Historical Evidence of the Resurrection of Christ (Part 6): The Summation

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most provable events of all of history.  The resurrection of Christ is the foundational truth of a biblical belief system. Everything we believe as followers of Christ is based on the truth of that single event.

At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, believers in other religions, or those searching for truth, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious.  To ignore the resurrection of Christ, by not determining whether it is true or myth, would be short-sighted and a version of denial.

Over the next month, I will be writing about the historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ as a supplement to our March series at CrossChurch, “Love Ran Red”. Part 6 is following.

Summation: A Decision Must be Made By Every Person

“ You can shut Him up as a fool…you can spit at, and kill Him as a demon…or you can fall at his feet and worship Him as Lord! But please, none of this nonsense about Jesus only being a great teacher… that is not left open to as an option.” – C.S. Lewis

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Historical Evidence of the Resurrection of Christ (Part 5): Circumstantial Evidence

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most provable events of all of history.  The resurrection of Christ is the foundational truth of a biblical belief system. Everything we believe as followers of Christ is based on the truth of that single event.

At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, believers in other religions, or those searching for truth, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious.  To ignore the resurrection of Christ, by not determining whether it is true or myth, would be short-sighted and a version of denial.

Over the next month, I will be writing about the historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ as a supplement to our March series at CrossChurch, “Love Ran Red”. Part 5 is following.

E. Circumstantial Evidence

1.  Jesus’ Disciples were Cowards

In Matt. 26:56, they all fled from the garden. In John 18: 15-27, Peter denied knowing Christ. In John 20: 19, the disciples hid and locked the doors in fear of their lives. In Luke 24:12, Peter could not figure out the empty tomb. But something changed them into a bold band of enthusiasts, who faced death without fear or hesitation.

2. A Jewish Fanatic Converted

Saul (who became Paul) was religious persecutor of the Christians, he hated Christians so much that he would hunt them down and kill them. Something must of happened to change Paul’s outlook. Read his conversation story in Acts 9:1-31

3. The Church

The origin and existence of the “church” can be tracked back to Jerusalem. Jesus’ tomb was only 15 minutes away from Jerusalem. If the tomb was still occupied, the people of that area would have known the truth. Christianity could not have survived in Jerusalem if Jesus had not risen from the dead. In Acts 3:31, the first sermon is described. 3,000 people saved. In a later message there was another 5,000 people saved.

4. Changed Lives

There were no earthly benefits, no prestige, no wealth, and no social status to begin a follower of Jesus. His followers were beaten, ran out of town, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured, and crucified. The ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message was their willingness to die for that message.

Those hardest to convince were Jesus’ own family. See John 7:1-5, 14:6, 15:5, and 10:11. James was a Pharisee. He was one of those who mocked Jesus. Something changed in his life (Acts 1:13-14). He became a leader of the early church. James ended up dying a martyr’s death (stoning) from the cause of Christ.

Lives continue to be changed. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year lives continue to be transformed by the resurrection power of Christ.

 A believer in Jesus Christ can have complete confidence, as did those first Christians, that our faith is based, not on myth or legend, but on the solid historical fact of the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus. Because of that fact, Jesus can change lives.

Harvard Law professor Simon Greenleaf, a man who lectured for years on how to break down testimony and determine whether or not a witness is lying, concludes: “It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen form the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainty as they knew any other fact. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of like heroic constancy, patience, and unflinching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths they asserted.”

Historical Evidence of the Resurrection of Christ (Part 4): Theories & Attempted Explanations

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most provable events of all of history.  The resurrection of Christ is the foundational truth of a biblical belief system. Everything we believe as followers of Christ is based on the truth of that single event.

At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, believers in other religions, or those searching for truth, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious.  To ignore the resurrection of Christ, by not determining whether it is true or myth, would be short-sighted and a version of denial.

Over the next month, I will be writing about the historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ as a supplement to our March series at CrossChurch, “Love Ran Red”. Part 4 is following.

  1. Theories and Attempted Explanations

Understanding “Theory” – a theory is a speculation or a guess at trying to explain something. Theories are not facts. Many theories are based on the basis of the person theorizing. Theories that can be proven are no longer theories. Theories than can be proven, become established facts. ANYTIME the term “theory” is used, it is an unproven or even unprovable speculation or guess.

Theories stating the tomb is still occupied are:

  1. The Unknown Tomb

This theory states that nobody really knew where Jesus’ tomb was located; the women and disciples just went to a tomb they thought was Jesus’. Since it was empty they assumed he was risen… but really he was somewhere else in a different tomb.

