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Sermon No: 1210-Resurrection of Jesus - Part 2



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SERMON TOPIC: Resurrection of Jesus - Part 2

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 18 August 2013

Topic Groups: EASTER, RESURRECTION, APOLOGETICS

Sermon synopsis: The resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal teaching of the Christian faith.
If Jesus had not been resurrected, he would have been just another failed Messiah. Christianity would have been no different from other false religions and cults who venerate their dead prophets.
As such, the resurrection is one of the most attacked doctrines in the Christian faith.
And so some of the attacks on Jesus’ resurrection by atheists, heretics or false religions include:
(1) Attack on the historicity of Jesus
(2) Stolen body theory
(3) Wrong tomb theory


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THE RESURRECTION

OF JESUS CHRIST

PART 2

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the belief that Jesus returned to life on a Sunday, three days after he was crucified. A central tenet of Christian faith, it forms part of the early Nicene Creed: “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures”.

False religions and cults follow people who are dead, or who will be dead one day.

Communists revere and follow dead dictators who murdered millions when they were alive.

Animists pray to their dead ancestors for guidance.

Those who are involved in the occult ask mediums to consult dead relatives on their behalf to give them guidance.

But 1 Peter 1:3-4 tells us that because of the resurrection, we serve a living Saviour and thus have a “living hope”.

A LIVING HOPE

Albert Henry Ross (1881–1950), was an English advertising agent and freelance writer.

Ross was sceptical regarding the resurrection of Jesus, and set out to analyse the sources and to write a short paper entitled Jesus – the Last Phase to demonstrate the apparent myth. 1

Using the pseudonym Frank Morison, he subsequently wrote the book “Who Moved the Stone?” analysing the events related to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

1 "http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Albert_Henry_Ross">http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Albert_Henry_Ross

WHO MOVED THE STONE?

Ross writes in the Preface to the book, “This study is in some ways so unusual and provocative that the writer thinks it desirable to state here very briefly how the book came to take its present form. In one sense it could have taken no other, for it is essentially a confession, the inner story of a man who originally set out to write one kind of book and found himself compelled by the sheer force of circumstances to write another. It is not that the facts themselves altered, for they are recorded imperishably in the monuments and in the pages of human history. But the interpretation to be put upon the facts underwent a change. Somehow the perspective shifted --not suddenly, as in a flash of insight or inspiration, but slowly, almost imperceptibly, by the very stubbornness of the facts themselves.”

WHO MOVED THE STONE?

The resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal teaching of the Christian faith.

1 Cor 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

If Jesus had not been resurrected, he would have been just another failed Messiah. Christianity would have been no different from other false religions and cults who venerate their dead prophets.

As such, the resurrection is one of the most attacked doctrines in the Christian faith, particularly by cults and false religions.

IMPORTANCE

And so some of the attacks on Jesus’ resurrection by atheists, heretics or false religions include:

Attack on the historicity of Jesus

Stolen body theory

Wrong tomb theory

Spiritual resurrection theory

Swoon theory

Hallucination Theory

DENYING THE RESURRECTION

HISTORICITY OF JESUS

The most childish attacks we have on the gospel are those from people who try and question whether Jesus was an actual historical figure. This is a claim that would not be taken seriously by any credible secular historian, about a figure whose very birth year is the basis of our Western Gregorian calendar. We number the years before his birth as B.C. (Before Christ) and those after his birth as A.D. (“Anno Domini” – Latin for the “year of our Lord”). 1

1 Since the later 20th century, use of CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era) has been popularized in some publications in an attempt to secularize our dating system and for the sake of political correctness and religious pluralism. Despite still using the birth of Christ as the central point of the calendar, the BCE/ CE notation was adopted because it does not explicitly make use of religious titles for Jesus, such as “Christ” (Messiah) and “Domini” (Lord). These same people seemingly have no objection to the fact that the days of the week and months are named after pagan (Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Teutonic) gods.

