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Did He Really? Pt 3

by | Thu, Jul 14 2022

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We’ve been involved in a long series on Mashiach – the Jewish Messiah. We’ve read many, many prophecies about Him, and we’ve examined the life of Jesus and discovered that He meets all the criteria. However, the most essential, non-negotiable criteria for being Mashiach, is rising from the dead. Last time we took the position of maybe the claim of His resurrection was nothing more than a hoax, what then? We looked at the claim made by the chief priests that the Roman soldiers who were placed at the entrance of the tomb, fell asleep and didn’t hear the disciples turn up and roll a round, hand carved flat stone, between 1 and 2 tons, from the entrance, and then carry away the body. Apparently, the trained Roman soldiers slept through the whole thing. By sleeping on duty, they should have been executed under Roman law…but they weren’t. Curious.

Let’s continue with the assumption that Jesus’ resurrection was a hoax.

What about the claims that Jesus was actually seen after His death? Couldn’t His disciples have spread the rumours and let them run rampant?

If Jesus died, there had to be a body? You can’t keep a dead body hiding under the kitchen table for long without someone discovering it. Not only that, but Jewish law says that touching a dead body makes you ceremonially unclean. Therefore, Jesus’ disciples couldn’t run the risk of hiding Jesus’ body, because if they were found out, the outcry would have been breathtaking. (Num 19:11) So if they hid or buried His body somewhere, someone would have found it at some point and exposed their lies, putting their rumour to rest forever. You can be absolutely assured that if the chief priests had found out where Jesus’ body was, they would have heralded it from the rooftops. They didn’t. After their bribery to the soldiers, they were silent.

Who were the eyewitnesses of Jesus after He rose from the dead?

  • Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-16)
  • Mary, the mother of James, Salome and Joanna (Matt 28:9)
  • Peter is listed first in Paul’s list of witnesses (Luke 24:34)
  • Two of the disciples spent the trip and dinner with Him on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
  • Ten of the disciples when they were hiding in a locked house (John 20:19-24)
  • Eleven of the disciples, including Thomas (John 20:26-28) That time Thomas actually touched Him, putting his hands into the now-healed wounds on Jesus’ body. They ate a meal with Him!
  • Seven disciples had breakfast on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (John 21)
  • Eleven of the disciples met with Jesus on a mountain in the Galilee (Matt 28:16-17)

Now some might say that the disciples put their heads together to come up with a few scenarios and stories among themselves about their encounters with Jesus after He supposedly rose from the dead. Nice stories of course, but these guys have their credibility at stake. Maybe they just contrived these stories among themselves.

  • Paul describes a list of people who saw Jesus after He rose from the dead, including a crowd of more than 500 people at one time. How do you conspire with a public crowd who can see with their own eyes whether or not someone is standing right in front of them, speaking with them? Paul even went on to say that the majority of those 500+ eye witnesses were still living when he wrote to the Corinthians, in other words, they’re alive and can testify to what they saw, you don’t just have to take my word for it! (1 Cor 15:6)
  • After standing before the crowd, Jesus went on to appear to James and then all the other Apostles (1 Cor 15:7)
  • Paul then told of his own encounter with the risen Jesus. Remember, Paul hated Jesus and he hated Christians. He was on a mission, sanctioned by the priests, to hunt down and imprison and punish everyone who claimed belief in Jesus. Paul was knocked of his horse on his way to Damascus, and had a conversation with Jesus and later, he was personally instructed and tutored by Jesus. That’s what I call an encounter. He went from being Jesus #1 enemy to His #1 devotee. (Acts 1:1-31, Gal 1:12)

Have you ever heard the statement, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”?

It would have taken an enormous amount of power and influence to coerce all those people to claim to have seen, spoken to, eaten with or touched, a man if they actually didn’t. Not only that, but all those people who agreed to tell that lie, ran the risk of being hunted down, persecuted, imprisoned or worse yet, stoned on the claim of blasphemy…which is what happened to Stephen.

How could you convince 500+ people to maintain such a monumental lie for their entire lifetimes, when maintaining such a lie held no benefit of any kind, but could in fact result in ostracism from their communities and families, could land them in jail, or in a worst-case scenario, be executed?

Why would all the disciples hold so tenatiously to such an outrageous lie? Did they get rich from it? Did they get book deals? TV appearances? Fame and notoriety? Did they get invited to address huge crowds, getting immeasurable prestige and love from the masses for their stories they told about meeting a dead man now come to life?

No. Every disciple was hated, hunted, persecuted and reviled. Driven from their homes and communities and all bar John, were murdered in the most violent and horrific ways, either in Israel, or somewhere in the world where they travelled to preach the Gospel.

You might die for the truth, but no one would die for a lie. Next time we’ll look at some of the other counter arguments for the resurrection.