A light shines during the resurrection of Jesus while Guards at
the tomb are unaware. AD The Bible Continues
|The series "AD - The Bible Continues"
presents a strong case for the resurrection of Jesus.
In part 1,
Jesus' death and the empty Tomb, the uniqueness of
Christianity was examined through a consideration of the following
Why believe in Christianity?
What makes Christianity different from any other religion?
Why not believe in other religions?
What makes Jesus different from the founder of other religions?
How do you know Christianity is true?
Why should I believe in Jesus?
The answer to all those questions is
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead - it is the answer to each
question, and what makes Christianity unique. Furthermore, Christianity
is the only religion which provides hope for us mortal men and women
through a savior who has demonstrated mastery over death by himself
rising from the dead. And that savior offers the same resurrection to
all who believe in him.
That claim - resurrection from the dead - is so startling, so bold, so
beyond common experience that some people refuse to even consider it as
a possibility. Such doubt has been expressed by the well known liberal
scholar, the late Rudolph Bultmann who in his disbelief writes,
"An historical fact which involves a resurrection from the dead is
Though he doubts it, Bultmann
demonstrates instead of taking the claim lightly, he understands the
gravitas of the claim, as well as the fantastical, foreign-to-this-world
nature of the concept of a physical resurrection from the dead. What
we're discussing is no mere medical resuscitation of a person dead
for a few seconds or minutes. We're talking about a person who was
dead, and verified dead by thrusting a spear through his lung and heart2,
was wrapped in the burial clothes of the day, then buried.
Bultmann correctly points out the impossibility of a resurrection for a
mere human. But Jesus is no mere human, he is the Son of God, fully God
and fully human. That is why "it was impossible for death to keep
its hold on him." (Acts 2.24) The Jewish leaders recognize another
aspect of the resurrection - the threat to their authority. Jesus claims
to have "all authority in heaven and in earth" (Matt 28.18), and that
claim was verified with power by his resurrection from the dead
(Rom 1.4) in fulfillment of scripture regarding the messiah.3
Thus upon the resurrection, hang all of Jesus' claims, and indeed all
of Christianity. Simply put, without the resurrection, there is no Christianity.
only do the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day recognize this, but every
skeptic and anti-Christian denier who have tried to debunk the
Christianity and prove it false recognizes it. But like a child who
plays in the mud, and walks in the house covered it in, but denies it;
their attempts to disprove the resurrection are equally transparent,
equally easy to refute and equally wrong. Following are the main
attempts to deny the resurrection along with clips from AD - the
Bible Continues that illustrate well the truths that refute the
Failed Attempts to Explain Why The
Resurrection Isn't True - Part 2
1. Jewish Conspiracy Theory
This is a very early attempt by the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day to
provide a counter explanation to the proclamation of the apostles. Their
explanation: the disciples stole the body of Jesus while the guards were
sleeping. The gospel writer Matthew records that the chief priests paid
the guards "a large sum of money" to spread this lie. (Matt 28.12-15)
(Click the picture to see the AD depiction.)
The chief priest pays the guards to
say the disciples stole the body why they slept.
Click to view (mobile/tablet format)
Please note two things:
First, as apologist William Lane Craig points out,
"the earliest Jewish response to the proclamation of Jesus'
resurrection presupposes the empty tomb."4
(emphasis his). The fact that they are making up a story about
what happened to the body confirms that the tomb was empty.
Second, note the options the Jewish leaders did not have:
The high priest considers, and
rejects the option to parade an imposter corpse as Jesus.
Warning: graphic wounds depicted.
a) As AD points out (above), they could not have supplied a dead
imposter to claim that Jesus was still dead. But with Jesus' apostles,
and many other disciples and people who had seen him still alive and
present, as AD points out, the conspirators would never would
have gotten away with it because it would have been readily apparent to
anyone who knew Jesus the imposter was a fake, and the temple leaders
would have shown to be lying deceivers.
b) They did not have the option to claim any of the empty tomb
explanations in the
previous post. They couldn't say the disciples went to the wrong
tomb - the easy solution to that is go to the correct tomb and show
Jesus is still dead. They could not say Joseph had relocated the body -
Joseph would have corrected that; additionally he did not have time to
do so with guards there, and without being seen by the women who arrived
early Sunday morning. Thus the tomb remains empty and they are
left with the problem of explaining the empty tomb, or producing
the body of Jesus; neither of which they could do.
Thus given the fact of the empty tomb, the Jewish Leaders who refused to
acknowledge the resurrection took the only course of action they could:
deny the resurrection, lie about what happened, and pay the guards to
become accomplices in the lie.
2. The Hallucination Theory.
3. The Mistaken Identity theory
Theories two and three - the hallucination theory and the mistaken
identity theory - are both feeble attempts to explain away the
most powerful evidence of all: The appearance of Jesus of Nazareth,
alive, in the same physical body, after he had been crucified, dead and
buried. The hallucination theory posits that the disciples only
hallucinated seeing Jesus alive after his death; the mistaken identity
theory - that they mistook someone else for Jesus. The answer to both is
the same: The resurrection appearances summarily dismisses both.
