Summary: Jesus’ resurrection has been a topic of debate from the time it happened all the way up to now. We as Christians believe in the resurrection but is there any evidence to support it? Can a good argument be made to show it actually happened? Let’s find out.
JESUS’ RESURRECTION: MIRACLE OR MALARKEY?
INTRODUCTION: Jesus’ resurrection has been a topic of debate from the time it happened all the way up to now. For some, Jesus coming back from the dead seems too impossible. Street magician David Blaine was asked what he considered to be the greatest trick/illusion ever performed and he answered, “Coming back from the dead” in reference to what Jesus did, whom Blaine considers a magician. Was Jesus simply a magician? Or were his disciples magicians for being able to make his dead body disappear and never be found to this day? We as Christians believe in the resurrection but is there any evidence to support it? Can a good argument be made to show it actually happened? Let’s find out.
1) Was it all a big cover-up?
• Did the disciples steal the body? Matt. 27:62-66. Explain the slope and groove. They had to get past the guards, they had to break the seal, the heavy stone had to be moved. With all these factors it would have been nearly impossible for someone to come and steal Jesus’ body. Yet, that’s the story that got spread and unfortunately believed by many. Matt. 28:11-15.
Think about this: in John 20:6-7 it mentions Peter going inside the tomb and seeing Jesus’ burial cloths laying there, as well as finding the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head folded neatly and set aside. First of all, if the disciples came and stole the body, they wouldn’t have taken the time to strip the tightly wrapped burial clothes from the body. Besides, I think it would be a tad more convenient to carry a wrapped body than an unwrapped one. Second, they definitely wouldn’t have taken the time to neatly fold anything.
But let’s say that the disciples were able to pull off the ultimate grave robbery. Where’s the body? Since the validity of Christianity hinges on the resurrection, being able to disprove it would cause its influence to come to a screeching halt. Providing the body of Jesus would disprove the claim yet in all these years no one has been able to do it-and they never will; not because the disciples were that clever but because he is alive.
• Did they take the lie to their grave? Another factor to consider is the disciple’s ability to keep the lie going against such opposition. In Acts 5, Peter and John were brought in before the Sanhedrin and beaten for their allegiance to Jesus. In fact, historical accounts tell us that all the Apostles except John died as a martyr. If the resurrection was all just a hoax, the truth would’ve come out at the threat of their death. No one is willing to die for what they know to be a lie.
“Chuck Colson, in his book Loving God, tells how impossible this would be from his own experience. Colson was Special Counsel to the President during the Nixon administration. He and the other members of the Nixon cabinet were a highly committed group of men with a sense of destiny concerning Nixon’s term as President. They had each attained positions of great power and privilege. But after the Watergate scandal things began to fall apart. Colson describes the scene, “...even the prospect of jeopardizing the President we’d worked so hard to elect, of losing the prestige, power, and personal luxury of our offices was not enough incentive to make this group of men contain a lie; after just a few weeks the natural human instinct for self-preservation was so overwhelming that the conspirators, one by one, deserted their leader, walked away from their cause, turned their backs on the power, prestige, and privileges. If one is to assail the historicity of the Resurrection and therefore the deity of Christ, one must conclude that there was a conspiracy — a cover-up if you will — by eleven men with the complicity of up to five hundred others. To subscribe to this argument, one must also be ready to believe that each disciple was willing to be ostracized by friends and family, live in daily fear of death, endure prisons, live penniless and hungry, sacrifice family, be tortured without mercy, and ultimately die — all without ever once renouncing that Jesus had risen from the dead. This is why the Watergate experience is so instructive for me. If John Dean and the rest of us were so panic-stricken, not by the prospect of beatings and execution, but by political disgrace and a possible prison term, one can only speculate about the emotions of the disciples. Yet they clung tenaciously to their enormously offensive story that their leader had risen from his ignoble death and was alive — and was the Lord.”
The Apostles could have avoided persecution and death if they had said just one statement: “He is dead.” But they refused not because they were ignorant fools but because they knew He was alive!