In the Gospel of Matthew, we read of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.(Matthew 28:1-15)
Christians, Jews, even many Muslims will all agree Jesus was born and lived, but the question arises as to how we respond to objections raised regarding the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. Let’s look at a few of the more common objections, and how we should answer them.
1.) There is no evidence apart from the Bible which supports the resurrection. – That is simply not true. According to Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University and one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived, he said ‘it is impossible that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus Christ actually risen from the dead.”
2.) The tomb was not really empty. – In other words, the disciples must have made the whole story up. There are a few problems with that. First, the disciples preached, taught, were persecuted and died…for a lie? It is not reasonable to think this group of men all chose to give their lives for a message they KNEW was a lie. Additionally, they did not run off to Athens or Rome to preach the resurrection. They stayed right in Jerusalem. If their teaching was false, it would have been easily contradicted by those in Jerusalem.
3.) Only Christians profess an empty tomb – Jewish and Roman sources and traditions, in addition to Christian sources, speak of the empty tomb. Ranging from Josephus to the ‘Toledoth Jeshu’ (5th Century Jewish writings), many who would have been considered ‘hostile witnesses’ to the empty tomb, admitted it was indeed empty.
4.) Roman Guards went AWOL and disciples stole the body – Roman military discipline was intense and strict, even to death. Justin, in Digest #49, mentions the offenses that required the death penalty of guards. One way to be put to death was to fall asleep on their duty station or go AWOL. If that happened, the guard would be burned alive. It is difficult to believe the Roman guards would leave their position at the risk of their own lives. In addition, if the disciples stole the body, there has been no evidence ever discovered through archeology of the body of Jesus. Where is it?
5.) Disciples went to the wrong tomb – This theory, begun by Kirsopp Lake, is clearly wrong. Even, in fact, if the women went to the wrong tomb that morning, the disciples would have had to go to the wrong tomb after being told of the empty tomb by the women. It is unlikely both groups, the women and the disciples, went to the same wrong tomb. Even if you believe that possibility, it is for certain the guards would not have been at the wrong tomb. In addition, once the disciples began proclaiming the resurrection, Roman authorities would have wasted no time in producing the dead body of Jesus and proclaiming they went to the wrong tomb. However, there was no dead body to produce.
6.) Jesus did not die. He was unconscious – Popularized by Venturini several centuries ago, is often referred to as the ‘Swoon Theory’. It basically says Jesus fainted from exhaustion rather than dying, which would wipe away the saving work of Jesus completed on the Cross in addition to dispelling the resurrection. It is almost laughable to believe that a half-beaten, almost dead, individual could get himself out of the tomb, walk around beaten, bloody and needing medical treatment, and still could have produced such a confidence in the disciples that they would risk their lives speaking of his resurrection.
Though certainly not a complete study and discourse into proving these arguments to be absurd with no merit, this is a beginning to understanding the lengths individuals and our enemy will go through to dispel the heart of the Gospel. However, it is undeniable, ultimately, something sparked something so radical in the hearts of the disciples that they could not be silent and they would give their very lives for the message. What else could it have been than the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ?