Did Jesus’ Resurrection Really Happen? Part 3

Last week, we looked at the Swoon Theory which asserts that Jesus didn’t really die, that He just swooned and in the coolness of the tomb, revived himself, rolled the stone away and got out of it. I explained why that theory makes little sense. Let’s now look at another theory that skeptics purport; the Wrong Tomb Theory.

The Women Went to the Wrong Tomb

This is grasping at straws. Joseph of Arimathea was well known and so he would know the whereabouts of his own tomb. Not only did Joseph of Arimathea and the women know where the tomb was, so did the Romans—they placed the guard there.[1] What about the angels that appeared to the women who were at the tomb the morning of the resurrection? They said to the women in Matt. 28:5-6 that Jesus wasn’t there, that He had risen. Then they invited the women to go in and look. The women were escorted into the tomb by the angels! The claim that the women went to the wrong tomb ignores the evidence we already know about the tomb. Christian apologist and evangelist Josh McDowell says that,

In order to believe the wrong tomb theory, one would have to say that, not only the women went to the wrong tomb, but that Peter and John ran to the wrong tomb; that the Jews went to the wrong tomb, then the Sanhedrin and the Romans. You would have to say that the guard returned to the wrong tomb and also went to the wrong grave. Finally, you would have to say that the angel appeared at the wrong tomb. It would take a lot of faith (and blind faith at that) to believe something so absurd.[2]

The Body Was Stolen

The Jewish leaders alleged that the disciples had stolen the body. Matt. 28:12-13 says that the chief priests and elders met to come up with an alibi for the disappearance of Jesus’ body. 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.” According to Matt. 27:62-64, the day after Jesus died, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate to request that the tomb be made secure for fear that the disciples would steal Jesus’ body, then claim that He resurrected. So there was a very large and heavy stone put in front of the tomb entry along with a seal. The Romans also placed a guard there to protect the tomb from theft.

This last point is very significant because the presence of the Romans soldiers and the Roman seal over the door made the possibility of the religious leaders claims of theft much more difficult if not impossible. The likelihood of these timid, scared Galilean disciples stealing the body of Jesus out from under the noses of a guard of highly disciplined and skilled Roman soldiers while they all slept (an offense punishable by death) is ridiculous.[3]

There have been many theories to show that the resurrection of Christ did not happen. The McDowells contend that some say there has to be “some other” explanation so they seek either a legendary, mythical, or naturalistic explanation.[4] Never the less, some of these theories are more difficult to believe than the resurrection itself. Because of this, the McDowells contend that one needs to apply two principles. First the theories or alternate explanations must take into account all the facts surrounding the resurrection. Theories must take into account all parts of the testimony and not some. Second, history must not be constructed from a preconceived notion and adjusted to one’s own liking, but history must be produced from the best evidence and let the evidence speak for itself.[5]

            [1] McDowell, The Resurrection Factor, (San Bernardino, Ca.,  Here’s Life Publishers, 1981) 78.

            [2] McDowell, The Resurrection Factor, 80

            [3]J. Hampton Keathley III, “False Theories Against the Resurrection of Christ”, bible.org, June 2nd, 2004, accessed January 28th, 2014, http://www.bible.org.

[4] Josh and Sean McDowell, Evidence for the Resurrection: What it Means to Your Relationship with God, (Wheaton, Ill., Tynedale House Publishers, 1996) 199

            [5] Josh and Sean McDowell, Evidence for the Resurrection,  200

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