Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” found an empty, open grave this morning. They saw no Roman guards there but they claim they saw Jesus Christ, alive.
Do you believe them? Here are eight solid reasons you should indeed believe:
- The first witnesses to the empty tomb and the living Jesus were women: It’s a sad reality, but women only counted as half as reliable witnesses as men. So the fact all four of the Gospels present women as the first witnesses to the Risen Jesus is a strong indicator Matthew, Mark, Luke and John reported the facts, not what they thought would be the most credible claims.
2. Embarrassing details do not a persuasive case make: Not only is there the fact women were presented as the first witnesses, but the Gospels leave no doubt about other details that present the disciples in an unflattering way, including Peter’s three denials, the cowardice of the other disciples in the garden when Jesus was arrested, and their cowering in fear in the hours after the crucifixion and burial.
3. So many witnesses! It’s tough to establish what really happened when there are few if any witnesses to an event. That’s not a problem with the resurrection! In addition to the women who first found the empty tomb, there were the Roman guards at the tomb, the remaining 11 disciples, the two men on the road to Emmaus, more than 500 people, and, finally, to Paul on the road to Damascus.
4. The transformation of the disciples: Look at how these men were transformed from cowards in the case of the 11 disciples and murderers in the case of Paul. They all became preachers of the Gospel proclaiming that Jesus was alive and the way, the truth and the light. All but one of them died violent deaths. People may die for what they believe to be true but nobody does for what they know to be a lie.
5. Documentary evidence: Luke was not a direct witness but he appears to have talked to multiple other witnesses who were and the New Testament manuscripts available to us today were all written much closer to the dates of their originals than all of the other classics of ancient literature and history such Plato and Homer. The 360Institute explains:
6. Who got the body? Note that the believers almost immediately began proclaiming that Jesus was resurrected. They never relented, even in the face of death. But note what the enemies of Jesus did not do: If the resurrection claim was a lie, his enemies would have said something, but there is no record that they did so. And if they had taken his dead body to prevent the disciples from stealing it and then falsely claiming the resurrection, the enemies would have rolled the rotting corpse down Main Street Jerusalem. Scholar and philosopher Douglas Groothius is especially good on these points.
7. Have you ever tried to work a conspiracy? Conspiracy theories abound about the Resurrection, but none of them have ever been remotely established as credible. Cold-Case Christianity’s J. Warner Wallace explains the *five elements that must be present for a successful conspiracy, number five of which is there be no pressure on the conspirators to change their stories. That clearly was not the case with the Resurrection and the disciples!
8. Even Jesus’ enemies agreed there was no body: Think about it – Matthew tells us that the Roman guards knew they would be punished severely for losing the body of Jesus, so they went to the Jewish authorities to protect them. They did, by paying them to say the disciples stole the body, which was an indirect admission that they couldn’t explain its absence.
These eight reasons are hardly the whole of the case for accepting that Jesus Christ was resurrected on the third day. For additional information, check out Josh and Sean McDowell’s classic presentation, “More Than A Carpenter.” A free copy is available on request in the sidebar to the right.
And if that doesn’t do it for you, keep reading HillFaith because that’s what this blog is all about.
He is risen indeed!
*Here are the other four reasons it’s so tough to make a conspiracy last (As described by Stand To Reason):
- A small number of conspirators. The more people involved in a conspiracy, the harder it will be for the group as a whole to maintain the lie.
- Thorough and immediate communication. When communication breaks down, conspiracies break down. Without adequate communication, co-conspirators are unable to know what information has been divulged.
- A short time span. The shorter amount of time the conspiracy has to be maintained, the better. Longer periods invoke more probability conspirators will confess.
- Significant relational connections. In other words, strangers make poor collaborators. The stronger the bond between accomplices (such as a familial bond), the less likely individuals will betray one another.