Did Jesus Actually Rise from the Dead?

A replica of the Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) at The Garden of Hope in Covington, KY.

A replica of the Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) at The Garden of Hope in Covington, KY.

I have studied and written much on the Resurrection of Jesus, particularly in the past year. Since most Christians set aside this weekend to focus on this central belief of our faith, I am going to provide a brief summary of each of the posts or articles I’ve recently written on the subject. Many of these articles have an apologetic focus, but some are more devotional and there’s even a book review.

Whether you are a Christian or not, I encourage you to read through some of these. Believers should be greatly encouraged by studying this marvelous event. Not only did Christ’s Resurrection guarantee our hope of eternal life, but it is also supported by a wealth of evidence. The critics and skeptics have tried for nearly 2000 years to explain away this evidence but they have not even come close to proposing a theory that can explain the facts. Nevertheless, Christians need to familiarize themselves with these claims so that they can be prepared to give everyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15).

If you are an unbeliever I challenge you to engage in an in-depth study of the Resurrection. Take some time to read through some of these articles, compare them to what Scripture says, and go ahead and read what others have written. If Jesus rose from the dead (and He did) then He is exactly who He said He is—the Son of God, the Messiah, who will one day return to judge those who reject Him. What you do with Jesus Christ will be the most important decision you ever make, and remember, a non-decision is the same as rejecting Him.

He Is Risen!

This devotional article was written last year on Easter Sunday to explain the importance of the Resurrection.

Book Review: The Resurrection of Jesus

This post reviews Michael Licona’s exhaustive study on the historicity of Christ’s Resurrection. Dr. Licona’s dissertation shows that, even if we use the tools of the modern historian, the only logical explanation of the facts is that Jesus rose from the dead.

“But Some Doubted”: Studying an Intriguing Response to the Resurrection of Jesus

This article examines three words from Matthew 28:17 that have been misused and misunderstood by believers and unbelievers. Some Christians have misused these words to claim that believers shouldn’t try to use evidence for the Resurrection to convince unbelievers of its truthfulness. Some unbelievers have used these words to support the false ideas that the disciples were just hallucinating or experiencing visions.

The Ever-Intriguing Shroud of Turin

Is the Shroud of Turin the actual burial cloth of Jesus? For most of my life I had written this amazing relic off as a hoax. Upon further examination, I realized my three major objections to the shroud are not as strong as I thought they were. So is it actually the burial cloth? Sorry, no spoiler here…read the article.

The remaining articles form a ten-part series on the Resurrection that I’ve written for Answers in Genesis (the two final articles have not been posted yet, so links will be provided when they are up).

1) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: An Introduction

The first article in the series focuses on defining and explaining the importance of the Resurrection. It goes into more detail than my devotional article listed above.

2) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Infallible Proofs

Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus showed that He had risen by many “infallible proofs.” What are these undeniable evidences of the Resurrection? Read this article to find out.

3) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Other Evidences and the Minimal Facts

In addition to the “infallible proofs,” there is a tremendous amount of evidence for the Resurrection. This article surveys evidence from history, archaeology, and personal testimony for the event.

4) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Mistaken or Stolen Identity

Critics and skeptics have tried desperately to explain away the Resurrection. This article examines the Muslim argument against it (a look-a-like disciple was crucified instead), the Jesus myth (the ridiculous notion that Jesus never even lived), and the copycat view (the equally absurd idea that Christianity copied beliefs about Jesus from pagan gods).

5) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Seeing Things

This article examines two of the leading alternative theories to the Resurrection. Many critical scholars have argued that what the disciples saw wasn’t actually the risen Jesus, but they either hallucinated or just had visions of Him.

6) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: The Body Was Moved

Many attempts have been made to explain away the empty tomb. This article critiques four of these proposals and shows how they fall woefully short of explaining the evidence.

7) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: The Jesus Family Tomb

Back in 2007, the Discovery Channel aired a program produced by James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic) featuring Simcha Jacobovici, claiming that they had found the tomb and actual bone box of Jesus and His family. This article shows how the filmmakers repeatedly distorted the evidence to fit their asinine theory.

8) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Faking Death

One of the most popular alternative views to the Resurrection is the swoon theory, which claims that Jesus didn’t actually die on the Cross. Although completely dismantled by a liberal critic in the nineteenth century, the swoon theory was revived by a best-selling book in the 1960s. This article explains the impossibility of the swoon theory and why we can be absolutely certain that Jesus died on the Cross.

9) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: More Grasping at Straws

Due to the futility of all the leading alternative theories to explain away the facts surrounding the Resurrection, critics and skeptics have resorted to even more bizarre claims. Although these ideas have not been widely accepted, it was necessary to critique the notions that the disciples just went to the wrong tomb, that Christ’s body was annihilated, and that the Resurrection appearances were nothing more than a spiritual entity called up by the disciples in a seance.

10) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: The Good Shepherd and the Three Gardens

Christians often do not realize how the Resurrection connects to other biblical doctrines, yet every Christian belief stands or falls with the Resurrection. This article explains some of these connections and dives into one subject that is almost never mentioned in the context of the Resurrection even though it is extremely relevant (and even foundational) to the core teaching of Christianity.


Did Jesus Actually Rise from the Dead? — 2 Comments

  1. Were Jesus’ disciples capable of differentiating between a vivid dream and reality?

    In the Gospel of Matthew, an angel appears to Joseph twice, once to tell him that he should go ahead and marry Mary, even though she is pregnant (not by him), and then again a couple of years later to warn him of Herod’s plan to kill Jesus and that he should take the family to Egypt. The author of Matthew tells us that both of these “appearances” occurred in dreams.

    The question is: Did Joseph believe that God had sent a real angel to him to give him real messages?

    If first century Jews were truly able to distinguish dreams/visions from reality, why would Joseph marry a woman who had been impregnated by someone else just because an angel “appeared” to him in a dream? If first century Jews knew that dreams are not reality, Joseph would have ignored the imaginary angel and his imaginary message. For Joseph to go through with his marriage to a pregnant Mary was a very rare exception to the behavior of people in an Honor-Shame society. His act of obeying an angel in a dream is solid proof that he believed that the angel was real and the message was real.

    And if Joseph understood that dreams are not reality, why would he move his family to a foreign country based only on a dream?

    And how about Paul’s dream/vision? Paul saw and heard a talking bright light in a dream. Paul saw the men accompanying him to Damascus collapse to the ground with him…in a dream. Paul reported that these men also saw the light but didn’t hear the voice…or heard some kind of noise but didn’t see the light…in a dream….depending which passage of Acts you read.

    So it is obvious that first century Jews were just as likely to believe that a dream is reality as some people do today! People have been seeing angels, bright lights and dead people for thousands of years…in their dreams…and have believed that these events are reality.

    So the fact that four, anonymous, first century books contain stories of people “seeing” dead people and even “seeing” large groups of people “seeing” dead people, should come as no surprise.

    They were vivid dreams. Visions. Nothing more.

    • Hi Gary,
      It’s been a while since I’ve heard from you. I gotta admit, I’m rather surprised you spent time typing up this claim. Your argument is rather self-defeating. You seem to think that first-century Jews had trouble understanding what was and what wasn’t a dream, and yet the New Testament, which was written by first century Jews, tells us when someone was dreaming and when they weren’t. Clearly, they knew how to distinguish between the two. But they also believed that God occasionally spoke to people in a dream, since the Old Testament spoke of this happening multiple times.
      Vivid dreams and visions are individualized; they don’t appear to multiple groups of people, walk with them, talk with them, eat with them, drink with them, and instruct them. Living, breathing persons do that. And that is exactly what Jesus did. He is risen!

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