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (who is a secular agnostic) wrote of Jesus: “He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees”. (Ehrman 2011, p. 285). 1

Richard A. Burridge states: “There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more” (Burridge & Gould 2004, p. 34). 1

Robert M. Price (an atheist who denies existence) agrees that this perspective runs against the views of the majority of scholars (Price 2009, p. 61). 1

1 http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Jesus

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

James D. G. Dunn states that the theories of non-existence of Jesus are “a thoroughly dead thesis” (Sykes 2007, pp. 35–36). 1

Michael Grant (a classicist) states that “In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary” (Grant 1977, p. 200). 1

Robert E. Van Voorst states that biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of non-existence of Jesus as effectively refuted (Van Voorst 2000, p. 16). 1

1 Ibid

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

The best way to recognize that the New Testament is actually an historical document is to read it. It is hard to come up with any other conclusion. One of the most famous Jews of this century did just that and discovered something quite remarkable. In a 1929 interview in the Saturday Evening Post, Albert Einstein was asked if he believed in the historical Jesus and he replied, 1 “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” 2

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

1 "http:// www.jewsforjesus.org/ %0Bpublications/ issues/ 11_6/ didhe">http:// www.jewsforjesus.org/ publications/ issues/ 11_6/ didhe 2 Saturday Evening Post, Oct 26, 1929

Evidence From Christian Sources

These sources include the twenty-seven different New Testament Documents and the writings of the early Church Fathers (e.g. Polycarp, Eusebius, Irenaeus, Ignatius, Justin and Origen). Most historians would agree that these sources are sufficient to testify to the existence of Jesus. After all, what we know about Alexander the Great could fit on only a few sheets of paper; yet, no one doubts that Alexander existed. 1

1 "http:// www.knowwhatyoubelieve.com/ believe/ evidence/ did_jesus_exist.htm">http:// www.knowwhatyoubelieve.com/ believe/ evidence/ did_jesus_exist.htm

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Thallus, one of the first Gentile writers, wrote to try and explain away the darkness that occurred when Jesus died. He is one of the first Gentile writers who mentions Christ. In 52 AD he wrote attempting to give a natural explanation for the darkness which occurred at the crucifixion of Jesus. However, his writings have disappeared and we only know of them from fragments cited by other writers. One such writer is Julius Africanus, a Christian writer about 221 AD. 1

1 http:// www.knowwhatyoubelieve.com/ believe/ evidence/ did_jesus_exist.htm

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Julius Africanus (c.160 – c.240)

Julius Africanus writes:

“Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun - unreasonably, as it seems to me' (unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was at the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died).”

From the reference we see that the Gospel account of the darkness (Matthew 27:45) which fell upon the land during Christ’s crucifixion was well known and required a naturalistic explanation from those non-believers who witnessed it. 1

1 Ibid

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Julius Africanus also quoted another secular scholar whose works are now lost. Phlegon wrote a history called Chronicles. Phlegon also comments on the darkness at the time of Christ’s crucifixion: “During the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon.” Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18.1 1

The 3rd century Christian apologist Origen also references Phlegon’s record of this event in his work Celsum, 2.14,33,59 as does the 6th century writer Philopon (De.opif.mund. II, 21). 1

1 http:// www.agapebiblestudy.com/ documents/ Historical%20evidence %20on%20the%20exhistance%20of%20Jesus.htm

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Writing around 112 AD, Pliny the Younger, governor of Bithynia, asks advice from the Emperor Trajan as to how he should punish Christians who refused to participate in Emperor and pagan god worship. Pliny recounts that he has been imprisoning, torturing and executing Christians, but he is concerned due to the amount of people that have been accused (See Appendix 1).

Like Tacitus, Pliny records that early Christians died for their faith. How likely is this if Jesus never existed?

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Pliny the Younger (61-112 AD)

Suetonius a court official and annalist under Hadrian, 120 AD wrote of the Emperor Claudius: “As the Jews were making constant disturbance at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome”.

Some believe that Chrestus may be an alternative spelling for Christ – and that is the same expulsion incident recorded by Luke:

Acts 18:2There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Suetonius (c. 69 – after 122)

Besides the records of the 4 gospels, we have early independent references to Jesus’ crucifixion. In around 116 AD the Roman historian and senator Tactitus, who was hostile to Christianity, referred to Christ’s execution by Pontius Pilate. 1

1 Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome… (Annals 15.44)

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Publius Cornelius Tacitus (56-117 AD)

In an apparent reference to Jesus’ mother, the Jerusalem Talmud (Haggigah, Book 77, 4) refers to Mary in a derogatory sense, but nevertheless as “the daughter of Heli”. 1

The Talmud citations (Jewish writings from AD 100-500) contain clear references to Jesus which, albeit hostile, indicate that he was very much a historical person. Here is an example (note that the Talmud uses the term ‘hanging’ when referring to Roman crucifixion): “On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu (of Nazareth) … he hath practiced sorcery and beguiled and led astray Israel. Let everyone knowing aught in his defence come and plead for him. But they found naught in his defence and hanged him on the eve of Passover”. 1

1 http:// agfbrakpan.com/ ministry-archives.aspx?mId=586 pg 20

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Mara Bar Serapion, a Stoic philosopher in Syria, sent a letter to his son Serapion shortly after AD 73. He writes: “What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their Kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion.”

