Resurrection of Jesus

I. The Bible teaches that we can know

The most ordinary misinterpretation of faith is to consider it an act of knowledge that has a low degree of evidence but is supported by religious authority.

Luke 1:1-4 - That you might know the certainty
John 20:30-31 - That you may believe
Hosea 4:6 - Destroyed for lack of knowledge
Isaiah 1:18 - "let us reason together", says the Lord

II. Implication of the Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15:14 - Faith is vain if Christ not raised
John 14:6 - I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father but by me
Acts 17:31 - Proof (assurance) by raising him from the dead

III. Proof of the Resurrection

How can we prove the resurrection? How can we establish the truth of anything that occurred in history?

  • Testimony of different writers of the time period
  • Physical evidence
  • Motives of the writers

First, do the books of the N.T. pass the test of historical accuracy?

  • Political climate - political leaders
  • Customs - coinage, tombs, pottery
  • Topology - do the cities exist where the N.T. puts them?
  • Events

IV. There are other writers of the period but not many

A. Josephus speaks of the following people and events:

  1. Jesus, Pilate (Antiquites Book 18.3.1-3)
  2. John the Baptist
    1. Herod and how John was killed (Antiquities 18.5.2)
    2. "...Herodias took upon herself to confound the laws of our country, and divorce herself from her husband, while he was alive, and was married to Herod (Antipas) her husband's brother by the father's side..."
    3. Herod the Great and his sons and the evils they did
      1. Herod Agrippa I died after accepting the flattery of the people (Antiquities 8.2, Acts 12:20)
    4. Felix, and Festus (Antiquities 20.7.1)
    5. James the brother of Jesus (Antiquities 20.9.1)
    6. Pharisees and Sadducees (Antiquities 18.1.3,4)
    7. Events
      1. Enrollment - every 14 years?
      2. Numerous rebellions
        1. Acts 5:37, Judas of Galilee (Antiquities 18.2.6; 20.5.2)
        2. Acts 21:38, Egyptian (Antiquities 20.8.6)
      3. Destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Jewish War Book 5ff)
    8. Customs

B. Suetonius (A.D. 120)

  1. "He (Cladius) drove the Jews out of Rome who were rioting because of Chrestus." Acts 18:2
  2. Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men addicted to a novel and mischievous superstition (during the reign of Nero)

C. Mishnah and Talmuds

"Jesus of Nazareth was a transgressor in Israel, who practiced magic, scorned the words of the wise, led the people astray, and said he had not come to destroy the law but to add to it. He was hanged on Passover Eve for heresy and misleading the people. His disciples, of whom five are named, healed the sick in his name."

D. Thallus (A.D. 52)

Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun...

E. Mara Bar-Serapion (Syrian)

"...What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that, that their kingdom was abolished..."

F. Cornelius Tacitius

"Therfore, to scotch the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, from whom they got their name, had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate when Tiberius was emperor; and the pernicious superstition was checked for a short time, only the break out afresh, not only in Judea, the home of the plague, but in Rome itself, where all the horrible and shameful things in the world collect and find a home."

G. Pliny the Younger (A.D. 112)

The governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, wrote a letter to the Emperor Trajan, asking his advice on how to deal with the troublesome sect of Christians, who were embarrassingly numerous in his province.

V. Alternative explanations of the empty tomb

A. Jesus never lived - A myth generated in the 2nd century

  1. Too much evidence of Christian persecution in 1st century
  2. Writers were very familiar with 1st century events and customs
  3. Then what explains the Christian movement?
  4. 2nd century writers quote the N.T., believing it to be true

B. Jesus lived and died at the hands of Pilate but did not rise from the dead

  1. Jews stole the body away
  2. Romans stole the body away
  3. Disciples stole the body away
  4. Jesus didn't die but revived in the cool of the tomb
  5. It was not Jesus on the cross

C. Disciples made up the story as a reaction to the Messiah movement at the time.

  1. The story of Jesus does not fit the expectation of a Messiah (Luke 24:21)

VI. Facts that have to be dealt with in any explanation of the resurrection event

A. Tacitus wrote -- Christians took their name from Christ who died at the hands of Pilate

B. Jesus did not fit the idea of a Messiah as understood by the Jews, or even by the disciples

C. Christians suffered persecution and death the protect copies of the N.T.

D. The disciples suffered persecution and death because they believed that Jesus rose from the dead

E. The Christians who suffered persecution were in a position to know if the teachings of the disciples were true

F. The teachings of Jesus are not the teachings man wold invent if he wanted to create a religion

  1. Give himself power or overthrow a power
  2. Give himself wealth
  3. Give himself sexual freedom

G. No belief is justified if it can be fully explained as a result of irrational causes. Irrational causes tend to produce false beliefs.

H. The N.T. is as accurate in terms of historic and culture as can be determined from other historical sources and archaeology. Luke spoke in detail of the customs of several cities including Jerusalem, Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, and other cities

I. Jerusalem and much of Israel was destroyed around A.D. 70. The N.T. writers show considerable knowledge of the period before the destruction and is confirmed by archaeology

J. The disciples were different after the resurrection than before. What could account for this? Matthew 26:56ff through Acts 4:13ff

K. The description of the crucifixion is accurate in every detail

L. The teachings of the N.T. are a logical continuation of the O.T.

  1. Doctrine
  2. Fulfillment
    1. Daniel 2:31-49 - Four kingdoms
    2. Daniel 9:24ff - 70 weeks (Ezra 457 B.C.)
    3. Micah 5:2 - Bethlehem
    4. Isiah 9:6,7,53; Psalm 22:14-18; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 110; Deuteronomy 18:15,18

M. Jesus death at precisely at the time of the Passover sacrifice

Josephus Antiquities 6.9.3 - slay sacrifice at 9-11 hour
Passover lamb - Exodus 12:46 "...nor are you to break any bone of it"  

VII. Jesus sayings on the cross

  1. My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?
  2. Father forgive them as they know not what they do
  3. Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise
  4. Woman, behold, your son
  5. Behold, your mother
  6. I am thirsty
  7. It is finished (John 19:20). "It is finished, it stands finished, and it always will be finished!" Perhaps the most meaningful meaning of tetelestai was that used by the merchants: "The debt is paid in full!" (1)

VIII. Teachings of Jesus show wisdom and benevolent

I came that you may have life and have it abundantly
 - John 10:10

(1) Wiersbe, W. W. 1996, c1989. The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series" -- Jkt. Victor Books: Wheaton, III.