As Christians, we have all heard this question at least once in our lives. Especially at Easter.
So I thought it would be worthwhile to share a list of some apologetics that I have heard over the years, put into loose theoretical order.
Here it goes ...
- Jesus died while on the cross. There is almost no debate on this one. Christian and non-Christian writers have mentioned Jesus' execution and death. Furthermore, the odds of surviving the scourging, crucifixion, and lance to the side are medically slim to none.
- Joseph of Arimathea was given the body. There is no other written testimony to contradict this. And, Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin (albeit sometimes mentioned to be Jesus' relative). If the followers of Christ were making up a tale, they certainly would not have let their King's body be turned over to a member of the despised group that condemned Him to begin with.
- Matthew tells us there was a guard stationed at the tomb. We do not know if this is a Roman guard or a Jewish one. If it was a Roman one, there is no way he would have taken the body or assisted in a cover-up because the punishment would have been severe. If it was a Jewish guard, surely he would have done everything possible to prevent theft of the body. In either instance, the guard was likely armed, making it even harder for a common person to get past him.
- All four Gospels tell us that it was women who found the empty tomb. In Jesus' time, the testimony of women was worthless. If the authors were trying to gain credibility, they would have had men making the greatest discovery of all time. If they were just telling the truth, they would tell it exactly as it happened.
- There was a two-ton stone covering the tomb. The women could not have moved it themselves to take the body. Nor could anyone else with any degree of stealth.
- There are no Jewish or Roman writings contradicting the empty tomb. Having an empty tomb is paramount to proving there was a Resurrection. If the women were at the wrong tomb, as some protest, the Jews would have showed the world the actual tomb.
- Jesus appears to many. To different people at different times. To believers and non-believers. He ate with the disciples. Thomas was able to touch Him. St. Paul even tells the Corinthians that the Resurrected Jesus appeared to over 500 at one time, many of whom were still living. In other words, they could have confirmed this if they wanted to.
- The Apostles were convinced. These same folks that ran when Jesus was captured, denied Him, and remained hidden after the Crucifixion, suddenly found the courage to preach the Word to their death. Every one of them. Surely at least one of them would have bailed on the plan if the whole thing was a conspiracy, no?
- They had nothing Earthly to gain. People lie to gain something. Money. Power. Status. They got ridiculed, beaten, and jailed. And they kept going. That is pretty strong conviction.
- They preached in Jerusalem. They didn't all go off immediately to a foreign land to preach the Word. They preached in front of witnesses. They could not have gotten away with that if they were fabricating the events that had transpired. (And again, if the Jews had the body, they would have produced it to nip the revolution in the bud.)
But hopefully it will help more than one person echo the Apostle Thomas' beautiful statement ...
"My Lord and my God"