Was Jesus truly resurrected from the dead, and does it really matter?
The case for
resurrection is not based merely on an empty tomb.
Does Jesus’ resurrection—real or hoax—really matter?
“If Jesus has not been raised, then our faith is worthless; and we are to be pitied above all men (1 Corinthians 15:14).”
Some people really don’t think it matters whether or not Jesus was actually raised from the dead. They think that whatever actually happened back then, Jesus showed us a moral way to walk our lives out and we ought to follow Him as a teacher, if not as the Messiah.
The problem with that thinking is that if Jesus said He would rise from the grave after three days and then He did not do it, you can’t really call Him a “good teacher.” That’s because people who lie are called liars, not “good.” He made no pretense about who He was and what He came to do. He also made it very clear what is expected of His followers.
Either you believe all of what He said or you believe none of what He said. You can’t pick and choose. This is the One who claimed to BE GOD.
Christianity requires faith—but not blind faith.
There are those who have tried (unsuccessfully) to argue that although there is more than enough historical evidence to verify Jesus’ claim to have been resurrected from the dead, that He never really died. They subscribe to the “Swoon Theory” that says He never actually died, but swooned due to blood loss and shock. Incredible as it seems, they theorize thus:
Jesus never really died; He only appeared to die. In fact—they claim—He merely fainted from loss of blood and shock. When He was then removed from the cross, He was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, one of the leading Jews.
Now here’s where it gets really interesting (and totally unbelievable).
Jesus revived due to the coolness of the tomb. (Current medical advice for someone suffering from shock is to keep them warm, not cool.) Despite the fact that He had lost enormous amounts of blood from the scourging, the crown of thorns, and the nails themselves, and despite the fact that He had no medical help (today, fluids and oxygen are given to the patient), He nonetheless revived on His own. Then He unwrapped the cloths that tightly bound Him (and which weighed in the area of 100 pounds due to spices in the burial cloth), neatly folded the cloth that covered His face, got up in total darkness and walked on nail-pierced feet to the tomb entrance. (Medical science tells us to loosen restrictive clothing on someone in shock to enable them to recover. Jesus’ burial clothes were tightly wrapped around His body, pinning His arms to His sides.)
There, even though He had collapsed on the way to the cross and someone else had to carry His cross for Him, He had revived enough to roll away a stone—from the inside!—and walk unnoticed past the guards. After that, He continued on those maimed feet to where His disciples were, appeared in a locked room, and announced to them that He had risen!
To roll the stone away would have not been possible for one man inside the tomb, anyway (unless he was God, which makes everything else moot anyway). The round stone would have been 4′ to 6′ in diameter to cover the entrance. It would have weighed between 2,000 lbs and 4,000 lbs. It took two men to roll it into place. Not only did they have the stone itself to grip, but tombs were hewn out of the rock with a groove that would slant downward as the stone was rolled into place. To remove the stone would require rolling it uphill. This, they posit, was accomplished by a severely dehydrated, severely wounded man with nothing to grip onto inside the tomb. And He did it with hands that had been pierced with 5″ nails. Even if you go with the theory that the nails pierced His wrists, how would that make it more likely?
And that was only the beginning of His post-resurrection appearances.
One thing that flies in the face of that theory is that medical science can show that those who are crucified die from a combination of hypovolemic shock, exhaustion asphyxia, and even acute heart failure. The soldiers stuck a spear in His side, and what came out was blood and water. Medical professionals today say that in most probability, what John saw was blood and the clear fluid that surrounded Jesus’ heart. The spear would have pierced both the lungs and the heart. Without modern medicine, no one would have survived this final assault on His body. (For a look at a documented case of survival after crucifixion, see Josephus’ description. It is not clear to exactly what he was referring when he cited crucifixion.)
Here are just a few of the scriptures that prophesy Jesus’ death and resurrection.
One thing that is irrefutable: neither Jesus nor His disciples could orchestrate the fulfillment of the over 100 prophecies that He did, indeed, fulfill, including the one that hundreds of years before crucifixion was invented said His hands and feet would be pierced !
Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
John 1:10-11 says, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
Psalm 41:9 says, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”
Mark 14:10 says, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.”
Zechariah 11:12 says, “I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.”
Matthew 26:14-16 says, “Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.”
Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”
Mark 15:5 says, “But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.”
Psalm 22:1-2 says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.”
Matthew 27:46 says, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'”
Psalm 22:7-8 says, “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.'”
Matthew 27:41-44 says, “In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, I am the Son of God.’ In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”
Psalm 22:15 says, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.”
Matthew 27:48 says, “Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.”
Psalm 22:17-18 says, “I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”
John 19:23 says, “When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.”
Want more evidences in prophecy?
Here’s a more extensive list of prophecies that Jesus has already fulfilled. With the historical verity of these, you can rely on the rest of the Word of God to continue being true.