The Pastor's Pen
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lk. 24:5-6). As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is good for us to be ready to defend it against those who call into question this wonderful, eternal, and life-changing truth. In this article, we will give short answers to common objections against the resurrection.
The first objection is: “Jesus didn’t really die.” The argument goes something like this: “Jesus was badly injured and put on a cross, but he was alive when he was taken down from the cross and buried. In the coolness of the tomb, he was revived, stood up, and came out, claiming to have risen from the dead.” How do we respond to such a charge? Briefly consider the following:
1. The Roman soldiers were experts in torture and death. They knew when a person was dead or merely injured. If a prisoner was to be killed, but escaped, the soldier would pay with his own life. Facing that grim penalty, he would never be mistaken about whether the prisoner was dead or not.
2. An eyewitness (John the Apostle) saw that “blood and water” flowed out from Jesus when he was pierced in the side by a Roman soldier (Jn. 19:31-37). When a person dies, the blood pools in the chest and begins to separate into different components. John’s testimony is consistent with medical proof that Jesus died.
3. Think what it would take for this theory to be true. Jesus would have to endure multiple beatings, resulting in open wounds on his back, side, and head; have his skin, muscles, and blood vessels torn open, resulting in the loss of a lot of blood; have his entire body heavily wrapped in layers of bandages, making it impossible to breathe or move; and then in spite of these challenges, with no medical attention at all, remove all of the bandages, put his clothes on, move a heavy stone, fight off several well-armed Roman soldiers, and then present himself as the risen Lord of glory to his disciples and enemies alike. Frankly, it takes more faith to believe this than to believe that Jesus really did die.
4. Jesus himself predicted many times that he would suffer and die. Either he was telling the truth or he is a liar. If he is telling the truth, then he is the risen Lord and worthy of respect and worship. If he is a liar, then he is not worthy of any respect or worship.
5. On the cross, he publicly said he was surrendering his spirit into the Father’s hands (Lk. 23:46). Either he died or God was – and is – involved in the biggest lie in history – i.e., that Jesus died and rose again. Is such lying and deception consistent with the character of God?
Seeing that the evidence is strong that Jesus did in fact die, critics turn to denying that Jesus actually rose from the dead. This argument takes several forms:
“It was early and it was dark. In their grief, the women went to the wrong tomb and thought that Jesus rose from the dead.” In response, we say:
1. Then the disciples also went to the wrong tomb because they found the same tomb empty as did the women (Jn. 20:1-10).
2. Apparently the angels went to the wrong tomb as well (Mt. 28:1-6; Lk. 24:1-12).
3. The Romans would have gladly pointed out the error and brought the disciples and women to the correct tomb and show that the body of Jesus was still there.
4. The Jews would have gladly done the same. But they knew it was empty and even tried to bribe the soldiers to cover up the fact (Matt. 28:11-15).
“The so-called appearance of the risen Jesus are just hallucinations. The disciples were grieved that Jesus was killed and they imagined that they saw him.” In response, we say:
1. Hallucinations are not shared events. They happen to individuals, not to groups of people. Peter, James, John, Mary, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, etc. all claimed to have seen the risen Christ. These appearances happened at different times, to different people, in different places. This would be an amazing set of circumstances if they all ended up being hallucinations.
2. Jesus appeared to all of the apostles at the same time. Did they all hallucinate at the same time and in the same manner (a phenomenon that is unheard of)?
3. One time Jesus appeared to 500 people at the same time (1 Cor. 15:6). It defies logic and common sense that a group hallucination like that would take place.
4. But, as unbelievable and absurd as this claim is, the simplest way to prove that these are hallucinations is to produce the dead body of Jesus. Why didn’t the enemies of Jesus do that? Because there was no body to produce. Jesus was truly raised from the dead.
“It was only a spiritual resurrection.” In response, we say:
1. Jesus showed his hands, feet and side to the apostles. He told them to touch him to see that he was not merely a spirit. (Lk. 24:41; Jn. 20:26-29).
2. He met with the apostles and ate with after the resurrection (Lk. 24:41-43; Jn. 21:12-14) Does a spirit eat?
There are other arguments that enemies of the cross make against the resurrection. Believers, however, can confidently provide answers to each one. The evidence is clear: Jesus is risen from the dead. Listen to the words of Jesus himself: “No one takes (life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (Jn. 10:18). Now hear the testimony of Scripture: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time . . . then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all . . . he appeared to me” (1 Cor. 15:3-8). Hallelujah! Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Go out and declare that news to those around you. I wish you a Happy Easter in the joy and power of the resurrected LORD!