#6 THE EMPTY TOMB – The vast majority of scholars grant that the tomb of Jesus was really found empty. Not all believe that it was empty because of the resurrection, but they grant its emptyness. (Source: Gary Habermas survey of 3400 scholars…”vast majority” is not merely rhetoric Link:http://www.garyhabermas.com/…/minimal-facts-methodology_08-…) As a historical fact, this is hard to dispute. Was the tomb emptied by the disciples? If it was, then why die for Jesus on account of a hoax? Was it emptied by looters? Not likely – It was a capital offense to rob graves in Palestine! (And it still doesn’t explain why the disciples gave their lives.) ALSO: Where is the tomb of Jesus? Why didn’t they carefully mark the spot of His burial and treat it as a historical treasure? After all, we know the purported location of the tombs of hundreds of lesser known religious leaders of the ancient world. We don’t know the location of Jesus’ tomb, because the early church didn’t care at all about it – Jesus was only there temporarily1 Its location was not considered important by the early church. The Nazareth Inscription (in which the Roman emperor orders execution as the penalty for any who steal bodies from graves) does not prove that Jesus rose from the dead, but it is consistent with the biblical accounts. (More on the Nazareth Inscription: (http://www.biblearchaeology.org/…/The-Nazareth-Inscription-…) It also gives extra-biblical testimony to the growing impact of the church and its central message of the Resurrection soon after Christ’s death. Again, Even Bart Ehrman agrees with this, writing, “We can conclude with some certainty that Jesus was in fact buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb and that three days later the tomb was found empty.” Much more on the empty tomb by noted scholar, philosopher and debater William Lane Craig,
#7 – WHERE IS THE POWER?? If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead – what explains the spread of Christianity throughout the known world? How was this done by the bumblers we read about in the Gospels? Where did their change come from? What was their inspiration? If they just responded to grief with psychological visions of Jesus…how does that explain the POWER that they had to bring upheaval to the entire world!? Lot’s of Elvis followers (Tupac, etc) believe he is still alive…why aren’t they changing the world? Note: There were dozens of Jewish Messiah claimants other than Jesus. During their lifetime hundreds, if not thousands of people followed them zealously. After their death, however, their followers disbanded and dispersed in every case, but the case of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…whose followers grew exponentially AFTER His death. This is difficult for a secular historian to explain. Worth review: The Commitment of the Apostles Confirms the Truth of the Resurrection.
#8 ENEMY ATTESTATION: A fancy way of saying that what your enemy says about you that is positive, is likely true. For instance a group of my critics might say, “That Chase Thompson, boy is he trouble. He’s smelly…wears long socks with shorts, eats enough cereal for five elephants, is a Calvinist, has 400 boxes of stuff in his basement, attracts mold, and preaches too long…but, he does have good ears, so don’t talk about him behind his back.” Chances are, if all of that is said, then I really do have good hearing. Positive things your enemy says about you are strong testimonies. Along those lines, we read in 1 Cor 15 that Paul mentions three eyewitness of the risen Jesus by name (Paul himself, James the brother of Jesus, and Peter) Two of those witnesses began as enemies of Jesus’ ministry. James, the brother of Jesus, wanted to have Him committed to a loony house; and Paul was a persecutor who breathed out murderous threats against the church, ultimately presiding over the murder of Stephen – the first martyr. Peter himself rejected Jesus before His death. If you can get your brother (i.e. James) to worship you as God…then that might be the best example of enemy attestation in world history! smile emoticon Here’s Gary Habermas with more on enemy attestation, “In the case of Jesus’ miracles, an example of enemy attestation is provided by the repeated Gospel testimony that those who opposed Jesus either witnessed these acts and failed to challenge them (Mark 3:1-6), or attributed them to Satan (Mark 3:22-27), thus acknowledging these events. Marcus Borg points out that this is one of the reasons that makes it “virtually indisputable that Jesus was a healer and exorcist.” In another instance, the Jewish priests are said to have paid the guards at Jesus’ tomb in order to have them report that the disciples stole Jesus’ body (Matthew 28:11-15), thereby agreeing that Jesus’ tomb had been discovered empty.”
#9 SKEPTICAL ANCIENTS: Our assumption is that the ancients in the first century would believe anything. If that was the case, why is it that, even though Jesus told them multiple times that He was going to rise again…they didn’t believe Him? The disciples didn’t show up at the tomb of Jesus on the third day. The faithful women came with burial spices, wondering who would roll away the tomb door. They came to prepare His body for eons of rotting in a tomb. Even when Jesus appeared to them in person after the Resurrection, the Bible states that “some doubted.” We might assume that first century people were much more likely to believe that somebody could rise from the dead, but the evidence shows that they would be just as incredulous – if not more so – than modern, scientifically oriented people.
#10 GARY HABERMAS MINIMAL FACTS ARGUMENT: Gary Habermas is a professor and resurrection expert who has earned a Ph.D in Philosophy (from Michigan State) and is a best selling author and noted debater. He uses an approach called the Minimal Facts Argument to show that it is historically likely that Jesus rose from the dead. From his research Habermas has been able to show that of the 3,400 works studied, the majority of scholars (Christian, liberal, atheist and otherwise) accept the following 12 events as historical fact:
*Jesus died by crucifixion.
