Season: 10 Episode: 150
Listen to episode 146 in Spanish:
What goes around comes around, or so they say. Per Barna’s recent worldview inventory, more Americans today believe in karma. But that’s not all. More Christians and 1/3 of those with a biblical worldview believe in karma. Christians send good vibes along with prayer requests. How have these New Age beliefs crept into the church and what can you do about it?
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Hey guys! Welcome to Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and we tackle them with biblical truth. Since Resurrection Sunday is coming up soon, I thought it might be helpful to step aside for a bit to look at some of the resurrection myths people use to say Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. We will get back to our final worldview podcast soon where we discuss Marxism and Post Modernism in relation to a biblical worldview, but for now, I hope this episode gives you more confidence in why we can trust that Jesus really did rise from the grave.
And do you know what else is pretty awesome!
I don’t have any other announcements today so we can jump right in. Well, except for the fact that you can get the spring newsletter by joining Patreon and becoming a member for $5/month, but that’s it. I love my Patreon ladies. They are so fun to interact with and we have LIVE zoom sessions and are hopefully going to decide on a bible study or book for the summer. Anyway, check that out on Patreon at Shanda Fulbright if you’re interested.
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So how can we be for sure Jesus rose from the grave and what do we do to counter the rebuttals to the claim that He did rise from the grave? This is something we talk about in apologetics and Gary Habermas is probably the expert in this field, so you can get his books or even take his class with OCC to learn more.
In this episode we’re going to talk about:
- The resurrection myths that people claim to explain why Jesus’ resurrection is not factual.
- Why the disciples testimony is the best evidence we have for the resurrection.
- Jesus either rose from the grave or He didn’t.
The resurrection was a miraculous event. Whenever there are miraculous events, scientists and experts try and find a natural explanation to make it make sense. But that denies the whole point of a miracle, right? Miracles are rare and for a purpose. The biggest question is how do we know the resurrection of Christ can be trusted? It’s a big claim, isn’t it?
Many historians don’t deny Jesus walked the earth.
In fact, many other religions mention Jesus as a good prophet or teacher, but they don’t say He is God. It’s not that Jesus’ existence is undeniable, it’s that His claim to be God and rise from the dead is.
So what are the resurrection myths – the natural explanations historians and skeptics say are more likely to have happened than a miraculous resurrection event?
We first see the religious leaders tried to cover up the story that Jesus rose from the grave right in the Bible that we read. Matthew 28:1-15 (NIV) says, “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
The Guards’ Report
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.”
After the women found the empty tomb and ran to tell the disciples, they first responded with skepticism. They didn’t believe it. Once they saw Jesus, the thought they were seeing a ghost. So the resurrection of Christ wasn’t an easy pill to swallow at first. The disciples did not jump to this conclusion immediately and neither did the women who found the empty tomb – they supposed someone moved Jesus’ body. It wasn’t until they saw the evidence of the resurrected Christ that they believed He rose from the grave.
That is human nature.
And honestly, I have to say I can relate. I’m not going to just swallow a tale like this without evidence. The only problem is that the disciples walked with Christ here on earth and were firsthand witnesses to his miraculous deeds and words. They of all people should have jumped to this conclusion, believing Jesus was who He said He was. But I still can’t blame them because this is human nature.
The theory created by the religious leaders is one of the myths – that the disciples moved His body.
Another theory is the swoon theory that says Jesus fainted and only appeared dead. To consider this as a theory knowing how Roman crucifixion worked is incredible, but it goes to show how far people will go to come up with a natural explanation for a miraculous event. Roman crucifixion, which has been confirmed by historical evidence, was an excruciation and brutal way to die.
The criminal on the cross was nailed to the cross by his hands and in order to take a breath, he would have to push himself up to breathe. But this is after a brutal flogging which is a beating. Jesus was beaten so severely, He couldn’t carry His own cross. Simon was recruited to carry Christ’s cross and it was Joseph of Aramethea and Nicodemus (the Pharisee who went to Jesus by night in John 3) who buried Him. Not only that, but Jesus’s side was pierced through with a sword and water and blood came out, showing that He was dead.
The theory that Jesus fainted to fake His death and then showed up later does not match the historical details we have of this event.
