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  • Writer's pictureMark Alan Williams

The 3 Best Explanations Why Jesus’ Resurrection Never Happened

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In college I had a professor for a class who really bugged me. I studied hard (I thought) for the midterm, and did poorly. So I decided to blow-off the final and just take a low grade for the class. The problem was I studied so little, I completely flunked the final and it brought my grade for the class to failing. And it was a required class.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, perhaps the site of Jesus’ resurrection, CC Image courtesy of Isreltourism on Flickr

This was one of the most embarrassing episodes of my life. Without a passing grade for that class I couldn’t graduate and there was only one semester left.

Thankfully a guidance counselor was able to help me get a correspondence course that could replace the failing grade. I worked overtime my last semester to complete that course so I could graduate on time.

It was a colossal miscalculation—I completely underestimated the importance of doing my due-diligence by studying for that final exam. Lesson learned!

Here’s the point: All of us have a final, final exam.

Many people are blowing off preparing for that final, final exam. They are thinking like I did, “It’s too difficult, complex, scary, etc. This Jesus thing must have some other explanation. I don’t believe I will have to give an account for what I did with Jesus.”

This thinking is very mistaken, just as I was mistaken about that final exam.

The central event of Christianity is not the birth of Christ, it is the resurrection of Jesus. (See 1 Corinthians 15:17) Don’t blow off understanding the resurrection!

One way of understanding is to know what else might have happened.

There are several counterfeit theories to explain away the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Confident belief is the result of comparison with Biblical truth and the historical record.

What Could Have Happened? Here are the 3 best explanations why Jesus’ resurrection never happened, and why each is entirely inadequate: 

01. The Swoon Theory

This theory is that Jesus did not actually die, but rather He swooned or fainted from exhaustion, loss of blood and pain. Later He revived in the coolness of the stone tomb. Thus, there was no resurrection from the dead.

This is perhaps the most popular theory to try to explain why the resurrection never happened.

Why must this theory be false? Here are 4 reasons:

a. Crucifixion was a very effective method of execution.

The portrayal of crucifixion in “The Passion of the Christ” movie is an accurate depiction of how tortuous, grotesque and efficient it was for killing.

Roman soldiers were expert killers.

They even thrust a spear in Jesus’ side to confirm His death: “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” (John 19:34)

b. If Jesus had not actually been dead, why would His followers have prepared and buried His body?

“So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.” (John 19:40 GW)

c. Roman guards were stationed at the tomb and would have witnessed and reported Jesus’ exit.

To escape the tomb, Jesus would have had to:

  • unwrap his mummy-like grave clothes.

  • roll aside a stone weighing one and a half to two tons

  • fight off armed Roman guards and flee

Doing any one of these things would have been a miracle almost as great as the resurrection!

d. Would the disciples have been changed so dramatically if they had seen their Savior half dead, bloodied, severely marred and badly in need of medical treatment?

History records that all 11 remaining disciples died for the belief in the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus and salvation through His name. If Jesus has not been raised, they would have known if it were a fabrication and certainly wouldn’t have allowed themselves to be tortured and killed for a lie.

02. The Stolen Body Theory

This theory goes all the way back to the Scriptures which record in Matthew 28:11 that, “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. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, ‘You are to say, “His disciples came during the night and stole Him away while we were asleep.”’”

3 reasons this theory must be false:

a. The guards could not witness a body theft while sleeping.

This would be like testifying in court about witnessing a burglary that occurred while you slept. It’s not very credible to be an eyewitness when your eyes are closed!

b. The disciple’s eyewitness of Jesus’ resurrection, central to their faith and hope for eternal life, emboldened them from cowardly to courageous.

They knew they had seen Him thus they were willing to sacrifice all. If the resurrection was a hoax, wouldn’t they have recanted their eyewitness accounts to save their necks?

c. Lying diametrically opposed the ethical message of truth, honesty and sacrificial love of Christ and His disciples.

Could they then promote a faith based on lies resulting in suffering, torture and deaths of thousands in their own lifetimes?

03. The Wrong Tomb Theory

This theory suggests that the women went to the wrong tomb and were simply confused. Being distraught, grief-stricken and the early dawn light caused them to get the address wrong. The tomb was empty, because they were at the wrong one.

Why this theory is false: If the women got it wrong then so did…

  • Peter and John

  • the Jews

  • the Jewish Sanhedrin

  • the Romans

  • Joseph of Arimethea (tomb owner)

  • even the angel!

To think all these went to the wrong tomb is absurd.

Here’s the bottom line:

It was a supernatural act of God by which He overcame death and sin for all those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Please click HERE to find out how to receive eternal life through Christ.

For more on the resurrection see my articles:

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