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3 Questions to Ask When Doubting Christ’s Resurrection

When you or someone you know is struggling with whether or not to believe that the resurrection of Jesus really happened, ask these three questions:

If Jesus’ followers were the masterminds of a corrupt scheme, why would they go to their deaths proclaiming an undying trust in the authenticity of Jesus’ resurrection? Recall that the chief priests and Pharisees wanted Pilate to place a guard at the tomb of Jesus, “lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead’” (Matt. 27:64). From the very moment of Jesus’ death, there was belief that Jesus’ mission and message was a magnificent ploy, and that if the tomb was not guarded, miraculous resurrection would be alleged by his followers. But shortly into the book of Acts, we read of the stoning of Stephen. Why was he stoned? Because he was preaching the resurrection and kingship of Jesus to a people that rejected the notion that Christ lived again and was reigning at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). If Stephen knew this to be false, why would he endure such agonizing torture of having rocks hurled at his head?  If he was participating in a grand conspiracy, wouldn’t he cower from the ravaging mob and change his tune? One might write him off as being deluded and brainwashed, but interestingly, other followers of Jesus at one point did deny Jesus in fear of the mob, and then later reversed course. This compels us to ask a second question…

Why would Peter and other followers go from denying Jesus before his death, to defending Jesus after his death? Peter and the other followers of Jesus abandoned him the night before He was crucified (Matt. 26:69-75; Mk. 14:50). So, what changed for these believers, who according to various church traditions were also martyred for their faith? Extrabiblical accounts seem to suggest that many, if not all the apostles suffered unimaginable deaths because of their allegiance to Christ. Perhaps you could convince yourself that one or two might be deceived enough to fall prey to such an exceptional story, to the point that they would be loyal to Jesus at the hands of their killers. But could you reasonably convince yourself that if the message they so fiercely believed in was not actually true, that not even one of them would cower and change their allegiance? The change from denier and deserter to defender and downtrodden by enemies cannot be ignored! This is perhaps one of the greatest pieces of evidence of the legitimacy of Jesus’ resurrection. If you were one of the 500+ who saw someone conquer death and ascend to Heaven (1 Cor. 15:6), would you not be immovable in your faith, no matter what threatened you? Would you even give up everything, and count it as loss (Phil. 3:7-8)? This compels us to ask our final question…

What made Saul of Tarsus convert from persecutor of Christians to persecuted Christian – while simultaneously giving up the privileges he enjoyed as part of the Jewish elite? I have been amazed to witness some of the most die-hard Longhorn fans change their allegiance from the University of Texas to Texas A&M University because of the enrollment of their child in the latter university. Such a decision (though it comes with ribbing and a platter of crow) is nothing compared to the change of being one who consents to the murder of Christians to becoming a Christian, themselves (Acts 8:1; Acts 8:22). Formerly, Saul was one who “made havoc” among Christians and made it a practice to “take them as prisoners” (Acts 9:21). Furthermore, Saul had every credential necessary to remain in a position of power and prominence among the Jews (Phil. 3:4-6). Yet he gave all of that up for a life that endured lashings, beatings, imprisonments, shipwreck, hunger, thirst, exposure, and much more (2 Cor. 11:24-28). Why? His claims that he heard, saw, and learned from the resurrected Lord Jesus cannot be ignored (Acts 9:3-5; 1 Cor. 15:8; Gal. 1:12-17). In the words of the Apostle Paul’s contemporaries, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy” (Gal. 1:23). What could explain this other than the historically accurate and powerfully convincing resurrection of Jesus?

-Jordan Moore