The data that has been shared up until this point in "Resurrection Apologetics" points toward a conclusion that many people are just are not comfortable with.
There is no natural explanation; only a supernatural explanation.
“The fact is, the truth matters – especially when you’re on the receiving end of a lie.” And nowhere is this more important than in the area of faith and religion. Eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong.”
- Ravi Zacharias
Mark 8:31 – “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again."
John 2:18-19 – “The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
The bottom line is that Jesus predicted His death, resurrection, and then was crucified, died, buried, and rose (bodily) from the dead (resurrection).
Jesus’ disciples sincerely believed that He rose from the dead and appeared to them. External evidence support the authenticity of their beliefs in the resurrection:
* The empty tomb and “theories” – hallucination, impersonation, theft, spiritual resurrection, myth, unknown or wrong tomb, and swoon have no opposing plausible explanation after looking into each one of them from a serious non bias view.
* There are early non-biblical writings (see Did Jesus Exist? tab)
* Copycat claims have been debunked (see Copy Cat Savior Theory tab)
The conversion of Jesus’ brother (former skeptic) James.
* James was not a believer:
Mark 3:21 – “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Until Jesus appeared to Him after His resurrection:
1 Corinthians 15:7 – “After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.”
Then went on to be a leader of the early church:
Galatians 2:9 – “ James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars..”
The conversion of the Christian persecutor (Saul) Paul.
* After conversion
Acts 9:26 – “When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.”
Ephesians 1:1 – “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,”
An “Early Creed” is found in a Letter to the Corinthians which most biblical and secular scholars date within 5 years of Jesus’ death:
1 Corinthians 15:3-8- “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”
This is summed up very well in "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus" by Gary R. Habermas, Michael R. Licona p.221-222 (appendix) :
b. Oral tradition
(1) Early Creed 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
a) How do we know it’s a creed?
i. “Delivered” and “received” communicates that Paul is giving the tradition he received.
ii. It contains indicators of an Aramaic original:
1. Fourfold use of the Greek term “hoti” is common in creeds
2. “Cephas,” is Aramaic for Peter, but Paul wrote in Greek.
3. Text’s content is stylized, containing parallelisms
4. Non-Pauline terms
b) When is origin of creed dated? Very soon after Jesus’ crucifixion (probably within 5 years).
i. Crucifixion dated A.D. 30 by most scholars
ii. Paul’s conversion dated A.D. 31-33
iii. Paul goes away for 3 years after his conversion, then visits Peter and James in Jerusalem (Gal. 1:18-19). Most scholars believe that Paul received the creed from them at this time
iv. The other option is that he received it in Damascus at conversion (3 years earlier). Either way he probably received it within 2-5 years of Jesus’ crucifixion (which places the origin of the creed even earlier) from someone whom he, as an apostle, deemed to be a trustworthy source.”
Conclusion and closing thoughts:
1 Corinthians 15:12-20 - “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead…”
Paul knew as he penned or dictated those words that The Resurrection is what holds the Christian faith together. With out it, Christians should be "pitied," or "most miserable," because our "faith is in vain."
Until the Event can be disproved otherwise, which for centuries it has not, Christians can remain steadfast in their faith.
If you are an unbeliever and feel persuaded to believe that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead because of the information that I have shared with you, I kindly ask that you go to the next tab in "Resurrection Apologetics," entitled, "Now What?"