The Case for the Resurrection

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If the Resurrection of Christ really happened, the whole Christian faith is true; if the Resurrection did not really happen, the whole Christian faith is false. Everything in Christianity is based on that one event.  If Jesus had just lived and died there would be no Christian faith and so, since that event is of vital importance to the life of the Christian, it is definitely worth examining very closely.  In this article we will look very critically at the evidence and reasons why Christians over the years have believed in the Resurrection and given their lives for it.

Matthew the Evangelist tells us that a story spread among the Jews that the apostles came and kidnapped the body of Christ and spread a lie that he rose from the dead, therefore creating a religion that was based on a hoax.  We do know one thing for sure: there was no body in the tomb on that day, so there are basically two possibilities in this examination: either the apostles stole the body and spread a lie, or Jesus really did rise from the dead.

Hoax or Historical?

The first thing to observe is the written evidence we have for the Resurrection.  We have the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John who all wrote about the event.  In their accounts of this story, there are some contradictions. Some of the details of each of their stories are different.  Now if they had planned to get the world to believe in the story, one would think that they would have gotten their stories matching as a group who was planning to fool people into believing a lie. Why were there contradictions? Because the secondary facts do not matter as much as the fact that Jesus really did rise from the dead.  That was the main point of their story.  With further study and closer reading of the texts, one could see how these stories complement each other with their different details.  If there stories were completely the same, it would be less realistic because three of them got their information about the event from other people, and only one person actually saw Jesus at the tomb and had the opportunity to tell others about her encounter with him.  This brings up another point: in all the accounts, the first person who apparently saw Jesus after the Resurrection is a famous repentant (Jesus healed her of 7 demons) who formerly was a sinner, Mary Magdalene.  Women at the time were not even allowed to testify in court.  If the apostles were trying to make up a story, one would think that they would have chosen a witness who would be more believable to people rather than the most unreliable source.

Another reason against the hoax is the Roman soldiers watching the tomb.  The Pharisees were so worried that the apostles would come and steal the body that they closed the tomb with a huge stone and put soldiers to watch it until the third day.  So, either the soldiers fell asleep while the apostles came, moved the huge stone, took the body, and ran away; or, the apostles bribed them to let them take the body.  If the apostles bribed them, why would any soldier take money if he was going to be punished with death (If Roman soldiers failed on the job, they would be punished with death, most likely crucifixion)?  And what amount of money could get all the soldiers to accept a bribe like that?  The apostles were poor men who had left everything; they most probably had no money to give, much less, enough money to bribe the well-trained soldiers into getting the worst type of punishment.

The last reason we will examine is based on the martyrdom of the apostles and many eye-witnesses to the Resurrection.   Ten of the apostles all suffered death and torture because of their belief in Christ.  This “lie” that they supposedly started ended up will them dying terrible deaths.  Is it possible that somebody could give their life for a lie? Maybe one person, but ten? How about the other eye-witnesses who were martyred? How about the thousands and thousands of Christians in the first-century who were so faithful to Christ that they were persecuted and killed for him?  Did these people die for a lie or did they die for Jesus who they believed in and many saw truly rise from the dead? If the apostles were after power and money by starting this new “fake” religion based on the Resurrection of Christ, they surely did not get that as Christianity was persecuted from its first days.  These eye-witnesses believed so much in Christ and the fact that he rose from the dead that they gave their lives for it. One would think that maybe at least one of them would have given in and admitted it to save his life and family if it was a lie, but none of them did.

True Hope

Ultimately, these are not proofs for the Resurrection of Christ.  You cannot prove something like that, but you can be certain that it happened.  These examinations show that the evidence had to be true and not just something made-up. Faithful Christians are certain that this event happened and is true and because of it, the world changed.  His Excellency Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo in his Easter homily said, “Our lives are meaningless without the cross and the empty tomb.” Without the empty tomb of Christ we are left hopeless and with nothing to live for.  With the empty tomb we have meaning to our lives and hope in the Resurrection of our bodies when we will be glorified with Christ just as he was glorified with his Resurrected body.

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2 Responses to “The Case for the Resurrection”

  1. Ian Climacus Says:

    A great quote from His Excellency Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo; thank you for sharing.

    The transformed lives of the apostles [and transformed lives of Christians since] as well as the differing Gospel accounts has always struck me as something must have happened as you wrote; and interesting point about the witness of a woman in court — I had not considered that.

  2. Ian Climacus Says:

    At the service of Vespers tonight, I was reminded of your post by one of the hymns read during Psalms 141/142:
    When the guardian soldiers were appointed by the transgressors of the law, they were instructed by them to conceal the Resurrection of Christ; for they said to them, Take ye silver and say, Behold when we were asleep the corpse was stolen from the tomb. But who hath ever seen or heard at any time that a corpse was stolen, especially if it were naked and embalmed, leaving its wrappings in the grave? Be ye not deceived, O Jews, but learn ye the sayings of the Prophets, and understand that this One in truth is the Savior of the world, the omnipotent One.

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