If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.
Following the first Easter Sunday, it didn’t take long for people to come up with fictitious claims to debunk the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They knew that if they could cast doubt on the resurrection, Christianity would crumble. In fact, Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Here are a few theories that critics of the resurrection sought to advance:
Jesus’s body was stolen. This was the first theory proposed. But if Jesus’s body had really been stolen, don’t you think the thieves would have produced the body once the disciples claimed “He has risen”? They would have called the disciples’ bluff. Guaranteed. And if the disciples stole the body—the story the Jewish leaders came up with (Matthew 28:11-15)—do you think they would have died martyrs’ deaths for a hoax? Of course not. As it’s been said before, “Many will die for what they think to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be false.”
The people were hallucinating. Scoffers said that the witnesses who claimed to have seen Jesus after His death must have been hallucinating. However, Jesus appeared to a number of people on several different occasions following His resurrection, and on one occasion, He appeared to more than five hundred people at once (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Now in my pre-Jesus party days, I understood hallucination, and I can tell you that five hundred people don’t hallucinate like that. They saw something. They saw Him. Alive.
Jesus passed out. This is known as the “swoon theory.” Popularized in the eighteenth century, it suggests that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross but merely passed out. Then once inside the tomb, He regained consciousness and rolled the stone away Himself. But ponder this. Jesus had been so severely scourged that He had to have the help of Simon of Cyrene to carry His cross (see Luke 23:26). His head had multiple puncture wounds from the crown of thorns, His wrists and ankles had been nailed to the cross, and He had been stabbed in the side. After He was taken down from the cross, His body was wrapped in seventy-five pounds of linen. Do you think Jesus could have regained consciousness, unwrapped Himself, and moved a two-ton stone out of the way?
The fact is… Jesus is alive. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe the facts than create fiction. So go ahead; stick your head in the tomb. You see, it’s empty and the living Jesus is ready to change your life. Today.
Thought to Ponder
The tomb became empty so our lives could become full.
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay (Matthew 28:6).
One-Minute Apologist Video: Gary Habermas, “The Resurrection,”