​Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part V: The Uniqueness of the Resurrection

by PastorErick | 10/24/17, 10:11 AM

Over the last number of weeks we’ve been discussing various evidences for faith. We began by giving philosophical/scientific reasons for faith (based on “natural revelation”) in some sort of Deity. We saw that though these arguments may be helpful in leading us to believe in Something, they don’t do a whole lot in helping us define that Something/Someone. For that, we need what is called “special revelation”.

But as we know, there are many religions out there that claim to have “special revelation” from God. How can we know which one is true?

That’s what has moved us to where we’re at now. The Christian church has always made the claim that the reason it can be trusted as the owner of special revelation is because Jesus rose from the dead. But to make such a claim we need to at least show there are good reasons for believing that the resurrection actually happened! So we talked of the eyewitness testimony, the trusworthiness of the source material, the birth/martyrdom of the Church, and the external evidence. Today we move on to the fifth piece of evidence for the resurrection: The resurrection of Jesus Christ was something too unique to merely be made up.

Tim Keller points out in his book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, that contrary to what we might think (that people believed that individuals raised from the dead all of the time), there was essentially no belief at the time of a single person being risen from the dead in that part of the world. He points out that in the Greek world, people believed that the body (or matter) was evil and that only the spirit was good. There was no way that the “good spirit” would EVER come back to inhabit flesh in a Greek’s mind.

On the other hand, the Jewish belief was that there would be a resurrection of the body, but that this resurrection would take place at the end of time and it would be en masse. This surely wasn’t the end of time, so it would have made no sense for a Jew to make up a story about the resurrection of a single person unless it were true.[1] This is why when Jesus proclaims to Martha in John 11 that her brother Lazarus will rise from the dead, her first response is, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” She is thinking in the typical categories of a Jewish person at the time: At the end of days, there will be a mass resurrection of people. But of course we know Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

So why is this evidence for the validity of the resurrection? Simply put, if the disciples were frauds, they never would have sold a story about a single guy raising from the dead because it didn't have any natural appeal to their hearers. And since the disciples were all Jews with no prior worldview of a single man rising from the dead, they wouldn’t have been prone to hallucinating such a thing. Now keep in mind that in the first century there were numerous messianic movements in which the wannabe Messiah was executed. N.T. Wright points out in his book “Who Was Jesus?”

In not one single case do we hear the slightest mention of the disappointed followers claiming that their hero had been raised from the dead. They knew better. Resurrection was not a private event. Jewish revolutionaries whose leader had been executed by the authorities, and who managed to escape arrest themselves, had two options: give up the revolution, or find another leader. Claiming that the original leader was alive again was simply not an option. Unless, of course, he was.

Alright, so that’s a brief case for Jesus’ resurrection. Next week, we’ll dig into other reasons for why it’s reasonable to have (Christian) faith….

[1] Tim Keller, The Reason For God, pg. 210-212

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