It is clear that this 1st century philosopher regarded Jesus as a real person like Socrates and Pythagoras.

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Lucian Of Samosata (c. AD 125 – after AD 180), a 2nd century Greek satirist, wrote a play entitled “The Passing of Peregrinus”. The story’s hero is a former Christian who alludes to Christ as: “… the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult to the world… Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers ... after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshiping the crucified sophist himself and live under his laws.”

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Lucian Of Samosata

1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus was a Pharisee and former commander of the Jewish forces in Galilee in their fight against the Romans. He refers to Jesus twice in his writings.

HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD)

In this excerpt he not mentions Jesus’ brother James, but also records that Jesus was “the so-called Christ” (i.e. the Messiah):

… As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned. 1

1 Antiquities 20.9.1

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Josephus writes of the death and resurrection of Jesus. 1

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

1 Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, 3

1) HISTORICITY OF JESUS

Gavin Paynter standing outside the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem (2012), where we believe the body of Jesus was laid after his crucifixion, prior to his resurrection.

STOLEN BODY?

The Sadducees were identified by 1st century Jewish historian Josephus as the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. 1

Unlike the more popular Pharisee group, the Sadducees of Jesus’ day did not believe in any resurrection. 2

And so the Sadducees were the first early opponents of the doctrine regarding the resurrection of Jesus.

1 “The Sadducees have their support only among the rich, and the people do not follow them, while the Pharisees have the people for their ally.” Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 13.298 2 According to Josephus, the Sadducees believed that the soul is not immortal; there is no afterlife, and there are no rewards or penalties after death. ("http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Sadducees">http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Sadducees) Matt 22:23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. Acts 23:8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)

2) STOLEN BODY

Acts 4:1-2 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

In fact, together with the Pharisees, the Sadducees had taken precautions after Jesus’ death, because he had claimed that he would rise again.

Matt 27:62-66 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests 1 and the Pharisees went to Pilate.

1 The chief priests were predominantly Sadducees (Acts 5:17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.)

2) STOLEN BODY

Sir, we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.

Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.

So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Matt 28:1-8 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

There was a violent earth-quake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb,

Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Matt 28:11-15 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

2) STOLEN BODY

As many of the chief priests and elders were Sadducees, it’s not surprising that at the very outset they tried to suppress the spread of Jesus’ resurrection story, by sponsoring a false counter story.

Some problems with the story:

If the soldiers were sleeping, how did they know that it was the disciples who stole the body? Try giving eye witness evidence in court about events which happened while you were unconscious. This story would be immediately dismissed in a modern court.

2) STOLEN BODY

The penalty for a Roman guard who fell asleep on watch was death.

The Annals of Roman Military Disciplines record 390 hurling of soldiers of Capitalium cliff for falling asleep on duty. 1

Note how Herod executed the 4 soldiers who were guarding Peter, after he was freed by an angel. (Acts 12:19).

The Philippian jailer tried to kill himself when he thought his prisoners had escaped (Acts 16:27).

If the guards did fall asleep, why were they not executed? And why were they so eager to tell others that they were guilty of sleeping on duty?

2) STOLEN BODY

How could the disciples sneak past the sleeping soldiers move a two-ton stone up an incline, and then carry the body of man away without waking even one of the soldiers?

The tomb was secured with a Roman seal (Matt 27:66). Anyone who moved the stone would break the seal, an offense punishable by death. The cowardice of the disciples who fled after Jesus’ arrest (Matt 26:50), makes it hard to believe that they would face a detachment of armed soldiers, risking the same fate as Jesus by breaking the seal.

2) STOLEN BODY

What did the disciples have to gain?

The problem is that this theory faces limitations at the very outset, and it becomes apparent that this was the only story the first sceptics put forward because this was the only conceivable story available under very desperate and extreme circumstances. Christians had no political prestige until the 4th century, much less the Judeo-Christians of the first century pre-70 AD, and obviously had no way of knowing how politically pivotal Christianity would become in the subsequent centuries. There was essentially nothing for the first century Christian to achieve or protect in the way of prestige or political and financial gain other than persecution… 1

1 "http:// seandharmon.webs.com/ bodysnatcherspartv.htm">http:// seandharmon.webs.com/ bodysnatcherspartv.htm

2) STOLEN BODY

What changed the disciples?

