Every now and again, I receive an email that stands out among the hundreds of such messages that hit my inbox just about every day. One such missive came today that I would like to share with you.
The email came from Stand to Reason’s Greg Koukl. Along with Josh and Sean McDowell, Frank Turek, J. Warner Wallace, Gary Habermas, Hugh Ross, and Ravi Zacharias, Koukl has in recent years labored mightily and successfully to put Christian apologetics in a prominent place in America’s public forums, secular and spiritual.
The heart of this particular message was the following three facts that are essentially settled as beyond dispute among Christianity’s defenders and its skeptics:
- “Jesus was dead and buried. There is no academic dispute on this point. After brutally beating and flogging Jesus, battle-seasoned Roman soldiers executed Him on a cross and declared Him dead, plunging a spear through His chest for good measure. He was then embalmed with 80 pounds of spices, wrapped up, and sealed in a stone tomb.
- “The tomb was empty Sunday morning: Nearly three-quarters of all scholars agree here, since the empty tomb was never disputed by anyone at the time, even the Jews and Romans. Why was Jesus’ body never produced to quell the rumor of resurrection? Present the corpse, end the controversy. Pretty simple.
- “The disciples were transformed. Even the most critical scholars acknowledge that the disciples proclaimed the resurrection at their peril because they thought they’d encountered the risen Christ. Many paid the ultimate price—including the skeptic James and the former executioner of Christians, Paul—choosing death rather than retraction.”
Given these three facts, what then is the irresistible conclusion referenced in the headline above? Simply this: The Gospels’ claim that Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion and burial is the most complete and reasonable explanation for how those three facts can be true.
“Why was Jesus’ body never produced to quell the rumor of resurrection? Present the corpse, end the controversy. Pretty simple.”
In other words, Jesus claimed to be “the Way, the Truth and the Light. No man comes to the Father but through Me.” And the resurrection proves that He should be believed.
Is that a 100 percent, rock-solid case? No, because human beings have finite powers of understanding, there are aspects of the resurrection claims of Christianity that remain in some sense mysterious.
In other words, given the available evidence and the reality that believing and skeptical scholars alike almost unanimously agree on those three facts, here’s how Koukl describes it:
“In the final analysis, the one thing that could destroy Christianity turns out to be the one thing that verifies everything important. Put simply, He is risen.”
Now, if that’s true, it changes everything for all of us. What will you do with it?