There are many liberal theologians who seek to prove that the resurrection of Jesus did not happen. But Jesus emergence from the tomb on the third day is one of the most attested facts in world history. The resurrection was neither a resuscitation nor a recuperation. Jesus was dead. He arose. But that’s not the end of the story…
Because of His humanity, He became the prototype of glorified humanity (Philippians 3:20). He has always been Lord, thus His resurrection is a confirmation of His Lordship, not a proof. By conquering death, “He became the Author of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). His resurrection was but one facet of the entire redemption process, for, had He remained entombed, He could save no one.
The resurrected Jesus has a body no longer bound by time and space (Matthew 22:30 and John 11:25). The resurrection verifies a whole new dimension of existence beyond the grave. This is why Satan hates the fact of the resurrection of God’s Son. Unbelief always seeks to explain away Easter Sunday. Its true meaning has become lost amid the mindless liturgy of bunnies, eggs, lilies and baskets. When walking the candy aisle during this season, it is hard to find anything to remind Americans of the single greatest event in history.
The resurrection involves much more than just the personal survival of Jesus. It was the pivotal turning point of the entire human race. His resurrection is the only guarantee that life continues after death. Thus, the fact of the current, living presence of Jesus is much more than a theory for discussion in cold, non-evangelical seminaries.
Critics recoil from the miracle of a physical resurrection which leaves the tomb empty. Disbelief in the supernatural forces them to explain away the reality of the living Jesus. They spin their tangled webs of genre, attempting to immortalize themselves by proposing some pet eclectic. Here are seven of their nonsensical theories:
The Swoon Theory
According to this, “Jesus was never really dead. There was no true resurrection. On the cross, Jesus fainted and went into a coma. In the tomb, however, He was revived by the cooler atmosphere and the embalming spices. He then moved the stone by himself and thus emerged.”
Time for a reality check. Are we to believe that a man who had been beaten, had a crown of thorns beaten into His head, was dehydrated, crucified and had a spear thrust into his side could simply revive? But these theorists cringe when they are asked simple questions such as why, when Jesus emerged, was He not immediately arrested by the guards? Their answer? “He found some gardeners clothing and put them on to disguise Himself. That is why Mary Magdalene mistook Him for a gardener” (John 20:15).This would mean that what Jesus told her (John 20:17) was not the truth. To accept this theory is to make the Lord Jesus a deceiver.
The Quack Quake Theory
According to this fantastic theory, “Jesus revived and managed to escape because the quake had shifted the stone.” There certainly was an earthquake (Matthew 28:2), but we are told that it was an angel who actually moved the stone. To accept this theory is to believe that everything Jesus said about His resurrection during His forty days of post-resurrection appearances was part of a planned deception. This would mean that Jesus, after preaching truth for three and a half years, now begins to live a lie. Following this line of reasoning, His ascension to the Father is also a scam. But, if He did not ascend…just where did He go? “He is risen!” (Mark 16:6)
The Wrong Address Theory
According to this piece of brilliant theological scholarship, there was no resurrection at all. “The women who visited the tomb (Luke 23:55-56) to anoint His body simply went to the wrong tomb by mistake.” Since these women had just visited His tomb the day before (John 20:1), one has to ponder the plausibility of such an error. But our liberal friends have the answer for this too. “Because the angels told the women that Jesus is not here (Luke 24:6), it means that He was dead but entombed someplace else.” One wonders if the libraries of such scholars consist entirely of comic books.
The Fraud Theory
This theory is fascinating. “There was no real resurrection at all: everything was faked. They hid His body and pretended that He had resurrected. The disciples came at night and stole Jesus’ body while the guards slept, just as Jewish leaders instructed the guards to say” ( Matthew 28:13). But this theory makes Jesus’ disciples thieves and charlatans. It also begs the question: How could the guards know that the disciples stole His body if they were snoozing? Apparently, these liberal scholars do not know their history, for it often meant instant death for a Roman soldier to fall asleep while on guard duty. Perhaps we can re-title this one “The Siesta Theory.” One is forced to ask, where did they finally bury Him? No one could have stolen His body, for His enemies would not steal it and his disciples could not steal it.
