The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Willmington's Guide to the Bible

A. The resurrection—denied by some. There is surely no other single doctrine in all the Bible so hated by Satan as the resurrection of Christ. He has attempted (always unsuccessfully) to ridicule it, downplay it, deny it, or simply explain it away. Here are but a few theories the devil has inspired his children (ungoldly men) to promote concerning this precious doctrine.

1. The fraud theory. This says that either Jesus or his disciples (or both) simply invented the entire thing. It would have us believe that Christ was simply a clever crook who read the prophecies regarding the Messiah in the Old Testament and set about arranging for them to be fulfilled by himself. However, it would have been somewhat difficult for an impostor to arrange the place where he was to be born (it had to be Bethlehem), or for some Roman soldiers to cooperate by not breaking his bones on the cross.

2. The swoon theory. We are informed here that Christ merely fainted on the cross and was later revived by the cool, dark air of the tomb. But how did he get out of that tomb? What bright light did he use to blind and terrify the Roman soldiers who stood guard outside?

3. The vision theory. This would advocate that the early disciples were guilty of using some kind of primitive LSD. If this be true, then the practice was certainly widespread, for on one occasion alone over 500 claimed to have seen him. There is not one speck of biblical or secular evidence to support such an empty theory.

4. The spirit theory. This holds that only Jesus’ spirit arose. But Jesus is said to have eaten while in his resurrected body. The very nailprints were still there. This view, like the above, cannot for one second stand the logic of reason.

5. The heart theory. Here we are to believe that he was only resurrected in the heart of his friends. The trouble here, however, is that none of those friends actually believed he would literally rise from the dead until they saw him with their own eyes, and heard his words with their ears.

B. The resurrection—declared by many.

1. David predicted it.

"For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Ps. 16:10).

2. Isaiah predicted it.

"And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isa. 53:9-12).

3. Jesus himself predicted it many times.

"Then certain of the scribes, and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Mt. 12:38-40).

"From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Mt. 16:21).

"Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry" (Mt. 17:19, 22, 23).

"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again" (Mt. 20:18, 19).

"But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee" (Mt. 26:32).

"Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day" (Lk. 9:22).

"Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said" (Jn. 2:18-22).

C. The resurrection—doubted by most. It is ironic and sad that the predicted resurrection of Christ was remembered only by his enemies, the Pharisees, and not by his friends.

"Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first" (Mt. 27:62-64).

So much for his enemies. But what about his friends?

1. The women did not remember (Mk. 16:1-3).

2. Mary Magdalene did not remember (Jn. 20:13).

3. Peter and John did not remember (Lk. 24:12; Jn. 20:9).

4. The apostles did not remember (Lk. 24:9-11).

5. The two disciples on the Emmaus Road did not remember (Lk. 24:13-31).

6. Thomas did not remember (Jn. 20:24-29).

Taken from: Willmington's Guide to the Bible  1981, 1984 by H. L. Willmington.