Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The Resurrection of Jesus, is there proof? For centuries, individuals have questioned evidence supporting the biblical record of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, is there evidence to prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Some question the biblical record because they do not believe in miracles or the supernatural. Some question the biblical record because they do not believe the prophetic record could be so amazingly precise and accurate. Some question the biblical record because if the stories are true, then Jesus is truly Lord and deserving of our obedience and worship. Interestingly, some of the greatest investigators tasked with reviewing the evidence of the death and resurrection of Jesus have been hostile atheist—skilled individuals who began their investigations hoping to prove the Bible to be in error but later came to believe the biblical record is true and that Jesus is who He claimed to be.

It is true that we are to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), but God in His mercy has provided an abundance of evidence to help those with questions to believe. God has provided this generation with easy access to scholarly research—archeological evidence, historical records, prophetic fulfillment, and helps to make reasoned, intelligent decisions regarding whether or not the Gospel record is true.

I believe God has provided this evidence not only so we can be confident in our faith, but also so that we can provide a powerful defense for the faith. There is a growing tide of skepticism and hostility toward Christianity. Yet, Christians are called to impact the world for Christ and persuade individuals to believe. (2 Cor. 5:11). It is not enough to simply state what you believe—To be a powerful witness, you must also be able to articulate why you believe it.

God created humanity with the ability to reason and has provided compelling reasons to believe. In light of this reality, I believe God expects His followers to study to be equipped to share His truth  (2 Timothy 2:15), to be quick and able to defend the faith (Philippians 1:16).

STUDY NOTES FOR THE TEACHING ON EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION

A great fallacy or a great fulfillment of prophecy?

  • “…The things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of the prophets, that…Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” (Acts 3:18)
  • The probability of one person fulfilling less than have of the prophecies is in in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion…Equal to the number of atoms in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, billion universes the size of our universe.” (From the Case For Christ by Lee Strobel)
  • 1 Cor. 15:3-7

THE UNIQUENESS OF THE STORY

  • There were others who claimed to be the Messiah
    • Theudas:At some point between 44 and 46 AD, Theudas claimed to be the Messiah and led several thousand in a short-lived revolt.
    • The Egyptian(52-58 AD): Josephus writes, “There was an Egyptian false prophet…and [he] got together 30,000 men that were deluded by him; these he led…to the Mount of Olives. He was ready to break into Jerusalem by force…and conquer the Roman garrison…”
    • John of Gischala(67 AD): Some note that he led more than 6000 in an uprising against the Romans—enlisting support with Messianic-type rhetoric. He and his followers died during the siege and fall of Jerusalem (70 AD).
  • Resurrection parallels in mythology
    • Osiris
    • Dionysus
    • Adonis and  Attis
    • Mithra

Argument #1: There is no God or higher power.

  • Victor J. Stenger, author of Not By Design, and Emeritus Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawaii promotes the idea of creation ex nihilo. The science community accepts the idea of intelligent design. Some of the notable names include,
    • Nobel prize winners Albert Einstein and Donald Page
    • Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias
    • Astrophysicist Hugh Norman Ross
    • MIT Physicist Lisa Dyson
    • Stanford Physicist Leonard Susskind

Argument #2: Jesus, by Himself or aided by a group, lived a kind of scripted life designed to put Him in the right place at the right time to fulfill prophecy.

  • Triumphal Entry (the crowd response).
  • The Betrayal (The Sanhedrin’s offer of 30 pieces of silver).
  • Place of His birth and census.
  • Soldiers gambled for His robe
  • None of His bones were broken
  • The probability of one man fulfilling less than half of the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament is one in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion.
  • Acts 3:18

Argument #3: There was no crucifixion.

  • Crucifixions were usually mass events.
  • Roman leaders in Israel did not schedule crucifixions on or near Hebrew territories.
    • On Emmaus road (Luke 24:13-18).
    • The book of Acts notes phenomenal responses to early invitations to, at great cost, become followers of Christ.
    • Non-Christian testimonies: Tacitus, Lucian, and Mara Bar-Serapion to name a few.
    • The Talmud
    • Historian Josephus wrote, He was the Messiah. And when upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross…He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things…”

 Argument #4: Jesus was crucified, but did not die on the cross.