It was be physical impossible at worst, and at best Jesus would have had to persuade His disciples that He was a bloody and beaten Savior, claiming to be the Son of God. I’m not sure that would have been very convincing.
What if someone else had stolen Jesus’ body? The problem with this is that Jesus appeared to His disciples for over 40 days after His death and resurrection. Acts 1 tells us this before His ascension, and 1 Cor 15 gives the creed where over 500 eyewitness saw the risen Jesus. Historians confirm that the disciples truly believed they saw the risen Jesus – even through some of the historians do not believe their testimony.
This brings us to the hallucination theory.
The Oxford dictionary says to hallucinate means, “To experience an apparent sensory perception of something that is not actually present.” The hallucination theory suggests that all of the disciples who claimed to have seen Jesus hallucinated and only thought they saw Him. The problem here is that one person hallucinating is very plausible. Two people hallucinating about the same event is unlikely but maybe it’s possible. But over 500 people hallucinating about the same event? This theory just doesn’t work.
Another theory is the twin theory – perhaps Jesus had an identical twin never mentioned in the Bible and He showed up after Jesus’ death and pretended to be the risen Jesus. No, I’m not making this up, although this is probably the weaker of the theories, and I don’t think you need me to explain why. If you’re going to make a claim like this, at least provide some evidence and there isn’t any, so the claim is weak.
There are other theories but the biggest ones for now are the stolen body theory – His disciples stole His body and lie about Him rising. And the hallucination theory – the disciples and followers of Christ all hallucinated about Him rising from the dead because they were so grieved and really wanted Him to be alive.
Why do we believe there is good evidence He did rise from the dead?
The best evidence we have for the resurrection of Christ is the disciples testimony. What do I mean by that? First, they were eyewitnesses of the events that occurred. We are not getting second hand testimony. We are getting firsthand eyewitness testimony.
Secondly, all of the disciples were either beaten, tortured or killed for their testimony about Jesus rising from the dead. And they knew what this meant – they knew that if Christ did not rise, Christianity is a farce. Christianity rises or falls on the resurrection of Christ – that’s it. Paul says this in 1 Cor 15:3-6, and I think this is worth memorizing because it’s a creed that includes the details of the resurrection.
It says, “3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: 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 Cephas,[b] 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, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
So Paul is saying that he and other eyewitnesses saw the risen Jesus – totallng more than 500 hundred men and women.
Then he goes on to say in verses 12-19, “12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
So again, these men understood what it meant to bear the name of Christ. It all hinged on the resurrection. If these men died and Christ didn’t rise, they all – all of the disciples and followers of Christ – died for a lie. Many people might died because they believe a lie, but who will go to die for something they know is a lie? Maybe one. I’ll give you one. But all of them?
Not only that, there is an empty tomb and no one has found the body of Jesus after more than 2,000 years.
The NT is a reliable collection of historical documents written by eyewitness during the lifetime of other eyewitness (Voddie B). Historians agree that the eyewitnesses believed they saw the risen Christ. Gary Habermas says, “Here we have a strong witness to the historical nature of Jesus’ resurrection. Naturalistic theories have failed. Further, many historical evidences favor the resurrection. Taking all this together, we have strong reasons to believe that this event actually occurred in history. After all, the more thoroughly the alternatives theories fail, the more we are left with the evidences themselves, and they are powerful indicators that Jesus rose from the dead.”
One of the other facts from the eyewitness is Jesus’ own family.
Think about it. In Mark 3:21, Jesus’ mother and brothers came to get him while He was teaching because they thought He was crazy. They didn’t believe He was the son of God. Jesus dies, He rises, and then in Acts 1:14, Jesus ascends to heaven and Luke says this, “They all were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.” Why would His mother and brothers continue in prayer 50 days after Jesus died and rose? Could it be because they were followers?
Skip ahead to 1 Cor 15:3 (the creed I read to you before) where Paul tells us who Jesus appeared to after the resurrection. He says this in verse 7, “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” James is Jesus’ half brother. Jesus went to His family after He rose again. Then we get James and Jude – the half brothers of Jesus – writing to the people of God and calling themselves, not brothers of Christ, but servants of Christ.
This is perhaps one of the most telling parts of the resurrection evidences because Jesus’ family thinks He’s crazy and then goes on to believe in Him and live for Him, and get this – die for Him. James is believe to have been stoned to death. I’m not sure how Jude died. It is said he also died a martyr.
