Resurrection Hoax? I Wouldn’t Bet My Life On It! (Part 2 of 3)
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)
Blessed are those who die “in the Lord,” John the Revelator wrote.
Blessed is the believer because death no longer stings, separates or steals. The Resurrection of Jesus the Christ ended death’s long war of terror against the human race. Death was vanquished and utterly “destroyed” by this historical event another apostle penned (I Corinthians 15:25-27; 2 Timothy 2:10).
It is pretty good news.
Unless you don’t believe that it happened or, at least happened as we know it. After all, the skeptic has twisted, reimagined, dismissed and fabricated the Resurrection narrative since it occurred. Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead. It’s a fairy tale penned by his devoted and desperate disciples, perhaps seeking religious power “in his name.” Or maybe Jesus wasn’t really dead. Maybe the whole event is nothing more than mass psychosis or delusion. If nothing else, it’s pretty clear the body was stolen. The Muslim argues that Judas Iscariot, not Jesus, was the one crucified (among other contentions).
There are plenty of alternative theories to counter the preposterous idea that a Jewish rabbi, two thousand years ago, raised himself from the dead. That’s crazy.
Yes, it is.
If Jesus truly was just a man.
But it’s certainly plausible (and equally possible) that he is WHO he claimed to be: God in the flesh (John 1:1-5, 14).
From that view, it’s far more crazy to think you could KILL God and keep the Almighty and Omnipotent in the grave. A resurrection miracle for God is child’s play. It pales in comparison to creating the whole universe, earth and all life in six days…out of nothing. Sometimes we think too small of God.
The problem facing the skeptics, atheists and unbelievers is any alternative solution they offer only creates more questions. Rather than resolving the resurrection puzzle they actually muddy the water more:
- JESUS DIDN’T RESURRECT! IT’S AN EARLY CHURCH LIE. Okay, then why would every one of Jesus’ original twelve apostles–if in a collective and creative conspiracy to launch a new world religion–all die torturous deaths without a single recant? Now, a group of deluded followers might die for a lie together but Jesus’ apostles, according to historical church testimony, died alone, far apart and with much pain. Andrew was crucified in Asia Minor. Thomas was viciously speared in India. Matthew was stabbed to death in Ethiopia. James was stoned and clubbed to death in Syria. Paul was beheaded in Rome. And these are but a few of the apostolic martyrs. And yet, not one recanted their Faith to save their own neck (including Saul/Paul who once viciously opposed and persecuted Christians). It’s strong evidence that they not only believed the Resurrection happened, they knew it happened. They witnessed the Resurrected Christ. The resurrection of Jesus turned cowardice into courageous missionaries, doubt into daring leaders and downcast disciples into devoted evangelists. The Resurrection creates positive and productive change to which skeptics have no apologetic.
- JESUS DIDN’T DIE ON THE CROSS. HE WAS STILL ALIVE! Hmmm…then how could Jesus survive a Roman crucifixion and then revive his own strength, without medical care? Also known as the “swoon theory,” this has been widely rejected (even among clear-minded skeptics). Roman executioners were masters at murder and faced their own death sentence if they erroneously mishandled a death penalty case. And let’s be honest, the reality is most crucified individuals died on their own. Some hung on their crosses for days, while birds and wild animals ate their flesh, until they died. Most passed away from asphyxiation, a well-documented consequence in crucifixion. But the Christ narrative is even more gruesome than most. Jesus also experienced an oft-deadly scourging prior to crucifixion. He was gouged with thorns. He was beaten in his long walk to Golgotha. And then speared to prove his death. In order to hasten death, bones were routinely broken but not so with Jesus (John 19:31-37). He was already dead. Skeptics want reasonable people to believe Jesus somehow survived such tortures, but even if he had miraculous strength to revive, certainly the cool sepulcher would’ve finished him off. No, Jesus was dead. In fact, Jesus was buried as dead by grieving friends (who would’ve moved heaven and earth to hear even the faintest heartbeat or breath).
- THIS IS ALL A MASS DELUSION! Seriously? Is it truly possible to devise a mass “resurrection” delusion of this nature (or is the skeptic the one living a delusion)? According to 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Jesus appeared to multiple people in various places at different times, including as many as 500 people at once. How could so many people experience the same reality (Jesus is alive) and come to the same conclusion (Jesus really is alive)? We’re not talking temporary hypnosis or magic trick. These disciples believed and lived with a willingness to follow Jesus to their own death. The truth? It would require a greater miracle to engineer a mass delusion of this magnitude than a resurrection.
- EVERYONE KNOWS THE DISCIPLES HAD MOTIVE TO STEAL THE BODY. IT WAS BURIED ELSEWHERE. Nice try, but if the body was stolen, then why wasn’t it produced…ever? This is the oldest lie in the book, even recorded by Matthew. Just tell the people the body was stolen. Case closed. It might’ve worked if true, especially if the body was never found, but it fails miserably to explain why Christians, again, would give their lives for a lie. Certainly one desperate disciple, wanting to save his neck, would’ve cracked and fessed up. But the reason they didn’t “fess up” was because they couldn’t. They had seen Jesus alive or heard from reliable witnesses of his resurrection. So who do you believe? A bunch of Roman soldiers under orders (and bribes)? The religious leaders harboring a grudge? Or do you believe followers of a resurrected rabbi that modeled his love, service, sacrifice, gifts, preaching and sharing like it was their last day on earth? I’d believe his followers. Dead men tell no tales. Resurrected ones create new ones.
At the end of the day, the atheist, skeptic and nonbeliever can debate, denounce and denigrate Christianity and the Resurrection, but their arguments fail like cheap paper vessels: they don’t hold much water very long.
The evidence for Jesus’ life is overwhelming.
The proof of his death and resurrection are compelling.
It requires far more FAITH to believe it didn’t happen.
And that TRUTH ain’t never going to change.