Jesus Christ - The Resurrection
School of Biblical Evangelism
Kirk’s Comment: If Jesus did not rise physically, then what happened
to His body? Did it dissolve? Did it evaporate? Was it moved somewhere?
There is no biblical account of what happened to Jesus’ body other than that
it was raised from the dead. Therefore, His body was raised from the dead.
“Is it possible that Jesus simply fainted on the cross, and revived while He
was in the tomb?”
Jesus had been whipped and beaten, and was bleeding from His head,
back, hands, and feet for at least six hours. While he was on the cross, a
soldier pierced His side with a spear and blood and water gushed out.
Professional soldiers would certainly have completed their assigned task
and ensured his death.
“It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the
who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who
required bandaging, strengthening, and indulgence, and who still at last
yielded to his sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression
that he was a conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life: an
impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a
could only have weakened the impression which he had made
upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an
elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into
enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship.” —Strauss, New
Life of Jesus (quoted in Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morison)
The Resurrection: Miracle or Myth
By Hank Hanegraaff
What was the central truth of the early apostles’ preaching? What was
the stimulus to the miraculous growth of the early church? What
was the energizing force which spread the gospel across the face of
the earth? These questions, posed by Dr. Walter Martin in his book Essential
Christianity, all find their answer in the singular event of the
of Jesus Christ. “He is risen!” was the victory cry of the early Christians,
as they spread the message of Christ’s bodily resurrection to the
ends of the earth.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very capstone in the arch of
Christianity. When it is removed, all else crumbles. It is, in fact, the
doctrine that elevated Christianity above all the pagan religions of the
Mediterranean world. And it is precisely because of its strategic importance
to the Christian faith that each person who takes the sacred name
Christian upon his lips must be prepared to defend its historicity.
Thus the question must be asked, How can we know beyond any doubt
that Jesus really rose from the dead—that this singular event is not some
predilection on the part of the Christian but is rather faith founded on
As Christians, we must be prepared to demonstrate that Christ’s resurrection
was an event that occurred in time and space—that it was, in
reality, historical and not mythological (cf. 2 Peter 1:16). The importance
of this event cannot be minimized, for Jesus Himself proclaimed that His
resurrection would prove His power over death, and thus His deity (John
2:18–22). Not only that, but Christ’s resurrection is the very heart of the
gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1–4).
When I first began examining the evidences for Christianity, I discovered
that belief in the resurrection does not constitute a blind leap into a
dark chasm but rather a step into the light. Indeed, the evidence for
resurrection is so overwhelming that no one can examine it with an open
mind desiring to know the truth without becoming convinced of its truth.
Of the many evidences available, none is more compelling than the
fact that the resurrected Christ appeared to over five hundred individuals
at a single time (1 Corinthians 15:6). Christ appeared to numerous other
individuals as well, providing “many convincing proofs” of His resurrection
(Acts 1:3). Christ in His resurrection body was even touched on two
occasions (Matthew 28:9; John 20:17), and He challenged the disciples
(Luke 24:39) and Thomas (John 20:27) to feel His wounds.
For those who continue to harbor doubts about the veracity of the
biblical evidence, one need only point to Dr. Simon Greenleaf, the greatest
authority on legal evidences in the 19th century. It is noteworthy that
examining the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Greenleaf
that any cross-examination of the eyewitness testimonies recorded
in Scripture would result in “an undoubting conviction of their integrity,
ability, and truth.”
Despite the biblical evidence, some have suggested that Jesus’ body
was stolen from the tomb—by either the Romans, the Jews, or the disciples.
However, even as we consider such alternative explanations, reason
drives us back to the conclusion that Christ rose from the dead. Consider
the following: We know that the Romans would have no reason to steal
Christ’s body. After all, they wanted to keep the peace in Palestine.
