The answer to this question is the lynch pin to the Christian faith. If Jesus did rise from the dead, there is no doubt that He must be the Son of God. Fortunately, the Bible tells us much about the facts of the Resurrection. In fact, more is written about the Resurrection than any other event in Jesus' life.
Did Jesus Die on a Cross?
- Historical documents from the time confirm crucifixion was used during Jesus' time period and location.
- It is very unlikely anyone would invent the death of their leader by crucifixion as it was the most shameful form of execution of the time.
Was Jesus Placed in a Tomb?
The Bible not only states that Jesus was placed in a tomb but also tells us the owner of the tomb, Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43, Matthew 27:57-60, Luke 23:50-53, John 19:38-42). This is important because if someone was doubtful of the Resurrection, they would know where to go in order to produce the body.
But Did He Rise from the Dead?
The gospels tell us that women found the tomb empty three days after Jesus' death. The fact that women are the ones to first witness the empty tomb is important. At the time, the testimony of women was not seen as reliable. It is very unlikely that the gospel writers would use them as witnesses if they were fabricating a believable story.
Well, He could have….
- Jesus could have survived the crucifixion: Some say that Jesus could have survived the crucifixion and only appeared dead; then once placed in a cool tomb, He revived and walked out. This is impossible for the following reasons:
- Jesus was crucifiedby Roman soldiers who were well practiced at the art of crucifixion. In fact, a botched execution was punishable by death.
- After His death, Roman guards pierced His side with a spear to ensure His death. The gospel account then tells that water and blood exited the wound. Modern-day science tells us that this was most likely the separation of His red and white blood cells into clots and syrum.
- If Jesus did manage to survive the crucifixion, He would have to recover and move a large stone (weighing over a ton) and sneak past a contingent of Roman guards. This would be impossible for a man who had been flogged, beaten, forced to carry a cross for some distance,crucified with nails in His hands and feet, stabbed with a spear, then sealed in a Jewish burial cloth (think mummy, with over 100 pounds of wrapping)--all within 12 hours.
- Jesus' body could have been moved by the Jewish leaders: Others say the Jewish leaders moved the body to ensure that His followers did not steal it and claim resurrection. This doesn't make sense because when His followers did claim that He rose, all the leaders would have had to do to disprove them would be to produce the body. The Jewish leaders were also aware of Jesus' warning that He would rise thee days later and therefore went to Pilate and said,
"Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead', and the last deception will be worse than the first.
"Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.' And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone." Matthew 27:63-66
- Jesus' body was stolen by His followers: Perhaps Jesus' own followers stole His body to fake the resurrection. A few issues with this theory arise:
- The Jewish leaders asked the Romans to guard the tomb to protect against this exact scenario (Mark 27:65).
- Jesus' followers were in no condition mentally to devise such a plan.Their leader, whom they believed to be God, had just been killed before their eyes.
- Many of Jesus' followers were killed over their faith. It is very unlikely they would be willing to go to their deaths over a fake resurrection.
- The women went to the wrong tomb: Sounds plausible until you read further that the disciples later ran to the tomb to check the women's story. Did they forget the location also? How do you forget the place where your leader had been buried?
Jesus appeared to many different people after His resurrection. The apostle Paul lists several of the individuals who saw Jesus, including a group of 500 who all saw Him at the same time. Paul wrote that many of the individuals were still alive at the time of his writing who could back up the claim (1 Corinthians 15:6).
Transformation of Jesus' Followers
After the resurrection experience, Jesus' followers were transformed from average people (fishermen, tax collectors, etc.) with fears and doubts about their beliefs into a group of leaders that changed not only the whole world, but all of the whole world for all time. If Jesus' resurrection was all a hoax, it would be impossible for these leaders to go to their deaths for teaching the lessons of an imposter god. There was no motivation for the disciples to make up the resurrection.They had nothing to gain and everything to lose.