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What the Bible Teaches:  JESUS' RESURRECTION

"How can you expect me to believe Jesus was resurrected?"

The tomb was empty, even though it had been sealed and was under guard.

Matthew 27:59-66, 28:1-2 [59] Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, [60] and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. [61] Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. [62] The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. [63] "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, `After three days I will rise again.'  [64] So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day.  Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." [65] "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." [66] So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

"[1] After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.  [2] There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it."

"Obviously, the reason the tomb was empty was that somebody stole the body!"


  • The Roman guards?  Why would they care?  Besides, they would have been executed for dereliction of duty if they had allowed someone to take the body without a fight.

  • The Jewish leaders?  They asked for a guard to prevent a possible theft!  If they had stolen the body, why didn't they display it when the disciples started preaching that Jesus had risen from the dead?

    Matthew 26:62-66 [62] The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. [63] "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, `After three days I will rise again.' [64] So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." [65] "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." [66] So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

  • Jesus' disciples?  The guys who ran away and didn't even show up at the Crucifixion because they were so afraid?  The guys who, even after they had seen Jesus resurrected STILL didn't preach about Him until after Pentecost, when they were filled with the Holy Spirit?

"But the Bible says what happened . . . Christians just don't want to accept it.  The Bible says that even years later the "story" was going around that the disciples stole the body while the guards were sleeping."

Matthew 28:2-7, 11-15  [2] There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. [3] His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. [4] The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. [5] The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  [6] He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. [7] Then go quickly and tell his disciples: `He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." [11] While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. [12] When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, [13] telling them, "You are to say, `His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' [14] If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." [15] So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

There's a major problem with that "explanation."  The story was not "SOMEBODY stole the body while we were asleep, but we don't know who, since we were sleeping."  The story was "The DISCIPLES stole the body while we were sleeping."  If the guards were ASLEEP, how did they know WHO "stole" the body?

If the body wasn't missing, then why did the Jewish leaders have to make up a story to explain it?  Why didn't they just say "Here's the body!"?

Jesus appeared to over 500 people after He was resurrected.

  • Peter (1 Corinthians 15:5)
  • The Apostles, except Thomas  (1 Corinthians 15:5, Acts)
  • Jesus' brother James (1 Corinthians 15:7)
  • His brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude (Acts)
  • Mary, His mother (Acts)
  • Thomas the Apostle
  • A crowd of 500 (1 Corinthians 15:6)
  • Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8, Acts 9:5)

1 Corinthians 15:3-9  [3] For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, [5] and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. [6] After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. [7] Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, [8] and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. [9] For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

"C'mon, the only people who claimed they saw Jesus resurrected were his followers.  Obviously, it's a case of "One lies, and the others swear to it."  They were just covering their butts.  Either that, or they just couldn't bear to admit that they were wrong ."

Acts 7:54-8:3 [54] When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. [55] But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. [56] "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." [57] At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, [58] dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. [59] While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." [60] Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep. [1] And Saul was there, giving approval to his death."   On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. [2] Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. [3] But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.

Acts 9:1-6 [1] Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest [2] and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. [3] As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. [4] He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" [5] "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. [6] "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

Saul was an unbeliever, NOT a believer!.  And yet, Saul didn't say "Who are you?"  Saul, the rabbi, who studied under Gamaliel, immediately recognized that he was in the presence of God.  He said "Who are you. Lord?"  Saul spoke with Jesus.  But he never met Jesus until after Jesus had been crucified.  After the "Damascus Road experience", Saul became the greatest evangelist the world has ever known. (His name was not changed.  Saul was his "Hebrew" name and Paul was his "gentile" name. He was baptized in Acts 9:18.  See Acts 13:2)

"But those are just legends.  After all, the New Testament stories were passed down orally for centuries before they were written down."

Contrary to popular belief, the major books of the New Testament were written between about 51 A.D. (1 Thessalonians) and 96 A.D. (John's Gospel and Revelation).

Throughout much of the 19th century this was strongly denied, even by many staunch Christian theologians.  However, as a result of archaeological research and new discoveries of ancient manuscripts even scholars who don't believe the New Testament now admit that the latest major books were written before 100 A.D.

Luke was hardly one of the first or one of only a handful to write about Jesus, and he didn't simply write down rumors..  He says up front:

Luke 1:1-4 [1] Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, [2] just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. [3] Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, [4] so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Peter says:

2 Peter 1:16-18  [16] We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. [17] For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." [18] We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

"C'mon.  Jesus didn't really die on the Cross.  He just passed out or went into a coma from loss of blood, stress, etc.  Later on He came to and made the appearances." 

This is referred to as the "swoon" theory.  (To swoon means to faint, to pass out).  Many people believe it because on its face it sounds plausible -- more plausible than believing someone came back from the dead.  However, under close examination the swoon theory falls apart.

 If you seriously examine what the swoon theory requires, you'd have to be an absolute idiot to consider it possible.

See A Lawyer Examines The Swoon Theory.

See Forensic Pathology Report on Jesus.

"Does it really matter whether Jesus was resurrected or not?"

Believing Jesus was raised from the dead is one of the requirements to be saved.

Romans 10:9 If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

If Jesus was not resurrected, then Christian faith is in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:12-24 [12] But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? [13] If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. [14] And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. [15] More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. [16] For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. [17] And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. [18] Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. [19] If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. [20] But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. [21] For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. [22] For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. [23] But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. [24] Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.

All men will be resurrected, both the righteous and the wicked.

Acts 24:15 and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

At the Second Coming of Christ, all Christians who have ever lived -- both living and dead -- will be resurrected.  This occurs at The Rapture.

The Rapture will be followed by the Tribulation.  At the end of the Tribulation, will be the first post-Rapture resurrection.

Revelation 20:4-6  [4] I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. [These are the Tribulation martyrs.] They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [5] (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. [This is the second resurrection -- the resurrection of the wicked.]) This [resurrection of the Tribulation martyrs] is the first resurrection. [6] Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Actually, this is saying that there are two types of resurrection:

  1. resurrection of  the righteous unto glory

  2. resurrection of the wicked unto everlasting punishment

Those who reject Christ will not be resurrected until the Great White Throne Judgment of the damned.

See Revelation 20:5 above and the following:

Revelation 20:11-15 [11] Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. [12] And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. [13] The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. [14] Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. [15] If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

"That all sounds good, but I still find it a little hard to believe.  Are there any other reasons why I should believe Jesus actually came back from the dead?"

Consider these:

  • Peter, Paul, James and most of the other apostles were ultimately crucified because they refused to say that Jesus had not been resurrected.  A person has to have pretty strong convictions to be willing to die for them.

  • Whatever faults they may have had, it's pretty clear from their epistles that Peter, Paul and James were not stupid.  What kind of idiot would let himself be crucified for something he knows is a lie???

  • Subsequently, hundreds of millions of people throughout the centuries have said that they have personally experienced the presence of Jesus.  (Though few have claimed they saw Him.)

  • Many people have experienced miraculous, supernatural interventions in their lives specifically after praying to Jesus or praying to God the Father (Jehovah) in Jesus' name, as the New Testament instructs us to do.

All scripture quotes are from the New International Version, (c) Zondervan Publishing

What the Bible Teaches:  RESURRECTION

(c) 1998 by Rick Reinckens

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