#TalkingThursday – If you don’t talk about Jesus who will?
As christians, what we believe about the resurrection of Christ determines our destiny. It determines our joy in this life, and it determines our hope of the life to come. Denying that Jesus is risen destroys the message of the gospel. The truth of the Christian message is tied to the historical reality of Christ’s death and exaltation. How can He come back for us if He has not been raised from the dead? Therefore, no question could be more important than this: Is the resurrection of Christ a fable, or is it a fact?
(this post is not here to address skeptics but to reassure christians), I Corinthians 15 is the principal scripture on the integrity of the gospel message as it focuses on the doctrine of the Resurrection.
If we are to listen to anyone about evidence of the resurrection, it would be Paul – his radical encounter and subsequent transformation are stellar proof that Jesus really did rise from the dead.
Unlike other Apostles, Paul knew Christ Resurrected before He knew Christ Crucified (Acts 9:17) and being an excellent investigator, he would have obviously done the best job to unravel the details behind the events of the resurrection.
How do we know that Paul is an excellent investigator? Because we know that whilst he was still Saul, he sought out followers of the way (Christians) and persecuted them, even obtaining a letter of permission from Jewish Authorities to carry out this work.
You could call Paul, a first century detective/private investigator. Therefore, we have no doubt, absolutely no doubt that whatever Paul investigated and uncovered regarding this matter is what really went down.
Paul says “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (I Corinthians 15:14). Christianity hangs on the event of Christ’s resurrection – not the evidence but the event. The fact of something doesn’t necessarily rely on the evidence for it. It is good that we have evidence, but even if we didn’t have the evidence, that doesn’t dispute the fact.
Quick example: There was once a time we didn’t know about other planets, galaxies, black holes etc, because we didn’t yet have the technology (telescopes) to prove that they existed — does that mean that they didn’t exist before we found the evidence to show they did? No.
Our faith in Christ’s resurrection is therefore not in the evidence, but in the event. If someone turned up with a body today saying – this is the body of Jesus, it would not disprove the fact of His resurrection. Hence why Jesus said to Thomas, you have seen me and believed, blessed are those who do not see me and yet believe.
Returning to the question at hand, is the resurrection of Christ a fable, or is it a fact?
We’ll answer this in two parts:
- A. The No Burial Theory (Matthew 27:63-66)
Those against Christ’s resurrection using the suggestion that He was never buried in that tomb but was buried elsewhere by Joseph of Arimathea or that Jesus was not buried at all, are disproved by the passage in Matthew 27.
Why would orders be given to guard the tomb against His body being stolen if He was never buried there in the first place?
Those guarding the tomb would surely have confirmed His body as indeed being there before rolling such a huge stone to block the entrance.
The roman officers were not stupid, so this fable cannot stand. Jesus was buried, by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus in a tomb not a common grave — to suggest otherwise is
(not to mince words) utter nonsense.
- B. The Stolen Body Theory (Matthew 28:12-13)
This passage reveals to us that the common misconception amongst many Jews that Jesus’ body was stolen was a fabrication made by the Jewish chief priests and elders in order to avoid (Pilate) the Roman governor’s trouble.
There’s no way the disciples could have stolen the body with Armed Roman guards watching; can fishermen stand against soldiers? I think not.
If they attempted to steal the body, surely there would have been a struggle, and probably the death or capture of one of the “thieves” who made an attempt – none of that is reported anywhere, so this theory is nothing more than another fable.
- C. The Hallucination Theory (I Corinthians 15:6)
This is one that is particularly laughable. In the first century, when people passed away, their loved ones would have what scholars have termed “bereavement visions” – where they would imagine/see the lost loved one speaking to them and comforting them. Thus, skeptics argue that the disciples experienced bereavement hallucinations of Jesus.
However, in those days, such visions usually didn’t lead people to think that the dead person is risen. Else there would obviously have been many widows saying their husbands were risen after having bereavement visions. Back then, such visions were actually evidence that the loved one was dead and the hallucination was a spirit or ghost.
How then the disciples of Jesus came to the conclusion through “hallucinations” that Christ was risen rather than dead is incomprehensible. The only way they could all have concluded that He was risen and place their faith in Him, was if like Thomas, (John 20:24-29) they touched His physically risen body and saw Him do things only the living could – like eat/drink (John 21:10-14); thus dispelling this fable of hallucination.
