As a child I learned many ‘fantastic’ stories surrounding our religious holidays. I learned that a jolly fat man lived in the North Pole and… Read More »Easter Examined: Could Jesus have risen from the dead?
josephus on resurrection of jesus
One of the most hopeful times in life is when a couple hears that they are going to have a baby. The expectation of a new life that will burst on the scene, full of energy, need and promise fills parent’s hearts with celebration, joy and hope. And so the parents wait, prepare, and check ‘under the hood’ with ultrasound and heartbeat to see if that life that is still invisible to the eye is indeed there, and is growing.
That Jesus died and rose physically from the dead is central to the gospel. In fact, Paul in his letter to the Corinthians states it this way:
I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you…. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, … and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)
This is what makes the news of the gospel pregnant with hope – Jesus has conquered death and this new life of his can infuse anyone with this same new life. So in a sense the gospel can be viewed as a promise of good news that we can become ‘pregnant’ with new life that will one day burst upon the scene. But now it is hidden or masked to the naked eye just like that of a woman in her first month of pregnancy; though she carries a new life, it is not outwardly visible.
But one can take a hard look ‘under the hood’ so to speak on whether Jesus actually – in a physical and historical sense – did rise from the dead. This hope was never meant to be accepted on blind faith, or by cultural custom, or just by taking it for granted. Just like a couple who wants to see an ultrasound or hear a heartbeat of the pregnant life within the woman’s body, the videos in this session invite you to consider through history and reason whether in fact Jesus did rise from the dead. If so, we can have a solid assurance of this same new life given to us if we want it – we would have a firm hope.
In this first video I cover eye-witness details from the gospels that confirm that Jesus in fact did die. Then I survey extra-biblical historical sources that bear on life and death of Jesus: Mara-bar Serapion, Tacitus, Josephus and Suetonius. From these sources we learn that his followers began their movement in Jerusalem, a few weeks after his death, in the teeth of opposition from the religious/political leaders there. We therefore can prove that the tomb was empty because the authorities were not able to produce the body – the only effective way to stop this movement.
In this 2nd video I look at various naturalistic explanations for why the tomb of Jesus could have been empty on Easter Sunday. I look at whether the authorities could have moved the body; whether grave robbers could have stolen it; whether the disciples could have stolen it; or whether the whole story was just a myth that developed over a long time. I show that none of these explanations come close to explaining the historical events that we know happened at that time. I also look into the changed lives of Jesus’ brothers and of Saul, arguing that no explanation apart from the resurrection could account for these changes that we know from history happened in these men. I close by looking at why this event is so pertinent to all of us.
Blog Posts Related to this Session