 

PROBLEM: Joseph of Arimathea had to know where his tomb was located… the Roman guards had to know where it was sine they had to guard it….to believe this theory one must disregard the entire historical narrative of the events surrounding the death and burial of Jesus.

2. The Wrong Tomb

This theory states that women (being women) got lost and went to the wrong tomb.

PROBLEM: How could they forget so quickly, it had only been 72 hours. Peter, John, Jewish Leaders, Joseph of Arimathea, Roman Guards, and every one else had to forget and go to the wrong tomb.

3. Legend

This theory states that the whole thing was made many years after Jesus had lived and died.

PROBLEM: Paul says in 1 Cor. 15 that there were over 500 witnesses and that most of them were still alive. Eyewitnesses are the very best form of evidence to prove anything.

4. Spiritual Resurrection

Jesus’ body decayed and it was his spirit that resurrected.

PROBLEM: Without a physical body, there is no resurrection. Luke 24:39 has Jesus speaking to this very issue. Read It!

5. Hallucinations

This theory states that the whole thing was a hallucination, that people just thought they saw Jesus.

PROBLEM: Everybody had to hallucinate the exact same things. They all had different perspectives, backgrounds, etc. Most of the time hallucinations are linked to subconscious and are very personal. This “hallucination” ate with them (Like 24:41-42). They touched its wounds (Luke 24:39-40). There are many hundreds of people involved, including Roman and Jewish officials.

Theories stating the tomb is empty are:

1. Body was Stolen by the Disciples

This started by the Jewish leaders themselves (Matt. 28:11).

PROBLEM: They made it up, and bribed the guards to agree. The disciples were probably too afraid to even try to steal the body (Matt 26:56) The guards would have had to be blind and deaf for the disciples to sneak in and take the body. The disciples were too honorable for deception.

2. Body Stolen by Officials

This theory states that officials took the body and hid it from the disciples.

PROBLEM: If this were true, they would have had produced the body to silence the Christian movement. There has never been a body produced.

3. Resuscitation

This theory states that Jesus did not really die. Shock caused him to faint from mere exhaustion, and that the disciples did not think of the idea of resuscitation, so they thought he must have resurrected.

This theory basically concludes that Jesus had six trials, was beaten, was so weak he could not carry his own cross, had spikes driven into his hands and feet, had thorns jammed down on his head, had a spear poked into his side, faked out four doctors who confirmed his death, breathed through 80-120 pounds of spices, resuscitated inside a cold, damp tomb, within three days had enough strength to bust out his wrappings, remove 1 ½ – 2 ton stone, then walk at least 10 Roman guards.

PROBLEM: That would have been more miraculous than the resurrection!

4. Passover Plot

This theory states that Joseph of Arimathea administered Jesus a drug to make people think had died. But really he would just be in a drug-induced coma. Plans were then changed when the soldiers pierced his side with spear. So Jesus really did die; Joseph hired an unknown man to come dispose of Jesus’ body. The women then saw the man and mistook him for Jesus.

PROBLEM: One still must deal with the guards, etc. But an added problem is the change in every disciple—their entire lives were changed forever.

Historical Evidence of the Resurrection of Christ (Part 3): Seven Facts that Must be Reckoned With

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most provable events of all of history.  The resurrection of Christ is the foundational truth of a biblical belief system. Everything we believe as followers of Christ is based on the truth of that single event.

At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, believers in other religions, or those searching for truth, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious.  To ignore the resurrection of Christ, by not determining whether it is true or myth, would be short-sighted and a version of denial.

Over the next month, I will be writing about the historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ as a supplement to our March series at CrossChurch, “Love Ran Red”. Part 3 is following.

  1. Seven Facts that Must be Reckoned With

Something happened that changed the course of history from B.C. (Before Christ) to A.D. (Latin – “Anno Domini” meaning “the year of our Lord”). That “something” was so dramatic that it transformed many lives and caused many people to die a Martyr’s death.

That “something” was the empty tomb! An empty tomb that was only a 15-min walk from the center of Jerusalem for anyone curious enough to go see from themselves. It would have been easy to confirm or disprove as a rumor.

If anyone wished to rationalize away the resurrection of Christ, they must first deal with a few certain facts. It is almost funny, that the Jewish and Roman leaders, with all their “security precautions” outwitted themselves. Those security precautions make it very difficult for critics of the resurrection to defend their position that Christ did not raise from the dead.

