7 Reasons You Should Reconsider the Resurrection
You may not know this, but the bodily resurrection of Jesus seemed like “an idle tale” to the early disciples.
And it still does to many people today.
Some of these early disciples didn’t believe the women who confessed they had seen Jesus alive. And why should they.
Except for a small portion of Jews, most of the world at the time didn’t have a concept of resurrection. For those who did, they understood it as an event that would take place at the end of time.
To those of the Hellenistic world, the physical body was something to escape. Salvation meant being freed from the prison of the body and living free in the spirit realm. What possible purpose could be served by taking up one’s body again? Such talk was nonsense.
Is it any wonder so many people struggle with the idea that 2,000 years ago a dead man raised to life again after he was killed? If the disciples who followed Jesus in his lifetime had difficulty believing it, why shouldn’t we?
Maybe we would find something surprising in our own hearts if we were honest with ourselves and admit it’s a pretty far-fetched claim to insist Jesus who was crucified was also raised to life again.
Honestly, how many dead people have you seen come back to life after they were buried for a couple of days? Right? It’s ridiculous to think it’s possible.
Yet, for the past 2,000 years, Christians have made this claim.
As a matter of fact, Christianity stands or collapses on this belief. Secondary and tertiary doctrines aside, the resurrection of Jesus is non-negotiable to orthodox theology. The whole of the religion hangs on this one proclamation: Jesus is alive! And the earliest disciples didn’t believe it… at first!
Yet, the Bible says it’s true. Peter claimed it was (Acts 2:23-24; 1 Peter 1:3). Paul claimed it was (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Matthew claimed it was (Matthew 28:6-9). Mark Claimed it was (Mark 16:6-8). Luke claimed it was (Luke 24:34). And John claimed it was true (John 20:19-21).
But do you believe it is true?
Do you believe Jesus, the Christ of God, after he was crucified and buried, rose to life again three days later?
How you answer this question will affect how you live and how you die.
If the resurrection is not true, you have nothing to worry about because the Bible is not true. And if the Bible is not true, you have no commitment to it, to the church, or to the Judeo-Christian God or his ethos. It’s just an idle tale fabricated by a few Jewish fisherman.
But, if it is…. Well, that’s an altogether different story.
If it’s true, it changes everything!
For more than 2000 years, people have had to reconcile with this far-fetched proclamation. Today, I’m raising the question to you.
But first, let’s consider seven different questions.
Is it plausible that something spectacular and supernatural—like a big bang that set the universe in motion (supposedly of its own volition)—could take place outside our knowledge or ability to understand?
If your freedom depended on it, would it be reasonable to maintain an alibi based on an eyewitness whose testimony is inadmissible in court, or would it be better to fabricate an alibi that would guarantee your acquittal if you were sure you would never be caught?
Again, if it meant your freedom, or even your life, is it reasonable to offer the names of people, living and accessible, as key witnesses, if their stories did not corroborate yours?
Knowing that historians, sociologists, and psychologists have proven ideas and worldviews of established cultures only change over time and through long dialogue and debate, would you be willing to invest in a product if the success of that investment required that a brand new worldview never before entertained be accepted in most of the civilized world in just a few years?
Is it reasonable to think a single man or woman would be willing to die a grisly death to defend a claim they had seen Sasquatch? And what if simply recanting the claim would be enough to go free and return to a life of comfort and ease? What if you applied this scenario to a thousand people, or more?
Is it reasonable to think that in a city populated with atheists, half of them could suddenly begin preaching the existence of God to the rest, or that in a city populated with Muslims half would suddenly begin eating pork as a staple?
Is it plausible there are, even in a world filled with conspiracy theories and propaganda, people who would leak the truth even if doing so meant they would become exiles or even die?
Let’s revisit the questions in light of the resurrection claim.
In his book, The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking claims the universe has the power to create itself. Why is it so easy for most of the educated world to accept the big-bang as the self-willed enterprise of a non-existent universe as the most likely cause for the genesis of the same, but impossible for us to believe God raised Jesus to life again?
In the ancient Near East during the time the gospels were written, a woman’s testimony was not admissible in legal proceedings. Her testimony was not viable to establish fact (sorry ladies). Yet, every gospel writer, as well as the early church fathers, attest that a woman was the first to see Jesus alive.
If they were making the whole thing up and wanted to establish a record that would be viable in the public’s eyes, the resurrection believers should have claimed a man saw Jesus first. Since they didn’t, is it plausible a woman was the first to see Jesus alive, so it was the only story there was, even if it wasn’t best suited for public consumption?
In his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:3-8), Paul writes about a host of people still living who would attest to having seen Jesus alive after his crucifixion. One group of witnesses consisted of more than 500 people who all saw him at once. Pretty gutsy to call on such a gamut of witnesses who were alive to tell the truth, if he wasn’t.
Even in the age of the internet, along with Facebook and other social media, where ideas spread quickly, we’ve yet to see a large portion of an entire generation of people adopt a brand new worldview and change the world instantaneously.
Most ideas that are influencing our world today have been around for a while, circulating in discussion and debate. Yet, the gospel turned the world upside down and the church exploded into the four corners of the world in less than a single generation.
It’s no secret most of the original disciples of Jesus, and millions more over the past two millennia, have forfeited their lives—often in the most heinous of ways—for their belief that Jesus was raised from the dead. If it wasn’t the case, nearly every one of them could have said so and lived.
While many have died for other causes they believed in, belief that a dead man is now living seems to be a strange reason for which to die—unless he really did rise from the dead. And, as Blaise Pascal put it, “I believe those witnesses that get their throats cut.”
Jews were monotheists, meaning they only worshipped one God, YHWH. At the time Jesus was crucified, historians estimate 200,000 Jews lived in Jerusalem. By 70 A.D. when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, there were approximately 100,000 Christians in the city.
That’s a drastic change on such an essential issue in just 40 years. What would New York look like if half the atheists living there started preaching the existence of God? What would it do for the pork industry if half the Middle East started serving pork for dinner?
It’s strange to think about half the Jewish population in Jerusalem started worshiping a man who claimed he was God, and was put to death for it, unless he happened to come back to life, and by doing so proved that he was!
It’s not uncommon for people to think they see or hear a loved one after they pass, but literally hundreds of people claimed to have seen Jesus after he was crucified. Some even said they saw the nail prints in his hands. Is it possible all of those people lied about their experience?
Could be; but is it plausible or probable?
That’s the question you are left to answer.
Did this far-fetched phenomenon really happen? Is there cause for celebration because God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son?
Is there hope of redemption and renewal for our broken world because that Son died for the sins of the world and then conquered every enemy of peace and wholeness by coming back to life again? Is there hope for a better future, and peace and joy for the present because Jesus lives?
Or is the resurrection of Jesus just an idle tale?
 The concept of resurrection developed slowly in Israel. Life and death were related to physical existence in this world. Death meant leaving this world and entering a shadowy existence known as Sheol, the place of the rephaim or shades (Is 14:10), a place of hopelessness (Jb 7:9, 10; 2 Sm 12:23). The tragedy of Sheol was that a person was cut off from fellowship with God. At that stage of Israel’s thought, there seemed little hope for resurrection (Pss 6:4, 5; 88:10–12). [Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1840.]
 John 11:24. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.
 As quoted by Timothy Keller. The Reason for God. (New York: Riverhead Books, 2008), 218.
About Scott Postma
Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He helps people cultivate their capacity to perceive and appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful by sharing rich insights into the arts and humanities, meaningful perspective on faith and culture, and valuable tips on writing and teaching. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.