Peter denied to a servant girl that he even knew Jesus.

A few weeks later he is boldly proclaiming the resurrection to over three thousand people? What changed Peter?

The disciples who were hiding in fear behind locked doors, were suddenly in the streets boldly preaching that Jesus is alive. What did they see that changed them?

Historian Philip Schaff wrote, “the purpose of the historian is not to construct a history from preconceived notions and to adjust it to his own liking, but to reproduce it from the best evidence and to let it speak for itself.”

One of those who originally thought the resurrection was simply a myth, only to reverse his position like Morison, was one of the world’s leading legal scholars, Dr. Simon Greenleaf. Greenleaf helped to put the Harvard Law School on the map. He wrote the three-volume legal masterpiece A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which has been called the “greatest single authority in the entire literature of legal procedure.” The U.S. judicial system today still relies on rules of evidence established by Greenleaf. 1

1 Did Jesus Rise From the Dead? "http:// www.y-jesus.com/ ">www.Y-Jesus.com

LAW OF EVIDENCE

While teaching law at Harvard, Professor Greenleaf stated to his class that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was simply a legend. As an atheist, he thought miracles to be impossible. In a rebuttal, three of his law students challenged him to apply his acclaimed rules of evidence to the resurrection account. After much prodding, Greenleaf accepted his students’ challenge and began an investigation into the evidence. Focusing his brilliant legal mind on the facts of history, Greenleaf attempted to prove the resurrection account was false. Yet the more Greenleaf investigated the record of history, the more stunned he was at the powerful evidence supporting the claim that Jesus had indeed risen from the tomb. 1

1 Ibid

LAW OF EVIDENCE

Greenleaf’s scepticism was being challenged by an event that had changed the course of human history. Greenleaf was unable to explain several dramatic changes that took place shortly after Jesus died, the most baffling being the behaviour of the disciples. It wasn’t just one or two disciples who insisted Jesus had risen; it was all of them. Applying his own rules of evidence to the facts, Greenleaf arrived at his verdict. In a shocking reversal of his position, Greenleaf accepted Jesus’ resurrection as the best explanation for the events that took place immediately after his crucifixion. To this brilliant legal scholar and former atheist, it would have been impossible for the disciples to persist with their conviction that Jesus had risen if they hadn’t actually seen the risen Christ. 1 1 Ibid

LAW OF EVIDENCE

In his book The Testimony of the Evangelists, Greenleaf documents the evidence that caused him to change his mind. In his conclusion he challenges those who seek the truth about the resurrection to fairly examine the evidence. Greenleaf was so persuaded by the evidence that he became a committed Christian. He believed that any unbiased person who honestly examines the evidence as in a court of law will conclude what he did – that Jesus Christ has truly risen. 1

1 Ibid

LAW OF EVIDENCE

Simon Greenleaf (1783 – 1853), American lawyer and jurist

1 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. (Acts 5:33)

We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.

We see Peter and John repeatedly risking death 1 by preaching the risen Christ to the very Sanhedrin court that sentenced Jesus to death. (Acts 5:29-33)

Why die for a lie?

Not only were the apostles persecuted for their message about the resurrection of Jesus, they ultimately gave their lives for this message. All of the 12 apostles died as martyrs with the exception of John, who was exiled to an island labour camp.

2) STOLEN BODY

Now some may have died for beliefs which are untrue, but these were lies which they believed to be true. How many people die for what they know to be a fabrication?

If they stole the body of Jesus and the resurrection story was a hoax, why would all of them die for what they knew to be a lie? Why didn’t even one capitulate under the threat of death to admit that thy made it all up?

There is no plausible or reasonable explanation other than that they genuinely witnessed and encountered the resurrected Jesus.

2) STOLEN BODY

WRONG TOMB?

Wrong Tomb

Right Tomb

Wrong Tomb

Right Tomb

Proponents of this … argument state that according to the Gospel accounts, the women visited the grave early in the morning while it was dark. Due to their emotional condition and the darkness, they visited the wrong tomb. Overjoyed to see that it was empty, they rushed back to tell the disciples Jesus had risen. The disciples in turn ran into Jerusalem to proclaim the Resurrection. 1

1 "http:// www.bethinking.org/ %0Bresurrection-miracles/ %0Bintermediate/ the-resurrection-%0Bfact-or-fiction.htm">http:// www.bethinking.org/ resurrection-miracles/ intermediate/ the-resurrection- fact-or-fiction.htm

3) WRONG TOMB

The tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea who was one of the early disciples. Did Joseph not know where his own tomb was?

