Following The Evidence #78

The earliest Jewish propaganda presupposes an empty tomb because they claimed that somehow the disciples got passed the Roman guard, broke the Roman seal on the tomb, rolled away the stone and secreted away the body of Jesus. All supposedly while the Roman guards were asleep. One fatal flaw! Roman guards don’t sleep. This misdemeanor carried the death penalty.

When famous people die, their tomb becomes a shrine. This never happened with Jesus’ tomb. Today pilgrim tourists go to see the supposed place of the empty tomb. Compounding this were the reported appearances of Jesus. He appeared unmistakably alive to different groups of individuals on many and various occasions. Over the 40 days leading up to the Feast of Pentecost He appeared to disciples on the road to Emmaus, to Peter, all the apostles in the upper room, to 500 at once, to James (His brother), and then finally to Paul. He even appeared to the apostle John after the emperor Domitian attempted to boil him in oil. This happened on the isle of Patmos to where John had been exiled. Jesus appeared to John and gave him the visions that we now call the Book of Revelation. Paul refers to these former appearances in his resurrection passage in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8. Notice in this passage that Paul did not refer to the appearances to the women. Unfortunately, considering his audience, mentioning the women would have been counterproductive. Also, at the time of 1st Corinthians being written (About 53 AD) the eyewitness accounts we know as the gospels were still unwritten. Just over 20 years from the resurrection in 31AD had passed.

Remember, Paul had been a chief persecutor, a devote Rabbi, and Christian hater. When Jesus appeared to him it changed the course of his entire life. He began to travel the Roman empire preaching the gospel. He gave up prestige and comfort. This respected Rabbi took on the life of an itinerate preacher with a life full of toil, sacrifice, pressure and unimaginable suffering. He was whipped 5 times by Jews with 39 lashes (one short of the Roman 40 to show mercy.) He was whipped 3 times by Romans. He was stoned to death once (and revived). He was shipwrecked 3 times (once he floated for 24 hours.) Robbers were always a threat, Jewish and pagan adversaries sought to kill him. He experienced a life of great hardship, often going without sleep and food. He was poorly dressed and was finally executed for his faith (in AD68) by Nero in Rome.

Listen to Paul’s own testimony written in AD57. “… we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who live are constantly being handed over to death because of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our mortal flesh…knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus…Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer person is decaying, yet our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. These are the words of a man driven by his personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus.

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