The Jewish religious leaders would also have no motive in stealing the
body since that would only stir up the very movement they had tried to
crush. Besides, if the Jewish leaders had stolen the body, they could have
later openly displayed the body to prove to the disciples and indeed the
world that Jesus had not really risen from the dead.
And certainly, the disciples wouldn’t have stolen the body, for why
would they choose to suffer and die for a cause they knew to be a lie?
While it is conceivable that someone might choose to die for what they
know to be the truth, it is inconceivable that hundreds of Jesus’ followers
would be willing to die for what they knew to be a lie.
Another theory that has been resuscitated (ad nauseam and ad infinitum)
in a desperate attempt to explain away the resurrection is the socalled
“swoon theory.” This theory says that Jesus did not really die on the
cross, but merely passed out and was later revived. However, this theory is
hopelessly flawed. Think about it for a minute. Can you imagine that
Jesus endured several trials, a crown of thorns, a Roman scourge, a
a spear thrust into His side, the loss of a great deal of blood, going
three days without medical attention or food, pushing a two-ton stone
away from His tomb’s entrance, and then physically overcoming an armed
Roman guard while walking on pierced feet? No! The swoon theory is
in the extreme. And yet, amazingly, some people continue to hang
their hats on it.
After carefully examining all the evidence, one can only come to the
singular conclusion that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead and that He
now lives to be our Lord and Savior (Revelation 1:18). And let me emphasize
that the resurrection of Christ is not just an Easter-time phenomenon
to be celebrated in song and service. Rather, it is a truth that should
daily fill us with eternal hope. Not only did the resurrection of Christ
transform the disciples from cowards to lions of the faith, but His
still continues to transform lives today. Because Christ lives, the
Scripture says, we will live also. Indeed, in an instant, in the twinkling
an eye, we shall be transformed into physical resurrected bodies like unto
His resurrected body.
Does Circumstantial Evidence Confirm It?
As Chuck Colson reported in his BreakPoint commentary (April 19, 2001),
philosopher J. P. Moreland was once asked, “Can you give me five pieces of
solid circumstantial evidence that convince you Jesus rose from the dead?”
(Circumstantial evidence is an accumulation of facts from which one can
draw intelligent conclusions.)
Certainly, Moreland responded. First, there’s the evidence of the skeptics.
Some of those who were most hostile to Jesus prior to his death became
his most ardent supporters afterwards.
Second, the ancient Jews had a number of immensely important religious
rituals. These included the offering of animal sacrifices, obeying the
Mosaic law, and keeping the Sabbath. But within five weeks of Jesus’ death,
more than 10,000 Jews had suddenly altered or abandoned these rituals.
Moreland asked: Why would they relinquish rites that had long given them
their national identity? The implication is that something enormously
significant had occurred.
Third, we see the emergence of new rituals: the sacraments of communion
and baptism. The early Jews baptized in the name of the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit, “which,” Moreland said, “meant they had
elevated Jesus to the full status of God.”
Fourth, we see the rapid rise of a new church, beginning shortly after
the death of Jesus. Within twenty years, this new church—begun by the
companions of a dead carpenter—had reached Caesar’s palace in Rome,
and eventually spread throughout the Roman Empire.
And fifth, Moreland said, there’s the most convincing circumstantial
evidence of all: the fact that every one of Jesus’ disciples was willing to
and die for his beliefs. These men spent the rest of their lives witnessing
about Christ. They frequently went without food; they were mocked,
beaten, and thrown into prison. In the end, all but one died a painful
Would they have done this for a lie? Of course not. They did it because
they were convinced beyond a doubt that they had seen the risen
Even if we doubted 2,000-year-old evidence, we have all the circumstantial
evidence we could possibly want—right in front of us. It is, as
Moreland said, “the ongoing encounter with the resurrected Christ that
happens all over the world, in every culture, to people from all kinds of
backgrounds and personalities. They all will testify that more than any
single thing in their lives, Jesus Christ has changed them.”
“Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and
the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe
this?” JOHN 11:25,26
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