Did the Resurrection really happen?

If somebody challenged you to defend your belief in the resurrection of Jesus on Easter, what would you say?

Is there any evidence that the Resurrection actually historically happened? Why should anybody believe that the Easter story isn’t a fairy tale cooked up by early Christians?

There’s no event more miraculous or important in the entire Bible than Jesus’ resurrection, and so it’s natural that skeptics would focus their challenges on the Resurrection story. And in fact, Christians should be honest and forthright in asking themselves: why do I believe in Jesus and the Easter story?

The FaithFacts ministry specializes in laying out evidence and answers in response to tough questions about Christianity, and their collection of evidence for the Resurrection is excellent reading at this time of year. Without overplaying their hand, they lay out a compelling case that reasonable people can and should take the Easter story seriously. So whether you’re looking for help in answering a critic’s charges, or want to find answers that will address your own honest questions about Jesus and the Resurrection, see if FaithFacts’ case makes sense to you.

18 Responses to “Did the Resurrection really happen?”

  • Beate says:

    YES it happend, the Word states clearly that Jesus was not only seen by His Apostles, but by approx 400-500 people!

  • John Drake says:

    Look, I’d like to believe.


    But the holes in the story are just too big.

    Here is just one of them:

    According to the Gospels, the disciples, who spent 3 years with Jesus, saw him do many wonders.

    Supposedly he walked on water, calmed the sea, healed the sick, cast out demons, even raised Lazarus from the dead.

    According to the Gospels, he told them plainly he was going to be crucified, but that after 3 days, he would rise again.

    Now, doesn’t it strike you as curious that not one of the disciples seemed to remember any of the miracles Jesus did, nor did they even bother discussing his promise to rise again?

    We don’t see even one of them in the stories saying, “Wait a minute. Didn’t the Lord say he’d go to Jerusalem, die and come back again after 3 days? Let’s cheer up fellas; we saw the power of God with him when he walked with us.”

    But nope: complete amnesia in the story and in fact, the opposite reaction: fear and hopelessness.

    Now, as a dramatic device for a fictional story, it is the thing a storyteller would do: the hopelessness and fear makes a great dramatic contrast for their joy and surprise when the hero of the story comes back.

    But as a factual relating of real events, does it make any sense to anyone that not ONE disciple brought it up? Not one hopeful discussion, one of them with any memory at all, after seeing all those miracles for 3 years and plainly hearing the promise Jesus made?

    Come on now. If you read stories that bad in the Koran, you’d rightly apply your skeptical faculty and brush it off as fiction.

    One more point: by contrast, the Gospels relate that the only people who remembered Jesus promise to come back from the dead after 3 days, WERE THE PHARASEES who went to Pilate and demanded a guard be placed on the tomb to prevent his followers from pulling a stunt.

    Now, does that make ANY sense, other than as a fictional device to set up the miraculous empty tomb?

    The Pharasees who did NOT believe somehow remembered Jesus promise but the disciples didn’t?

    Interestingly enough, Jesus never directly stated to the Pharasees that he would come back from the dead. According to the stories he used the metaphor of destroying the temple and raising it again in 3 days.

    So, come on folks. The whole disciples all forgetting and not believing is a fantastic dramatic device for a fictional story, but it just doesn’t make any sense that not even one of them remembered Jesus alleged miracles and his promise and was hopeful.

    Comments? I hope you will not censor this but will answer intelligently.

    • Chris Salzman says:

      John, thanks for popping in with your questions! While we might disagree on some things there’s no reason we can’t discuss it respectfully (and without censorship).

      It seems to me, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that your argument is that despite being foreknowledge of Jesus’ death and resurrection the disciples quickly descended into hopelessness after the crucifixion.

      I guess as a response I would point you towards the events of the week leading up to his death (commonly called the Passion week). Jesus started it out by triumphantly riding into Jerusalem to an adoring crowd, he then chased out the money-changers and in general started to bring about the new order and Kingdom that the disciples thought he would.

      Later in the week a few hours after the Last Supper he was betrayed and sentenced to death. Even knowing that it was coming couldn’t prepare the disciples for the chaos that then ensued. Regardless of whether or not they were cognizant of Jesus’ previous teachings, which we’re told they didn’t fully understand at the time, it still must have been extremely traumatic to watch Jesus submit himself to the authorities, to be beaten and to die. In light of that, I think the thoughts of fear and hopelessness were warranted.