  1. The Broken Roman Seal (Luke 24:2)
  • The Roman Seal stood for all the power and authority of the Roman Empire.
  • There were severe consequences for breaking the seal.
  • The “FBI and CIA” of the Roman Empire would have been tasked with finding and punishing those responsible
  • Even His closest disciples had displayed signs of cowardice.
  1. The Empty Tomb (Luke 24:3)
  • The disciples did not go someplace far away to tell their story. They started in Jerusalem, where it could have been easily proven or disproven. Therefore, the tomb had to have been empty.
  • The Jewish leaders and Roman government’s official statement was that that the body was stolen. Therefore, the tomb had to have been empty.
  • The empty tomb is a silent testimony to the Lordship of Christ.
  1. A Very Large Stone Moved
  • There was only one way out of the tomb, past a large stone, and the Roman guard.
  • Mark 16:4 – uses the greek word “kulio” which means “to roll”, but also adds the preposition, “ana” which means “up or upward”. So “anakulio” means “to roll something up a slope or an incline”
  • Luke 24:2 – uses the same root word, but adds the preposition “apo”, which means “a distance from”
  • John 20:1 – uses yet another word, “airo”, which means “to pick something up and carry it away”
  • The Greek language is the most expressive language in history. These are not disagreements, but people describing the scene as they saw it.
  1. The Roman Guard Left the Tomb (Matt 28:4, 11-15)
  • Roman discipline was very good. Guards who even just fell asleep, while on duty would have been put to death.
  • There was flawless attention given to their duty. They would have never left the tomb. They would have died defending it.
  • The reason for the fabricated lie about what occurred at the tomb and offered bribe money (Matt 28:11-15), was that after examination of the scene the Roman and Jewish leaders knew there was no other explanation. It would have been humanly impossible.
  1. Jesus’ Grave Clothes Tell a Tale (John 20:5-7)
  • The grave clothes were left in the tomb. If the body had been stolen, they would have also taken the grave clothes due to decomposition of the body, etc.
  1. His Appearance was Confirmed (Matt 28:5-10, 16-20)
  • Jesus appeared to numerous several different times, and eyewitnesses are the best evidence in any situation.
  • Paul said “over 500 people saw Jesus after the resurrection”, and then adds “most of them are still alive” (1 Cor 15:3-8), as if to say, “ask them for yourself”
  • If all those people could testify, it would be the biggest and most lopsided trail in history.
  1. Women saw Him First (Luke 24:11)
  • In Jewish custom and culture, women were not seen as equal to men. They were seen more like property.
  • They were not accepted as reliable witnesses according to Jewish legal procedures. So if the resurrection had been faked, they would not have made the first appearance to women, because nobody would have believed them.

Conclusion: Critics who would attempt to dismiss or explain away the resurrection of Christ MUST first deal with these seven historical facts.

  • The feared power of Rome was ignored in order to break the seal.
  • Both Jewish and Roman officials admitted the tomb was empty
  • A 3,000-4,000 pound rock was removed while the guards watched
  • Highly disciplined guards allowed it to happen, then fled the scene
  • The grave clothes without a body
  • Jesus’ appearances before over 500 people
  • Because of Jewish views, women would have never been selected or accepted as witnesses

Historical Evidence of the Resurrection of Christ (Part 2): The Seven Security Precautions

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most provable events of all of history.  The resurrection of Christ is the foundational truth of a biblical belief system. Everything we believe as followers of Christ is based on the truth of that single event.

At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, believers in other religions, or those searching for truth, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious.  To ignore the resurrection of Christ, by not determining whether it is true or myth, would be short-sighted and a version of denial.

Over the next month, I will be writing about the historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ as a supplement to our March series at CrossChurch, “Love Ran Red”. Part 2 is following.

A. Seven Security Precautions

Roman and Jewish leaders went to great lengths, with seven security precautions to not only kill Jesus, but to be sure he stayed dead. Following are seven security precautions the Roman and Jewish leaders had in place;

  1. The Trials – Jesus was rushed through 6 distinct trials in about 12 hours
  • Annas, the High Priest (John 18:13)
  • Caiaphas (Matt 26:57)
  • Sanhedrin (Matt 26:59)
  • Pilate (Matt 27:2)
  • Herod (Luke 23:7)
  • Pilate (Luke 23:11-25)

After three Jewish trials, and three Roman trials, the Jewish authorities, in conjunction with the Romans authorities, delivered Jesus to be crucified. (Matt 27:26) There were three basic motives for the crucifixion of Jesus;

