Proving the Resurrection

Thomas Griffin 4/9/23

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There is no doubt that Jesus was a real person who lived 2,000 years ago in the Middle East. In fact, there are multiple primary sources that highlight that Jesus was a real, historical person. 

For example, Josephus (36-100 CE) was a Jewish historian who lived and died as a Jew but who wrote about the life and actions of Christ. Most notably, he stated that Jesus was a miracle worker and great teacher who was executed by the Romans. However, he also noted that Jesus’ closest followers claimed that he rose from the dead on the third day. Josephus said that the body of Jesus was never found and that Christians continued to increase their numbers by the day.

After Jesus was tortured and killed on a cross by the Roman Empire, hundreds of people confessed and attested to seeing Jesus risen from the dead. The people who saw the risen Jesus after he was killed were convinced that they should spend the rest of their lives telling everyone about Jesus. Countless numbers of these eyewitnesses even went to their deaths refusing to deny the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. 

The details concerning Jesus’ burial are essential for showing the truth of his resurrection. First, according to Matthew 27:57-66 Jesus is placed in a new tomb that has never been used before for burial. Scholars estimate that the rock in front of the entrance to Jesus’ tomb would have weighed roughly three thousand pounds and eight to ten feet tall. In front of the rock would have been the ancient equivalent of police tape. A metal chain attached to a piece of clay which had Caesar’s face on it. Since Jesus was convicted of a capital crime, messing around with his grave would be deemed a capital offense. If you broke this barrier, you would also be crucified. 

We also know that a Roman Guard is placed there because the Jewish hierarchy is afraid that Jesus’ followers would steal his body. A Roman guard consisted of four highly trained Roman soldiers (modern equivalent would be Navy Seals). If the disciples stole the body, they would have agreed to commit a capital offense, they would have had to disarm four Navy Seals, move a three thousand pound, ten foot rock and then take Jesus’ body and discard it in a way that no one (over two thousand years) could find. Not only did they succeed in the cover up, but then they committed to traveling the world to convince people that Jesus was, in fact, risen from the dead.

Not only do they convince people of the lie and never get caught for their actions of taking Jesus’ body. All of them (except for John) are willing to die for the lie. They were not just killed, however. These first followers were burned alive, boiled alive, filleted alive, and crucified upside down. 

Why die in such a brutal way for a lie? How is it possible that no one ever slipped up and told the truth rather than be tortured? How come no one has ever found Jesus’ body? Isn’t it more reasonable to believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead, appeared to his closest friends, and so inspired them that they were willing to do anything to talk about his life (even give their own lives). 

The resurrection is a fact of history. The evidence is overwhelming in its support. All history is dependent on eyewitness testimony. In the case of the resurrection, the testimony of the eyewitnesses continues to empower Christians today to know and believe that death was defeated and that Jesus is truly alive. 

Thomas Griffin is the chairperson of the religion department at a Catholic high school on Long Island where he lives with his wife and two sons. He has a masters degree in theology and is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Empty Tomb Project: The Magazine.

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