What changed these very ordinary men (who were such cowards that they didn’t dare stand too near the cross in case they got involved) into heroes who would stop at nothing? A swindle? Hallucination? Spooky nonsense in a darkened room? Or Somebody quietly doing what He said He’d do–walk right through death?
If Jesus Christ had not risen from the dead, Christianity would not exist. A religious movement with a dead messiah would attract no followers. Who could possibly be persuaded to worship a crucified man as God?
If you wanted to know who was NOT the messiah, it was someone hanging on a Roman cross.
If Jesus had remained dead, his followers would have scattered to avoid arrest. They would not have had the courage or the desire to risk their lives to spread the gospel. And they never would have died a martyr’s death (as thousands have) for their beliefs.
Something very remarkable had to happen to turn the story around.
Something like a resurrection.
There is no logical explanation for the rise of the Christian faith without the physical resurrection of Jesus. Without an empty tomb, there would be no gospel. Without Easter, there would be no Christianity.
If you were going to make up a religion and base it on the resurrection of the founder, you wouldn’t bury his body in the very city that he was put to death in, put his name on the outside of his ossuary and then also bury other members of his family in the same grave as The Jesus Family Tomb says. That would be foolish. No, you would get rid of the body, burn it, bury it, etc. Then you could more safely move about the city telling people, “Ah, our leader has risen!” And then if you were found out, you certainly wouldn’t persist with your story under the threat of death; you would come clean to save your life by admitting that the whole thing was a poorly thought out attempt at deception. Jesus’ disciples were not foolish enough to do any of these things. Their leader, Jesus, really had risen from the grave. They knew that, and they laid down their lives testifying to that fact. Their willingness to die at the hands of skeptics is compelling evidence that they were telling the truth.
I have been used for many years to study 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 and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.