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Proof of the Resurrection

Posted on March 31, 2013 at 5:38 PM Comments comments (150)

 "… Why do you look for the living among the dead?... (Lk 24:5).

On that Good Friday long ago, the religious leaders saw Christ crucifixion as justification of their judgment. But instead, His resurrection on the third day put an end to their self-righteousness. The grave could not hold Him.  The greatest victory the world had ever had is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – the foundation of the Christian faith.  It is the strongest evidence that Jesus is the Son of God.  This event assures us of our hope for eternal life.  The same spirit that raised Jesus will also raise you up from the grave.  Paul said that Christ is the first fruit (1 Cor 15:23). Jesus appeared to His disciples at different times: (1) He first appeared to Mary Magdalene shortly after His resurrection (Mk 16:9; Jn 20:11-18);  (2) He appeared to the women returning from the empty tomb (Mt 28:8-10);  (3) Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mk 16:12,13; Lk 24:13-35); (4) Jesus appeared to Peter (Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5); (5) He appeared to His disciples in Jerusalem when Thomas was absent (Mk 16:14-18; Lk 24:36-49; Jn 20:19-23); (6) Jesus again appeared to His disciples in Jerusalem. This time Thomas was present (John 20:24-29). (7) He appeared to His disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Mt 28:16; Jn 21:1,2). (8) He was seen by 500 believers at one time (1 Cor 15:6). (9) He appeared to James (1 Cor 15:7). (10) Jesus appeared to His disciples on a mountain in Galilee (Mt.28:16-20). (10) He appears to His disciples, blessed them, and ascended into heaven (Lk 24:50-53). (11) He also appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor 15:8).

However, in spite of these proofs throughout the centuries, there have been scholars and skeptics who have and are denying the account of the Resurrection. Some are even denying the birth of Jesus.  Hence, volumes have been written in refutation of the Resurrection.  What I intend to do in this Journal is to state the five most well-known theories developed against the Resurrection and refute each theory biblically. One of the best books written on this subject is The Resurrection Factor by Josh McDowell. Now let’s began with the Swoon Theory or Resuscitation Theory. 

First,The Swoon or Resuscitation Theory: The proponents of this theory argued that Jesus did not really die, He only swooned (fainted) as a result of the pain and suffering on the cross.  He must have resuscitated due to the coolness of the tomb and escape. Refutation: This theory cannot answer the problem of the linen lying neatly folded (Jn 20:5-8). The soldiers attested to the death of Christ on the cross (Jn 19:31-35) when they had their final inspection. The centurion also affirmed the death of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who buried Jesus in his own tomb (Mk 15:43-45).  How will the skeptics explain the removal of the stone and the guard posted to protect the tomb? 

Second, The Hallucination Theory: This theory believes that all of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances were not real, that the disciples had hallucinations. Refutation: This argument is baseless because it is not possible for 500 persons to have hallucinations at the same time. Besides the 500 witnesses, the appearances happened under different conditions and were spread out over different times (Mk 16:11-16; Lk 24:11-12; Jn 20:24-30). Attributing the appearances of Jesus to hallucination contradicts the laws and principles which psychiatrists say are essential to hallucinations. They declare, “Only certain kinds of people have hallucinations. These are usually only paranoid or schizophrenic individuals [who] have hallucinations…. Hallucinations are linked in an individual’s subconscious – to his particular past experiences  [and are] not restricted to people of any particular past experiences and this was certainly not a part of any past experience. . . ” (Josh McDowell, 82f).

Third, The Impersonation Theory: This view holds that the appearances were done by someone else and not Jesus Christ. The argument stems from the fact, that in some cases they did not recognize Him at first or at all. Refutation: It was not possible for the impersonator to impersonate Christ’s wounds. This was the proof that convinced Thomas (Jn 20:24f).  The disciples had traveled with the Lord for three years and they knew Him very well not to be deceived by an impersonator.  Peter and other disciples who went fishing the whole night without catching anything cast the net at the command of Jesus on the right side of the boat and they caught 153 fish. They roasted some of the fish and had breakfast with their Lord. (Jn 21:1-17)  They recognized Him.  If this was someone other than Jesus could that person perform that miracle? The disciples were meeting in locked chambers in some instances, and He suddenly appeared to them in His glorified body. No one could impersonate such a miraculous act other than the resurrected Christ.

Fourth, Spiritual Resurrection Theory: Proponents of this theory believe that Christ’s body remained in the grave and His real resurrection was spiritual in nature. 
Refutation: If this was a spiritual Resurrection, then what happened to Christ’s body? The Scripture says He was touched and handled, that Jesus had a body, and that He even ate with the disciples (Lk 24:30,41f;Jn 21:12f). Christ appeared to His disciples in different forms (Mk 16:12), ate with them (Lk 24:30), appeared and disappeared and could pass through solid objects (Jn 20:19,26), and He passed in a moment from one place to another (Lk 24:31; ph 3:21)).  Jesus’s resurrected body was spiritual, glorified, and yet had a physical body of flesh and bone.

Fifth, The Theft Theory: Another argument against the Resurrection is that the disciples stole the body and claimed that He rose from the dead (Mt 28:11-15). 
Refutation: I would have agreed with this report if the text had concluded, “And the soldiers who guarded the grave were executed.”  The Roman law regarding escaped prisoners was that the soldier guard will be put to death.  Saint Matthew rightly reported the fabrication of the theft of Jesus’s body because the apostles were somehow afraid for their own lives and some may have been in hiding expecting that eventuality. The religious leaders had provided their own refutation against such a theory because the tomb was sealed and the soldiers were there to protect it against theft. 

Luke (24: 1- 8) records, “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleaned like lighting stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again’” Yes, these biblical accounts of Christ’s Resurrection are authentic.  The Master was resurrected as promised – Hallelujah! He is alive forever and ever!

Happy Resurrection Sunday/Easter from all of us at Africa Int’l Christian Mission. 

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