Q&A: How can I answer people who question how Jesus’ resurrection is possible and if the Bible is reliable?
Many theories but one truth
Critics have tried many times to put Jesus back in the tomb. The swoon theory claims that Jesus only fell unconscious on the cross but then woke up in the tomb. If this is true, one would need to assume that Roman soldiers, whose job was killing, didn’t know what dead really was. They pierced Jesus’ side, and water and blood flowed out—a clear sign he was dead. Also, Jesus, brought to within an inch of his life, would have had to have the strength to roll the stone away without the Roman guards noticing him.
Another attempt to explain the resurrection is the mass hallucination theory. It suggests that all 500-plus people to whom Jesus appeared had the same hallucination. But there is no such thing as mass hallucinations where everyone sees the same thing. And hallucinations are not contagious.
We could keep listing theories, but the one thing that all these theories have in common is that no shred of evidence supports a single one of them.
Now, I am going to be honest. Why do I believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Because the Bible says so. The Holy Spirit, working through his Word, has convinced me of its truth. “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
The Bible is historically reliable
It is important to point out that the Bible is historically reliable. Books have been written about this, but here are just a few points:
Eyewitness testimony. 1 Corinthians states that more than 500 saw Jesus at one time (15:6)! The gospels were widely disseminated and received as credible when thousands of people were still alive who could have discredited them if untrue.
Embarrassing details. The gospel writers included embarrassing details, like the disciples refusing to believe the women who first saw Jesus alive. If you were making up a story, you would portray yourself in a favorable light.
Many details. When a person is lying, they give as few details as possible. The more detail you provide, the more ways your lie could be exposed.
No collusion. When you read the four resurrection accounts, you realize that they are quite different (not conflicting, but different). It shows the authors did not try to deceive people by making their accounts identical.
Martyrdom and exile. Church history says that all but one apostle were gruesomely killed for their testimony and John was exiled for his eyewitness. Why would these men die for a story they made up?
With God all things are possible
Jesus predicted his own resurrection from the dead. Since Jesus is God, is it so unbelievable that the one who created and sustains all things could raise a body from the dead? If I told you that I was going to die and rise again, you would rightly think that I’m crazy. But what if I did it? You’d have to believe, and you also would believe other promises I made.
Certainly I’m not God, but Jesus is. He rose. What does that mean for you? Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). This promise of Jesus is true. That means all of his promises are true. He really does love you, he has forgiven you, he is with you, and he has a place in heaven for you.
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!
Author: David Scharf
Volume 108, Number 4
Issue: April 2021