According to early church history, we find that all the disciples, except for John, were maryters. Men do not die for a lie. Yet proponents of this fanciful theory say, “The disciples lied about Jesus’ resurrection in order to protect their comfortable life style.” The truth is, hypocritical religious leaders lied about His resurrection (Matthew 28:13) and continue to lie about it today, to protect their own comfortable life styles. Arm-chair theologians of the twenty-first century sit in their seminaries, fabricating lies about our risen Lord.
If you follow the New Testament account, the disciples were reluctant to believe that He indeed had risen (Luke 24:11). Thanks to the women, they found out the truth.
The Hallucination Theory
This conjecture proposes that the resurrection never took place. “Although it seemed real to them, His appearances were merely illusions. Hysterical women and the disciples were duped by mass hallucinations and self-hypnosis. The mental and psycho-physical stress created the post-resurrection appearances in their minds.” If this is true, it should appear in the Guinness World Book of Records. How could 500 people all have the same hallucination at once? (I Corinthians 15:6).
It is interesting that this theory assumes that the disciples expected Him to rise, when in fact they did not (Luke 24:16-25). This theory makes Jesus a liar (for He claimed He had resurrected in Luke 24:38-39) and makes His disciples all look like psychotics. The truth is found in His Word. Jesus said to Thomas, “Examine Me and see and believe” (Luke 20:27). If His post-resurrection appearances were only self-induced visions, His body would still be in the tomb. It is not, for “The Lord is risen indeed!” (Luke 24:34)
The Ghost Theory
According to this doctrine, “the tomb was indeed empty but only because Jesus’ body was removed by His disciples.” Proponents of this particular heresy believe that God granted “appearances” to special individuals by a Christ who was in spirit form. Such mystical appearances bespeak ESP, visionary and telepathic imagery. If Jesus only appeared in the form of a phantom, how can they explain Jesus’ challenge to the disciples in Luke 24:38-39, “Come handle Me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as ye see Me have.”
The Legend Theory
The folks who have spun this yarn believe that “the resurrection was only a legend, but was accepted as fact over time. We are two thousand years past the time of Christ. It is too late to go back and prove that Jesus never really resurrected, for the actual location of His real tomb has been forgotten.”
All of these seven theories have one thing in common: they all deny the physical, factual resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no way to disprove any of these theories to one who is convinced otherwise. The only way to really “prove” any of these theories is false is for the unsaved person to meet the living resurrected Jesus. Paul said, “If Jesus is not raised, then your faith is in vain and you are still in your sins (I Corinthians 15:14). He must be a living Savior or He is no Savior at all, for only the risen Christ can forgive sins.
The book of Acts opens by declaring that “He has showed Himself alive through many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3). But is there any concrete proof of Jesus’ resurrection? Yes.
1. All New Testament believers accepted the resurrection as fact. By common consent of the early Christians, the Lord’s Day was changed from Saturday to Sunday. The first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:2) became “The Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10) in honor of His resurrection.
2. The existence of the Church over two millennia verifies that Jesus Christ is alive and well. The continuing testimony of millions of believers throughout twenty centuries validates the reality of daily communication with a living Lord Jesus.
3. The hundreds of Biblical prophecies that have all been perfectly fulfilled by the resurrected Jesus. The book of Revelation confirms that all prophecy will culminate in Him (Revelation 19:10).
Only those who are born again can begin to appreciate the events of that first Easter morning. His miracle incarnation is intimately tied to His miracle resurrection. People do not believe in the resurrected Jesus because they weigh the evidence and arrived at a logical conclusion, but because Jesus has personally and permanently changed their lives. Christians do not believe in Christ because of an empty tomb, but because of their daily communication with Him through prayer.