Most Christians today are very busy, struggling just to find quiet time with God, let alone learn how to defend their faith to a skeptical culture. Given the criticism of Christianity today, it’s very important that all who follow the teachings of Christ learn the evidences of their faith. The historical event of the Resurrection is the best place to start when defending your faith objectively—it’s unique to Christianity.
For busy people, here are four, basic facts* that credible historians (believers as well as non-believing scholars) agree on regarding the resurrection event that are easy to remember to help you defend your faith:
- Jesus was crucified and buried in tomb owned by a Jew named Joseph from Arimathea (a city of Judea). This is an important fact because the location of Jesus’ tomb was well known, thus easily verifiable.
- The body was in fact missing from the tomb. The Jewish leaders tried to blame it on the disciples claiming they stole the body. In addition, the account of the missing body was first proclaimed by some of His women followers. Why is this significant? Because women in that culture were not even allowed to testify in a court as they were considered unreliable witnesses. If this was just legend, do you think the gospel writers would’ve used women as the first eyewitnesses to the empty tomb?
- Some people experienced postmortem appearances of Jesus. Yeah—it’s hard to believe historians validate this one, but it’s a fact. What those apparitions were is something scholars do not agree on, but at least they recognize that the disciples saw something.
- The disciples truly believed Jesus rose from the dead. Jewish belief at that time did not think resurrection would happen prior to the end of the world. For these Jewish followers to reverse that belief shows that it must have been absolutely convincing to them.
These are the four historical facts that the majority of credible scholars would agree on regarding the account of the resurrection.*
What is the best explanation for this event? God raised Jesus from the dead — has the best explanatory power. No, it wasn’t a mass hallucination. It wasn’t a hoax or some mass conspiracy. It wasn’t aliens, either (although some sci-fi fans love that idea). This event happened supernaturally.
Nonetheless, there are some who won’t believe in miracles since they think science is the only way to determine truth. But historical events cannot be measured empirically (using only our five senses); thus, written accounts and archaeological finds help us to determine the validity of history. And to this day, the bones of Jesus have never been found because He is alive – no bones about it.
- Resurrection Scholar, Gary Habermas, is the one who is credited for this historical work.
- Since 1975, more than 1400 scholarly publications on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus have appeared. Over the last five years, Dr. Habermas has tracked these texts, which were written in German, French, and English. Well over 100 subtopics are addressed in the literature, almost all of which Habermas examined in detail. Most of the critical scholars are theologians or New Testament scholars, while a number of philosophers and historians, among other fields, are also included.