Last week we looked at a number of well attested facts about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. This week we will now look at some traditional problems and objections people have put forward in the hope that they can debunk the resurrection story. There are 4 main ones that I have listed below
The wrong tomb
Some people have assumed that the women who reported that the body was missing had mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb. If that was the case, then the disciples who went to check up on the women’s statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. This scenario is highly unlikely, but it is certain however, that the Jewish authorities, who asked for a Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ body from being stolen, would not have been mistaken about the location. Nor would the Roman guards, for they were there!
If the resurrection claim was just due to merely mistaking where the tomb was, the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb, thus effectively quenching for all time any rumours about the resurrection.
Another attempted explanation claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection were either illusions or hallucinations. Just as in the claim of the wrong tomb, it would have been easy enough for the body to be presented as evidence against the claim. Also as was stated last week, Jesus appeared to 500 people at one time. Hallucinations don’t happen to that many people at the same time. Also, Jesus on other occasions ate with his disciples and allowed them to touch him.
The Swoon theory
Another popular explanation is that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross, he merely swooned, fainting from exhaustion and loss of blood. This idea would not have been put forward at the time for anyone who would have witnessed the full barbarity of Roman crucifixion. Don’t forget, Jesus didn’t have his legs broken because it was obvious He was dead, instead he had his heart pierced. You don’t survive after your heart is pierced. His crucifixion was carried out by professional Roman executioners who were very good at what they did. Also when he was taken off the cross he was wrapped in about 100 pounds of grave clothes (which would suffocate even a healthy person) and then laid in a freezing cold tomb. The fittest person in the world wouldn’t recover from that, especially in that state, rolling the stone away, overcoming the guards and then convincing his disciples he was alright really.
The body was stolen
We considered this a bit last week. It is impossible to think that the disciples who had fled from the living Jesus not 24 hours earlier and the leader of them, Peter, denying he knew Jesus to an insignificant slave girl, should suddenly muster up the courage to overcome professional Roman guards and then steal the body. If the religious leaders had stolen the body, they could have quickly produced the body when the disciples started claiming they had seen the risen Jesus. This would have stopped the disciples in their tracks and quashed the whole movement. The only other candidates would have been the Roman soldiers who had nothing to gain by doing it and everything to lose. If they had lost the body they would have been crucified themselves for failing in their duty.
If these four theories are the best excuses that people have been able to put forward in two thousand years, I think it is safe to say that we can be very confident of the facts of the resurrection. These are that Jesus was definitely killed, his dead body was wrapped and placed in a seal guarded tomb until Easter Sunday, when the tomb was found empty and shortly after Jesus was found to be alive. He had been resurrected.
On top of all that, the disciples were transformed men, they went from fearful people cowering in an upper room to fearless trailblazers who spread the message of the gospel across the whole world, laying down their lives as they did so.
But what does that mean for you dear reader?
It means that you have a decision to make, a decision that will transform the rest of your life. If Jesus did rise from the dead then everything he said about himself was true. His claim to be God himself was true, His claim to forgive sins was true and His offer to save all who repent of their sins and ask Him to be Lord of their lives was true.
So what are you waiting for? Good Friday would be a very good and appropriate day to make that decision.