Evidence for the resurrection
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EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION. HPCF Jay Smith April 24 , 2011. Introduction. Importance of Resurrection: Jesus was dependant on the resurrection from the dead to prove that He was the Son of God (Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22, and John 2:19-21)

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Evidence for the resurrection



Jay Smith

April 24, 2011



Importance of Resurrection: Jesus was dependant on the resurrection from the dead to prove that He was the Son of God (Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22, and John 2:19-21)

1 Corinthians 15:14-19: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith...you are still in your sins...[you] are to be pitied more than all men.”

  • Thus, Christ's bodily resurrectionproves what Jesus claims for Himself, and proves the scriptures to be accurate, and authoritative!

Eight reasons why we can know the authenticity of the resurrection

Eight reasons why we can know the authenticity of the resurrection:

1 the prophets spoke of it in the old testament


The Messiah who would come first to suffer and then to triumph over that suffering, pointing to His death & resurrection

1) PSALM 22: We read about agony & desolation in verses 1-21, followed by deliverance & faithfulness in vss 22-31.

2) PSALM 69: We read of a suffering man and death in verses 1-29, but then find praise and triumph in verses30-36.

3) ISAIAH 53: suffering & sacrificial servant, in vss 1-9, then prolonged days, with offspring & fruit of his labours in vss 10-11

All three point to the coming death and resurrection.

2 jesus foretold it in the new testament


A number of times Jesus spoke of His impending death and resurrection prior to His death. He mentioned it:

1) To the Pharisees at the Temple, in John 2:19-21

2) On His way to Jerusalem He talked about it in Matthew 16:21, and Luke 9:22.

3) After Peter'sconfessionHe referred to it in Mark 8:31.

4) At the Mount of OlivesHe prayed about it, in Mark 14:28.

3 the historical record implies it


  • Thallus, a Greek writer at around 50 AD talks of the Crucifixion, & mentions the darkness & earthquakes which followed.

  • Tacitus, a Roman historian in 115 A.D., speaks of Crucifixion during Tiberius’ reign, under Pontius Pilate.

  • Josephus, a Jewish historian in Rome around 93 A.D., mentioned Jesus’ death & ‘resurrection’

  • Justin Martyr(Church Father) speaks of Jews fomenting stories to explain the Empty Tomb, inferring Christ’s resurrection

4 the empty tomb provides us with evidence


NO BODY HAS EVER BEEN PRODUCED!Only some empty clothes. What are the implications behind the empty tomb

  • Two-tonSTONE (slanted groove, 20 men); yet laying up and away from the entrance of the tomb (Mk 16, & John 20)

    (b) 16 Legionnaire GUARDS (Mt.27:66). If slept, killed by burning. Went to Priests, why= (Mt.28:11-15)=stole body

    (c) Roman SEAL missing (rope attached to sides of tomb wall) (Matthew 27:66). Punishment was crucified upside-down

    (d) Nazareth MARBLE SLABwith penalty of death for robbing a tomb, instead of a fine. Why stiffer penalty imposed?

Theories to explain the empty tomb




  • Joseph of Arimathea: a secret follower of Jesus and a member of the Jewish High Council. (Matthew 27:57-60, Luke 23:50-55 and John 19:38-42)

  • Nicodemus: another secret follower of Jesus. Like Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council. (John 3:1-21; 7:50-52; 19:38-42)

  • Simon Peter: one of the twelve disciples of Jesus(Matthew 4:18; 16:16; 17:24; 18:21; 19:27; 26:37,58,69, Mark 3:16; 5:37; 9:2, Luke 22:8,31; 24:12,34; John 1:41; 21:3,15; 13:6, Acts 1:15; 2:14; 3:1; 4:8; 5:3,29; 8:14,20; 9:32,40; 10:9; 11:2; 12:3; 15:7)

  • John: one of the twelve disciples, a cousin of Jesus, and also known as ‘the beloved apostle’ (Matthew 4:21; 17:1, Mark 1:29; 5:37; 14:33, Luke 5:10; 9:49, John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20, Acts 1:13; 3:1; 8:14)

