A CASE FOR THE RESURRECTION
1 Cor. 15:12
“If it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
Paul poses the following question: “How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Well, IS there credible evidence for the fact of Christ’s resurrection? Perhaps Jesus didn’t die on the cross. Perhaps he was merely unconscious when he was placed in the tomb and later revived. A lot of people wonder about such things, so let’s consider that possibility.
The Scripture tells us that Jesus was beaten by guards and soldiers (Lk. 22:63, Matt. 27:30); he was flogged (Jn. 19:1) – many died from this barbarous act alone; Thorns were pressed into his head (Jn. 19:2); He was forced to carry his cross to the point of exhaustion (Jn. 19:17); He was crucified (Lk. 23:33) – a common and effective means of execution; he stopped breathing (Mk. 15:37); and a spear was thrust into his side (Jn. 19:34). Even if Jesus did not die from these afflictions, we must ask how he got out of a sealed and guarded tomb. We would also have to account for the fact that Jesus did not seem to suffer ill effects from this treatment when he appeared after his crucifixion.
The tomb must certainly have been empty. The chief priests and elders explained this by saying that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus. It seems unlikely that the same disciples who fled from the Roman soldiers in the garden (Mk. 14:50) would now mount a commando raid to retrieve his dead body! How could they have secretly and quietly removed the stone from the entrance to the tomb without alerting the guard? Some have also suggested that the women and disciples went to the wrong tomb on Easter morning, to a tomb that was yet unused. Lk 23:55 tells us that the two Marys were there when Jesus was put into the tomb. Did they forget where they had been? Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus would have to have forgotten as well, and the tomb belonged to Joseph! The narrative of Jn. 20:3-4 seems to indicate that Peter and John ran directly to the tomb where the women had been. If all these people were mistaken about the location of the tomb, why didn’t the Jewish and Roman leaders simply go to the correct tomb, produce the body, and put an end to the story of Jesus’ resurrection?
We might also consider that both the oral proclamation and the written record of Jesus’ resurrection and post-resurrection appearances were circulated in a hostile environment. Why couldn’t the claim be convincingly refuted? Perhaps it was because, as Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15:6, there were hundreds of witnesses still living who could attest to the truth!
Perhaps the greatest testimony to the truth of the resurrection is seen in the changed lives of the disciples. Where they had been fearful, they became bold. When persecution came, the converts left Jerusalem, but the apostles stayed (Acts 8:1). The disciples demonstrated newfound authority, power, and wisdom (Acts 4:13). And the disciples uniformly maintained their testimony of Jesus’ resurrection to their own deaths—martyr’s deaths!
Pastor Keith Andrews