Did Jesus Really Rise from the Grave?
Over the centuries, many have tried to disprove the resurrection of Jesus. Basically, there have been seven arguments against the resurrection: Jesus did not die, the place of Jesus's burial was not known, the tomb was not empty, the body was stolen, the disciples accidentally ran to the wrong tomb in their excitement, just a few people hallucinated seeing Jesus, and the account is a legend or myth.
Fortunately, there are important details in the Bible (as well as extra-biblical material) that address these objections. Here are the crucial details from the Bible that disprove each of the seven objections. For even more detail, listen to Episode #68 on Bumper Sticker Faith Podcast, "The Ultimate Cinderella Story."
Jesus really died.
The blood and water give proof (John 19:34).
Professional Roman executioners oversaw the crucifixion (Luke 23:47).
Jesus did not just pass out. There was too much trauma done to his body (Matthew 27:26-31).
The place of Jesus’s burial was known.
The tomb belonged to a well-known and upstanding person, Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50).
The Romans put a seal on the exact place where Jesus was buried (Matthew 27:66).
The tomb was empty.
The guards could not find the body, even though their lives depended on it.
Jesus’s enemies presuppose the tomb is empty, because they give excuses as to why the body is not there (Matthew 28:12-15).
If the body were there, they could just point to it and stop all the excitement. But there is no body to point to.
The body was not stolen.
The Jewish authorities would not have stolen it. That’s what they were trying to prevent!
Grave robbers wouldn’t have stolen it, because they left behind the grave wrappings, the most valuable thing there!
The disciples would not be able to steal it, because of inability, fear, and the Roman guard. Mary, who was a ‘disciple’ assumes someone else took Jesus away and that he really was dead. “Sir, if you have carried him away [you carry away dead people, not living ones], tell me where you have laid him” (John 20:15). She does not assume the disciples stole Jesus, but perhaps someone else carried him away.
They knew exactly which tomb to go to.
Multiple eyewitnesses watched where Jesus was put in the tomb and would not forget the location in only 72 hours (Nicodemus, Joseph, and the women).
Since the guard’s lives depended on the tomb being secured, it was very unlikely that they were guarding the wrong tomb. So they knew where it was for when the authorities would question them in search of the body.
The chief priests would not have offered a large sum of money to bribe the guards if it were just the case of a mixed-up tomb (Matthew 28:12).
Anyone in the city who knew the tomb’s owner could easily have pointed out the correct location of the tomb to dispel all doubt.
There were many resurrection sightings.
Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21.
Acts 1, 9, 10, 18, 23, 26.
1 Corinthians 15:3-9. This passage mentions more than 500 eyewitnesses! Ancient historians used first hand eyewitnesses for writing works of history. They did not use second or third-hand sources, but first-hand witnesses. Each witness would be known by local readers and could be called upon at any time to give an account for their claim (either proving or disproving the claim).
The account is not a legend or myth.
A legend is a story that lacks accurate historical evidence. In contrast, the gospels are full of proper names, dates, cultural details, historical events, and customs.
A myth is a fictitious story or unfounded belief about a person with no real existence. There is more evidence for Jesus’s existence than any other ancient figure. The written accounts date from about five years after the Resurrection, which is not enough time for a myth or legend to develop. All of the eyewitnesses were still alive and could easily dismiss a claim were it not true. Besides, most of the disciples died for their belief in the resurrection–and they would not die for a known legend.