John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

The Resurrection: Thinking Through the Theories

Yesterday we listed eight possible theories people have put forward about Jesus’ Resurrection. In addition, someone once suggested to me that Jesus may have had a stunt double like in the movie Vantage Point.

Sorry if that spoils a major plot point for anyone out there.

There are a few variations of that theme. One put forth by one of the Gnostic Gospels is that at the last second, Jesus switched places with Judas.

Let’s think through these theories, because on the surface they sound reasonable. Upon closer inspection, however, we’ll see how implausible each theory actually is.

Before we dive in, I should mention this: What we’re about to do is hardly objective. Objectivity on this topic is literally impossible. Some would say that objectivity on any topic is impossible. See, knowledge of any kind forces an opinion; exposure to facts removes neutrality. Once you learn something you immediately form an opinion.

The earliest theory is that the disciples stole Jesus’ body. The Jewish leaders actually cooked this idea up, but this would mean that the disciples lied (which is Theory #7). We’ll deal with this more later.

What about the Jewish leaders stealing the body? Well, this theory doesn’t make a lot of sense. They had so much at stake (see Assumption #6 from Tuesday’s post) that it would have been in their best interests to disprove the resurrection. They could have done that easily by producing the corpse. Besides that, the Disciples didn’t just claim that the body was gone; they claimed to have seen Jesus alive and walking around. So, even if the Jewish leaders stole the body, the Disciples still embellished the story a lot.

And what’s really at stake here is whether the Disciples told the truth or lied, right?

What about the Roman leaders? Did they take the body (theory #3). It’s pretty clear that many of the Jewish leaders were in cahoots with the Roman leaders. If the Jewish leaders knew where the body was, they would have said something. And if the Romans had the body, the guards would not have made up a story about falling asleep. Besides, that still wouldn’t explain the Disciples’ story about seeing and talking with Jesus.

Maybe the women went to the wrong tomb (though a female friend on facebook contends that it’s driving that gives most women trouble — not walking). We established that the tomb was easily accessible and well-known. If the Jewish leaders knew where the tomb was and could get to it, they would do so to disprove the claims that Jesus was alive and well.

Maybe it was all a mass hallucination (theory #5). Well, if so there still would have been a corpse in the tomb. You’d have to add this theory to one of the first three because the body went somewhere — either it left the tomb on its own or someone took it.

Maybe Jesus wasn’t really dead. Maybe he was just unconscious for a while, and when he came to he got up and in his weakened condition (weakened from the beatings and the loss of blood and having been in a three-day coma) pushed a giant stone out of the way, overpowered several Roman guards and left. Okay, that might explain the empty tomb, but the Disciples also claimed to watch him as he ascended into heaven. So, they’re still lying.

If you assume the eight things we talked about on Tuesday (which are much easier to demonstrate than the actual Resurrection), there are only two options:

  1. The Disciples lied.
  2. The Disciples told the truth.

The whole Christian faith comes down to these two possibilities. And we have to think about whether or not these Disciples were honest men telling the truth about what they saw and experienced.

Tomorrow I’ll give you my reasons for why I believe they were telling the truth. For today I want to consider this:

Why does any of this matter? Why does it matter to you personally that Jesus’ Resurrection actually happened?