Actual or Absurd?
Cynical journalist H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) once said, “What I got in Sunday school…was simply a firm conviction that the Christian faith was full of palpable absurdities.” No doubt many today would say the resurrection of Christ is one of those absurdities. But even apart from faith, Jesus’ resurrection can stand up to any challenge. And over the years, there have been many.
One trendy theory in particular posits that Jesus did not die on the cross but “swooned” into unconsciousness. When His body was placed in the tomb, the cool air revived Him. He then apparently had enough strength after being beaten, whipped, and crucified, to roll an enormous boulder from the tomb’s entrance and walk out. Then He supposedly fled the country, got married, raised a family, and lived to a ripe old age. Meanwhile, His duped supporters started a rumor that He came back from the dead.
Nothing could be more ludicrous! The Romans were expert executioners. They severely beat and scourged Jesus even before nailing Him to the cross. Furthermore, it was military law that if a soldier failed in his duty, he paid with his life. So, to make certain Jesus was dead, a soldier rammed a spear into His side (Jn. 19:34).
Gracious men, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, carefully prepared Jesus’ body for burial (vv. 38–40). They knew He was dead.
The swoon theory is doubly preposterous when you consider that Jesus would have been in the tomb for three days with no food, water, or medical assistance. Yet He supposedly was able to roll away a heavy, sealed, stone door and overpower the Roman guards!
The truth is easier to believe: Jesus is God.
As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again (Jn. 10:15, 18).
Because this is so, Jesus arose from the dead. And He was indeed seen in Israel by His disciples (chaps. 20—21) and by more than 500 followers at one time (1 Cor. 15:6). He walked with His disciples as far as Bethany and was seen ascending into heaven from Mount Olivet (Lk. 24:50–51; Acts 1:1–9).
As God incarnate, Jesus died on the cross as the final sacrifice for sin, was buried, and rose again on the third day (1 Cor.15: 3–4). Because He lives, He gives life to all who believe in Him:
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. 10:9–10).
Nothing absurd about that!