Why is it that the burden of proof is always on the believer to prove resurrection?
Why shouldn’t the doubter have to come up with a more plausible explanation?
Now a standard, skeptical explanation for the Disciples’ Resurrection Witness goes like this:
The disciples, being ancient 1st century people, were superstitious people who didn’t understand biology etc like we do today and believed in supernatural occurrences like resurrections.
They had believed Jesus was the Messiah when he was alive, and after he was dead they concocted what became the Resurrection Myth either to continue Jesus’ movement themselves or to further their own agenda.
That’s the standard, skeptical explanation, and I’ve heard it from many of you.
The problem with the standard, skeptical explanation- other than it’s complete ignorance of first century culture. And history. Not to mention Judaism. And Greek philosophy- is that it ignores the indisputable facts of history.
If the disciples had wanted to continue Jesus’ messianic movement, they wouldn’t have concocted a Resurrection.
They would have passed Jesus’ messianic mantle to his brother, James, the next eldest and the next in line.
Just as followers had done with all the would-be Messiahs before Jesus.
But no one ever proclaimed James as the Messiah.
Because James proclaimed the Resurrection.
The biggest problem with the standard, skeptical explanation is that it ignores that, no matter what you believe about the Resurrection, the first Christians really did live as though they believed Christ’s Resurrection had begun God’s future Kingdom in the here and now.
They really did live as though the Resurrection had made them first fruits- signs- in this world of the world to come. These weren’t give an hour a week and drop a few bucks in the offering plate people.
They really did live as though if the Resurrection is true, if God vindicated Jesus’ life, then everything Jesus said and did matters more than anything else. So they shared all their money and possessions with each other. They opened their homes and their dinner tables and their worship to outsiders. They cared for widows and the poor, and they rescued newborns Romans left in fields to die. They forgave their enemies and turned the other cheek and faced down emperors without picking up the sword. And they proclaimed the Resurrection of Christ even as it led them to crosses of their own.
If the Resurrection is not true, how is it that they lived the Resurrection?
Peter, he was crucified upside-down.
Andrew, he was also crucified.
James, son of Zebedee, executed by a sword.
John, he was lucky enough to grow old and die of natural causes, so far as we know.
But Philip, he was tortured and then crucified upside-down.
Just like Bartholomew and Thomas and Matthew and Thaddeus and Simon.
Just how many people are willing to die for a lie?
And don’t forget James.
James, who did not believe in his brother until after his brother died and then one day, because of living like his brother and confessing faith in his brother, James was condemned by the very same people who had condemned his Jesus.
James died just like his brother.
If you disbelieve resurrection, how do you account for the fact that Jesus’ own brother died for his belief in it?
What would it take to convince you that your brother was the Messiah?
Probably something like a Resurrection?