  • Political – Jesus was being hailed as “King of the Jews”. This was seen as divisive and rebellious. Rome had control of the entire region, so the Jewish leaders feared that Rome would make life hard for them if they did not deal with Jesus and his followers harshly.
  • Economic – Jesus affected the commercial side of temple life.
  • Religious – Jesus was seen as a demon-possessed fanatic, mentally ill, and in defiance to God. He was causing personal embarrassment to the Jewish leaders as he made them look foolish over and over again by questioning their teachings.
  1. Death by Crucifixion (Matt 27:26-50, Mark 15:15-41, Luke 23:24-49, John 19:16-37)
  • Cruel Death

Death by crucifixion was developed to be one of the world’s more gruesome and disgraceful forms of torture.

  • Custom of Whipping

After the verdict was pronounced it was customary to tie the accused to a post, stripped of their clothing, to be severely whipped by a form of whip called a “cat of nine tails”.

  • From a medical or forensics perspective, and from a historical account perspective, the skin would be shredded, exposing muscle and even the internal organs of the victim.
  • Crown of Thorns (Matt 27:28)
  • A Crossbar to Carry (Matt 27:32) Weighed about 110 pounds
  • Nails through the Wrist and Feet (Acts 2:23)
  • Purpose on Breaking Legs (John 19:31-34)
  • Blood and Water Flowed (John 19:34)
  • Make Sure of Death (Mark 15:44-45)
  1. Solid Rock Tomb (Matt 27:57-61)
  • Usually 4-5 feet tall entrance
  1. Jewish Burial (Matt 27:59, Luke 23:56)
  • 80-120 pounds of spices along with wrapping that encased the body
  1. A Very Large Stone (Matt 27:60)
  • 5 – 2 Ton Rock (3,000-4,000 pounds)
  1. Roman Security Guards (Matt 27:62-66)
  • 4-16 man security unit. Each man was trained to be the best fighting force in the world. They were trained to protect 6 feet of ground.
  1. The Roman Seal (Matt 27:66)
  • The Roman Seal stood for all the authority of Rome. Breaking it would have meant severe punishment, torture, and death

Historical Evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Part 1): The Resurrection is a Provable Historical Fact

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most provable events of all of history.  The resurrection of Christ is the foundational truth of a biblical belief system. Everything we believe as followers of Christ is based on the truth of that single event.  At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, or those searching, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious.

At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, believers in other religions, or those searching for truth, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious.  To ignore the resurrection of Christ, by not determining whether it is true or myth, would be short-sighted and a version of denial.

Over the next month, I will be writing about the historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ as a supplement to our March series at CrossChurch, “Love Ran Red”. Part 1 is following.

Introduction

Is the resurrection a hoax or is it a real historical event? How each person answers this question settles all the other questions. All the other questions are just distractions that keep people from focusing on the one question that will determine our eternity. The resurrection of Christ is the one event that all of Christianity is based.

All but four of the world’s major religions are based on mere philosophical concepts. Of the four major world religions (Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) that are based on a person rather than a philosophical system, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder.

Abraham, the father of Judaism, and Moses, seen as a great prophet, are buried in unknown graves or caves, but there are known areas where traditional thought has them located. As for Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism, was cremated and had ashes turned into “relics” and placed at various sites. Mohammed, founder of Islam, is buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

All the millions and millions of Jews, Buddhist, and Muslims agree that their founders & prophets never claimed to he would raise from the dead, and to this day, they gather at the burial sites or shrines of their founders to worship. A person can visit the tomb of Jesus, but unlike with the other religions, Jesus’ tomb is empty.

At the end of the day, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either the most wicked, cruel, vicious, heartless, hoaxes of all time, or it is the most fantastic fact of all of history. Christianity and the resurrection stand or fall together.