      It was only after the resurrection and after Jesus had explained the totality of his teaching to them that the whole story made sense to the disciples. Also, while details on the events between the crucifixion and the resurrection are sparse, every time the disciples are mentioned they are hanging out with each other. I highly doubt they didn’t discuss the possibility of him rising, and as you pointed out, the Pharisees even posted guards in order to prevent them from trying to spoof the resurrection.

      Does any of that help?

  • John Drake says:

    Thanks, Chris

    Interesting response. I find it hard to swallow that the Pharasees remembered Jesus’ promise but the disciples seem to have forgotten. You are saying they likely did discuss it, but none of the Gospels mentions it.

    By the way, I seem unable to find where in the Gospels Jesus clearly claims to the Pharasees that he will rise again. I can find him using the metaphor of destroying the temple, but I can’t find any place where he claims it directly and clearly.


    P.S. If you personally had walked with Jesus for three years and seen all of his miracles, wouldn’t you have been hopeful more than anything else, Chris?

    • Chris Salzman says:

      John, in reply to your personal question: I would absolutely despair! And yes, I probably would forget quite a number of things I had been taught as well.

      The man I had just followed for three years, believing that he was triumphantly going to bring about amazing changes to the entire world was just beaten, mocked and brutally killed. Yes, maybe I’m weak, but hope would probably not be my first reaction.

      There are good indications that even despite knowing what was going to happen the disciples were quite surprised by the outcome (ie Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial of Christ).

  • John Drake says:

    Who Prepped The Body?

    Here is another one for you:

    Reading the different Gospel accounts of the events that took place between Jesus’ death and the resurrection, there seems to be some conflict.

    John says that Nicodemus and Joseph took about 100 pounds of spices and wrapped them with the body in linen, the “day before the Sabbath”. John 20:38-42.

    (Assuming this was late Friday afternoon, before sunset, then technically it could be called “the day before the sabbath”)

    Luke tells a different tale.

    In his version, Joseph alone(no Nicodemus mentioned) takes the body to the tomb, wraps it in linen. But no mention of spices or any thing else to treat the body.

    (This makes little sense, as a major reason for the spices was to deal with the smell of the corpse as it decomposed-perhaps as the sabbath was coming he felt he had no time. But this directly contradicts John’s account of Joseph and Nicodemus spicing the body before the Sabbath arrived).

    The women watching this go home and prepare the spices. On Sunday morning the women go to the tomb with the spices and perfumes they had prepared, presumably to treat the body.

    Mark’s account has Joseph alone asking Pilate for the body, taking it to the tomb and wrapping it, again no mention of spicing the body. The women go on Sunday with spices to annoint the body.

    Matthew doesn’t mention preparing the body with spices at all(and also leaves out Nicodemus).

    So, Chris or anyone else:

    Who exactly prepared Jesus’ body with the spices and perfumes?

    When did they do it? After the linen wrapping? While the linen wrapping took place?

    Remember, if these are factually accurate historical accounts, they have to match in these details.

  • C&C says:

    Interesting blog. The Resurrection is definitely the pivotal point in Christianity and if it is not true, then Christianity is truly suspect. The fact that the disciples waivered in the accounts in the Bible make it even more believable. They were just men like us! BUT they DID remember and then came to be the point men for spreading the truth of the Resurrection. Here’s a couple of points:
    1. In Luke 24:1-12 it recounts in verse 8 that “they remembered His words” about rising the 3rd day. They may have cowered at first, but eventually they came out forcefully and convincingly.
    2. Check this site for more information on “Contemporary Scholarship and Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
    We’ll look forward to your response.

    • John Drake says:


      They only remembered after the angel reminded them. That doesn’t speak well for them.

  • John Drake says:

    What, no takers? No one can answer who prepared the body?


    • Andy says:


      I guess I don’t really see any contradiction in the account of Jesus’ burial that you do. All four Gospels identify Joseph as the main person who buried Jesus. Some of the accounts go into more detail about who else was present than others, but that doesn’t make them contradictory accounts–it just means that some of the writers recorded details that the others didn’t.

