I would portray myself (and any co-conspirators) sympathetically,
Yet the Gospel writers
present strikingly unflattering portraits of Jesus’ followers
(such as Peter and Thomas) and their often-skeptical reactions (Mark
16:11,13; Luke 24:11,37; John 20:19,25; John 21:4). Such portrayals
are very unlike the popular myths and legends of that (or any) time.
I would disguise the location of the tomb or spectacularly destroy
it in my account.
If I were creating a
resurrection legend, I would keep the tomb’s location a secret
to prevent any chance that someone might discover Jesus’ body,
or I would record in my account that the angels sealed it or carried
it off into heaven after the Resurrection. Or I might have taken
the easiest course of all and simply made my fictional resurrection
a “spiritual” one, which would have made it impossible
to refute even if a body were eventually discovered. But, of course,
the Gospel accounts describe the owner of the tomb (Joseph of Arimathea)
and its location — “At the place where Jesus was crucified,
there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb” (John 19:41,
NIV) — and identify Jesus’ resurrection as a bodily
one (John 20:27).
8. I would try to
squelch inquiry or investigation.
I might pronounce a curse
on anyone attempting to substantiate my claims, or attach a stigma
to anyone so shallow as to require evidence. Yet note the frequent
appeal of Jesus’ disciples to the easily confirmed —
or discredited — nature of the evidence, as though inviting
investigation (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 13:31; 1 Corinthians 15:3-6). This
was done within a few years of the events themselves; if the tomb
were not empty or the Resurrection appearances were fiction, the
early Christians’ opponents could have conclusively debunked
the new religion. William Lillie (head of the Department of Biblical
Study at the University of Aberdeen) says of the citation (in 1
Corinthians 15) of the resurrected Christ appearing to more than
500 people, “What gives a special authority to the list [of
witnesses] as historical evidence is the reference to most of the
500 brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If
you do not believe me, you can ask them.’ ”6
9. I would not preach
a message of repentance in light of the Resurrection.
No one in his right mind
would have chosen to create a fictional message that would invite
opposition and persecution from both civil and religious authorities
of those days. How much easier and wiser it would have been to preach
a less controversial gospel — concentrating on Jesus’
teachings about love, perhaps — thus saving myself and the
adherents of my new religion a lot of trouble.
10. I would stop short
of dying for my lie.
Lee Strobel has written,
“People will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely
believe they’re true, but people won’t die for their
religious beliefs if they know their beliefs are false.
“While most people
can only have faith that their beliefs are true, the disciples were
in a position to know without a doubt whether or not Jesus had risen
from the dead. They claimed that they saw Him, talked with Him,
and ate with Him. If they weren’t absolutely certain, they
wouldn’t have allowed themselves to be tortured to death for
proclaiming that the Resurrection has happened.”7
These are not the only
reasons I believe in the truth of the Bible and the reality of the
Resurrection. But these were among the “many infallible proofs”
(Acts 1:3, KJV) that I encountered in my attempts to prove Christianity
wrong, which eventually led me to the conclusion that Jesus Christ
was who He claimed to be and that He really did rise from the dead.
I could not resist the awesome love of God who sent His Son to die
for me and then rise again in order to adopt me into His family.
On December 19, 1959, I trusted the risen Christ as my Savior and
Lord, and He radically changed my life. I’ve seen Him do the
same for countless others, and I pray, if you haven’t done
so already, you will let Him do the same for you.
Josh McDowell is a speaker,
author and traveling representative for Campus Crusade for Christ.
His books include The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict,
More Than a Carpenter and Don’t Check Your Brains at the
Bob Hostetler has co-authored
many books with Josh McDowell and is an award-winning writer who
lives in Hamilton, Ohio. His books include the best-selling Right
From Wrong and They
Call Me AWOL.
E-mail your comments
Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998), p.
2 William Lane Craig,
Apologetics: An Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), p. 190.
3 J.P. Moreland, Scaling
the Secular City (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), p. 167.
4 Paul L. Maier, First
Easter (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), p. 98.
5 Pinchas Lapide, The
Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective,
(Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1983), pp. 100, 97.
6 William Lillie, “The
Empty Tomb and the Resurrection,” in D.E. Nineham, et al.,
Historicity and Chronology in the New Testament (London:
SPCK, 1965), p. 125.
7 Strobel, pp. 247-248.