Could Jesus Christ really have risen from the dead?
The truth of Christianity stands or falls with one central issue: the
physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from death. Christians traditionally celebrate this event on Easter, but it is relevant for every day actually. If this really
happened, then everyone should listen carefully to all that He
taught. If not, then no one should trust the New Testament,
because the New Testament repeatedly says that Jesus did rise
from the dead. Not only did each of the gospel writers give major
emphasis to this at the end of their gospels, but so did the apostle
Paul, a former Pharisee and persecutor of Christians, who was
converted through a direct encounter with the resurrected Christ
whilst on his way to arrest and imprison believers in Damascus. If
these gospel writers and apostles were liars, then it isn’t much
recommendation for the New Testament, even as a source of
moral instruction. Yet it is arguable that the New Testament has
done more for the moral betterment of humanity than any other
piece of literature in the world! How could the writings of liars
produce such wonderful effects?
Take the resurrection out of Christianity and all we are left with is
another man-made religion with its list of do’s and don’ts. The
authority of the message is effectively removed once we deny the
resurrection. Some people may prefer to view things that way, but
I’d challenge such people to come to grips with the powerful
historical evidence out there for the resurrection. I’d challenge
them to offer an explanation as to why belief in a supposedly dead
religious teacher has changed people’s lives so much in modern
times – restoring marriages, getting people off hard drugs, changing
lives and society for the better.
Christianity claims to deal with the living God intervening in history
and finally entering men’s lives through the Holy Spirit. The
resurrection of Christ is offered as the proof that Jesus Christ
really was the Son of God, the one who made it all possible. To
refute Christianity, it is not enough to simply say that these things
can’t happen. You have to explain how it is that such things could
have been written about Jesus of Nazareth and why a whole
movement of people left their religious traditions to trust and
believe it, forming the early church.
To deny the resurrection, we’d have to conclude that all the
apostles (Jesus’ first disciples), most of whom were killed for their
faith in Christ and the resurrection were liars and/or crazy, deluded
fools. But does this really add up?
Non-Christian historians writing within a hundred years of Jesus’
life talk of Jesus’ existence and the early Christian belief in the
Some people have closed minds and dismiss the possibility of a
physical resurrection (or any miracle for that matter) out of hand.
“We know [read: we assume] that there are no miracles. Why?
I’ve never seen one, and neither have my friends. The only people
who say they’ve seen a miracle are crackpots, fools,
self-deceived! Why’s that? Simple – everybody who is reliable and
has a good brain knows there is no such thing as a miracle.” Do
you see this is nothing more than circular reasoning?
Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection
1. We have the record of the original eye-witnesses of Christ’s
resurrection – the apostles – who gave their lives for their message.
That’s a pretty strong testimony of its truth. You see, someone
might tell a story and deceive me into believing something and
dying for my belief. But when I die for something I claim to have
seen myself, that is something else. No one could prove them
wrong by producing the body. In fact, they proved what they were
saying by continuing the miraculous ministry of Jesus Christ
through their own lives – in healing the sick and casting out
2. We have the present day revelation of Jesus Christ as alive to
the hearts and minds of multitudes of people around the world
whose lives were changed when they called upon his name. See
my testimonies section for a few hundred examples. There are
also a growing number of people who claim to have seen the
resurrected Christ in a dream or vision. Significantly, quite a
number of these people were muslims whose religious training
opposed the doctrines of Christianity – yet they saw Christ and
became Christians – many times experiencing severe persecution
for their faith subsequent to that. I am not saying we should believe
everyone who makes such claims, but when enough people who
claim it go on to deny themselves comforts and advantages they
could otherwise have had in order to serve the Lord Jesus, we
should give some weight to what they say.
3. We have the continuing demonstrations of the power of God for
healing and miracles and driving out demons – all done in the name
of Jesus, whom Christians know and claim to be alive. I am a
personal witness of such things, for God has been pleased to use
me also in this way from time to time.
4. We have the textual evidence of the New Testament, and
corroborating writings from other writers of the time. We can see
in the details of this story, which occurred in a place known to us
today also as Jerusalem, various historical accounts, and not just
some nebulous myths or legends concerning things that happened
“once upon a time in a land far away”. These stories could have
been easily challenged and refuted had they not been based on
solid fact, with people totally convinced of the reality of which they
What are the possibilities concerning the alleged
resurrection of Christ?
1. All these witnesses were emotionally disturbed and had
hallucinations – thinking they saw Christ when really they
just had over-active imaginations and were operating in
If this is so, then why did the Jewish authorities simply not go to
the tomb of Jesus, bring out the dead body of Jesus, and put an
end to the delusion? It would have easily been in their power to do
it. The answer is obvious: they and the soldiers knew that the
grave where Jesus had been put and sealed in was now open and
Also, people do not tend to have mass hallucinations. Individually,
people may have them, but it is practically unheard of for a large
group to all see a person who in fact was not there at all. Does
anyone know of any examples of this?
2. The disciples stole the body of Jesus. This story we are told
was passed around right from the start by the Jewish authorities.
Let us suppose that the 11 apostles knew that the body of Jesus
was stolen. They lied to more and more people and soon obtained
a popular following. And so Christianity was born.
This theory fails to account for a number of important facts.
1. These same disciples were martyred around the world for their
faith in Christ and their doctrine that He is alive. If they knew they
were lying, why would they not recant in order to save their
2. How is it that they were able to do miracles in the name of
Jesus? How is it that such miracles are still happening today. (I
have been involved in such events myself.) If Jesus was dead, why
was there power in His name?
