Hawthorn Presbyterian Church

Facing Up to the Resurrection

[Taken from the Monthly Notes, April 2012]

For the most part, even the most vehement critics of Christianity are willing to accept that there was such a man as Jesus who lived in Judea and Galilee in the first century. Most will also accept that he was crucified by the Romans under Pontius Pilate. For them, this is quite safe to admit. After all, a dead person, even someone heralded as a saviour while alive, can be safely dismissed once dead. If the dead stay dead, then given enough time, resources and perseverance, history can always be re-written or conveniently re-interpreted as a myth. Or so they hope.

A Saviour who dies but lives again, is quite another story, particularly one who will never ever die again. Such a one is problematic, and not simply because it involves accepting the non-materialistic premise that death is not the end of all conscious existence. That concept has been accepted by various cultures and religions, and in the case of Hinduism, expanded so that existence is comprised of an infinitude of life-cycles but despite their myriad of gods, there is no real external accountability to anyone else. A risen Saviour of the sort that Jesus is, is problematic because of the clear implication that this One might one day confront and hold accountable those who deny His existence! Therefore, Jesus must stay dead! So, opponents of Christianity have resorted to various theories in their desperation to dismiss the clear Biblical claim that Jesus rose from the dead. In short, they have created their own myths, such as:

1. The Wrong Tomb Theory: In their confusion and grief, the women and disciples simply got the tomb wrong and went to an empty tomb instead of the real one. But this theory falls flat when one realises that when Peter & John were later arrested for preaching the resurrection, the easiest way to scotch the new faith and render it powerless would have been by producing the body from the real tomb. # BUSTED!

2. The Hallucination Theory: This claims that in their collective grief and stress, the women and disciples were all easily convinced to believe they had “seen Jesus.” Despite all the psychological problems with such alleged “group hallucination” the theory fails when again, it would have been a simple matter for the authorities to produce the body from the real tomb. #BUSTED!

3. The Swoon Theory: This says that Jesus was not dead but in a deep coma-like state, and revived in the cool of the tomb. He then managed to unwrap himself, and escape. This ignores the fact that it was Romans who signed off on the death, and ignores the physical violence of crucifixion, which usually broke bones in hands and feet. Jesus was in no fit state to escape anywhere! As D.F. Strauss, himself a critic of Christianity, wrote in the 19th century: It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the grave, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening, [& who had] at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given the disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of life… Impossible indeed. # BUSTED!

4. The Stolen Body Theory: This is that the disciples stole Jesus body and pretended he had risen. In order for this to be so, the disciples who had all fled for fear suddenly summoned the courage to overpower or to sneak past the guard, move a 2 tonne stone, carefully unwrap Jesus, and sneak out again carrying the corpse with them. Implausible as all this is in itself, the entire gospel narratives make it clear that until Jesus rose, the disciples had no understanding of anything Jesus had said which spoke of resurrection. They were in despair [see Luke 24:21] # BUSTED!

Once again, we see that people choose to exchange the truth of God for a lie, rather than serve the Creator who is blessed forever. Amen [Rom 1:25]. Don’t you do the same!

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