- Jesus actually existed.
- (John Murray, president of the Athiest Society until he became a Christian, used to claim that he didn’t exist.)
- Cornelius Tacitus, first century Roman historian, wrote in reference to Jesus Christ and Christians “Christus, the founder of the name [Christian], was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius, but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also.”
- Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrote “…at this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people from among the jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. Those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive.” Certainly the man existed and quite likely he was crucified!
- Today, more than half of the world’s Religions admit that Jesus was at least historical, though they don’t believe his teachings were true.
- No person has affected the course of history more than Jesus Christ. Wars were waged for and against his cause. The teachings of Jesus are in the undercurrent of all western society.
- Lives were changed in innumerable “conversion” experiences. People have claimed to have been “Touched by Jesus” (metaphorically) in every century since his teachings were given.
- In light of the scant evidence for Plato, Socrates, or any other historical figure that far in the past, the evidence for the existence of Jesus as a person is overwhelming.
- Jesus was crucified.
See the Josephus quote above. It was the common way for Roman criminals to be killed for crimes – nothing unusual for that day.
- Jesus claimed to be God (John 10:30)
The Bible is our main source for this. I don’t know whether or not other sources mention this claim or not.
- Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection (Matthew 20:17-20)
As far as I know, the Bible is the only source for this but I’m not sure this point is very critical anyway.
- Jesus’ tomb is empty.
No one at the time tried to dispute this claim. No person objected to the claim based on facts. If we were to try to start a cult based on a verifiable fact like this, certainly, if it were false, it would have been discredited and the movement would have died out right away. Christianity is around today because that claim was/is true.
- It was a simple Mistake.
- Mary, Martha, Salome and others accidentally looked in the wrong tomb. Jesus was still dead in his tomb, but the women were disorinted in the dark and made a mistake.
Problem with that idea are suppositions that also have to be true:
- Peter and John would have to make the same mistake when they went to the tomb after hearing the news of the resurrection.
- The other disciples would have to make that same mistake after Peter & John.
- The enemies of Jesus had to make that same mistake when trying to squelch the resurgence of those nasty disciples and the ideas of Jesus.
- Over the next several days, each of the people who had heard Jesus had risen from the dead, one by one went to the wrong tomb.
- The unconscious roman guards showed up at the wrong tomb somehow, and couldn’t find their way there any more.
- Joseph of Arimithea, the owner of the tomb, couldn’t or wouldn’t find it either.
- It was a cover-up (The disciples stole the body):
The disciples hid the body so their leader would look true and they would not look like fools for following him.
- Main problem with this theory is how ten of the disciples died. They were each tortured and killed for the claims of the resurrection.
- They could have saved themselves by simply denying those claims.
- They were genuinely convinced that Jesus rose from the dead, or they would not have died a martyr’s death.
- The Pharasees moved the body as a precaution:
- Why did they not produce the body when the claims of resurrection started being made?
- The only reasonable cause is that they didn’t have it and didn’t know where it was (except maybe alive walking around Galilee!)
- It was a con job: Jesus did not actually die – he faked it.
- Jesus went through the flogging process, then the crucifixion, and just when he couldn’t stand the pain any longer, he signaled John with a statement “I thirst” so John could come give him a potion that would knock him out for a few hours, so he would seem dead.
- The flogging process was severe. It sometime would kill a man on it’s own. It usually left a man almost without back muscles, because they were stripped off his back. We know the beating was at least severe because Jesus could not carry his own cross up to Golgotha (The place of the skulls) for his crucifixion. He fell under the weight, and the guards were not surprised at this.
- Roman guards were put to death if they ever let a man off the cross before he was dead. They knew there business well. They were experts at this kind of death.
- The guards themselves stated that Jesus was already dead when they came by to break his legs.
- Unknown to the people at the time, a post-mortem proof is given by piercing Jesus’ side. Blood platelets separate from serum come gushing out. Medically, this means he had been stone dead for at least 20 minutes. You cannot stay alive when your blood is in this condition – even if you are trying to fake it :-).
- The body of Jesus was embalmed according to the custom of the Jews. This means that he was wrapped in gauze linen combined with a mixture of spices, perfumes, and water so that it formed a gummy consistency. He was wrapped mummy-style with each individual limb and finger being wrapped. Over the course of a day this gummy mixture in the linen would create a form like a plaster-of-paris mold. Anyone in this mold could not move or breathe.
- There was a stone rolled in front of the tomb that took 20 men to move.
- 16 Roman guards were stationed outside the tomb to make sure no one stole it.
- Believing this theory means you believe that Jesus, a mere mortal in this theory, survived the worst beating anyone has survived with no medical attention. After 2 days he then somehow regained his strength, without food or water (or air), enough to break out of the 100lb crysalith of his body cast, move the heavy stone, and overcome the 16 Roman guards. He then proclaims himself the lord of the universe and somehow disappears without anyone knowing where he REALLY died or where his REAL tomb is today.
- The story is true – it was a real miracle:
Jesus really rose from the dead somehow. His prediction came to pass as stated.
- What kind of person rises from the dead and doesn’t die again?
- It gives evidence of the existence of God and his close relationship with Jesus.
- It heavily implies that Jesus really was God, as he claimed.
- If Jesus was God, it gives strong backing to his teachings – which were controversial at the time.
- If Jesus was God, then he wasn’t wrong with his teachings.
- Those teachings require a response. (John 3:16, 10:14)
5 options to explain the empty tomb: (which is most reasonable to believe?)
We can either be rational about it and choose the most likely solution from the list above, or we can be irrational and ignore the facts, deny the facts, or be stubbornly unresponsive to the facts.