By Clara Prince, Key Radio intern
This is part 6 of a series discussing, Who Is Jesus?
Read part 1 - The Ultimate Question,
          part 2 - Flawless Character,
          part 3 - His Revolutionary Ministry,
          part 4 - Bold Words,
          part 5 - Absolutely Dead
Death is a scary thing we all must face one day. Jesus experienced torture and crucifixion - the cruelest form of torture and death executed by Romans. To learn about the pain He went through is heart-breaking and hard to process. However, His death was not the end.
The story of the Resurrection is the miracle of Jesus rising from the dead three days after His crucifixion, leaving an empty tomb behind and appearing to hundreds of eyewitnesses. We know that Jesus’ death is historical, but is His resurrection historical? In The Truth Project, Habermas describes the three pieces of evidence of the Resurrection: Eyewitnesses, Early, and Empty Tomb.
To begin, in The Truth Project, Lee Strobel states, “I think one of the greatest bits of evidence for the Resurrection is the changed lives of His disciples.” When Jesus was arrested by the Romans, the disciples fled and went into hiding because they would've been tortured and killed as well. But after Jesus made His appearances to His disciples, within months they began proclaiming the Resurrection of Jesus. This dramatic change in behavior in the disciples is extremely strange because they were imprisoned, persecuted, and killed for these proclamations yet continued, whereas before the Resurrection, they ran away to avoid prison and death. The apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14). The disciples believed Jesus was the Messiah. They recorded that Jesus appeared to them and over 500 people after His death, spoke with them, ate with them, taught them, and let people touch Him. He was alive in every possible form according to not only the disciples but to hundreds of people.
The next main evidence for the Resurrection is early. What this means is the disciples began preaching the miracle of Jesus' resurrection within months of the event. This was so early within the occurrence of the event, there was no time for a legend/myth to be formed.
And lastly, the empty tomb is an extremely significant piece of evidence for the Resurrection. Three days after Jesus' death, the women went to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body. However, when they arrived, the tomb was empty with his linen clothing neatly folded (Mark 16). N.T. Wright states in his book, The Resurrection of the Son of God, “Over against this, I shall argue that the resurrection of Jesus, whatever it was, can and must be seen as at least a historical problem.” (Wright, pg 12).

There are six main theories against the Resurrection of Jesus: the twin theory, the hallucination theory, the wrong tomb theory, the disciples stole the body argument, the inconsistency argument, and the legend theory.
The twin theory claims that Jesus did die but He had a twin who made all the appearances after His death. This raises several issues. For example, where had the twin been for the past 33 years? There is no historical evidence of Jesus having a twin, only a brother named James. Secondly, it is documented that Jesus appeared to His disciples and they touched the piercings in His wrists, feet, and side. Jesus' twin would have had to pierce himself in those areas as Jesus was - who would give that sacrifice to preach a lie? Thirdly, Jesus' disciples spent three entire years with Him; would they not have eventually recognized that this twin wasn’t Jesus? Not to mention, wouldn’t His mother surely recognize the difference between them?
Let’s continue. The hallucination theory states that Jesus' appearances were in fact hallucinations. However, hallucinations are usually an individual event. So many people having the same hallucination at the same time is impossible. This theory also doesn’t explain the empty tomb, which leads us to the next theory.
The wrong tomb theory argues that the disciples visited the wrong tomb. However, this is also highly unlikely because too many people would have made the same mistake. Mary, the women, the soldiers, the disciples, etc. all would’ve had to visit the wrong tomb.
To continue, the possibility that the disciples stole the body also has become an argument. When Jesus was arrested, the disciples fled into hiding because they were so afraid they would be arrested as well. If the disciples displayed this fear when Jesus was arrested, why would they then be courageous enough to pass the Roman guards and steal Jesus' body? This theory is inconsistent with the disciples' previous actions, not to mention they would've been caught and arrested by the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb.
Next, the inconsistency argument claims that because there are inconsistencies between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John's records, we can't be sure that Jesus was resurrected. Yes, there are “inconsistencies” with the accounts of the Resurrection, however, the inconsistencies lie only with the details of the women and angels. Tackett explains in The Truth Project, “There is no inconsistency in the story of the death, burial, empty tomb, or post-death appearances of Jesus.” Del Tackett then explains, “If someone were to stand by this argument it would be parallel to saying, there were x number of witnesses to Lincoln's assassination. And these witnesses aren't saying the exact same thing so therefore Lincoln wasn't assassinated.” The inconsistency in the four gospels is simply proof that everyone sees situations differently and there are going to be slightly different stories.
Lastly, the legend theory states that Jesus' resurrection is simply a myth and the story of His death has just been embellished over the years. However, “a legend requires at least two full generations before it can begin to be formed.” (Tackett). But the early creed (1 Corinthians 15) was written within months of the Resurrection and the disciples began preaching Jesus' resurrection early after the event. There was no time for a legend to develop. Assessing the six main theories arguing against Jesus' resurrection, none of them are evidence-based nor are they practical explanations.

As mentioned earlier, one of the greatest bits of evidence of the Resurrection is the changed lives of Jesus' disciples (Strobel). Greg Koukl, Christian apologist, further evaluates the evidence for the Resurrection by asking the question, “How many people will die for a lie when they know it's a lie?” The Resurrection ultimately proves that Jesus is who He said He was - the Messiah. J. Warner Wallace, American homicide detective and Christian apologist, states in Forensic Faith, “The authority of Jesus is grounded in more than the strength of an idea; it’s established by the verifiability of an event. When Jesus rose from the dead, He established His authority as God.” (Wallace, pg 35).
Jesus lived the life I could never live and died the death I deserve. He hung on that cross in my place, and He has forgiven my sins. I don’t have to be afraid of death anymore because Jesus overcame death and I can overcome the death of my sin through Him. I can trust Jesus that I’m going to be okay no matter what happens.
Clara Prince is a high school intern at Key Radio and has been a volunteer since 2018. She currently resides in Provo, Utah and enjoys being on the Timpview Marching Band Drumline.

1 Comment

Gary - September 17th, 2023 at 1:22pm

Isn't it a big problem that no two Gospels describe the same resurrection appearance? Without corroboration, these stories may be theological fiction.