Eyewitnesses claim that Jesus Christ showed his ability to defeat death. They tell us that on the third day after Jesus was crucified and buried, he unexpectedly reappeared to them alive. After then, he was seen by his other followers, including 500 individuals at once.
The news that Jesus had survived death quickly spread throughout the world. But is it possible that Jesus’ resurrection is only a 2000-year-old myth? Or is it supported by past data that can be verified?
If Jesus didn’t rise from the grave, the Christian faith’s basis would be irreparably shattered.
Jesus Predicts His Own Death and Resurrection
The prophet Isaiah predicted a future Messiah who would suffer and die for our sins before being raised to life seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus.
Jesus asserted that he was the Messiah who would be betrayed, arrested, sentenced, spat upon, scourged, and slain, echoing the prophesy in Isaiah 53. But then he would resurrect three days later. (Refer to Mark 10:33.
Everything that Jesus said and taught hinged on his bodily resurrection. Jesus’ message of forgiveness and hope for eternal life would be useless if he didn’t rise from the dead as he predicted. Jesus was submitting his claims to the sternest scrutiny possible.
Bible scholar Wilbur Smith explains, “When he said He would rise again from the dead, the third day after He was crucified, He said something that only a fool would dare say if He expected the devotion of any disciples – unless He was sure He was going to rise.”
So what happened?
A Horrific Death And Then . . . ?
As foretold by Jesus, Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, allegedly betrayed him, according to eyewitness accounts. Then, following a fictitious trial conducted by the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, he was found guilty and mercilessly tortured before being executed on a wooden cross.
Jesus bled for around six hours as he was nailed to the crucifixion. Jesus yelled “It is finished” and died around 3:00 in the afternoon.Then the sky suddenly became dark, and the ground trembled.
Before permitting the burial of Jesus’ crucifixion body, Pilate wanted to make sure he was indeed dead. So a Roman guard pierced Jesus’ side with a spear. According to eyewitnesses, the combination of blood and water that came out was an obvious sign that Jesus had died. Jesus’ body was removed from the crucifixion once it was determined that he had died, wrapped firmly in linen, and laid to rest in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. The tomb was subsequently covered with a sizable stone, and the Roman soldiers were given strict orders to protect it around-the-clock.
Jesus’ execution on the cross left his followers in such profound disbelief that they ran for their lives in dread of being arrested and executed themselves. But after that, something took place.
A New York Times report claims that
“Shortly after Jesus was crucified, his disciples were abruptly galvanised from a bewildered and timid bunch into individuals whose message of a living Jesus and a future kingdom, preached at the risk of their lives, ultimately altered an empire. Something took place… But what precisely?”
A Skeptic Examines the Evidence
English journalist Frank Morison believed Jesus’ resurrection was mythical and began research for a book proving his case. Morison wanted to know what actually happened that changed Jesus’ followers and started a movement that has made such a profound impact on our world.
He realized there were five possible explanations:
- Jesus didn’t really die on the cross.
- Jesus’ body was stolen.
- The disciples were hallucinating.
- The account is legendary. Or,
- It really happened.
Morison began examining the facts patiently and impartially to see where they would lead him.