The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most important biblical truths there is. Next to the crucifixion, it is the most significant event in church history. It isn’t a peripheral issue; it’s foundational. It’s bedrock. It’s the bottom line.
Not only does the resurrection tell us that we will live beyond the grave, but it also tells us there is hope beyond this life.
In fact, the Bible says, “Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life” (1 Corinthians 15:20–22 NLT).
Yet inevitably, we have those who offer up their liberal concepts regarding what took place as they try to discredit the resurrection and the message of Scripture.
One of the most commonly held theories, for example, is the swoon theory, which proposes that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross. Rather, proponents of this theory assert that He went into a deep coma, or so-called swoon, from the severe pain and trauma of the crucifixion. Then, in the cool atmosphere of the tomb, He supposedly revived.
Now, keep in mind that the Roman guards were the first to report the death of Jesus. They were experts at execution, and they would be put to death themselves if they allowed a condemned man to escape death. It clearly was in their best interest that someone in their custody would be unmistakably dead.
So when they went to Jesus as He hung on the cross and prepared to break His legs (which would hasten his death), they didn’t do it. Why? Because He already was gone (see John 19:31–33). The Scriptures had prophesied that the Messiah would not have one of his bones broken, and this fulfilled that prophecy (see John 19:36).
Then they thrust a spear into his side, and out came blood and water, which occurs when the heart stops beating. This gave them the final proof they needed.
For the swoon theory to be valid, Jesus would have had to survive the massive blood loss from scourging, the nail wounds, and the spear thrust. And in His impossibly weakened condition, He would have had to endure 40 hours without food or drink, manage to unwrap Himself from the burial cloths, single-handedly roll away the massive stone that sealed the tomb, and then convince His followers that He’d risen from the dead.
Additionally, He would have had to travel countless miles in that condition to make numerous appearances to His disciples over a period of 40 days and also delude His disciples into thinking He could simply appear in a room without using a door. Still, there are people today who hang their doubts on this absurd assumption.
Another idea is the no-burial theory, which suggests that Jesus was never placed in the tomb to begin with. Instead, this theory proposes that Jesus was put into a mass grave that was reserved, according to Roman customs, for criminals.
It’s true that the Romans would throw the bodies of the deceased into a large heap. But if this were true of Jesus’ body, then neither the Jewish leaders nor the Roman soldiers would have bothered to seal the tomb.
Not only that, but to disprove Jesus’ resurrection, they only would have needed to retrieve His body and put it on display.
Another suggestion is the mass hallucination theory, which maintains that everyone who claimed to see the risen Jesus was hallucinating as a result of their earnest desire to see him alive again.
However, the resurrection of Jesus came as a shock to his disciples. Though he spoke of it and his impending crucifixion repeatedly, somehow it went right over their heads. In addition the Bible tells us that on one occasion at least 500 people saw the resurrected Christ at once (see 1 Corinthians 15:3–8).
Probably the oldest assertion of all is that the disciples stole his body. This is what they were saying in the first century. Yet claiming that the body of Jesus was stolen actually proves His resurrection.
His friends couldn’t have taken it, because they left the scene and were convinced that Jesus was dead. And when the women reported His resurrection to the 11 apostles, the Bible says their words sounded like nonsense to them (see Luke 24:11).
And most importantly, if the resurrection were a lie, how could all the apostles go to an early grave saying so? Whenever there’s a conspiracy, someone always breaks, especially when the indictments start flying.
As we look over church history, we know that Matthew was martyred by being thrust through with a sword in distant Ethiopia. Mark died in Alexandria after being cruelly dragged through the streets of that city. Luke was hung on an olive tree in Greece. John was put into a cauldron of boiling oil, but, according to church tradition, he didn’t die. So he was banished to the island of Patmos.
Peter was crucified upside down in Rome. James the greater was beheaded in Jerusalem. James the lesser was thrown off the temple and then beaten with a club. Bartholomew was flayed alive. Andrew was bound to a cross, where he preached to his persecutors until he died. Thomas was thrust through with a lance in the East Indies. And Jude was shot to death with arrows.
If their lives would have been spared, don’t you think at least one of them would have suddenly exposed such a lie—if it were a lie? But none of them did, because they couldn’t deny what was true. Christ is risen. He is alive.
Yes, there is life beyond the grave, even for the nonbeliever. Life doesn’t stop here on this place called Earth. The real us, our soul, will live on. And according to the Bible, the soul will go to one of two destinations: Heaven or Hell.
The last thing God wants is for any person to face eternity in Hell. That is why Jesus died and rose from the dead for you and me.
Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie.
This article was originally published at WND.com.
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Used with permission from Greg Laurie.