  • Celsus wrote that Jesus was put into a drug-induced coma to simulate death and that the teachings of Scripture are absurd (178 AD).
  • The Gospel of Barnabas: Someone was crucified, but it was not Jesus.
  • The Koran suggests that Jesus never really died on the cross.
  • In the 19th century, Karl Bahrdt and Karl Venturini suggested that the Romans crucified Jesus, but when He appeared to be dead, He was removed from the cross and revived.
  • Adherents of this position point out that the Gospels note Jesus was given some liquid on a sponge while on the cross (Mark 15:36) and that Pilate seemed surprised at how quickly Jesus had died (Mark 15:44).
    • The Romans knew how to kill.
    • Jesus was scourged not just whipped/lashed
    • Jesus manifested signs consistent with hypovolemic shock.
    • The “blood and the water flowed.” (John 19:34)

 Argument #5: Jesus died on the cross, but there was no resurrection.

  • Historians note that individuals generally remained on their crosses.
  • Historians note that many were tied to crosses.
  • Professor Guigneberg (Jesus).
  • John Dominic (The Jesus Seminar).
    • “Jewish leadership, fearing Jesus’ promise of resurrecting on the third day, petitioned Pilate to place guards at the tomb, and on the third day, paid guards to say they fell asleep and that the disciples removed the body.”
    • Polybius notes the punishment for a Roman soldier falling asleep at their post was death.
    • The crucifixion and resurrection were central, foundational tenants of the New Testament Church (Acts 2:22, 32; 26:26).
    • Paul quotes an early creed (1 Cor. 15:3-7)
    • Clement (59)
    • Polycarp (69-155)
    • Irenaeus (185) *  Tertullian  (200)  * Eusebius (285)
    • In all, 42 authors, nine of them secular, mention Jesus, the cross and the resurrection within 125 years of the cross.

Argument #6: All that happened was an accident or miscalculation.

  • The Gospel Of Judas suggests that Jesus longed for death, wanted to be a martyr, and appointed Judas to be the new leader.‘You will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man…’
    • Jesus spoke often and clearly about His death; that it was God’s plan, and His purpose.
    • 12:38-40, 16:21, 17:9,22-23, 20:18-19, 26:32, 27:63
    • Mark 8:31-9:1, 9:10,31, 10:32-34, 14:28,58
    • Luke 9:22-27
    • John 2:18-22, 12:34, chapters 14-16

  Argument #7: Many lives were fundamentally changed.

  • Peter is a different man after the resurrection.
  • Saul/Paul, Luke, CS Lewis, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel.
  • Ignatius: Thrown to wild beasts in the Colosseum at Rome in 115 AD.
  • By the end of the first century, there were 25,000 martyrs. By the end of the fourth century, there were 1.95 million martyrs.
  • People do not willingly sacrifice their life for a myth.

With regard to differing accounts of resurrection day events…

  • Michael Martin, Professor Emeritus of Boston University wrote, “In summary, the accounts of what happened at the tomb are either inconsistent or can only be made consistent with the aid of implausible interpretations.”
  • Number of women at the tomb: (2), Mark (3), Luke (5), John (1)
  • Information regarding who was at the tomb does not seem to be consistent in the biblical narrative.
  • Consider: When and where the encounter took place
    • Variation on secondary issues increases validity.
    • Emphasizing the testimony of women increases validity.

Summary

  • Acts 2:32 / John 16:31
  • Believe (Romans 10:9-10)
  • Acknowledge (Rom. 3:23)
  • Confess (1 John 1:9)
  • Give God your heart (Proverbs 23:26  /  Matthew 22:37)
  • Obey (1 John 5:3, 13:17)
  • Live a life worthy of your calling (Eph. 4:1)

Recommended reading

  • New Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell
  • The Case For Faith by Lee Strobel
  • The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel
  • The Case For The Resurrection by Gary Habermas & Michael Licona
  • A Ready Defense by Josh McDowell
  • When Skeptics Ask by Geisler Brook

 

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