Years ago those who doubted the Gospel came up with several arguments against the resurrection. The critics imagined stories ranging from the women and everyone else went to the wrong gravesite to Jesus simply fainted on the cross and actually didn’t die at all but later revived in the tomb, moved the stone and overcame or eluded the guards. The arguments are pretty much ridiculous, and the best one, although it is very weak, is that the Apostles stole the body of Jesus, and it is the argument used by unbelievers in the New Testament.
Traditionally, there are four main arguments—the three mentioned above, plus everyone, who thought they saw Jesus alive, simply hallucinated. There are many arguments that would refute this theory and the one where everyone went to the wrong tomb, but both are put to rest in saying the Jewish or Roman authorities would certainly be glad to show these poor lost souls the correct gravesite or produce the body of the dead Jesus to answer the hallucination argument. If either were the case, Christianity would never have gotten off the ground.
Some believe that Jesus simply swooned or blacked out on the cross and was placed in the tomb alive. But, how would this be possible? The Roman centurion was sent to make sure all three crucified victims were dead. Jesus was discovered dead, but to make sure one of the soldiers jabbed the lifeless body with a spear and immediately there flowed out blood and water, indicating a rupture of the heart occurred in conjunction with the severe strain of crucifixion. It is quite ridiculous to presume that Jesus survived such an ordeal without medical attention, and then still had the strength to somehow remove the grave clothes wrapped around his body like a mummy, and then to move the stone at the opening of the grave, and then overcome the Roman guard only a few feet from the stone door. Nevertheless, some cling to this ill-considered theory rather than believe the witness that Jesus actually arose from the dead.
The final traditional argument is that the Apostles stole Jesus’ body while the Roman guard slept. How the stone was moved without anyone hearing the Twelve is not mentioned, but somehow these men who abandoned Jesus to the will of the Jewish authorities, and subsequently meeting together behind locked doors, fearing they would be next to die, somehow mustered up the courage to brave stealing Jesus’ body, while the Roman guard slept only a few feet from the tomb. Now these guards were professional soldiers who knew the penalty of not securing their charge was death (cp. Acts 12:19). Yet, we are asked to believe the all slept, none of them heard the moving of the great stone door only a few feet away, and none of the Twelve stumbled over any of the sleeping guards, while doing all of this at night in a space approximately the size of a small room in a home. This whole ordeal is logically improbable.
Perhaps the critics have understood the ridiculousness of these arguments, because, nowadays, we don’t hear of many people using these as proofs of Jesus not rising from the dead. Today, the believer is confronted with the idea that Jesus simply didn’t exist. It is all a story like leprechauns and the Loch Ness monster, and if we should say we believe in Jesus’ Resurrection, then why don’t we believe in leprechauns etc. How can we possibly verify the idea that Jesus—if he existed at all—rose from the grave alive? What is the proof of our faith? Why should anyone believe this fantasy we try to pass off as the truth of the Gospel?
Well, obviously we cannot verify the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. Some things cannot be demonstrated before our eyes like some people would like us to do. We forget how much of what we believe today cannot be verified with demonstrable proof. At times the only proof we have that a man or woman committed a crime is that several witnesses saw what was done. Our legal system is based upon witnesses’ testimony being proof needed to accept something as true, and this is what the New Testament is based upon—the testimony of the Twelve.
Still, many people refuse to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, simply because they believe it is all legendary, saying extraordinary events demand extraordinary evidence. Such criticism is really based upon subjective bias, because at the same time that these people demand this extraordinary and demonstrable proof from Christianity, they will embrace the evolutionary hypothesis. There is absolutely no evidence—zero evidence—of life coming from non-living matter. It cannot be demonstrated, yet no extraordinary proof is required. The theory of evolution is taught in our schools and universities, believed by the majority of our most brilliant citizens—yet it cannot be demonstrated with extraordinary proof that such an extraordinary event would (in their own words) require!
It all comes down to faith. One either believes in the witness of the Twelve found in the New Testament or one believes in the witness of much of today’s scientific community. Either way—there is no extraordinary, demonstrable proof that can be expected for what we are told is true. The question is which is more reasonable? If God exists, then resurrection from the dead is very possible, and the Apostles’ account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is believable. If there is no God, by their own admission, the scientific community puts life as it is today arising from a single cell existence coming from non-living matter so improbable that it is “almost” impossible, but this is the chosen faith of probably most of today’s world.
Be that as it may, Jesus is alive! The Resurrection of Jesus as witnessed in the New Testament is really the most believable of all the alternatives mentioned above.