resurrection proves the truth of Christianity!

By Lisa@The Warming House

With complete confidence in the reality of His resurrection,