Ever since my sermon last Sunday, I have been highly interested in the resurrection, especially in the historical credibility of the resurrection account. I have watched half a dozen debates on the internet between several Christian scholars and apologists (notably Mike Licona and William Lane Craig) who have debated atheists, agnostics and
Muslims. The fascinating thing is that none – none! – of the challengers to the Christian position can deny 2 key facts:
- That Jesus was crucified and died, and
- That Jesus appeared to his disciples and to Paul after his death.
William Lane Craig argues that there are 5 supporting details to these above facts:
(A) The gospels and the writings of Paul constitute early, independent, multiple attestations (a highly prized thing in historical studies) to the resurrection event;
(B) That Jesus was buried by a member of the very council that sentenced him to death would not likely have been made up by the Christians;
(C) That women – who were not given much credibility in ancient Jewish history – are the first ones to report of the empty tomb (an embarrassing fact for the disciples);
(D) The rapid change in disposition of the disciples is best accounted for by the fact that they saw a risen Jesus; otherwise they were not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead;
(E) The earliest Jewish argument against the resurrection (Matt. 28:23) is an attempt to explain the empty tomb (“The disciples stole the body”) – even they couldn’t deny it!
While the non-believing community will attempt to argue that the resurrection story is subject to myth, hallucinations, or unreliable historical documents (the gospels), their explanations are often too longwinded and fall short. The explanation that God raised Jesus from the dead satisfies all of the necessary criteria.
Brothers and sisters: Jesus is alive. It’s a fact.