- D. The Swoon Theory
The swoon hypothesis proposes that Jesus did not die on the cross, but merely fell unconscious (“swooned”), and was later revived in the tomb in the same mortal body.
John 19:33 which is the basis for this theory, is immediately disproven by John 19:34 — the soldiers pierced His side and blood and water came out, meaning His heart had stopped, He was dead. Even if He wasn’t dead, He was wrapped from head to toe, buried and left in a tomb for three days without any medical attention to the wounds sustained by the crucifixion. Surely you see how this “swoon” theory no longer holds up?
- E. The Spiritual Resurrection Theory
In Jesus’ day, resurrection referred to a physical, bodily raising of a dead person to new life and that’s what the word “resurrection” as used in scripture refers to. This is what the disciples meant by He Is Risen. Those who reinterpret scripture to mean only a spiritual resurrection occurred show a fear to admit that christianity is false without the resurrection.
Those who advocate the spiritual resurrection theory must thoroughly re-examine the Jewish/Greek manuscripts for the usage of the word resurrection, and they will uncover that it was not a spiritual rising, but a literal one.
The truth of the resurrection is confirmed,
- A. By Old-Testament Types & Predictions
Prophecies such as Psalms 16:10; Isaiah 53:4-6; Daniel 9:26-27; Hosea 6:2; and many many others foretell the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even passages in the New Testament confirm the Old Testament Prophecies (See John 19: 36-37). Prophecy Types like Isaac also confirm to us that the resurrection is indeed a fact.
- B. By The Testimony Of Many Eye-Witnesses
The testimonies of several eye-witnesses, including Paul, who saw Christ after he had risen from the dead. Paul reckons up to five appearances, besides himself. Jesus was seen of Cephas, or Peter, then of the twelve,
(more like eleven seeing Judas was no longer amongst them) then he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once — Matthew 28:10.
After that, he was seen of James (
Brother of Jesus) singly, and then by all the apostles when he was taken up into heaven (Luke 24:50). Jesus even indulged the weakness of one disciple (Thomas) so far as to let him handle (touch) him, to put the fact of his resurrection out of doubt!
- C. By The Presence Of The Holy Spirit
Insomuch as one person has the Holy Spirit within them today, it is evidence of Our Lord’s resurrection. For we know that we cannot receive the Holy Spirit unless Christ bodily rose and ascended to Heaven. Therefore, the evidence of resurrection is proven through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
- D. By The Raising of Lazarus
Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies.” — John 11:25 (AMP).
In the raising of Lazarus, we have a revelation of Jesus’ identity as life-giver. The terms Jesus uses, resurrection and life, are unpacked in the statements that follow: He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. This statement addresses Martha directly in the situation she is experiencing with the death of her brother, and we can all be Martha today.
If you are experiencing loss right now, have faith in Jesus, the resurrection and life.
If Christ can raise Lazarus, then He can rise up from the dead and raise us and all our loved ones who died in Christ.
Jesus asks in verse (26), Do you believe this?
The relevance of faith/belief is not in the power of faith, but in the fact that faith creates communion with Jesus through which believers receive the gift of life. The life that comes through believing in Jesus is not interrupted by physical death — this is why Paul emphasises in I Corinthians 15:19 that should the resurrection be false, we have no hope in this life and are to be greatly pitied because we have experienced the greatest and cruelest of all deceptions.
I Corinthians 15:19 emphasizes the greatness of what God has promised for the life to come and this is exemplified in the raising of Lazarus, physical death could not interrupt his life, because he was connected to the life giver himself – Jesus Christ. In the spiritual sense Christians enjoy a better present life than non-Christians, Paul argues that if our hope was for this life alone, we are no better than non-christians and are to be greatly pitied.
The raising of Lazarus reassures us of Christ’s resurrection and the hope we have for the life to come.
Every year there seems to be some attempt of the unbelieving world to try to show that Christ has not risen from the dead. Whether it be a book or documentary;
*Coughs* The Davinci Code….there are always those who raise questions and perpetuate theories and we as christians must guard our hearts and be ready to respond when we face challenges to our faith.
The doctrine of Christ’s death and resurrection is at the foundation of Christianity. It is the message the Apostles had received; they had been convinced of it, believed it in their hearts, and professed it with their mouths. The resurrection was no strange doctrine. If we gave up this truth, we leave ourselves no ground to stand upon, no footing in religion. It is by holding this truth firmly (Hebrews 10:23) that Christians are made to stand in days of trial, and kept faithful to God.