Christians often ask me what evidence would cause me to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. Let me give you a scenario to demonstrate the kind of evidence that skeptics would like to see to consider this claim even remotely possible:
April, 33 AD
The Roman occupied lands of Judea and Galilee teeter on the brink of rebellion against Caesar. A man from Galilee named Jesus has crisscrossed Palestine preaching that a new “kingdom” is imminent and telling his immediate followers that he is the long awaited Jewish Messiah.
According to Jewish teaching, the Messiah will restore the ancient kingdom of Israel, sit upon the throne of David, and defeat all Israel’s enemies. The armies of the world will bow before this great king.
Rome sees this man as an insurrectionist and as a traitor to Caesar. They are happy to learn that the Jewish leadership is not happy with Jesus either. The two groups conspire to arrest Jesus on the grounds of treason against Caesar and blasphemy against his religion. Jesus is arrested, tried for treason before the prefect, Pontius Pilate, and condemned to crucifixion. All of Judea turns out for the crucifixion of the “King of the Jews”. The Romans brace for a riot. Caesar sends word to Pilate that under no circumstances is he to allow the situation to get out of control. Pilate sends emissaries to surrounding governors and rulers, asking for assistance if he should need it. The entire eastern Mediterranean is on edge.
Jesus is publically crucified. The Romans document the event. A letter is sent to Caesar documenting the execution and that all riots have been put down. The Jews document the event. Both parties state that Jesus died but that after dying a spear was plunged into his side to make sure he was dead prior to taking him off the cross.
Both the Romans and the Jews document that a Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body and placed it in a newly hewn tomb next to Golgotha. Both the Romans and the Jews document that the body was guarded at all times by a company of soldiers, the tomb was sealed, and guards were placed round the clock. The Jews also ordered some of their guards to stand by and watch the tomb to prevent the disciples from stealing the body.
However, three days later, the tomb was empty. Later that day, followers of Jesus began reporting that Jesus had appeared to them in the flesh. They even touched him and ate fish with him. These reports were initially seen as hysteria. However, then Jesus appeared to a large crowd in the temple. The Sanhedrin and the Pharisees witnessed the appearance and multiple members of the Sanhedrin documented the event. Then Jesus appeared to Pilate and his court. Then to Herod and his court. Both accounts were recorded by multiple members of the court and the testimonies corroborate.
Then Jesus appeared on the top of the temple after calling Pilate, Herod, the Sanhedrin, and all the people together to preach to them. At the end of his sermon, the entire crowd watched as he slowly ascended into the clouds. This event was recorded by multiple Romans, Jews, and Christians. The accounts all corroborate. A report was sent to Caesar by both Pilate and Herod of these events. The two reports corroborate the story. The Sanhedrin also documented these events and this report corroborates the reports of Pilate and Herod.
Gary: Now this would be incredible evidence. It would be very hard to refute. We have multiple, contemporary attestation from antagonistic sources. So why didn’t Jesus do this? Why didn’t he make his post death appearances to multiple non-believers and not just one—Paul? If Jesus really loves the world why wouldn’t he do really spectacular appearances to prove to the world he is God the Creator?
Answer: Jesus wants people to believe by faith, not by miracles.
Huh? Then why do Christians point to miracles today as proof of Jesus’ divinity?? Why do Christians make the claim that the reason that Jesus only heals a few of those who pray to him is to show his power and glory, not to heal? And why did Jesus do SO MANY miracles, in public, with huge crowds, in the Gospels, if miracles are not for the purpose of convincing people to believe???
Dear Christians. Don’t you see? The reason that the Resurrection appearances were only to believers and to one non-believer on a dark, desert highway is because they didn’t ever happen! These stories are most likely legends, or, inventions by the Gospel authors for theological purposes. Think, guys! The preponderance of evidence points to these miracle claims as being fiction.