Bible Study Opportunities
The Resurrection of Jesus – Fact or Hoax?
By Jon W. Quinn
"And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus...Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." (LUKE 24:2-7) Jesus promised to die and then to arise from the grave. It certainly seems that if this prediction of His came to pass, then everything He claimed, promised and taught must be true. Faith in the resurrection is the very foundation of our whole relationship to God. If it is not true, then there is no hope and we are left desolate. But our faith in Jesus does not rest on some vague feeling or blind speculation. It is not wishful thinking that dreamed up the resurrection of Jesus. Our faith rests upon a secure and solid foundation. THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS WAS FORESEEN "From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day". (MATT 16:21). Jesus predicted His resurrection over and over again. If it did not happen, then His followers all would certainly have lost their faith in Him! As they beheld His tortured corpse decay in its tomb, how long would it take for the first one to say, "Enough! Come on, let's go home and try to put our lives back together." Christianity would never have taken root had this prediction of its Founder failed! JESUS WAS REALLY DEAD "But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water." (JOHN 19:34) We have more information regarding the death of Jesus than any other person from ancient history! The information has been examined by medical experts throughout history and the answer is always the same. Jesus had not merely fainted. He was not pretending. He was dead. His executioners knew it. They watched him die as they had many, many others. The thrust of the spear into His side removes all doubt as both water and blood emerge from the wound showing a massive clotting already taking place in the arteries. The centurion in charge reported the various details of how Jesus died to Pilate (MARK 15:44,45). Sometime later, His body is finally removed from the cross. THE BURIAL OF JESUS "And Joseph bought a linen sheet, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen sheet, and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb." (MARK 15:46) The body of Jesus given a hurried, minimal preparation for burial as it was wrapped in grave clothes and anointed with spices. A large rock was rolled in front of the entrance. The tomb was then sealed in the presence of the Roman guards stationed at the tomb. This was usually done by stretching a cord across the stone and sealing both ends of it. Only by breaking the seal could someone get in, and nobody was expecting anyone to come out! The penalty for quitting post was death for the Roman guards. At this time, the disciples are in hiding. They are scared, confused and emotionally crushed. So the tomb is absolutely secure, and later even the enemies of Jesus have to admit Jesus' body is no longer there. Through the centuries skeptics have fabricated stories about how the tomb became empty, but not a one can really explain away all the facts. THE COVER UP "And when they had assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, You are to say His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep." (MATT 28:12,13) Of course, when one is forced to come up with a quick lie, he often does not carefully consider how it will bear up under investigation. The question to be asked the soldiers would be, "If you were asleep, as you claim, then how do you know the disciples stole the body?" Maybe they better go back and think up another one. Problem was they did not have time. JESUS LIVES! "...I am the First and the Last, and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore..." (REV 1:17,18) Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, the women at the tomb, Peter, the two on the road to Emmaus, 10 apostles, 11 apostles, 7 disciples at the Lake of Tiberius, 500 at once, James, the eleven, Steven, Paul, John, as well as other appearances which are not recorded. The message of Jesus' resurrection was first preached and accepted at the very city of His death and burial! The tomb was right there! Many of those guilty of His death became the first to accept the overwhelming evidence of His resurrection! Who in the world ever more wanted to disprove the resurrection than Jesus' enemies on the day of Pentecost as they were accused of murdering God's Son? And yet the enemies did either one of two things: kept quiet having nothing to say, or converted to Jesus! (ACTS 2:22-42) TRANSFORMED LIVES "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross." (ACTS 5:30) What turned the apostles from trembling men fearing for their very lives to the bold proclaimers of the gospel we see throughout the rest of the New Testament? What caused them to be so dedicated that they would sacrifice everything, including their very lives, for their Lord? The verdict is in. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God! He lives, and He is coming back for us. Let us all be ready.
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois October 8, 1999