A. Jesus and the Resurrection are Historical Facts

  1. Anyone who says just Jesus was not a historical figure who actually lived is either protecting their own bias, deeply and severely confused, or just lying to protect their agenda. The historical reality of Christ is clear fact for any unbiased historian. No serious scholar can deny the historical evidence that Jesus, and the Christian faith is firmly grounded in history.
  1. Ancient secular authorities (non-Christian, anti-Christian) testify of the historical evidence Jesus.
  • Cornelius Tacitus (Roman Historian) – called “the greatest historian of ancient Rome”
  • Lucian of Samosata (Greek Satirist)
  • Suetonius – (Roman Historian)
  • Pliny the Younger (Governor of Bithynia – Asia Minor)
  • Thallus (Secular Author)
  • Phlegon (Secular Author)
  • Mara Bar-Serapion (Syrian Philosopher)
  • The Talmud – (Jewish book of Rabbinic instruction, second only to the Torah)
  • Josephus (Jewish Historian)
  • The Quran (Koran – the central religious text of Islam)
  1. Countless ancient Christian authorities and authors have testified of the historical evidence of Christ, including the multitudes who died because they Christ, and refused to denounce Him.
  1. The Encyclopedia Britannica gives uses over 20,000 words to describe the historicity of Jesus; more than Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, or Napoleon Bonaparte. It states “the overwhelming number of independent accounts prove without question that in ancient times the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus. It was disputed for the first time, on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th century, during the 19th and 20th
  1. Dr Simon Greenleaf, world famous and renown Royal Professor of Law, then became Dane Professor of Law, at Harvard University, and was the driving force behind the rise to prominence of the Harvard Law School; wrote a three-volume work, “A Treatise on the Law of Evidence”, which is still considered one of the greatest single authorities on the subject in the entire literature of legal procedure.

Dr. Greenleaf, a skeptic who believed the resurrection of Christ to be a hoax, often mocking the Christians in his classes. One day they challenged him to take the three volumes he had written on the laws of legal evidence and apply them to the resurrection. After much persuasion he decided to examine the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ to determine the truth using the principles of evidence management found in “A Treatise on the Law of Evidence”.

After careful investigation, Dr. Greenleaf became a Christian and went on to write a book about his search. Greenleaf came to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the best-established, more provable events in history according to the laws of legal evidence. He stated, “The conclusion is clear, according to the laws legal evidence used in the court of law, there is more evidence to prove the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ than for almost any other event in history.”

  1. Frank Morrison, a rationalistic lawyer, believed that the bible was full of fables and fairy tales, specifically the story of the resurrection of Christ. He felt the story of Jesus was matchless without the story of the resurrection ruining it. He felt he “owed it to himself and others to write a book that presented the truth about Jesus, and dispel the myth of the resurrection once and for all time.”

Upon studying the facts, however, he came to a different conclusion, and became convinced of the resurrection of Christ being an undeniable fact of history. The sheer weight of the evidence compelled him to conclude that Jesus actually did raise from the dead. Morrison did write a book, but not the one he had planned to write.

  1. S. Lewis, Professor of Literature at Cambridge University, was a literary genius and scholar, who believed Christians were wrong. Being a hard and fast atheist, he sought to refute the claims of Jesus Christ and Christianity regarding the resurrection of Christ. After thoroughly investigating the literary claims and evidence, Lewis concluded that other religions make no such historical claim as Christianity. Using his knowledge of literary principles and literary criticism, Lewis concluded that the Gospels were factual historical documents and not myths, fables, and fairy tails.

Finally, contrary to his strong stand against Christianity, after three years of study and research, CS Lewis gave his life to Christ.

  1. Lee Strobel was a skeptical atheist who thought the idea of God was stupid. Lee used his journalism and legal training to investigative the evidence of Christianity.

Strobel stated, “For most of my life I was an atheist. I thought the idea of an all-loving, all-powerful creator of the universe–I thought it was stupid. I mean, my background is in journalism and law. I tend to be a skeptical person. I was the legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. So I needed evidence before I’d believe anything.”

After his agnostic wife have decided to become a follower of Christ after a period of spiritual investigation, Lee thought her decision to “join this cult” would end his marriage, however he also saw positive changes in her values, in her character, in the way she related to him and the children. Her changes made him want to check things out. So out of curiosity, he went to church one day.

He heard the message of Jesus articulated for the first time in a way that I could understand it. That forgiveness is a free gift, and that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that we might spend eternity with Him. And he walked out thinking, “I am still an atheist, but if this is true, this has huge implications for my life.”

And so Lee decided to use his journalism training and legal training to begin an investigation into whether there was any credibility to Christianity or to any other world faith system for that matter.

After one year and nine months of research, atheist Lee Strobel stated, “I realized that, in light of the torrent of evidence flowing in the direction of the truth of Christianity, it would require more faith for me to maintain my atheism than to become a Christian. Because to be an atheist, I would have to swim upstream against this torrent of evidence pointing toward the truth of Jesus Christ. And I couldn’t do that. I was trained in journalism and law to respond to truth. And so on that day, I received Jesus Christ as my forgiver, and as my leader.”

More to come in a few days…