Je­sus’ res­ur­rec­tion: Hoax or his­tory?

Don’t be mis­led by those who ig­nore the facts

Westside Eagle-Observer - - OPINION - By Randy Moll

Chris­tians around the world will be cel­e­brat­ing the res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus on Sun­day. And, in­deed, the res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus is the key doc­trine of the Chris­tian faith upon which all else stands or falls.

Je­sus Him­self fore­told His own death and res­ur­rec­tion nu­mer­ous times, say­ing, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be be­trayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall con­demn Him to death, and shall de­liver Him to the Gen­tiles to mock, and to scourge, and to cru­cify Him and the third day He shall rise again” (Matthew 20:1819). He also said, “Be­cause I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).

Thus, if Je­sus did not rise bod­ily from the dead on the third day, He can be considered noth­ing but a liar, and Chris­tian­ity is a hoax! What hope could any have of ev­er­last­ing life if Je­sus Him­self did not rise from the dead on the third day? If Je­sus did not rise from the dead, as some — even within the out­ward pale of churches — have said, Chris­tian­ity is an empty and worth­less re­li­gion — a lie!

It is as St. Paul writes to the church in Corinth, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are per­ished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most mis­er­able” (1 Cor. 15:17-19).

But, in spite of the skep­ti­cism of some, there is solid ev­i­dence for the bod­ily res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus. Not only was the res­ur­rec­tion of the Mes­siah proph­e­sied in the Old Tes­ta­ment Scrip­tures, it is at­tested to by the New Tes­ta­ment apos­tles and evan­ge­lists with claims of see­ing, touch­ing and talk­ing to the risen Christ Je­sus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, Jude and the writer of He­brews all at­test to the res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus.

Not only did Je­sus ap­pear alive to Mary Mag­da­lene and the other women, He ap­peared to Peter, to the two dis­ci­ples on the road to Em­maus, to the eleven on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, to James, to the Apos­tle Paul on the road to Da­m­as­cus and to more than 500 be­liev­ers at one time. At the time when Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, most of these eye­wit­nesses were still alive and could be ques­tioned by any who had doubts — Paul in­vited them to do so.

Now, nearly two thou­sand years re­moved, some have said that Je­sus did not ac­tu­ally die but swooned on the cross and later re­vived in the tomb — a fool­ish hy­poth­e­sis since the Ro­man sol­diers were well ex­pe­ri­enced with death and es­pe­cially with death by cru­ci­fix­ion since they reg­u­larly cru­ci­fied both crim­i­nals and rebels. Cru­ci­fix­ion vic­tims had to lift them­selves up to breathe. Hang­ing mo­tion­lessly meant breath­ing also stopped and life ended. The spear thrust into Je­sus’ side left no doubt. Je­sus in­deed died upon the cross (John 19:32-34)!

And, even if it were some­how pos­si­ble for one to be cru­ci­fied and not yet be dead af­ter hang­ing mo­tion­less, ceas­ing breath­ing and hav­ing a spear thrust into his

side, would ly­ing in a tomb, wrapped in burial cloths and re­ceiv­ing no med­i­cal at­ten­tion en­able one to sur­vive scourg­ing, cru­ci­fix­ion and a spear wound to the chest? Cer­tainly not!

Some have said — in­deed, right from the be­gin­ning (Matthew 28:11ff.) — that Je­sus’ dis­ci­ples came and stole the body and moved it to an­other tomb where it prob­a­bly still lies to this day. This too makes no sense at all and doesn’t ex­plain His res­ur­rec­tion ap­pear­ances.

It’s en­tirely un­likely that fol­low­ers of Je­sus who fled when Je­sus was ar­rested and then hid be­hind locked doors would risk death at the hands of the Ro­man sol­diers who guarded the tomb in order to steal a dead body just to bury it some­where else and claim Je­sus was alive.

And, while peo­ple may risk all and suf­fer death for some­thing they mis­tak­enly be­lieve to be true, would all of Je­sus’ apos­tles will­ingly face death and per­se­cu­tion for some­thing they knew was a lie? Again, it’s not likely! Not only did Je­sus’ dis­ci­ples suf­fer per­se­cu­tion and ag­o­niz­ing deaths, they gave up the com­forts and plea­sures of this life as well. They had noth­ing to gain by preach­ing the res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus if in­deed He did not rise.

And what of those who spread the sto­ries of Je­sus’ body be­ing stolen away? They could eas­ily have put a stop to the spread of Chris­tian­ity if they sim­ply pro­duced the body of Je­sus. But did they? No! There is no record of any at­tempt or claim to pro­duce the body of Je­sus. Why? Be­cause the tomb was empty and even the en­e­mies of Chris­tian­ity could not re­fute the bod­ily res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus!

So, what does the res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus mean for us to­day? Well, it proves that Je­sus is who He claimed to be, God the Son and the Mes­siah and Sav­ior of the world! It proves that His teach­ing is true. His res­ur­rec­tion proves that He did in­deed take the pun­ish­ment for the sins of the world that we might have par­don and peace through faith in Him. His res­ur­rec­tion proves that those who fall asleep in Him — those who die trust­ing in Him for for­give­ness of sins and life ev­er­last­ing — will be raised up on the Last Day to the eter­nal joys of heaven just as He promised!

And, of course, it also proves that he will re­turn to judge the liv­ing and the dead as He has said, and that those who have not re­lied upon Him for for­give­ness and life will be con­demned to ev­er­last­ing pun­ish­ment in the eter­nal fires of hell.

The only real hoax in re­gard to Je­sus’ res­ur­rec­tion is the ar­gu­ment that he did not rise. It’s a hoax ad­vanced to de­stroy the faith of those who trust in Je­sus for for­give­ness and life ev­er­last­ing. It’s a hoax ad­vanced by those who do not wish to ac­cept the tes­ti­mony of eye­wit­nesses who both saw Je­sus cru­ci­fied and then alive again on the third day and the sub­se­quent 40 days. It’s a hoax ad­vanced by those who do not wish to one day be ac­count­able to the risen and glo­ri­fied Je­sus.

The res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus is a his­tor­i­cal event which af­fects ev­ery hu­man be­ing in this world. Those who con­sider it and place their hope in Je­sus and His res­ur­rec­tion shall re­ceive, as Je­sus says, the for­give­ness of sins He won for all by His suf­fer­ings and death upon the cross, and life ev­er­last­ing be­cause He rose from the dead and is “the Res­ur­rec­tion and the Life” ( John 11:25). But those who ne­glect or spurn it face a most mis­er­able eter­nity with no hope, no bless­ing and no joy!

He is risen; He is risen in­deed! Don’t be mis­led by those who would deny this truth.

Randy Moll is the man­ag­ing edi­tor of the West­side Ea­gle Ob­server and the pas­tor of Good Shep­herd Evan­gel­i­cal Lutheran Church in Rogers. He may be con­tacted by email at rmoll@nwadg.com. Opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

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