Theologian Norman L. Geisler explains well why the disciples were not
"the resurrection appearances
cannot be cases of mistaken identity. There were too many people
(over five hundred) who saw Jesus, on too many occasions (twelve),
over too long a time (about forty), with too much physical evidence
of His identity and reality. They saw Him, heard Him, touched Him,
saw His crucifixion wounds, observed the empty tomb and grave
clothes, and ate with Him on at least four occasions"5
Notice the same reasoning applies to
hallucinations - with even more force since it is unheard of for
multiple different people to experience the exact same hallucination,
at multiple different times, involving multiple senses. That's simply
not how hallucinations work.
Following are some of the appearances
of Jesus mentioned above, as depicted in AD the Bible continues.
(Notice in the appearance with Thomas present, they include the
reference to the above defense - the impossibility of all the disciples
being mistaken in the same way at the same time - in the appearance to
the disciples with Thomas present.)
Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (mobile/tablet
Jesus appears to the disciples,
Thomas is absent. (mobile/tablet
Jesus appears to the disciples,
Thomas is present (mobile/tablet
Jesus appears by the Sea of Galilee
where they have a miraculous catch of fish.
Jesus appears on a mountain in
Galilee, where he gives the great commission before
his ascension into heaven. (mobile/tablet
The Resurrection Appearances
AD does not present all the recorded appearances, but they do present a
good sampling of some of the well known appearances Jesus made to his
disciples after his death and resurrection. The appearances represented
1. The appearance to Mary Magdalene, which was his first (Mark 16.9;
2. The appearance to the Disciples without Thomas (John 20.19-25)
3. The appearance to Disciples with Thomas (John 20.26-30)
4. The appearance to appearance by the sea of Galilee (Miraculous catch
- John 21.1-14)
5. The appearance on the mount in Galilee where he gave the great
commission, and then ascended into heaven. (Matt 28.18-20, Acts 1.8-9).
The Witness of the Unanswered question: Who Moved the Stone?
Finally, perhaps one of the most eloquent, but silent witness to the
resurrection of Jesus is that of the massive stone used to seal the
Skeptic turned believer Frank Morison asks a question whose answer is a
powerful testimony to the resurrection: "Who Moved the Stone?" In his
book of the same title6, he
considers that very question. The answer, once all the facts are
considered is inescapable: Some of those facts:
1. The stone was huge, and heavy.
Multiple men would have been required to move it.
2. The Tomb (and thus the stone) was guarded. Conspirators trying to
steal the body would have had to engage armed guards to do so, and
vanquish them all to move the stone. (Even a lone guard would surely
have drawn his sword and maimed or killed anyone attempting to move
the stone.) Yet we have reports of guards making reports of what
really happened, so clearly they were not all killed.
3. The tomb was sealed with a Roman seal. To break it was to put
yourself under the death penalty. Who would do that? Not the
disciples, they were hiding behind closed doors.
4. Who had motive to move the stone? Both Rome and the Jewish
leaders were better served with a sealed tomb and a dead body
inside. No one had a motive to steal the body besides the disciples of
Jesus, and as noted above, they were afraid, cowering
behind doors for fear of the Romans.
Who then moved the stone?
Who had a motive? God had a motive. The stone needed to be moved - not
to let Jesus out, but to let the world in to see Jesus was no longer
there - he had risen.
As the Bible reports (Matt 28.2) and as AD the Bible Continues
depicts, an Angel of God descended from heaven and rolled back the
"There was a violent earthquake,
for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and,
going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it." (Matt
This one account is a powerful testimony confirming:
1. The existence of God and angels
2. The resurrection of Jesus
3. The veracity of the claims of Jesus
Considering the inability of the Jewish elders (or skeptics of today) to
provide a feasible explanation to the empty tomb, coupled with the
resurrection appearances and the silent but powerful testimony of the
massive stone; one quickly concludes this triad of evidence forms an
air-tight case. The evidence all points to the same inescapable fact:
Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead.
Thus the greeting heard every Easter, likely used by Christians at the
first commemoration of the resurrection is still true today:
The Lord is risen!
He is risen indeed!
Duane Caldwell | posted 5/12/2015
1. Rudolf Bultmann, Kergma and Myth: A Theological
Debate, Edited by Has Werner Bartach, translated by Reginald H. Fuller
(London: Billing and Sons, 1954) pp.38-39
Referenced from Normal L. Geisler, The Battle For the Resurrection
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1989) p. 71
2. The Journal of the American Medical Society concluded in
1986 concerning the death of Jesus, that:
"Clearly the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates Jesus was dead
before the wound to his side was inflicted and supports the traditional view
that the spear, thrust between his right ribs, probably perforated not only the
right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death."
Referenced from Normal L. Geisler, "The Battle For the Resurrection"
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1989) p. 76-77
3. Scriptures that predict the resurrection of the messiah:
10 Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to
suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will
see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD
will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life
and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify
many, and he will bear their iniquities.
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let
your Holy One see decay.
4. William Lane Craig, On Guard, Colorado
Springs, Co: David C. Cook, 1996, Kindle edition Loc 3818
5. Normal L. Geisler, "The Battle For the Resurrection"
Nashville, TN: Thomas
Nelson, Inc., 1989) p. 79
6. Frank Morison "Who Moved the Stone? Grand
Rapids, MI: Lamplighter Books, Zondervan Publishing House, 1958
Images: AD: The Bible Continues