Further characters

Further Characters

  • Mary: mother of Jesus(Matthew 1:16; 2:11; 12:46 13:55, Luke 1:27,38,46,56; 2:5,16,19,34; 2:43,40, John 2:1,5,12; 19:25)

  • Cleopas(also called ‘Clopas’ or ‘Alphaeus’): brother of Joseph and thus Jesus’ uncle.(Matthew 10:3; Luke 24:18; John 19:25)

  • Various other apostles and disciples

  • Mary (also called ‘the other Mary): wife of Cleopas, therefore aunt to Jesus and sister-in-law to his mother, Mary. She was also the mother of Joses and of the disciple James the Younger.(Matthew 27:61; 28:1, John 19:25)

Further characters1

Further Characters

  • Salome:wife of Zebedee and mother of the two disciples James and John. She was also the sister of Jesus’ mother Mary, and thus was the aunt of Jesus. (Matthew 19:28; 20:20,21; 27:56, Mark 15:40; 16:1, John 19:25)

  • Mary Magdalene (also called ‘Mary of Bethany’): sister of Martha and Lazarus.(Luke 10:39; John 11:1,20,32; 12:3)

  • Joanna:wife of Herod Antipas’ steward, Chuza.(Luke 8:3; 24:10)

  • At least one other woman: possible Susanna of Luke 8:3.

Jesus family relationships

Jesus’ Family Relationships

Zebedee & Salome ---------- Mary & Joseph ---------- Cleopas & Mary

/ \\ / \

James John JESUSJosesJames the Younger



  • Matthew:the writer of this gospel account was the Levite, Matthew, the ex tax-collector.

  • Mark:written by John Mark, much of it taken from the preaching of Peter of whom John Mark was a companion. Some material was also drawn from his own first-hand experience as a young man.

  • Luke: a Greek who was a travelling companion of Paul. As he explains at the start of his account, his motivation is to provide a careful, accurate, historical record for the non-Jewish reader.

  • John:authored by the apostle John, although, many believe, set down on paper by one of his disciples (John 21:24).

Locations in jerusalem

Locations in Jerusalem

Two presuppositions

Two Presuppositions:

1)Incomplete Reporting:

  • For example, in John 19:25, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the wife of Cleopas are reported as being at the foot of the cross. However, only Mary Magdalene is mentioned as going to the tomb early on the Sunday morning. However, John hardly expected his readers to assume that a young woman was wandering around alone in the dark city streets. And when she arrived back from the tomb, her words were, “they have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him” (John 20:2). Her plural indicates that she had companions there with her, but John has neglected to mention them.

  • Luke also shows this practice, where in Luke 24:12 he names only Peter as going to the tomb, but in 24:24 refers to “some” who went there. It is clear that, from the point of view of the gospel writers, mentioning one name only does not preclude others being present. This principle was also applied to the angels at the tomb, as we shall see later.

Evidence for the resurrection


  • For example, Luke clearly exhibits this principle. If we just read Luke’s account of the resurrection, one would get the impression that all Jesus’ appearances and his ascension took place in just one day. Yet in Acts, which was also written by Luke, he clearly states that the events stretched over forty days. In his gospel he telescopes events in order to bring out a particular perspective.

  • Matthewalso uses telescoping; especially in the events surrounding the angels’ initial descent and later conversation with the women. Telescoping is not at all uncommon in historical reporting.

