first prerequisite for Jesus to have extricated himself from his tomb is
for him to have survived the crucifixion, including everything before and
afterwards. Jesus was arrested late at night and immediately taken through
a series of six consecutive trials and interrogations ending in his crucifixion
the next day. Whatever lay ahead of him would have to be done without the
benefit of a night's sleep. He also received three separate beatings; the
first by the men guarding him during the Pharisees' trial, the second after
the crowd demanded he be crucified, and the third by the governor's soldiers
just before he was led to Pilate for final questioning.
prisoners sentenced to be crucified were whipped with a flagrum. A flagrum
was a rod ending in leather strips having jagged bone fragments attached.
He was then forced to carry the horizontal member of the cross which he
was to be crucified on (the patibulum) through the streets and out of the
city. He did so until finally another man had to be seized to complete the
at Golgotha, he then had spikes driven through his hands and feet. Typically
these were five to seven inches long and three-eights inch square. 2
(Archaeological evidence by which a typical crucifixion may be confirmed
lies with the remains of Yohanan Ben Ha'galgal. This crucifixion victim
was discovered in 1968 at tombs in Ras el-Masaref, north of Jerusalem. 3)
Jesus had hung several hours upon the cross suspended by spikes, the Roman
guards stated their belief that Jesus had died. As evening approached, the
legs of the other two victims were broken to hasten their deaths for the
approaching special Sabbath. The guards, wanting to confirm Jesus was dead,
instead deeply pierced his side with a spear thrust. Their experience interpreted
the separation of blood and fluids that emerged as confirmation of his death.
was later taken down, wrapped with at least seventy-five pounds of spices
(typically in a gummy paste), wrapped in linen, placed in the tomb, and
a boulder was rolled in front of the entrance. If Jesus did not die up to
this point, or suffocate from the wrappings pasted tightly to his face and
body, he had three days to recover for the next step: escape.
Jesus escaped, the first step was the removal of the linen wrappings in
which he was bound head to toe. Then either he single-handedly pushed away
the one or two ton rock from the tomb entrance, or an enormous earthquake
timely and fortuitously knocked it away. At this point, perhaps the guards
fled out of shock, or perhaps Jesus had to disarm and defeat them so that
out of shame they fabricated the story of the angel.
shortly after his escape, Jesus was seen by Mary Magdalene and the other
women. They not only saw him but he talked with them (or so they thought
he did). Later that day he walked and talked with Cleopas and Simon on the
road to Emmaus (or so they thought he did) and he appeared among his disciples
for them to see and touch (or so they thought he did). His appearance was
such that all who saw him believed he had conquered death and rose anew.
the next forty days Jesus continued to appear among them (or so they though
he did), discussed the kingdom of God, ate with them, and was last reported
to have ascended into the sky (or so they thought he did).
-- SUDDEN DISAPPEARANCE
if Christ had managed all of this fraudulently, he must have then removed
himself from the scene so that whenever he did die, it was in anonymity.
This so that the body of Jesus of Nazareth was neither seen nor heard from
again. This, of course, begs the unanswerable question of what was Jesus'
Jesus' motive was not to stick around and cash in on the facade he nearly
died trying to forge and to be worshipped as the God so many thought he
was, why did he disappear? Is that the real story of Jesus the almost-Christ?
story line suffers from a closer resemblance to Hollywood action films than
reality. In film, the hero can take any measure of punishment. The hero,
though bloodied, beaten, and dying, can still manage to overcome the heartiest
platoon of maniacal pursuers. But in reality, we know people who call in
sick at the first sign that they think something hurts. I make this absurd
comparison to emphasize that Jesus - abandoned, deprived, scourged, beaten,
mocked, ridiculed, punctured, crucified, speared, bound, and entombed -
was not just kicking back in order to get his second wind.
is unreasonable to believe Jesus suddenly felt better, burst out of his
burial wrap, quietly displaced a huge sealing boulder, dispersed a Roman
guard unit of probably sixteen men, appeared all over the countryside right
under the noses of those who desperately wanted him dead, convinced friends,
family, and strangers of his perfect health and immortality, and faked the
world's greatest disappearing act before hundreds of people in broad daylight;
all in conclusion to a lifetime of otherwise telling the truth and delivering
the most influential teachings ever given.
-- THE REMAINING EXPLANATION
may read all of these explanations and retort, "Christians say his survival,
escape, and behavior is an unreasonable fantasy - well so is the claim he
resurrected from the dead!" This is the impasse to which everyone comes:
the choice between two incredible conclusions:
1.) "It's too unreasonable
to believe that Jesus was God incarnate and came back from the dead -
something that has never happened before or since! Jesus is no resurrected
2.) "It's too unreasonable
to believe that all of this would happen in accordance with the numerous
and detailed prophecies which the Dead Sea Scrolls recorded centuries
prior and Jesus not be the Messiah! Jesus must be the resurrected
choice is more reasonable than the other?
choice which many people make, perhaps most people these days, is simply
to not choose. They refrain from drawing any conclusion in the relaxed expectation
that someday a more palatable option will come along. But electing not to
choose is a choice itself. In terms of the introductory
allegory, it leaves us on that supposedly sinking ship; it
leaves us not trusting in the belief that Jesus is the risen Messiah, the
Christ, the Lord and Savior. (The analogy is continued and concluded in
an interesting manner here.)
reiteration of this point may present an uncomfortable pressure for the
listener, but in all honesty it truly is an uncomfortable pressure; one
which God intended this message to carry. The choice God gives us to either
believe or not believe is very profound, very important, and very much at
hand. What's your choice?
NEXT: Jesus is Lord
What do we know about Jesus from
Do miracles really happen?
What is the gospel?