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How the History of the Resurrection stands on its Own F.E.E.T

Below is the acronym F.E.E.T. that can help us remember how the Christian faith is built on the solid ground of the resurrection.

As an aside, I got the idea from Hank Hanegraff , who uses a similar acronym for the evidence regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul tells us that without the resurrection our faith in Christ is useless (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). But Christ was raised from the Dead! (1 Corinthians 15:20). It is the watershed moment in history that changed everything concerning humanity and God.

Here is how we can think about this historical fact:

The F.E.E.T. of the Gospel

Fatal Torture

The death of Jesus by crucifixion is one of the most well-established facts in recorded history. Almost every textual scholar (both believers and non-believers) agree that Jesus died at the hands of the Romans by crucifixion. To believe in alternative theories is beyond naivety.

Jesus’ death confirmed by Pilate and the executioners (Mark 15:44-45)

Furthermore, Jesus would have had to survive:

  1. Scourging
  2. Seven-inch iron spikes driven into his wrist and feet
  3. Asphyxiation from hanging supported only by extended arms
  4. A spear wound in his side

If Jesus had survived this, would he be worthy of worship by his disciples?

No, he would be a liar; that is not someone that even unbelievers would follow and certainly not God-fearing Jews.

The idea that Jesus survived the cross is ridiculous. But to underscore this truth, the death of Jesus is described by many non-Christian historians like Tacitus, Suetonius, and Josephus.

Josephus is particularly interesting because he was born a few years after the death of Christ in Jerusalem and was a Jew. He obviously had heard the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but there’s no evidence that he ever converted.

But he is well known for his writings called the Antiquity of the Jews, and it is in chapter 18 of that book that Josephus records the death of Christ by the hands of Pilate as a historical fact.

Empty Tomb

Every liberal and conservative Christian scholar, and the vast majority of liberal and conservative non-believing Critical scholars assert the fact of the empty tomb. Going back to the creedal statement of 1 Corinthians 15:3-11, we can see that the empty tomb was part of the tradition from the beginning.

How do we know that the tomb had to be empty?

The answer is that the location of Jesus’ tomb would have been known to everyone in Jerusalem, including the Romans, the Jews, and to Jesus’ followers. The people there would have known if the tomb was empty or not, yet, the idea was never challenged.

Also, it is important to note that Jesus’ followers were not expecting him to be raised again. They were Jews, and the Jewish concept of the resurrection was very different than what Christians understand today. To the Jews, the resurrection was only an end-times expectation and none of Jesus’ disciples would have expected him to be raised on the 3rd day. They did not expect the tomb to be empty.

Finally, the Jewish leaders of that day could have easily dispelled any myth that Jesus had been resurrected if his body was still in the tomb

The main objection to this is that the disciples stole the body in the middle of the night. it’s the explanation the Jewish leaders told the guards to report and the orthodox Jews hold to this theory today. Unlikely because of Paul’s conversion, and the willingness of the disciples to go to their death claiming the resurrection if they had committed this deception. Doesn’t make sense to change the day of worship to Sunday either if this was a made-up story…

Eyewitness Testimony

In the creedal statement of 1 Corinthians there is a list of eyewitnesses:

These include Peter, the 12 apostles, James, and Paul himself. One interesting fact. James, the half-brother of Jesus was at first embarrassed by Jesus and his preaching. But after the resurrection appearances, James was willing to die to assert that Jesus was God.

One of the most significant appearances that Paul cites is that Jesus appeared to over 500 brothers and sisters at 1 time, and he made an interesting note that some of them had died, but many are still alive.

Why does Paul include this special note that some are still alive?

First, it’s important to know that just like in any court or trial today, no one would offer eyewitnesses if their testimony was unreliable.

Second, Paul couldn’t even offer the testimony of eyewitnesses, if none existed. The claim of living eyewitnesses validates that there were people actually alive at the time he wrote the letter that had witnessed the risen Christ.

Paul is telling the Corinthians that they could in fact go & question these witnesses to verify their claims. This isn’t just a claim to have eyewitnesses, it is a presentation of living eyewitnesses that would testify. This makes Paul’s claim falsifiable.

Interestingly, the Gospel of Matthew recounts another important piece of evidence concerning the empty tomb when Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene and to “the other Mary”

This is a surprising statement to be made in a document written to Jews, during a time of Jewish Patriarchal culture. The testimony of women was regarded as unreliable and quickly dismissed. If the resurrection appearances were fabrications, they certainly would not have made women as the first people that Jesus appeared to.

Transformation

The transformation of the Apostles is one of the best facts that support the truth of the resurrection. Again, even unbelieving critical scholars insist that it is the true that the Apostles lives were changed after they witnessed something.

It was the truth of the creedal statement found in 1 Corinthians 15 that the apostles accepted after witnessing the resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ. If they did not truly believe it, it is very unlikely that they would have continued teaching a lie with the threat of execution.

What else was transformed by this truth?

1. Within 40 days, a small group of disciples quickly grew into thousands of believers- many who had witnessed the resurrection, and willingly gave up their ancient and familial sociological and religious traditions for the truth of the gospel

2. The sabbath was transformed from Saturday to Sunday

3. The tradition of Passover was transformed into the Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper)

4. Baptism was transformed from ceremonial washing to joining in fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

5. The entire Roman Empire was transformed in one way or another by the teachings of Christianity as truth

May you be blessed as you consider the implication of what the resurrection of Jesus Christ has, for you and me, and for the rest of the world.

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