Lesson One
A Public Execution Assured His Death
5 Activities | 1 Assessment
Lesson Two
A High Official Secured The Gravesite
5 Activities | 1 Assessment
Lesson Three
Lesson Four
His Apostles Were Dramatically Changed
5 Activities | 1 Assessment
Lesson Five
Many Claimed To Have Seen Him Alive
5 Activities | 1 Assessment
Lesson Six
Lesson Seven
Lesson Eight
Lesson Nine
Lesson Ten
Course Wrap-Up
Course Completion
1 Activity | 1 Assessment

Lecture

There are reasons to doubt the resurrection of Christ. No other religious leader has ever risen from the dead. The weight of human history says that those who die remain in the grave.

How then could it be anything other than wishful thinking that Jesus would have risen from the dead three days after His crucifixion. But for two thousand years, the claim for Jesus’ resurrection has persisted.

In A.D. 33 in this land of the Bible, on the eve of the Jewish Passover, Jesus was crucified. His disciples were scattered. One of His closest friends denied any connection with the Teacher he had followed for three years. A spiritual revival, barely three years old, seemed to die with its founder.

But this is where the questions begin. Did Jesus really die? On the third day, did He rise bodily from the dead? Did His followers conspire to perpetrate one of the greatest hoaxes of all times? Or did Jesus do what no other religious leader had ever done? Rise from the dead?

Mart De Haan and Jimmy De Young are in the land of Israel to consider “Ten Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection of Christ.”

Jimmy De Young [at Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate, by Muslim graves]: Mart, be careful not to step on the grave. It’s dishonoring to the Muslims—they believe that you step on their grave.

Mart De Haan: OK.

Jimmy De Young: You know, this is a unique spot right here before the Eastern Gate, or the Golden Gate, it’s sometimes referred to. That particular gate, closed now, was built around the fourteenth century. It was built as a victory gate when the Muslims had defeated the Crusaders. Probably closed very soon after that particular victory march through, into, the Old City.

Mart De Haan: Is it true that I’ve heard that the gate was closed

to keep the Messiah from coming through the Eastern Gate into Jerusalem?

Jimmy De Young: You know, we can’t actually say exactly that is what took place at that point in time, why they closed the gate. But we do know that today the Muslim belief is the Eastern Gate is closed, and this Muslim graveyard was placed here just over the Kidron Valley across from the Mount of Olives for the purpose of keeping the Jewish and the Christian Messiah from entering into the Old City to the Temple Mount area.

Many Christians believe this sealed gate to the Temple Mount will open for the return of a resurrected Messiah. But the return of Christ through this now sealed Eastern Gate can only happen if in fact Jesus rose from the dead.

But did He rise from the dead? What are the facts? Is there enough evidence to lead a thoughtful person beyond reasonable doubt?

A closer look reveals a number of converging lines of evidence. There are at least ten reasons to believe in the resurrection of Christ.

Edwin Yamauchi: Crucifixion was a particularly painful, humiliating death. It was reserved especially for criminals and prisoners of war. Spartacus, for example, who led the famous gladiatorial revolt against the Romans from 73 to 71 B.C., had his six thousand followers crucified on the Appian Way, leading south of Rome.

Joe Zias: If you’re crucifying six thousand people, first of all it has to be done very, very quickly. The question is do you want to make it slow, do you want to make it fast? If you want to make it very quickly, you simply put their arms together, you suspend them from a cross, and a young man is dead within ten minutes to one hour maximum. If you want to hold his feet down so he can’t breathe, can’t put himself up, he’s dead within six to ten minutes.

What’s interesting in the traditional manner of Christian art: If you crucify with the arms spread out, there’s no problems with breathing. What happens is a completely different set of circumstances. You die through shock, what’s called hypovolemic shock. And people who were crucified with their arms out, there were ways in keeping them up there for days. You can make it quick; you can make it fast, depending on how many people were waiting in line.

John 19:17–18 NKJV

And [Jesus], bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.

William Craig: I think that the crucifixion of Jesus is an indisputable fact of history. Everyone, apart from certain Muslim apologists, recognizes that the crucifixion of Jesus actually occurred. That this is the way that Jesus of Nazareth was dispatched. It’s important with respect to the Resurrection, because it means that Jesus was undeniably dead. And given the reliability of His burial narrative, that means that the site of Jesus’ body was known. In that case, it becomes very difficult to explain how the disciples could have preached the resurrection of Jesus, and a movement founded on the belief and resurrection of this dead man could have occurred in Jerusalem, if everyone knew that the man who had been publicly executed and buried was in fact lying in the grave there on the hillside.

Bob Pyne: If anyone who was in Jerusalem on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion—they would have seen Him die. There were huge crowds that saw Him, huge crowds that knew it. Everybody who was there for the Passover celebration was aware that this One had been taken out and crucified, this One who had claimed to be the Messiah. If anyone was there on the day of the Resurrection—they would have heard some claims, they would have heard some people talking. But they might not have seen anything. But they would have been able to talk to witnesses, and that’s an important point that’s so often missed. The fact is—this was something that could be checked out. There were a lot of people there who did see something, who had seen Jesus. And one of the individuals they could have talked to was Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin. Now here’s a guy, he said he would give Jesus his tomb for burial. We have his name; we have the city in which he lived; we have his job. We could check him out. We basically have his whole résumé there on paper. This is not a fictional character. If it was a fictional character, they would have made up some things, maybe they wouldn’t have put a name of a town or a job or a real name. This is the guy that could be checked out by anyone hearing the gospel preaching.

Jesus, according to the New Testament, did not die privately, out of the public view. According to witnesses, Jesus was crucified in a public place, at the hands of professional executioners.

John 19:32–34 (NKJV)

According to the gospel of John,

Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.

The first reason, then, to believe in the resurrection of Christ is that a public execution assured His death. A second line of evidence is found in the extreme measures taken by a Roman governor to assure that the body of Jesus could not be stolen.

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