Matt 27:59-60 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

Joseph was assisted in taking Jesus’ body to the tomb by Nicodemus, so he also knew where the tomb was.

John 19:38-39 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus… With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.

3) WRONG TOMB

The women who witnessed the resurrection all saw the tomb where Jesus was laid:

Mark 15:47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

Luke 23:55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.

When Joseph rolled the stone in front of the tomb, we read that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.” (Matt 27:61)

3) WRONG TOMB

So in reality this theory would mean:

The women went to the wrong tomb, even though they all saw where Jesus had been laid. After the women tell the sceptical disciples about the resurrection, Peter and John also happen to run to the wrong tomb. The soldiers also went to the wrong tomb, because they reported the body of Jesus missing. Joseph forgot where his own tomb was, as did Nicodemus who helped him lay the body of Jesus to rest. Both became devout followers of Jesus because of their memory problems. The Sadducees and Pharisees persecuted the early followers of Jesus and threatened to kill them if they didn’t stop proclaiming the resurrection. They should have rather just gone to the correct tomb, produced the body of Jesus for everyone and stopped Christianity right in it’s tracks.

3) WRONG TOMB

If you needed directions to get to the railway station and you meet two people in the street…

?

One is alive…

The other is dead…

Which one would you ask?

Rom 1:4 … and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Pet 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

Acts 4:10-12 “… It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

THE RESURRECTION

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)

Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96-97 Pliny the Younger to the Emperor Trajan It is my practice, my lord, to refer to you all matters concerning which I am in doubt. For who can better give guidance to my hesitation or inform my ignorance? I have never participated in trials of Christians. I therefore do not know what offenses it is the practice to punish or investigate, and to what extent. And I have been not a little hesitant as to whether there should be any distinction on account of age or no difference between the very young and the more mature; whether pardon is to be granted for repentance, or, if a man has once been a Christian, it does him no good to have ceased to be one; whether the name itself, even without offenses, or only the offenses associated with the name are to be punished. 1

1 http:// ww.earlychristianwritings.com/ text/ pliny.html

APPENDIX 1

Meanwhile, in the case of those who were denounced to me as Christians, I have observed the following procedure: I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed. For I had no doubt that, whatever the nature of their creed, stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy surely deserve to be punished. There were others possessed of the same folly; but because they were Roman citizens, I signed an order for them to be transferred to Rome. 1

Soon accusations spread, as usually happens, because of the proceedings going on, and several incidents occurred. An anonymous document was published containing the names of many persons. Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ--none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do--these I thought should be discharged.

APPENDIX 1

I therefore postponed the investigation and hastened to consult you. For the matter seemed to me to warrant consulting you, especially because of the number involved. For many persons of every age, every rank, and also of both sexes are and will be endangered. For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and farms. But it seems possible to check and cure it. It is certainly quite clear that the temples, which had been almost deserted, have begun to be frequented, that the established religious rites, long neglected, are being resumed, and that from everywhere sacrificial animals are coming, for which until now very few purchasers could be found. Hence it is easy to imagine what a multitude of people can be reformed if an opportunity for repentance is afforded.

APPENDIX 1

Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.

They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive superstition.

I therefore postponed the investigation and hastened to consult you. For the matter seemed to me to warrant consulting you, especially because of the number involved. For many persons of every age, every rank, and also of both sexes are and will be endangered. For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and farms. But it seems possible to check and cure it. It is certainly quite clear that the temples, which had been almost deserted, have begun to be frequented, that the established religious rites, long neglected, are being resumed, and that from everywhere sacrificial animals are coming, for which until now very few purchasers could be found. Hence it is easy to imagine what a multitude of people can be reformed if an opportunity for repentance is afforded.

Trajan to Pliny the Younger

You observed proper procedure, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those who had been denounced to you as Christians. For it is not possible to lay down any general rule to serve as a kind of fixed standard. They are not to be sought out; if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it--that is, by worshiping our gods--even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance. But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age. 1

1 http:// ww.earlychristianwritings.com/ text/ pliny.html

APPENDIX 1

Reply from Trajan to Pliny the Younger

You observed proper procedure, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those who had been denounced to you as Christians. For it is not possible to lay down any general rule to serve as a kind of fixed standard. They are not to be sought out; if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it--that is, by worshiping our gods--even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance. But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age.

APPENDIX 1




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