Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact #2

Having being crucified, Jesus is said to have been buried by Joseph of Arimathea in his own tomb which was sealed with a big stone. The burial of Jesus is confirmed by a very early source – the apostle’s creed, as quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians, and is multiply attested by Matthew (27:57-61), Mark (15:42-47), Luke (23:50-56) and John (19:38-42). We are told in the Gospels that women followers of Jesus saw where Jesus was buried, and there is no doubt that Jesus’ tomb was known to his disciple and foes alike. On the third day after His burial, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by His women followers, a fact that is attested by all Gospels.

Early skeptics of Jesus’ resurrection, like the 2nd century philosopher Celsus who was an opponent of Christianity, didn’t deny the empty tomb account as it was accepted as factual, but rather they tried to find explanations for it. Since the skeptics knew where the tomb of Jesus was, and His disciples preached His resurrection in Jerusalem – the very place where He was buried, then they could have went to His tomb and produced the body so they can disprove the disciples and quash their testimony once and for all. It didn’t matter if the body was decomposed, as the disciples started proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection at least 43 days after his death, as the existence of the body in that tomb would have raised serious doubts on the disciples’ testimony even if it couldn’t be established with absolute certainty if the body was that of Jesus or not.

Early skeptics of Jesus’ resurrection claimed that His body was stolen from the tomb, a claim that is multiply attested by Matthew (28:12-13), Justin Martyr and Tertullian, amongst others, but that could not have happened as there were guards on the tomb, to stop Jesus’ disciples from stealing His body. Even if it was possible that the disciples stole Jesus body, it still would not explain the risen appearance of Jesus to Paul and James.

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