Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? The Best Objections, Answered

There are a whole bunch of theories floating around as to what could have happened with Jesus, besides the resurrection, and some of them even sound pretty convincing.  So, let’s take a deeper dive into the facts and see if any of these alternative hypotheses hold any water (1 Thess 5:21).

Objection: “Jesus Didn’t Really Die”

There are two angles that this objection typically comes from, either the claim that Jesus was still alive at the time of burial, or that someone else was crucified in His place.

Let’s look first at whether Jesus could have lived through the ordeal of beatings and crucifixion that He endured.  First, Jesus was beaten so severely that he barely was recognizable.  The Romans used whips with sharp pieces of metal and bone, for the sole purpose of cutting deep into the skin and ripping the flesh.  This alone would have resulted in massive blood loss.  It wasn’t uncommon for Roman prisoners to die from the beatings alone, prior to the crucifixion.

Then, in case there was any doubt that, from a medical perspective, Jesus was definitely dead, we know from John 19:34 that he was pierced with a spear and a clear liquid came out…proof that He was indeed dead.  And Roman centurions were really, really, really good at their jobs.  They just didn’t “fail” to execute people.

Could someone else have died in Jesus’ place?  Well, if that happened…then why was the tomb empty?  And, why were the Jewish and Roman authorities trying to explain it away?  If someone else had died, then why wasn’t THAT guy in the tomb?

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Objection: “What if Someone Stole the Body?”

So we know there was an empty tomb that the Jewish and Roman authorities tried to explain away…that tells us they didn’t know where the body was.  So, naturally, it makes sense to wonder if someone stole it, and also to assume it couldn’t have been the Jews or Romans.  They would have loved to squash the growing Christian movement by producing Jesus’ body and putting an end to it…but, they couldn’t, primarily because they didn’t have it.

So…what about the disciples?

Let’s back up.  Is anyone seriously suggesting that a bunch of chickens that were too scared to attend the crucifixion or even admit they knew Jesus when he was being arrested, managed to get past a bunch of trained and highly motivated guards AND managed to subsequently move away a giant stone without arousing any suspicion?  That’s…highly unlikely.

And, even if such a preposterous thing had happened, it still doesn’t explain why the disciples, who were scared and in hiding after Jesus’ death, for fear of being associated with Him, suddenly and boldly changed their minds and were willing to suffer and die for a hypothetical lie that He rose from the dead.  That they were willing proves that they really believed it…and if they had the body in their possession, they certainly would not have really believed it.  So that idea doesn’t really work.

Roman centurions and Jesus

Um…so, the guards?  The guards at the tomb would have been severely punished, and possibly killed, if they would have failed their duties.  Why would they put their own lives in danger by stealing a body and making up a resurrection story?  That just doesn’t track.  The motivation just isn’t there.  But we do know from Matthew 28:11-15 that the body was missing and the guards were bribed to say the disciples stole the body, and an arrangement had to be made promising not to punish them as a condition for accepting the bribe.

One more thing…if someone stole the body from the tomb, it would have necessarily had to have been in a hurry.  So, why leave behind the grave clothes (John 20:6-7)?  Grave clothes were wrapped around and around and around the body, so taking them off would have been time-consuming.  That’s a super weird thing to do for a criminal stealing a body out of a tomb.  Just saying.

Objection: “They were checking the wrong tomb then!”

This feels like a repeat:  We know there was an empty tomb because the Jewish and Roman authorities tried to explain it away.  There’s no empty tomb to explain away if the disciples checking the wrong one could have been told, “Hey, nope, that’s not it.  Body’s not gone.  That’s the wrong one.”  That the guards had to be bribed to explain away the empty tomb (Matthew 28:11-15) further corroborates that yeah, the correct one was empty.

Objection: “Resurrections are the stuff of legend…it was embellished over time!”

Except that we have proof that even mere decades after Jesus’ death, the early church was writing about His death and resurrection (1 Thess 2:15 & 4:14, 1 Cor. 15:3-5 respectively, which date in the 50s AD).  20-ish years is simply not enough time for the event to become embellished into a legend.

Are you convinced?

If you are convinced that the best explanation for the empty tomb is that Jesus actually rose from the dead, then it matters what Jesus said about Himself.  Jesus is God.  And God punishes sin (moral wrongs) with death.  That said, He also offers us forgiveness for the morally wrong things we have done, but only if we ask.  Read on to find out how…

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