Answers from the Listening Guide (p. 56)
- Jesus really died, but it was the twin of Jesus that was appearing to people.
- Hallucinations are usually a very individual kind of thing.
- Somewhere between the time He was put in the tomb and Sunday morning, Jesus revived.
- There is no inconsistency in the story of the burial of Jesus.
- Over time, a legend begins to be formed about Jesus, and it just gets embellished, year after year.
- I think one of the greatest bits of evidence for the resurrection is the changed lives of His disciples.
- A legend requires at least two full generations before it can begin to be formed.
- If Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, then the gospel is useless.
- How many people will die for a lie when they know its a lie?
Arguments Against the Resurrection
The Twin Theory: Jesus really died, but His twin was the one who people were seeing.
- Wouldn’t His own mother have been able to tell the two apart?
- Did the twin have the same scars the crucified Jesus would have had? (See John 20:27)
The Hallucination Theory: Instead of seeing the real Jesus, people hallucinated Him.
- On at least two occasions, people did not recognize Jesus when He appeared to them (see Luke 24:14 and John 20:14)
- According to Paul, Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once (1 Cor. 15:6). Hallucinations are not group events.
The Wrong Tomb Theory: Everyone who claimed to have gone to the empty tomb went to the wrong one.
- If it was the wrong tomb, that means there would have been a right tomb somewhere. Surely someone would have produced the body in order to discredit the story of the resurrection.
The Swoon Theory: Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. He swooned on the cross, then was revived in the cool of the tomb.
- The Romans performed hundreds, if not thousands of crucifixions every year. If the soldiers said Jesus was dead (John 19:33), we can trust them.
- How could Jesus, after being tortured, crucified, speared, and buried with 75 pounds of spices, unwrap himself, move a stone out of the way, and overcome a squad of Roman soldiers?
The Inconsistency Argument: Details from the four gospel accounts don’t match up. And because of these inconsistencies, we can disregard the entire story.
- There are no issues with the record regarding the death or burial.
- No issues with the record regarding the empty tomb.
- No issues with the record regarding the post-death appearances
- The alleged issues focus only on the details surrounding the women and the angels.
The Disciples Stole the Body: In Matthew 27:62, the chief priests go to Pilate and say,
“Sir, we remember that while this deceiver was still alive He said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore give orders that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come, steal Him, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ Then the last deception will be worse than the first.”
So Pilate orders the soldiers to make the tomb “as secure as they know how” (vv. 65-66). After the resurrection, Matthew 28:12-15 reads:
12 After the priests[a] had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money 13 and told them, “Say this, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping.’ 14 If this reaches the governor’s ears,[b] we will deal with[c] him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day.
So here are the questions:
- How can you trust what someone claims happens in his sleep?
- The penalty for a soldier falling asleep on guard duty was death.
- Could a group of fisherman overcome soldiers guarding the tomb?
- Would they have broken Jewish sabbath laws to commit this crime?
- Would they have taken the time to unwrap the grave clothes and leave them behind?
- Would they have willingly gone to their death for something they knew was a lie?
The Myth Theory: Over time, a legend began to be formed about Jesus, and it just gets embellished, year after year. 1 cor. 15:3-8 says: “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
4 that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures,
5 and that He appeared to Cephas,
then to the Twelve.
6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.
7 Then He appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
8 Last of all, as to one abnormally born,[a]
He also appeared to me.
Paul is relating a creed that had been established within months of Jesus’ death. If it truly takes two full generation for a legend to be established, Paul’s statement, “Most of these are still living” refutes this.
The Meaning of the Resurrection:
If Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead (see 1 Cor. 15:12-19)
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith.[d] 15 In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ—whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.18 Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished.19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.
- The gospel is useless.
- Christian faith is worthless.
- The apostles lied.
- Christians are unforgiven.
- Those who died are lost.
- Christians are to be pitied more than all men.
- Preaching in the faith of death is absurd.
- We should abandon our faith in God.
The Power of Death has been Broken! (Gen. 3:15)
The resurrection of Jesus confirmed:
- the reality of His identity
- the work of Christ in paying for our sins.
- The resurrection of the dead, which is our hope.