All of Christianity hinges on the premise that Jesus Christ died and raised himself from the dead. If Jesus did not get up from the dead, Christianity is based on a farce. It is the biggest deceptions that ever occured in all of human history. Paul the apostle, in one of his letters to members of the early church said that if Christ is not raised from the dead that “we are of all men most miserable.” So confident was he that Jesus Christ had defied death, he said that if Christ is not raised from the dead the faith of all believers in Jesus is futile.
Of course, on it’s face; the idea that a person could come out of a state of death…after being dead for three days days, is fantastical. People don’t just walk out of the grave after truly being dead. That is the truth, but Christians have for centuries maintained that Jesus Christ is the one person who defied the finality of death.
If you are to believe the gospels, Jesus predicted his own death, and he assured his followers that it would not be the last time that people would hear of him. Unlike other spiritual sages before him, Jesus did not promise to come back from the dead in some sort of mystical, spiritual sense, that would be left up to peoples individual imagination to recognize. He said that he would physically come back from the dead. That’s as verifiable as it gets!
How audacious is that?
Well Jesust died just like he had predicted. He suffered the most horrible, excruciating, painful, humiliating death imanginable. Jesus’ crucifixion has been described as an act of sheer brutality and barbarism. Some medical doctors have attempted to give an account of Jesus suffering and death, and the horror of it is beyond what most have ever imagined it to be.
His death was an utterly jarring blow to the psychology of his followers. All of a sudden the man who had changed their lives so radically, who had offered them so much hope, and given such meaning to their lives, was no longer with them. It was an absolutely shocking blow. So there they were a few days later, weeping and mourning, uncertain about what’s next for them, afraid, uncertain, and wondering how they would be able to face the world and continue living. When the news of his resurrection came they were dismissive of it.
The first person to give account of his resurrection was a woman of ill repute, and the disciples also did not believe the other women who also brought the news. The word of women did not mean much in those days, and did not count in a court of law, yet it was women who first brought the news to them. Luke’s account says that the women’s words seemed to the disciples as idle tales. After a series of events Jesus disciples gave their report of meeting who they claimed to be the risen Jesus.
They did not give stories of brief apparitions by Jesus, or catching a glimpse of him here or there. Instead, they said that they talked to him, they touched him, they ate with him, fished with him, and did other things with him. What’s also interesting is that in Matthew’s account, it says that even after seeing Jesus, some of his disciples worshipped him, but others continued to doubt, despite seeing him with their own eyes.
Many of the people who do not believe in the premise or the message of Christianity understand that Christianity stands or falls on whether or not Jesus Christ really was raised from death. They look at the idea of resurrection from the dead as something that is so obviously foolish that it is not something worth even discussing. Others think that it is important enough and worth the discussion, if only to destroy once and for all the credibility of the Christian message; a philosophy and ideology that many deem to be backwards and destructive
In the attempt to do this skeptics have come up with all kinds of theories to once and for all, put an end to the idea that such nonsense as resurrection from the dead could have occurred. Some have claimed that Jesus never even existed, that he is just a mythical figure, but that has fallen flat on it’s face more and more in the last few decades. Others have claimed that Jesus did not really die, but that argument also does not have much legs or surface on which to stand.
For many, the easiest thing to discredit is the ridiculous claim that Jesus cheated death by coming back to life. Some have presented what is known as the swoon theory, the idea that the disciples were in some sort of trance, hallucinating, and thought they had seen Jesus, but really did not. Some claim that Jesus’ disciples stole his body. Others claimed that the story of Christ resurrection developed a long time after his death. Recently one critic claimed that dogs ate the body of Christ. Many of these arguments though seemingly credible have been dissected by defenders of the faith who have presented strong arguments that show these theories are at best.
Bart Ehrman, who is a preeminent new testament scholar and critic says that there is enough evidence to show that something major happened that caused the disciples to believe that Jesus really came back to life, even though Ehrman himself does not believe that this is possible, and has gone out of his way to show that Christ did not in fact come back to life.
We know that after his death, Jesus body could not be found in his grave a few days later. That in itself does not prove he resurrected, but that, together with all of the other accounts have to be considered. Perhaps the biggest, and strongest argument agains Jesus resurrection, is the resurrection itself.
People simply do not walk out of the grave after being dead, no matter what the evidence may shows; there has to be some other logical explanation. Well Jesus’ disciples believed what they say they and five hundred others had seen with their own eyes and experienced for themselves, and based on that, they turned the world upside down. The world has never been the same since Jesus first came on the scene and the message of his resurrection went out to the rest of the world.
Today, despite the many efforts across the centuries to rid the world of his memory, and the effort to eradicate his message, Jesus Christ continues to be the central figure in all of human history. Christians readily admit that the discussion of Jesus’ resurrection sounds foolish to the rational thinking individual, in fact; the scriptures say that the gospel message is foolishness to the unbeliever. The claim that Jesus resurrected from the dead is the biggest obstacle to overcome in Christianity, but for believers; it is the highlight of their faith.
The founder of every religion in the world followed the same human pathway that ultimately led to the grave, but Christians claim that their founder, their savior Jesus Christ lives. Because he lives, they too will live. Christians believe that the main reason Jesus came to earth was to point the way to God so that sinners everywhere would find their way to him. During his lifetime Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the fahter but by me. He gave himself as a ransome for all of mankind, then to prove that he was who he claimed to be, and that he has the power over death; he raised himelf back to life.
When he finally got his disciples to overcome their doubt, Jesus told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every nation, baptizing them in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit. What is the gospel message? It is that God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Paul in one of his letters said that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.
No one has to believe or accept any of this, but this is the message of Easter.
Christians will tell you however that if you do believe and accept it, it is a revolutionary, life changing message based on its veracity.
Please share this if you find it to be worthwhile.
The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel
The Case for Faith, by Lee Strobel
Cold Case Christianity (A homicide detective investigates the claims of the gospesl), by Jay Warner Wallace