Good friend and Student Life Pastor at Life Fellowship church has offered to give us, the readers, some great insight into the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Simon Foster is working on his MA in Apologetics at BIOLA university. He has graciously shared some insight from a class he is taking there on the resurrection. Let’s get plugged into leadership and see how we can love people with the fact of the resurrection.
Has something ever happened to you, that when you tell the story to a group you are met with a series of ‘No way, that is impossible,’ or ‘I don’t believe that happened at all’. Well if there was every a story in my life that fits that criteria, its this one. I was sixteen years old on a double date at the mall. As we are strolling along enjoying our evening suddenly the mood changes as my date yells and points in the direction of another guy. “That’s my crazy boyfriend! You need to leave, I bet his friends are outside waiting on you!” We took her advice and began to run outside to my friend’s car. As we are running we notice that fifteen guys are running after us. As we are running, my friend who is a black belt in karate says to me “I have some weapons in my trunk that we can use to scare them.” Next thing I know I’m holding two swords and he’s holding nun chucks and we are swinging them franticly in the direction of our attackers teenage mutant ninja turtle style. This story ends with them running away and us driving off into the sunset. Any time I start to doubt if this crazy story ever happened I make a phone call to my dear friend Nathaniel. We laugh and we validate this story over and over again. two friends, two girls and fifteen angry guys all were there to share this ridiculous but real moment.
This is exactly how I picture the disciples as they experienced Jesus life, death and resurrection. “Did that really happen?” as they shared stories together and validated the realness of the ridiculous. The validation of them seeing the real Jesus led to them living a ridiculous life of making disciples, planting churches and facing every type of persecution including death.
Skeptics, even to this day, still want to distort this reality by using many different arguments such as… the disciples must have been hallucinating, conspiracy, body was stolen, wrong tomb, myth, swoon theory, others have resurrected (copycat story from pagan mythology), contradictory accounts, history can’t be trusted, miracles can’t happen and the list continues.
As these questions swirl around us, how will we respond? How will we move forward with confidence that the Gospel is true? Jesus did live, he was killed (crucified) and he did come back to life (Resurrected). I will share just a few confidence builders that I gleaned from a 600 page book that Professor Sean McDowell forced me to read in his class on the Resurrection at Biola University. Ha! I’m glad I was forced to read The Resurrection of Jesus by Michael Licona, Thanks Sean! Here are a few nuggets to move us in the direction of confidence that have come from the hard work of many historians.
These 3 facts are considered “historical bedrocks” in the scholarly community (among the majority of scholars/skeptics, all types, the Christian & the atheist) …
1) Jesus died by crucifixion
2) Very shortly after Jesus death, the disciples had experiences that led them to believe & proclaim that Jesus had been resurrected and had appeared to them.
– Who would die for something they knew was a lie?
3) Within a few years after Jesus death, Paul converted after experiencing what he interpreted as a post resurrection appearance of Jesus to him.
– What a change in lifestyle, from murderer of Christians to being a leader of the Church willing to be beat up, imprisoned, killed for his faith in Jesus. Who does that?
I also really like the “criterion of embarrassment” which makes a great case for the authenticity of the Resurrection. Why would the early church share so many embarrassing situations? Wouldn’t they just share all the highlights and the parts that make them proud of the leaders of the church (the disciples/Apostles)? But through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) we see the good and the bad. To me, this is such a powerful criterion that helps me with confidence, but also is very enticing to at least open the door for conversation with most people.
In a world that questions everything, so many hypotheticals, insecurity and so much doubt. Give me some facts or “Historical Bedrocks”. Give me an anchor or foundation to build on please, something! According to Licona, we all have “horizons” or “preunderstandings”. This is how we view things according to our knowledge, experience, beliefs, education, cultural conditioning, preferences, presuppositions and worldview. We all have our own set of sunglasses with which we see the world through. This is why establishing a foundation with Historical Bedrocks is key. Thank you to guys like Michael Licona, Sean McDowell and NT Wright that have put in the hard work and time so that we can have more confidence in the central theme of Christianity, The Good News of the Gospel.