Is the Resurrection of Christ Fact or Fraud?
Nena Arias | March 30, 2018
Easter Sunday is the day almost all of the world celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, but, was the resurrection of Jesus fact or a fraud? How do we know? Is there good evidence to believe in the Resurrection? This is very important because if the average believer in Christ cannot explain why they believe in him and in his resurrection, and most cannot come up with good reasons, then how can they place faith in it or give an answer to those who ask about the reason for their faith?
We are admonished in 1 Peter 3:15 the following: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
We Christians confuse the world when we can’t give good reasons for our faith. How would you go about making the case for the veracity of the resurrection of Christ? Most people would want to know what the reasonable evidence is before they can believe, right?
First, you would have to look for the evidence. One of the best biblical explanations for the resurrection is found in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says the resurrection of Christ is the most important piece of evidence in the Christian worldview for our faith because if the resurrection of Jesus is not true, then our faith is in vain—it’s empty, it’s a fraud. I totally agree with him. In this passage below we are also told of a multitude of witnesses that saw the resurrected Jesus. Eyewitnesses are always the most important to prove a case in a court of law. It is a lengthy passage but worth the read:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 12-22)
So what is the case for understanding the Resurrection of Christ? It is very possible that Jesus believed in a cause so thoroughly, that he was willing to die. So he was crucified, died and buried, but so what? Many people die for causes they believe in enough to lay down their life. But they don’t come back from the dead witnessed by many people.
Another powerful evidence is that the tomb is empty. The skeptics of Jesus could not convince that Jesus was a fraud because they could not produce the body. There was no body. Neither could they prove that it was stolen.
The disciples said they saw him raise from the dead, but so what, they were his followers, there are all kinds of people who believe many things that are not true, but that does not make them true simply because they believed it. But we are also told in 1 Corinthians 15:6 “Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.”
Some skeptics say that perhaps Jesus did not die, so after everything happened, he was just resuscitated. Experts in death victims say there are three evidences to recognize in a dead person known as the mortis triangle. First there is the cool down known as algor mortis. Next the body gets rigid known as rigor mortis, stiffening of the joints and muscles of a body a few hours after death. Third, since the body has stopped functioning, and the heart has stopped pumping, the blood is drawn by gravity to the lowest part of the body and it gets black and bruised known as livor mortis. First century people would have recognized these symptoms since they all had to bury their dead.
There are skeptics who say that the whole thing of Jesus resurrecting was a conspiracy theory but this also doesn’t pan out because a conspiracy theory is hard to pull off. A successful conspiracy has to have five things to be true. 1) A conspiracy theory must have the smallest number of co-conspirators. It is easier for two people to lie than a whole lot of people. 2) Also, they have to hold it for the shortest possible time. It’s easy to tell a lie for an hour than it is for a year or longer. 3) Co-conspirators have to have great communication because the story has to match with other co-conspirators. 4) Family relationships help because family members don’t usually rat-off their family member. 5) If there is no one pressuring you, it can go on forever. These five things must be in place for a Christian conspiracy to succeed in regards to the resurrection of Christ. There were too may people under pressure to tell the truth. Paul mentions that upwards of 500 people were witnesses in the same day.
How long did they have to hold the conspiracy? A few days, a few weeks, six months, six years, or, six decades? It is not possible that upwards of 500 people were able to hold their conspiracy theory for 60 years, which is approximately the life span of the disciples afterwards. Investigators say conspiracy theories break in a short period of time because parties lack good communication to make sure they are still telling the same story. The disciples and all the believers were scattered to many places and nations. All the disciples were pressured, tortured, and even martyred and still held to the truth up until their death. None of them ever changed their story about Jesus, who he was, what he did, how he died and that he resurrected and that they were eyewitnesses to all of it.
Then there is the strangest evidence of Paul. Paul was a persecutor of Christians; do you think he wanted Jesus to be alive? Of course not! Yet he gave witness how Jesus appeared to him on his way to Damascus in his pursuit of Christians.
Then there was the incident of doubting Thomas he was a disciple of Jesus who was not present when the resurrected Jesus appeared to the 10 disciples. He was a skeptic who refused to believe without direct personal experience—Thomas, refused until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross. Thank God for Thomas… John 20:26-29 says, “Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
The last final and most powerful proof of the Resurrection of Christ is your explanation. Are you open to experience this resurrected Jesus? Have you taken him at his word and tested it in your own life or have you already made up your mind he cannot be real no matter the evidence?
The only reason people fail to believe in the resurrected Christ is because they have made up their mind that they don’t want to believe and will always find a way around it to justify their pre-conceived rejection of him.
Ask yourself, who is the resurrected Christ to you? Only you can answer that question.