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Jesus died and rose from the dead
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Let's recount the Gospel narratives of Jesus' arrest, crucifixion and resurrection:


Matthew 26:31-56; Mark 14:27-50; Luke 22:39-62; John 18:1-26
These passages give the account of Jesus warning His disciples that He would be betrayed, of His arrest and subsequent abandonment by all of them. Take special note of the fact that each Gospel emphasizes Peter's denial of Christ (three times) and the rooster's crow, which fulfilled Jesus' words that Peter would abandon Him, despite Peter's proclamation to the contrary that he would never abandon Jesus. The 11 disciples who were still following Jesus all eventually fled as Jesus was arrested, although we see in John 19:25-27 that at some point, "the disciple whom he loved" (the disciple John) came to the cross with Jesus' mother and aunt and Mary Magdalene. For the moment, I'd like all of us to hold this thought of Jesus being abandoned by His disciples and others, and for a moment address medical aspects of the crucifixion.


CRUCIFIXION IS NOT A QUICK, EASY WAY TO DIE
Quite to the contrary, crucifixion itself is probably one of the most brutal, agonizing ways that anyone can be put to death. Here are links I'd like everyone to check out to get expert medical perspectives on what crucifixion does to a person's body. The graphic descriptions on these links are not pleasant, but I believe that if we understand how devastating the effect is that this method of execution has on the human body, we will see how ridiculous subsequent attempts to refute the resurrection really are when we look at the Gospels:

  • www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/terasaka/crucify.html
  • www.acbr.com/central/medical.htm
  • www.konnections.com/Kcundick/crucifix.html



  • For anyone to be flogged as Jesus was and to then endure the physical torment of crucifixion is beyond the imagination of most of us. I want us to think about the physical devastation brought on by the above medical descriptions of crucifixion and then look at the Gospel accounts of Jesus appearing to His disciples after He rose from the grave.


    Imagine this: You've seen the man you believed to be the Savior of the world suffer the most brutal death imaginable. You may have recalled--or maybe not at that point--His words that He would rise from the dead on the third day. But you and all of your friends have become so disheartened by what you've seen by His arrest, trial and execution that not only did you flee from the presence of this Messiah you vowed you would never leave, but you also denied you knew Him. And so at this point after the crucifixion, the only thing you know is fear, and so you've barricaded yourself from both the authorities who could arrest you as cohorts of a revolutionary, this man Jesus, and you've shut yourself off from the ridicule of others. Note the first part of the first verse in John 20:19-20:


    On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.


    THE SWOON THEORY
    According to this theory, Jesus just passed out from blood loss, but in the coolness of the tomb, he somehow regained consciousness, unwrapped Himself from the burial clothes He had been wrapped in (which probably meant He would've been without clothing other than the burial clothes--which is to say, He would've been naked), pushed away the massive stone despite the fact that He hadn't eaten or drank anything for three days, sneaked past the detachment of Roman soldiers--the best-trained soldiers in the world at that time--who were guarding the tomb, walked into the city, found His disciples and made them think that somehow He'd just come right through a locked door and into their presence.


    Can I be blunt?? This is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard in my life.


    To think that Jesus could have survived being beaten, crucified, stabbed with a spear and go without food or drink for three days and then make the trek from the tomb and penetrate a locked door is just utterly ridiculous. On the other side of the door, you can bet the bank that the one thing the disciples were keeping an eye on was the latch on the door. They were not about to let anyone in, and they themselves were not about to to out. So now for Jesus to get inside was either a miracle or it was a group hallucination.


    THE HALLUCINATION THEORY
    If the resurrection was a hallucination, it violated a basic psychological principle: Hallucinations are individual phenomena. No two hallucinations are the same. And for the entire group of people to have the same hallucination--at one point after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to a group of 500 people (1 Cor. 15:1-6)--is absolute nonsense. Any one person in the group could have refuted what any other person was saying, especially in light of the fact there were plenty of people who didn't want to believe the resurrection. Look at Matthew 27:62-66 and 28:1-14:

    The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard....

    After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble."

    THE THEFT THEORY
    This theory says just that: The body was stolen. Well, who besides the disciples would want to steal Jesus' body? Jesus' enemies wouldn't so much have stolen it as they would've just "borrowed" it, paraded it around Jerusalem to rub salt in the disciples' wounds and then return the body to its burial place. But let's imagine that the disciples stole the body: You've got a bunch of cowards who have barricaded themselves behind closed doors, paralyzed with grief and fear, not wanting to face the authority of the Roman government nor the taunts of the Pharisees and high priests who incited the authorities to crucify Jesus, and now they get this hare-brained idea to steal Jesus' body and say that He rose from the dead. Again, this is an absolutely stupid proposition. The disciples had absolutely nothing to gain from putting their lives on the line for what they knew to be a lie.


    Fast-forward to Acts 5:12-42. Jesus has risen from the dead, has appeared to the disciples and many others and has now gone into heaven with the Father. His disciples have seen all of these things for themselves and are now proclaiming the resurrection of Christ at the risk of their own lives. Specifically in this passage in Acts, Peter and John are called before the Sanhedrin--the "religious police" if you will--and were called to account for what they were testifying about the resurrection of Jesus. Would they do this if they knew it was a lie? Would they be willing to put their lives on the line for something they weren't absolutely convinced of beyond any doubt? For that matter, would ANYONE be willing to die for a lie if they knew that giving a truthful account to the contrary would save their lives? Peter had not only been the boldest of disciples but he had also become the biggest coward when Jesus was arrested and put on trial. How to explain the change in Peter's demeanor from the time of Jesus' arrest to Acts 5? If the resurrection never happened, and the disciples knew it, then the rest of the Scriptures, from Acts to Revelation, not only defy explanation but might as well be ripped out and burned. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:19, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."


    Can anyone disprove the resurrection? Have we sufficiently disproved the disprovers at this point? So now let me ask this another way to leave you with some thought-provoking but encouraging things to ponder: Is there anything that can diminish the hope we have in Christ's resurrection and purchase of salvation for us? If, then, Christ has crushed Satan's authority over us and has purchased us for God, can anything defeat us, no matter what we face for the sake of the Kingdom of God?


    Just a few small things for all of us to think about. :-) Drop me a line at chad@jesusfreak.com if you'd like.




    UPDATED JUNE 14, 2004
    Here's another link which explains very well some of the problems in trying to disprove the resurrection:
    http://www.carm.org/evidence/fakedresurrection.htm