Setting the scene

Setting the Scene:

  • Jesus’ Arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane:

    • His disciples scatter

    • Peter and John follow Jesus to Jerusalem

    • The others run off to Bethany, 1.5 miles

    • Mary Magdalene, Martha, Lazarus were there

    • Thomas probably went further afield

Setting the scene1

Setting the Scene

  • At the Cross: (Matthew 27:56; John 19:25-26)

  • Mary Magdalene

  • Jesus’ aunts Salome and Mary (wife of Cleopas)

  • Jesus’ mother, Mary

  • Jesus’ beloved disciple, and cousin, John

  • After the Cross:

    • Mary goes with John to his house, in south Jerusalem

    • Her sister Salome goes with them

    • Peter also go with John there

Setting the scene2

Setting the Scene

  • At the Tomb:

    • Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea take Jesus’ body and put it in Joseph’s tomb

    • They wrap the body with spices and linen

    • But due to the hour, it was done not finished

    • Both Mary’s watch this

    • They then return to John’s house (Luke 23:26)

    • A Roman guard is placed at the tomb (Matt. 28:11-15)

    • Jesus’ friends and family know nothing of this

Evidence for the resurrection

Diagram of location of People on the Sabbath Day: -Joanna is with her husband in the old Hasmonaean Palace, residence of Herod Antipas. With them is her friend Susanna. -Most of the disciples have fled to Bethany. The rest are at John’s house in south Jerusalem, with the possible exception of Thomas, who may have gone further afield

Evidence for the resurrection

Location of people on the night after the Sabbath (which finished at sunset): -Mary Magdalene has returned home to Bethany. -With her have gone Cleopas and his wife Mary, to see the disciples-Among them were their son James the Younger and their nephew, James.

Early sunday morning

Early Sunday Morning:

  • Matthew, who was staying in Bethany with 7 other disciples says:

    • Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Cleopas set out “at dawn” (Matthew 28:1).

    • Cleopasprobably accompanied them.

    • They go to John’s house, where Cleopas remained and the two Mary’s, joined now by Salome, set off to call for Joanna at the Hasmonaean Palace.

    • Mark, giving Peter’s version of events, says that the three women set off “very early” and reached the tomb just after sunrise (Mark 16:1-2).

    • Luke, who compiled his account from various sources and eye-witnesses, includes Joanna in his list of women, and gives the time as “very early” (Luke 24:1).

    • After the 2 Mary’s left Bethany, the 4 Roman guards experienced an earthquake; they see a descending angel, and pass out with fear.

    • When the guards awake, they find the tomb empty, and flee.

    • NOTE: No one claims to have seen the actual moment of resurrection!

      • If this had been fabricated, this would have been the most important part, full of details, etc…

Evidence for the resurrection

Locations of characters early that Sunday morning: -Mary Magdalene, Cleopas, and his wife (Mary) have set out to John’s house in Jerusalem. -Meanwhile, at the tomb, the guards have been stunned by the appearance of the angels, who roll back the stone sealing the entrance to the tomb. -The guards faint in terror.

Evidence for the resurrection

Movements early that Sunday morning: -Cleopasremains at John’s house, whilst the two Marys, along with Salome, have called for Joanna and Susanna. The five women now head for the tomb to do the women’s work of anointing the body.-Meanwhile, the guards have recovered and are running back to tell the authorities of their experience. The angels are waiting inside the tomb.

The women arrive at the tomb

The Women Arrive at the Tomb:

  • Arriving at the edge of the garden, the women look up from a distance and see the stone has been rolled back from the tomb.

  • Mary jumps to the obvious conclusion, and runs back to Peter and John in Jerusalem.

  • The other women continued to the tomb, and went on inside where they encountered the angels.

Evidence for the resurrection

The women arrive at the garden and the tomb: -The women have reached the edge of the garden, and have seen in the distance that the stone sealing the tomb has been rolled away. -Mary Magdalene jumps to the conclusion that the authorities have taken the body, and races back to Jerusalem to tell Peter and John, while the other 4 go on to the tomb.

What about the angels

What about the Angels?

  • Matthew mentions just one angel (28:2)

  • Mark refers to a man dressed in white (16:5)

  • Luke’s account speaks of two men (24:4)

  • Johnrecords two angels (20:12)

    • There were two angels

    • One angel was the spokesperson of the pair

    • Matthew and Mark simply chose not to mention that there was a companion, and refer only to the one who spoke.

