Two or Three (.net)

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. - Jesus

3.31.2005

Empty tomb possibilities

by Aaron Earls [+/-] show/hide

Earlier this week, I rasied all of the possibilities that I knew of to explain the resurrection and the empty tomb. Today, I will address the easiest to dismiss (in my opinion) leaving the more extensive two for a more indepth profile. (Since the original post, I found another explanation that I hadn't thought of, but I will add it here.)

1) Jesus did not actually die on the cross.
It is safe to say that if Jesus went up on that cross, he didn't come down alive. No where in history do we have any kind of support for this position. In fact, all we have is support for the opposite - Roman guards were trained killers. They would know how to kill someone. What type of evidence is there that Jesus was not dead when he came down from the cross?

The Romans took great pride in their ability to bring about a torturous death. (In fact, death by the cross was so intense and painful a new word had to be made up just to describe it - excruciating literally means out of the cross.) Did they just happen to mess up with Jesus of all people?

If there was any doubt that Jesus died from the crucifixion, the spear to the side should have done the trick. In John's Gospel, he describes "blood and water" flowing out of Jesus' side after the spear was thrust through his side and was removed. This is consistent with what we know today about what would happen if a spear goes through the lung and into the heart. The pericardial effusion and pleural effusion would appear as a clear fluid, like water, followed by a large amount of blood.

If somehow Jesus' escaped the cross with his life, please explain to me how lying him on a cold rock in a damp tomb is going to revive him. If he was still alive, it would probably kill him through an infection. Nothing about that situation would allow a man who had been beaten extensively, crucified, had a spear stuck through his side to simply get up as if nothing ever happened, somehow roll the stone away without the guards noticing and appear to his disciples strong enough to inspire confidence that He had risen from the dead. It is all too improbable and illogical to believe.

2) The women went to the wrong tomb on the first Easter Sunday.
Even if somehow they did go to the wrong tomb on the first Easter, what was to prevent the authorities from pointing to the right tomb when the disciples start claiming that Jesus was alive. Christianity would have been destroyed from the beginning. The pharisees could have simply brought people to the correct place and it's over. Again, this is not very likely.

3) The disciples (or others) came and stole the body from the tomb.
Motivation is the key for this possibility. What motivation would the disciples (or anyone) have for stealing the body? Sure, the disciples wanted Jesus to be the Messiah, but would that motivate them to stop cowering in a locked room, sneak past the guards, roll away the stone without waking them up, grab the dead body and run away with it. Not to mention they would be violating Jewish law by doing that on Saturday and touching the dead body. Then if they did steal the body, why whould they die for that lie. They would have known He was not alive, why would they give up their lives for something that wouldn't give them anything. It seems improbable that they would die to simply to keep a lie alive.

4) Jesus was resurrected in spirit, but not in body. (This is the new one.)
This "solution" tries to ride the fence and satisfy both sides, but it ends up satisfying nothing. This does not answer the question of the empty tomb, since the body would still be there if it was only a spirit resurrection. It would still be a miracle and a supernatural event, but would not be what the New Testament writers say they saw. Jesus told Thomas to place his hands in the scars. Jesus ate bread and fish with his disciples. He purposefully set out to prove that He was not simply a spirit, but He was alive with a glorified body. If you believe in a miracle, why not believe what the authors wrote? And what do you do with the empty tomb? This solution is too politically correct and not supported by any evidence.

The last two possibilities are that nothing extraordinary happened, but legend came in years later and added the resurrection or that the Biblical accounts are true. We will examine this in a greater detail to determine what exactly did happen to Jesus to best of our knowledge.

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