There is significant evidence that Jesus Christ lived, died, and was resurrected. Read Part 1 for more information.
IV Did Jesus Die on the Cross?
Some cynics have concluded that Jesus did not actually die on the cross, but either fainted from a loss of blood or simply pretended to be dead. Jesus Christ was severely beaten and whipped. His skin was ripped off and he was deeply punctured from the crown of thorns placed on His head. He was so weak that He needed help carrying the cross. Wooden stakes were hammered through His hands and feet. Medical science tells us that the extent of those injuries would be more than enough to kill someone. Additionally, when someone is nailed to a cross, they must pull themselves up to breathe, triggering excruciating pain in the hands and feet. Failure to do so would result in asphyxiation, causing death.1 Even so, to verify that He was dead John 19:34 tells us, “one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water”. Evidence suggests that the spear would have entered through Jesus’ rib cage, piercing his right lung and the water pouring out would have actually been pleural fluid.2
V Was Jesus Resurrected?
Now that it has been established that Jesus Christ walked on the earth and died on the cross, the evidence of Him being resurrected can be shown. The resurrection is specifically mentioned 34 times in the New Testament. The three most compelling facts surrounding this event were the fact that Jesus’ body was missing from the tomb, many witnesses saw him alive, and Christianity spread throughout the world at a tremendous speed.
Jesus was wrapped in over 100 pounds of gummy spices and placed in a tomb upon his death.3 A large stone was placed in front of the tomb and guards were stationed there to watch over it. Author Ron Rhodes tells us that it is unreasonable to think that Jesus split off his garments, pushed the several ton stone away from the entrance, and fought off the guards.4 The stone itself weighed over one and a half tons, was rolled up a slope, and moved quite a distance from the tomb.5 This is not something that could have been done with one man’s natural strength. The Bible exposes the Pharisees in Matthew 28:12 stating that they gave the soldiers guarding the tomb a large sum of money to lie and say that His disciples came in the night and stole the body. The Pharisees would not have had to devise a plan to deceive the people if Jesus’ body was not missing.
The four gospel accounts in the Bible confirm that Jesus made ten specific appearances after His resurrection and before His ascension to Heaven. He met with Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, James, and Peter. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that Jesus once appeared to five hundred brothers and sisters at the same time. Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, doubted that He was alive again and Jesus showed him the scars on His wrists as told in John 20:27. Author John Walvoord states, “Taken as a whole, the appearances are of such various character and to so many people under so many different circumstances that proof of the resurrection of Christ is as solid as any historical fact that could be cited in the first century”. 6
Within the first fifty years of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the church grew exponentially. It became so powerful that the Roman government grew very concerned about its influence over society. Never before in history and never again since has a religion developed so quickly.7
Luke tells us in Acts 1:3 that after suffering, Jesus gave them many proofs that He was alive. English scholar Brooke Foss Wescott stated, “Taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ”.8
See more in Part 3 (coming soon).
1. (N. Geisler 2015)
2. (Willmington 2007)
3. (Willmington 2007)
4. (Rhodes 1997)