Evidence for the resurrection

The four women encounter the angels at the tomb: -The four women enter the tomb, where they encounter the two angels, one of whom gives them a message for the disciples.-Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene has reached Peter and John and cried: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid him!”

Evidence for the resurrection

  • Peter, John and Mary:

  • Mary Magdalene finds John and Peter and tells them that Jesus’ body has been taken; whereupon they run to the tomb.

  • Mary follows them at a slower pace

  • In the maze of the city, they miss the other 4 women who are now returning from the tomb, with the message from the angel.

Evidence for the resurrection

-Arriving at the tomb, Peter and John find an empty tomb and grave clothes, with no angels, nor the body of Jesus (Luke 24:24; John 20:2-9).-Meanwhile the women have arrived back at John’s place with a message, specifically for Peter (Matthew 28:7 and Mark 16:7); since he is not there, they wait for his return.

Evidence for the resurrection

-Peter and John make their way from the tomb to John’s house, leaving Mary Magdalene, weeping at the tomb (John 20:11).-Mary then goes into the tomb and sees the two ‘men in white’, not knowing they were angels.-It is now that Mary Magdalene has her famous encounter with the risen Jesus (John 20:14-17, and Mark 16:9)-Thus, Mary Magdalene is the first to see the resurrected Jesus!

Post resurrection appearances

Post Resurrection Appearances:

  • Mary Magdalene saw Jesus at the Tomb

  • The women, Salome, Joanna, Susanna & Mary (Mrs.Cleopas) hurry off to Bethany and meet Jesus (Matthew 28:8-10)

  • Cleopas, Jesus’ uncle, and a companion set out from John’s house for Emmaus, after hearing about the empty tomb from the 4 women.

  • While on the road to Emmaus, they meet Jesus, but don’t recognize him, as they hadn’t heard Mary Magdalene’s account that he was alive, since they had left before she had returned from the tomb (Luke 24:13-32).

Evidence for the resurrection

Meetings with Jesus: -As Mary Magdalene returns from her meeting with the risen Jesus, Cleopas and his friend set out for Emmaus, meeting Jesus on the road. -The other four women are heading for Bethany, to tell the disciples (as they were instructed by the angels). -As they run along the road, they too meet Jesus. Thus, when Matthew is given the news at Bethany, he can be told about both the angels and Jesus at once!

Evidence for the resurrection

The disciples all meet Jesus:-All the disciples, with the exception of Thomas, are gathered back in Jerusalem; either in John’s house, or that of John Mark. -Jesus appears to them.-Thomas, as yet still a sceptic, will later have his own meeting with Jesus (John 20:24-29); Luke, however, has telescoped the various appearances of Jesus into one.

Other appearances

Other appearances

  • Luke telescopes events in his gospel; thus, the events which happen in 40 days, which he writes about in Acts 1:3, in the gospel of Luke, it seems to all happen in one day.

  • During these forty days all the other appearances recorded in the gospels occurred; both in Jerusalem and in Galilee.

  • Matthew (28:7) and Mark (16:7) record the instruction to the disciples to go to Galilee, while John actually reports some of the appearances there (21:1).

  • Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,and that by believing you may have life in his name.”John 20:29-30



  • The five accounts of the resurrection are all from the first-century

  • They were written between fifteen and thirty years of the death of Jesus.

  • They fit together in exactly the way we would expect

  • They are taken from good historical accounts based on eye-witnesses

  • They contain corroborating cross-details which would have been nigh on impossible to fabricate.

  • Particular details included in the four accounts match the precise position in the events of the main first-hand source of that particular account, be it Matthew, Peter, or John.

  • The accounts themselves claim to record two historical events:

    • The actual physical disappearance of Jesus’ body from the tomb

    • The appearances of the risen Jesus to his followers over a period of forty days.

  • Yet, none of the eye-witnesses claim to have seen the moment of resurrection itself; such an opportunity for exaggeration would not have been missed had the accounts been mere fiction!

  • No wonder every one of the disciples was willing to die for they knew was true:


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