3. It is reported in the Bible that Jesus at one time appeared to
about 500 people (see 1 Corinthians 15:6). How could Paul write
such a thing and get away with it if there were no such witnesses?
And if there were, how did it come about for 500 people to see
the same hallucination?
4. Last, but not least – how is that the disciples were able to steal
the body? How did they get past the Roman soldiers who were
guarding the tomb? It is really hard to understand how that could
3. The Romans soldiers stole the body.
Why would they put their lives at risk to do this? They would have
had to violate the Roman seal on the stone. That was punishable
by death. If the order was from higher up, the Roman authorities
could have at any time crushed the new religion of Christianity by
revealing this information. They never did so, at any time. Why?
4. The Resurrection Accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke and
John can’t be harmonized.
For a harmonization of these accounts, click here. The
harmonisation of these accounts, while not easy, is possible. They
are reports given from different sources, with many corroborating
details. However, things that some writers included others chose
to leave out. By looking at all four accounts, a clearer picture of
the events can be constructed. John Wenham has written an
interesting book on this subject also, called “Easter Enigma”.
5. Jesus never died on the cross, he only swooned.
According to this theory Jesus just swooned on the cross. He was
then buried, and somehow got the stone away and convinced his
disciples that He rose again as promised.
The fact that University professors can come up with such
ridiculous theories only goes to show how desperate some people
are to come up with anything that gives them some kind of
rationale for denying the resurrection of Christ. If this was so:
1. How is it that it was witnessed that blood and water came out
together out of Jesus’ side when it was pierced, medically
indicating a totally collapsed heart?
2. How was Jesus in his weakened state able to avoid bleeding to
death? How did He roll the stone at the tomb up the slope, sneak
past the guards and having survived the ordeal of crucifixion
through purely natural strength, then appear supernaturally to His
disciples and many others, convincing them that He is the
resurrected Lord of life?
3. How and why did the disciples later see Him ascending into the
cloud after giving them their final instructions?
6. The Whole Story is a Legend with no Basis in Reality
Those who wish to make such outrageous claims will have to
make up some really interesting legends to explain how the early
church got going and convinced so many Jews, Romans and other
Pagans of things which had absolutely no basis in reality.
Did the church fathers like Polycarp also make up their stories
about the apostle John? Or maybe the church fathers were a
legend too? Well, tell us, how did the church as we know it come
to exist? How do you know that the things reported to us
concerning the events of 100 years ago are not a legend?
7. Jesus didn’t die on the cross, it just looked like Him.
This is the Muslim version of things. I’d like to ask why we should
believe the dogmatic assertions of Mohammed, who never was
eyewitness to any of the relevant events and wrote what he wrote
600 years or so after the events?
Is there any solid evidence for the Koran’s accounts on anything
that far back?
Of course many muslims simple accept the Qu’ran at face value as
inspired without questioning it. But the truth about God has nothing
to do with what your parents believed, or which country or culture
you happened to be born into. Many muslims don’t consider the
fact that what Mohammed came up with about Jesus could easily
be explained as a deliberate mixture of reports he had heard and
his own imagination. Certainly it was useful for Mohammed to
leverage the credibility of the Jewish and Christian faiths to
establish himself as a divine spokesman. But the Qu’ran denies
everything that is really important and liberating in the Christian
gospel message about God taking our punishment and overcoming
sin and death for us. The attempt to portray Jesus (Isa) as a
prophet of Allah would only be plausible to a person who never
bothered to check out the facts of history. And the most important
historical event in the Christian gospels is the death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. The muslim still has to deal with all the
historical evidence for the resurrection presented above. It just will
not do to say that God changed Judas, or the prison guard, or
someone else to look like Jesus and had him crucified in Jesus’
place. No, Jesus was crucified in our place – no man was crucified
8. Jesus Christ actually did rise from death!
As strange as it may sound in some ears, this remaining possibility
is highly plausible. Certainly the disciples believed it. They went on
to suffer and die for their convictions on this matter. They were
convinced that they too would rise one day to rule and reign with
Christ in the New Heavens and the New Earth. They were
convinced that to die for Christ was to their own gain! Their faith
cannot be put down to some kind of mass hypnosis, because it
would have been very easy for the Romans or Pharisees to
produce the body of Christ had it really remained in the grave.
They had every interest in doing so.
Many people who have sought to disprove the resurrection have
ended up becoming believers. I would urge you, if you are not
already a believer, to seriously check this matter out for yourself.
Don’t be distracted by the many secondary issues of life which
clamour for your attention – because if you are wrong on this one
issue – you have lost everything. Be sure that you build your life
on a sure foundation of truth – one which can bring you
triumphantly through both good times and bad. The wonderful part
about the resurrection is, we have a sure foundation about which
we can risk everything for God with total conviction, apparently
lose in this life, and come out eternal winners. For the principle of
resurrection operates not only for eternal life, but can also operate
in our daily lives as we yield ourselves to the living God.
I urge you to believe on Jesus, after considering the evidence for
his resurrection and discussed above. Read the accounts for
yourself in the Bible. Give the matter the attention which it truly
deserves. This is the foundation for our hope as Christians. You
may accept or reject the evidence, but you will never be excused
by God for simply ignoring it. This issue matters a lot. If the
resurrection is true, then so are the other things Jesus taught, and
the message of the Bible itself must be taken seriously. This
message is truly powerful for everyone who believes in with their
heart and not just their head.
May the living Christ come to you and reveal His great love for you! May He
become your personal Savior. To learn more of what it means to consecrate
your life to God through Christ, please visit here.