*Jesus was buried.
*His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope, believing that his life was ended.
*The tomb was empty a few days later.
*The disciples had experiences that they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus.
*The disciples were transformed from doubters who were afraid to identify themselves with Jesus to bold proclaimers of His death and Resurrection.
*This message was the center of preaching in the early church.
*This message was especially proclaimed in Jerusalem, where *Jesus died and was buried shortly before.
*The church was born in Jerusalem and grew rapidly.
*Orthodox Jews who believed in Jesus made Sunday their primary day of worship.
*James, the half-brother of Jesus, converted to the faith when he saw what he believed was the resurrected Jesus.
*Paul was converted to the faith after his experience which he believed was with the risen Jesus.
Here is a detailed explanation of Professor Gary Habermas’ Minimal Facts approach to the Resurrection: http://www.garyhabermas.com/…/minimal-facts-methodology_08-…
CONCLUSION: There is very real, very plausible evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. It is not a viewpoint that must be arrived at by a blind leap of faith, suitable for only religious wackadoos. On the contrary, there is compelling historical, philosophical and archaeological evidence that points to the reality that something remarkable and amazing happened to Jesus after He was crucified.
Believing in the Resurrection as a historical fact does not make you a follower of Jesus. What does? Let’s allow Paul and Jesus to speak to that:
1 Cor 15:1-2 15 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. AND Mark 1:14-15 Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Paul is essentially saying that I gave you the Gospel (information/Good news) about Jesus – and how you respond to that determines whether you are in the Kingdom of Jesus or out of it. Jesus says – repent (turn away) from your old life and believe the good news that Jesus died for your sins and was raised to life.
Are you standing on the Resurrection of Jesus and the fact that Jesus paid the price for you on the cross? Are you holding fast to that belief? That is the Good news and by it we are saved. The Gospel IS the power of God unto salvation!
Some Objections to the Resurrection:
(This section below will likely be polished up a bit, added to, and made into its own post)
What do Christians say to people who doubt Jesus actually existed?
John Dominic Crossan, an agnostic scholar, co-founder of the Jesus seminar, and huge Jesus skeptic, says that “the existence of Jesus is the best established fact of the ancient world.” Bart Ehrman, an atheist/agnostic scholar calls out people who doubt the existence of Jesus by saying that they don’t have good academic credentials, and they haven’t been published in peer reviewed journals.It is easy to be skeptical. It is quite prestigious in academia to be skeptical of religious claims. Hundreds of years ago, science was persecuted and disallowed by the church – religion persecuted science, in some narrow (and much blown up) places. Now, the tables have been turned, and science is well established in academia, and it looks down its nose at religion. I’ll be honest – I’m a fan of both. I read dozens of science works each week. I’m INTERESTED IN TRUTH. Craig Keener has recently written a book called Miracles that is 1200 pages long and contains hundreds of reports of medical miracles, complete with medical documents such as X-rays, doctor’s testimonies, MRI scans and much more. Sometimes skepticism does not add up to the evidence. Holocaust deniers, 911 truthers, conspiracy theorists – skepticism is not always right and beautiful. Go with the evidence! David Hume denied miracles, but he did say, “Wise men choose probabilities” What is the most probable explanation of Jesus Christ? Of His followers dying for Him? I believe the evidence points to a miraculous and factual resurrection of Jesus.
Question: What if Jesus didn’t actually die, AKA “The Swoon Theory”: Can you imagine Jesus appearing to the disciples a few days after His “death.” Bloody, broken, – barely recovered. That doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that could cause the despondent and defeated disciples to rally and spread the good news of the return of the limping and barely alive son of God! Recently a German doctor performed a crucifixion experiment with a few volunteers. Within 12 minutes of hanging them on a cross like implement (no nails!), they were unconscious. Once a person who is crucified slumps over – they will be dead from hypoxia very quickly. You cannot breathe without pushing up – even with no EKG machine, it was very obvious whether somebody was dead or not on the cross.
Michael Bird. “Some have great confidence in skeptical scholarship, and I once did, perhaps more than anyone else. If anyone thinks they are assured in their unbelief, I was more committed: born of unbelieving parents, never baptized or dedicated; on scholarly credentials, a PhD from a secular university; as to zeal, mocking the church; as to ideological righteousness, totally radicalized. But whatever intellectual superiority I thought I had over Christians, I now count it as sheer ignorance. Indeed, I count everything in my former life as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing the historical Jesus who is also the risen Lord. For his sake, I have given up trying to be a hipster atheist. I consider that old chestnut pure filth, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a CV that will gain me tenure at an Ivy League school, but knowing that I’ve bound myself to Jesus—and where he is, there I shall also be.”
Note: Some of the above content was taken from a message taught by Chase Thompson at Agape Fellowship. It is possible that some unintentionally unsourced material is found in this article. Please alert me if you find anything!