DID JESUS REALLY DIE ON THE CROSS? --Did the resurrection truly happen?
Easter is the day Christians celebrate the most important event of their faith, the resurrection of Jesus. Why is it so important? As the apostle Paul made a point in 1 Corinthians 15 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins… And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” Without the resurrection, our faith is worthless, we are not redeemed, and we are therefore still accountable for our sins.
How to know for sure that Jesus really died on the cross and then rose from the dead? Here are a few proven facts, but none of them is an absolute proof:
- There are historical proofs that Christ lived, was crucified and buried, but that does not make Christianity true, as other people have also been crucified for their faith and buried in the world in times past.
- The tomb was empty, and no one ever produced the body. In order to end this story in the first century, it would have been easy for the Romans to take the body of Jesus and drag it around town, or to get the initial alleged witnesses to recant. These things did not happen but this not a proof that the resurrection is true.
- The disciples believed they saw the risen Christ, but lots of people say and think stupid crazy things, so we cannot say it is an infallible proof.
- They did seem committed to this claim, though, and following their alleged observations of the resurrection, were transformed. But they could have been wrong, imagining things because of emotional shock, sadness, or disappointment, they could have been delusional or fooled or influenced.
Is it possible that they were mistaken about His death and that He did not really die but was just unconscious, and then had a resuscitation but not a resurrection?
To say the least, it’s extremely improbable that He would have survived being beaten and crucified. But how can we know without any doubt if He was really dead or not? There is one piece of evidence that is more important than all the others. In John 19: 31-34, John described what happened to Jesus and the 2 thieves crucified with Him:
« Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath…., the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the thieves who were crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. »
How could it be water? As the heart begins to shut down, people enter into what is called « circulatory shock », when the body’s organs start to shut down. If someone dies upright, he will suffer from « pleural effusion » (that’s where water accumulates in your lungs), and if his chest cavity gets stabbed, water and blood will come out separately, proving that the person has already suffered cardiac arrest.
On top of it, the roman soldiers were used to handle dead people, and they knew that Jesus was dead. When you die, the first thing that happens is that you start to cool down, as there is no hot blood coursing through your veins, and the soldiers noticed this when handling the body of Jesus! His body was also starting to be stiff, it is called « rigor mortis », but another proof is that, when your heart stop pushing blood, some parts of your body become discolored. So, it was impossible that the roman soldiers missed all these details. That is the best piece of evidence.
Did the disciples lie? More than 500 people affirmed to have seen Jesus and none of them recanted in their whole lives, no one budged on their testimony, even though they were seriously pressured, getting tortured and even killed. For example, “This Jesus, God raised up, and we are all witnesses”, declared the apostle Peter, martyred by crucifixion, and willingly dying for what he knew was true.
The fact that Jesus rose from the dead is what validated the claims He made about His messiahship and His divinity. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, He would have been just another of a number of first-century Jewish men who claimed to be the messiah but turned out to be impostors.
IN CONCLUSION: The authors of the Gospel were accurately reporting what happened in history, but their claim that Jesus rose from the dead requires a belief in the supernatural, Are you ready to believe in the supernatural? Are you open to the fact that Jesus really rose from the dead?