the truth is out there

Posted on November 15, 2011

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“The claim that Jesus never existed and His life is a myth compromises the reliability of ancient history.” Dr. Greenleaf, the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University
We are currently doing a series called Christianity Explored at church, the 5th of which was titled “Resurrection: Why did Jesus rise?”. This of course is the main event – so to speak – of the Christian faith.
The thing is – the Resurrection of Christ is so often explained by Christians to non-Christians through references in the Bible as to the proof that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and stories about how their belief in in Jesus Christ [and therefore His Resurrection] have changed their life forever [and I mean forever!]. But… when it comes to trying to explain that to non-believers the stumbling block in many cases is that they don’t hold the Bible with as much high regard as Chrisitians do. They view the Bible as just another book – therefore whatever stories it holds within it’s covers it makes no difference to them. They need facts, not just someone else’s opinion.So what I want to put across here in this post is that the Resurrection is historical – not a story.

What many people fail to realise is that the Bible is a historical document, a written account of our history – not a fantasy story. Besides events involving pharaohs and kings, it holds the written account of the greatest single event in human history. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And so to the facts. How do we know that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead? If you choose to ignore the millions of followers who are still singing His praises thousands of years after He walked the earth, or the millions of people who have died because of their faith in the Risen Christ, or the millions who have had personal encounters with God through His saving grace and healing power. Or if that doesn’t convince you then there’s the physical evidence.

And so said written account  goes like this: 2,000 years ago a man called Jesus [the] Christ was arrested. He was brought before Pilate, and in plain view He was spat on, cursed, mocked, whipped and beaten. He was sentenced to death for blasphemy – for claiming to be the The Messiah, the Son of God. Death by the most extreme form of capital punishment ever devised by the Romans [and they were good at their punishment!] Crucifixion.
Jesus Christ died as a criminal, with criminals. In the eyes of the world, Jesus Christ died a loser, a fake!
There He hung on the cross, *lifeless*. besides the many people who Jesus had affected, changed, healed and challenged while He was ministering for 3 years, there were 11 men in particular that had followed this man and witnessed His miracles and heard His words. They believed in this man and His claims to be the Son of God. So when the prophesy that He would be hung on a tree came true – they were a extremely shocked, their lives was torn apart.

Jesus. He healed the sick, He walk on water, He raised people from the dead, He calmed the raging storms. And now… He was dead? They ran scared, not able to believe that this man who claimed to be the Messiah was actually dead.
It’s recorded in manuscripts from 2000 years ago that this man Jesus [who they called the] Christ was alive – it’s recorded who He claimed to be – and it’s recorded what happened to Him. Fact. But even though He may have existed and lived at that time – there’s no evidence that He was the Resurrected Son of God is there? Let’s see…

Moving forward slightly, less than 2 months later, these same disciples return to Jerusalem preaching, at the risk of death, that Jesus Christ was alive!?! They had seen Him die. And He was dead. He was buried – and the Romans weren’t in the habit of burying people who were alive. They made sure you were dead – their own lives depended on it! Who would want to be killed for incompetence and disgrace? These guys didn’t mess up.

So what had these disciples seen and heard to convince them that Christ was back from the dead? What had these men seen that they would eventually all die a horrible death for?

One theory people have about the resurrection is that the whole thing is made up.
There are several problems with that. One, If the dead and broken body of Jesus Christ was still available, the Roman authorities would have paraded it proudly for all to see. Nothing would have snuffed out the flame of Christianity quicker than the body of Jesus Christ!
Two, Jesus faked His own death and resurrection with the help of his followers. The problem with this one is that you have 11 men who would know that this was the plan – and to think that all of them would suffer and die the cruelest death to keep a lie going is preposterous. You wouldn’t would you?
You will not find a group of 11 men in the history of mankind who lost everything, were beaten, jailed and died – all for a lie — *knowing* it was a lie!
Third, people say that it was just a ghost they saw, and we all know how unreliable ghost stories are. They issue with this theory is that this “ghost” appeared to over 500 people, many of whom were gathered together. The biggest problem here though is that they could touch Him! You cannot physically touch a ghost, a ghost cannot physically eat and drink. The ghost theory just has no evidence going for it at all.
Fourthly, there’s the man called Saul of Tarsus. Saul of Tarsus [another historical figure] thought Jesus was a false messiah, a fake. Saul was renowned as the most passionate of persecutors who sought to exterminate Christianity [literally by his own hands]. One day traveling to Damascus, with documents authorizing him to capture all the followers of Jesus, the greatest conversion in history took place!
One of the greatest enemies of Jesus Christ that had ever lived became the Apostle Paul – the greatest Christian that ever lived!

What happened him? What could transform this man so completely that he dedicated the rest of his life to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, and was later beheaded in Rome in 67AD for his faith in Jesus Christ?
There is only one possible explanation.

There are always people willing to *try* and debunk the Christian faith. A short bit of research by me discovered more accounts of those who found the truth:

Gilbert West and Lord Lyttleton, two Oxford students, believed Christianity was a “tale gone mad” and they were determined to prove the Christian faith to be false. Lyttleton resolved to disprove the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and West planned to reveal the resurrection of Christ to be a nonsense.
They set out to examine all the evidence and thought they would easily disprove the Christian faith.
But… after examining the evidence they both *separately* came to the opposite conclusion! Lyttleton concluded that Saul of Tarsus *did*, in fact, convert to the Apostle Paul through Jesus Christ. And Gilbert West concluded that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was “among the best established facts in all of history!”.

Professor Thomas Arnold, former chair of history at Oxford, and author of “History of Rome” states, “I have for many years,  studied the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is *proved by better or fuller evidence* of every sort, than that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”

After investigating the evidence of the resurrection, Lord Darling, former Chief Justice of England, stated, “. . . there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”

It is obvious then, that to deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ you have to close your eyes to the overwhelming facts of history.

As to why Jesus rose from the grave, well that’s the next question you have to ask yourself.

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