What if scientists discovered the tomb of Jesus, and, much to our surprise, he was still dead? With recent discussions surrounding the Discovery Channel's (March 2007) documentary, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," the question of the resurrection's importance has received some public air time. Documentaries such as this provide an opportunity for Christians to ask more questions about the Bible. Do we believe in fables or in historically reliable events?
While there's not space here [originally written for a newsletter] to discuss fully the documentary (which I've not yet seen), we can make a few points about the resurrection itself:
- People are confused when they assert that it doesn't matter whether Christ rose or not, as long as we love like he did. Why should we follow the "love" example of a phony? If the resurrection didn't happen, we are the most miserable people on earth because we're believing a lie. The Apostle Paul realized how hopeless we'd be without the resurrection (1 Cor 15:12-19). Modern day Rabbi Marc Gellman gets this too as he examines the comments by well-meaning folks who claim they can still be Christians without a resurrected Christ (see www.albertmohler.com).
- If Jesus rose from the grave, it remains one of the most important events in history (Creation itself probably comes in as first). The resurrection would mean Jesus was who he claimed to be--God in the flesh. The implications for the truthfulness of the resurrection are, perhaps, why skeptics need to disprove it. To finally be done with Jesus means people can get on with their lives without the bother of someone holding them accountable.
- Those who claim the resurrection didn't happen need evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, something they have yet to provide. Plenty of scholars disagree with the claims of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" documentary. (See section, "Criticism of the documentary" and "DNA and family evidence" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus.)
Based on the evidence we have available, the resurrection of Jesus was a historical event that we could have recorded had we been there with a camera in hand. We don't have actual footage, but we do have accounts of the first-century believers who saw the resurrected Jesus and died because of their loyalty to him. While it's possible to die for a lie you think is true, few people would willingly die for an obvious lie. (Remember, more than 500 people saw the risen Lord, 1 Cor 15:6.)
This month try to start a conversation involving the resurrection. Simply ask someone, "What do you think about the Bible's claim that Jesus rose from the dead?" I'll bet you'll have a great conversation.
Recommended resources for further study:
Worldview: Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey;
Anti-evolution: Darwin on Trial, Phillip Johnson;
Practical: The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel; When Skeptics Ask, Norman Geisler;
Scholarly: The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, Craig Blomberg;
Online: www.allaboutgod.com; www.answers.org; www.carm.org; www.leestrobel.com;