When you put all of this together, you see that there is good evidence to believe in the resurrection of Christ.
Finally, Jesus either rose from the grave or He didn’t.
I mean, when you think about it, either He did or He didn’t. There’s no other option. So if you say yes, He did rise, know why you believe that. And if you say no, He didn’t rise, know why you believe that. Don’t just repeat something you’ve heard others say. That’s dangerous when it comes to the resurrection because Christianity hinges on the fact that Christ rose and if He didn’t, Christianity is a farce, and if He did, which as you see there is good evidence for the resurrection, then eternity is not something to stick a “maybe” on.
A lot of people today scoff at the way Jesus died.
They wonder why God would allow His only Son to die such a brutal death. Others scoff because they want to know why God’s wrath is only quenched by the blood of Christ. What we have to remember here is that when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the consequence was death. Death became the enemy of mankind. The only way to pay the penalty of death was a life for a life. At that point, it was either your own life or Christ’s in your place.
There’s a saying we have here in our justice system which is the punishment must fit the crime. We see this concept in OT law – an eye for an eye. However, after Christ, we are now under grace. It is His life in place of ours. He paid what we could not to save us from eternal death and satisfy God’s wrath. That is the beauty of Christianity, the beauty of the atonement, and the beauty of the love relationship God has with His creation.
Someone asked a question in one of the online class with OCC the night Jim Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity was on, and the person who asked the question had a friend who struggle with the atonement – the reparation for a wrong. This is what Jim had to say and I thought his answer was fantastic:
“The substitutionary atonement is not as much about death as it is about punishment. Yes Jesus experiences a full death just as we all do because everyone will die physically yet continue to live beyond the grave just as Jesus did. So he dies just as sin requires.
But the way that he dies matters.
He is punished in a way that we will never be, unless of course we choose hell. A natural death is very different than what Jesus had to endure. An accidental death is very different than what Jesus had to endure. He endured something relatively unique. It’s also something none of us want to have to experience. That’s why the movie, the passion, was such a gift to the church. Jesus was PUNISHED. Publicly, in an excruciating way, over a long period of time, without cause, and with great humiliation. That’s what we all deserve given the sin that we hide. Jesus paid publicly for what we think and believe privately. None of us want anyone else to see what we deserve, but people watched Jesus suffer publicly for something he didn’t even deserve privately.
That’s the exchange that’s going on here, and the nature of the punishment that Jesus endures on our behalf. That’s also why the gospels take the time to show how he was mocked. That public, humiliating, brutal, undeserved execution is what pays the price.”
What a beautiful way to explain what Christ did for us.
Lastly, I want to talk to you about 1 Corinthians 15, starting at verse 12. It says, “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Continuing in 1 Corinthians …
23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
Let’s pick back up at verse 42. It says, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man.
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
We get a transformed body. We will have no more pain, scars, tears, bad knees or a weak back in heaven.
While we can’t be 100% certain, we believe from Scripture that Christ will still have His scars in heaven. Got Questions says there are three reasons why Christ may have chosen to keep His scars in heaven.
- To show an eternal witness to the incarnation of Christ. Spirits do not have flesh, but Christ laid aside His glory as God and took on the flesh of man. If Christ has His scars, He will never return to His pre-incarnate state. We believe He could still have His scars because He showed them to Thomas after His resurrection as evidence that it was Him the disciples saw.
2. His scars reveal why He came to earth – to be a sacrifice fro us. He didn’t come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
3. Finally, the scars reveal that Jesus loved us while we were still sinners. He didn’t wait for us to get right with God because that day would never have come.
I want to wrap this up today and I hope this blessed you as much as it blessed me to put it together and share it with you. Sometimes we have to meditate on what Christ has done for us because it reconnects us to Him. It stirs up that love relationship we have with our Savior because He is the only reason we are here. He is our hope, our joy, our salvation. And because of Him, we can celebrate Resurrection Sunday knowing that we too will one day be united with Christ, standing in the blood of the Lamb before the Father. That is a day to look forward to.
I hope everyone enjoys the spring, time with family, and reflects on the resurrection. He is risen indeed. If you have any questions for me, email me at email@example.com.