The following are some of the arguments against His resurrection, along with the responses to show that these counter-arguments are unfounded:
The Swoon Theory: Jesus only swooned at the crucifixion. However, the evidence as presented in yesterday’s post demonstrates He actually died. In addition, if He had survived such torture, He would hardly have appeared to the disciples as the victorious Risen Savior, but rather as a brutally battered, nearly dead victim, who could not possibly unwrap himself from the burial shroud, roll away the large boulder blocking his escape from the Tomb and overpower the guards in His own strength.
Someone moved the body. The usual suspects are listed:
Joseph of Arimathea took the body. There is no indication that he had motive or opportunity. He was a wealthy man and obviously had connections in high places. He risked his neck just to get the body and bury it. Why would he risk more? And when would he do it with the guard posted outside?
Jewish or Roman authorities took the body. This proposed explanation has never made sense to me. Sure, they had the means, but of all people, they certainly did not have the motive — they WANTED HIM DEAD! That was the whole point of the crucifixion, to destroy this rebellious movement before it could spread. If they had the body, why accuse the disciples of stealing it? Matthew 28:11-15. If they took it, all they needed to do to stop the rumors was to produce the body. They did not do this because they didn’t have the body.
The Disciples stole the body. At first glance, this theory makes the best sense. If they wanted to continue the movement, why not just steal the body and tell everyone that he rose from the grave just like he said he would. It would seem that they had the motive, or did they?
This theory does not explain their conduct afterwards. They were honest men. Although Jesus told them often enough, they didn’t really understand that he would be resurrected. Instead they were cowering in the darkness, hiding from authorities. They disbelieved the testimony of the women that he had risen from the dead, and initially were uncertain what happened when they found the empty tomb. Matt 26:56; Mark 14:50; 16:9-14.
If this theory were true, we would have to believe that they knowingly died for a hoax, a cruel joke which seems extremely unlikely. This is especially true of Peter who even denied three times that he knew Jesus on the night before the crucifixion. Where did he get the courage later, unless Jesus really did rise from the dead? But these disciples did spread the news about Jesus and died for their belief.
Also, like Joseph of Arimathea, they did not have the means to take the body which was under guard.
The Tomb was not visited. Scripture clearly says they did (the women: Matthew 28:1-8, Mark16:1; John and Peter: John 20:3-8). Even if they did not, then why start rumors that he was alive. Guards were posted at the tomb. All they had to do was open it and show the body. Problem solved, at least from the authorities’ point of view.
The Women went to the wrong tomb. If so, why did Peter and John make same mistake later (John 20). If they had gone to the wrong one, the authorities could easily have corrected their error. The guards were posted at the right tomb, so again, just show the body and stop the rumors.
The only way this theory could even remotely work is if the guards were also at the wrong tomb, which is extremely unlikely. Even if, somehow, the guards were at the wrong tomb, they would have searched and produced the body in the correct tomb. They would not have agreed to lie if there were another explanation, (Matt 28:11ff), especially since the penalty for sleeping on duty was death.
The Appearances to the witnesses were illusions, hallucinations or figments of their imagination. When the disciples first saw Jesus, they wondered if he was a ghost or an illusion. Matthew 28:11-15. But mass hysteria would not have produced so many sightings with so many people in various locations over 40 days; nor does it explain the empty tomb; nor does it explain the conversions of James the Brother of Jesus and Saul/Paul who both were hostile to the Jesus movement until they were convinced when Jesus appeared to them personally.
The Resurrection is a myth or legend that never really happened. When the disciples first heard the women say the tomb was empty, they thought it was just an empty tale or gossip. Luke 24:10-11. That conclusion changed when they saw Jesus for themselves. The great detail in the Gospels shows that these accounts were the eyewitness records of personal experiences. Historical records outside of the Bible relate that the movement spread quickly (see examples in my post on sources outside of the New Testament), with many martyrs[witnesses] suffering death in just a few years. A legend cannot reasonably explain these events so quickly after the resurrection. The writings of the early Church Fathers, within just a generation after the event, show that the Resurrection was the foundation for church teaching and practice. Even the day of worship was changed from Saturday to Sunday. There just was not enough time for a myth or legend of the resurrection to develop.
For more information, go to this talk by Gordon Franz.
Then let me know what you think.
One thought on “Responses to Counter-Arguments Against the Resurrection”
Well said, my friend. It’s amazing that there are those who would rather believe the unbelievable than looking at the facts to see that the truth of Scripture makes the most sense. And gives the most hope.