The Resurrection of Christ and His People:
A Reality that Extends to Eternity
(Illustrating why we cannot accept text-tinkering of modern scholars)
Christ's resurrection foretells the General Resurrection
The reality of resurrection of believers in Christ rests entirely upon the reality of His Resurrection (Jn.14:19 & 11:25, Rom.6:5, 1 Pet.1:3), for we are in Him in all things, from the day of salvation unto eternity.
Many witnessed the Resurrection firsthand, and much in the New Testament and in secular books was written about it. In a court of law, eyewitnesses decide a case, yet witnesses to the acts of Christ are discredited by skeptics, and are not given the same weight that would be given to contemporary witnesses in court. The real issue here is fairness of critics in their dealing with the testimony. Some of them say that witnesses to Christ’s acts were ignorant people who could not evaluate the evidence before their eyes in a technically-correct way. But how much technical know-how do people need to report accurately that one whom they knew had died on the Cross later appeared to them alive and spoke to them? How much technical know-how would they need to be accurate witnesses to any of the various miraculous acts that Christ performed, like the fact that a storm at sea was quieted when Christ commanded the sea to be still?
It's recorded that over 500 people saw Jesus alive after His death. Such testimony would be far more than enough to establish something as fact in any court in the land. We will be even more impressed by the testimony of the witnesses when we consider the views of those who in desperation conjured up ways to deny the Resurrection. The three main skeptical views that have been offered are now seen as nonsense, but it is informative to consider the implications of these views to illustrate the desperation of the skeptics.
1. The Swoon theory: Supposedly, Jesus didn’t die on the cross, but just seemed to, and resuscitated in the cool air of the cave where His body was placed. But Roman soldiers, experts at killing, certified the death of Jesus to Pilate. Further, resuscitation would be as much of a miracle as the Resurrection. It would mean a mere man suffered severe physical brutality and loss of most of his blood and received no medical treatment for a few days, and yet was able to do physical feats no healthy man could do. Loss of most of His blood would result from the combined effects of lancing that accompanied the flogging, and spikes in His hands and feet, but especially from the spear that pierced His side and caused gushing of blood. No mere man miraculously surviving all such brutality and having no medical treatment for festering wounds, gangrene & raging fever, could move his limbs or even retain consciousness, but would be comatose, need-ing constant care just to keep the heart beating. But swoon-theory advocates suggest such a one miraculously freed himself from the linen wrappings encasing Him in burial (The Jews encased dead bodies in wrappings like those binding an Egyptian mummy, and no healthy man could free himself from such binding). Then he single-handedly would push away the great stone covering the cave mouth and single-handedly defeat a detachment of armed Roman soldiers highly accustomed to battle. Then he would walk ~12 miles to Emmaus to meet two forlorn disciples, walking on feet badly lacerated by spikes, and unable to permit standing, much less walking. Swoon theory is a ludicrous effort by skeptics to retain their opinion in contradiction of the historic facts.
2. The Theft theory: It's suggested that the disciples stole His body from the tomb and pretended that He arose from the dead. Supposedly, the guards fell asleep, permitting the disciples to steal Christ’s body, but the penalty for sleeping on guard duty for the Roman soldiers was death. Indeed, scripture reveals that the guards were paid by the leaders of the Jews to say that the disciples stole the body. And, If the guards had been asleep, how in the world would they know what happened to the body?
Furthermore, if the disciples had stolen the body, that would have been a miracle in itself. They were all huddled in an upper room, frightened that the Jews would come for them next, and were much too fearful to think of taking on a detachment of Roman guards. But the absurdity of this theory is seen most clearly in that the disciples were converted from cowardly fearful men to fearless witnesses who laid down their lives willingly for one whose body they supposedly stole from the grave. Men don't willingly die for one they know to be a fraud, and such a thing would only be possible through the miraculous Resurrection of Christ in His victory over death.
3. The Hallucination theory: Supposedly, the disciples hallucinated, imagining they saw a resurrected Jesus. But hallucinations are individual experiences, and it’s highly un-likely that even two people would have the same one at the same time, and there were several in the upper room who all saw Him at the same time. Further, there were over 500 witnesses who saw Him alive after He had been dead, and did all have the same hallucination? Furthermore, hallucinations are based on what a person wants or exp-ects to happen, while the disciples all showed by their extreme surprise at Christ’s appearance before them that His resurrection was the last thing they had expected.
The disciples were honest men who would never have misrepresented this matter. They didn’t have a proper idea of who Christ was, and of the mission He had chosen them for until He arose from the dead. They responded to the Resurrection with joy unbounded, realizing that He was indeed the Son of God with the power of life and death, and they no longer feared death, and even witnessed of Him to a degree that invited martyrdom.