Updated: Apr 5, 2020
By: Pastor Matthew Mitchell
How do I know that He really rose from the dead? This question has been asked by many skeptics. Skeptics have been challenging this point of the resurrection so to prove what we believe a lie. If the skeptic can prove that the resurrection did not happen then they could disprove Christianity and ultimately the Bible. 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raise; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain you faith also is vain.” The resurrection is the one foundation that all that we believe, depends on. There is some much proof that Jesus Christ lived, and died. Archeology has proven that Jesus existed. So the skeptic turns to the power of our central belief. It is the resurrection that holds all the power to what we call salvation. The death of Jesus Christ was the payment for our sins. The resurrection, that is the power that brings life to what is dead. If there was no resurrection then Jesus was just another man, and the wrath of God was not satisfied. The resurrection is God saying to the World that Jesus satisfied His wrath. The resurrection is God’s approval of Jesus’ offering to pay for sin. If there is no resurrection then we are all still going to hell, and God did not do what He promised to do. Without the resurrection everything that we believe in falls apart.
There are many myths that people have about the resurrection, that they have come up with to explain it away. One myth is that Jesus was playing dead. The myth goes something like this, “Christ was indeed nailed to the cross. He suffered terribly from shock, loss of blood, and pain, and He swooned away; but He didn’t actually die. Medical knowledge was not very great at that time, and the apostles thought He was dead. We are told, are we not, that Pilate was surprised that He was dead already. The explanation assuredly is that He was taken down from the cross in a state of swoon by those who wrongly believed Him to be dead, and laid in the sepulcher. And the cool restfulness of the sepulcher so far revived Him that He was eventually able to issue forth from the grave. His ignorant disciples couldn’t believe that this was a mere resuscitation. They insisted it was a resurrection from the dead.” There is a hugh problem with this. My problem with the swooning myth is, How did do you explain the spear being thrust into the side of Jesus with water and blood separately coming out, how Jesus unwrap Himself, how did Jesus move the large rock in front of the tomb, and finally how did Jesus get past the Roman Soldiers that were guarding His tomb?
The Bible records that when the solider came to break the legs of Jesus, to speed up the death process, Jesus was already dead. To make sure the solider thrusted his spear into the side of Jesus and immediately blood and water came out. John 19:32-34 “So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” If Jesus was not dead by the time the solider came to check He was certainly dead when the spear went into His side. The separation of blood and water coming out is a sign of death. In death the water separates from the blood. Medically this tells us that Jesus was dead, so much for the lack of medical knowledge.
Second how did Jesus unwrap Himself? Let me paint a picture of what Jesus endured as apart of crucifixion. Jesus was severely beaten. The Bible tells us that Jesus was whipped 39 times. He was whipped with what is called a cat of nine tails. It was made out of leather strips that had pieces of glass, metal shavings, and gravel. When the whip would hit the flesh of it victim it would grab on, so to bring it back it would have to rip the flesh off of its victim. The flesh of Jesus was literally ripped from His body. After that the solider’s dressed Him in a purple robe and made a crown of thorns to be placed on His head. The solider’s blind folded Jesus and took turns hitting Him and asking Him which of them hit Him. The Bible reports that as Jesus was carrying His cross there came a time when He could not proceed. So another man was forced to carry it for Him. Jesus was tired from not being able to sleep, in sever pain from His beatings, and most likely had muscle fatigue. Jesus was nailed to a cross, and hung there for six hours. In that six hours Jesus would have to pull with His arms and push with His feet upward to be able to exhale. Dr. Truman Davis says this about the crucifixion, “As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostals muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the bloodstream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life giving oxygen.” After all of this I do not care how strong you are physically there is no one on this earth that would be able to have the strength to do all that the skeptic says to explain away the Resurrection. Now the wrapping of Jesus is a whole other problem is the taking off of the wrappings. The wrapping of the dead is a whole process. Merrill C. Tenney says this about the process of how they would have wrapped Jesus, “In preparing a body for burial according to Jewish custom, it was usually washed and straightened, and then bandaged tightly from the armpits to the ankles in strips of linen about a foot wide. Aromatic spices, often of a gummy consistency, were placed between the wrappings or folds. They served partially as a preservative and partially as a cement to glue the cloth wrappings into a solid covering… John’s term “bound”, is in perfect accord with the language of Luke 23:53, where the writer says that the body was rolled…in linen… On the morning of the first day of the week the body of Jesus had vanished, but the grave clothes were still there… the wrappings were in position where the head had been, separated from the others by the distance from armpits to neck. The shape of the body was still apparent in them, but the flesh and bone had disappeared… How was the corpse extracted from the wrappings, since they would not slip over the curves of the body when tightly wound around it?” Where did Jesus get the strength? Even if it was possible that Jesus swooned at the cross there is no way that the coolness of the tomb was enough to give Him the strength to remove His wrappings.
Third question I have is where did Jesus get the strength to move the hugh boulder that covered His tomb? The Chief Priest and the Pharisees went to Pilate and ask to secure the tomb. Matthew 27:62 “Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priest and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, ‘Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, He has risen from the dead, and the last deception will be worse than the first.” The Stone was rolled into a groove, and could only be moved from the outside and by many strong men. Mark 16:2-3 “Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” With all that Jesus went through it would be absolutely impossible to move the stone from the inside and in His weakened state.
Finally lets say that Jesus did have the strength about Him to unwrap Himself and then move the boulder away from the tomb. How then did He defeat or sneak by the Roman Soldiers, and escape? Matthew 27: 65 “Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.’ And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.” Matthew 28:2-4 “And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.” Jesus Christ was in no way physically able to defeat Roman Soldiers.
The reality that Jesus just swooned and was able to miraculously heal Himself from the spear, get the strength to remove His cement like wrapping, move the hugh boulder, and finally defeat Roman Soldiers He would have to be Superman. The reality is that He could not. But, on the other hand by the power and approval of God the Father Jesus was raised from the dead, came out of His wrappings, He shook the earth to moved the boulder, and scared off the Roman Soldiers. It is the power of God to give life to the dead. It is the grace of God that He accept the sacrifice of Jesus’ death for payment to our sins. It was the satisfaction of God that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to give life to all who believe. 1 Corinthians 15:20- “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” The Bible tells us that the fool has said in his heart there is no God. A fool indeed! No matter how you look at it there is only one truth that we come to when we look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Up from the grave He arose! Jesus Christ is alive, so that we could have life. With Jesus’ resurrection we too will be raised from the dead to live eternally with Him in heaven.