      I don’t also see a problem with the timing of the spices. None of the accounts seem to place much importance on the exact timing, so it’s not spelled out. It’s clear that Joseph, Nicodemus, and/or the women applied the spices at some point at Jesus’ burial–it’s not critical that we know if they did this separately or together. It might be interesting to know, but I don’t see how it raises any serious questions about the burial account.

      If the similarities and differences in the Gospel accounts interest you, much has been written about them over the years. There’s a brief overview here and many other books and websites if the topic interests you.

  • John Drake says:

    Why would the women go on Sunday to annoint a body that was already entombed and annointed two days earlier?

    They’d have to unwrap the body to do it, and that would make them unclean.

    The only way this makes sense is as an invention by the writer to give them some reason to go to the tomb on Sunday so they could dramatically “discover” Jesus’ body was gone.

  • Andy says:

    Hi John,

    Are you sure that the only, or even the most likely, way it makes sense is that the whole scene was invented?

    That’s one possible interpretation. But I can think of plenty of other reasons that the women may have done this. Maybe they wanted to pay final respects to their beloved teacher one last time, anointing the body the way Mary had done earlier? Maybe they wanted to assure themselves that Jesus really was dead, and that his body had been appropriately prepared? Maybe they vaguely remembered something from Jesus’ teaching about “three days” and wanted an excuse to go assure themselves that he was really dead and gone? Maybe they had another religious or personal reason for doing so? This was a group of people whose teacher had just been brutally executed and who feared the same thing might happen to them–who can say exactly what would motivate their actions? Some of these reasons might be more likely than others, but can you really say that you can’t think of *any* reasonable reason they might have gone to visit the tomb?

    I guess the broader point is simply that we don’t know, because the Gospel account doesn’t deem their exact reasoning important enough to the core of the story. Remember how relatively brief the Easter account is–the Easter accounts just give us the major events of the story. All throughout the Bible there are plenty of places where it would be really nice to know what certain people were thinking, or why they made the choices they did. But jumping from this lack of detailed explanations to the conclusion that the account was invented for narrative reasons isn’t logical.

  • John Drake says:

    Well, the other factor is this: we really don’t know who wrote these accounts.

    Granted that they were written in Greek, which we’d probably all agree upon, it feels unlikely any of the 12 wrote them. Greek was the language of highly educated, city-dwelling, upper-class folk of the day. Jesus’ followers were illiterate peasants.

    If you can’t identify the writers with any degree of certainty, then their “testimony” becomes an anonymous repetition of un-examinable hear-say.

    That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. But it makes it less reasonable to accept the “stories” as any anything other than that: stories. Stories that may contain truth or may not.


    • Chris Salzman says:

      “Granted that they were written in Greek, which we’d probably all agree upon, it feels unlikely any of the 12 wrote them”

      Agreed that they were written in Greek, but why do you feel that it’s unlikely any of the 12 wrote them? Most New Testament scholars agree that at least Luke and John were written by their namesake. If Mark and Matthew weren’t, they were definitely written by someone close to Jesus and the first century Christians.

      “Jesus’ followers were illiterate peasants.”

      I’m not sure if we can make this call. Some of them were fishermen when Jesus invited them to join him. Philip is shown to be speaking Greek in John 12.

      All of them were following a highly educated and intelligent (even if you doubt his divinity) Rabbi. It seems to me that Jesus would have taken some time to educate the people that were following him.

      “If you can’t identify the writers with any degree of certainty, then their “testimony” becomes an anonymous repetition of un-examinable hear-say.”

      Would you wish me to disregard your comment as un-examinable hear-say because I don’t 100% know that your real name is John? Probably not.

      I do think it’s important to realize that the authors (no matter who they were) were writing in a vastly different culture than ours. Authorship and credit was clearly not as important back then as it is to us.

      Whatever comes of the endless debate (and it will be endless because we will never know beyond a shadow of a doubt) the documents still exist and many many many people do believe that they have and will help people change their lives.

      I would encourage you to pick up a few books on the subject of New Testament studies from a wide variety of people (people that genuinely believe it and people that don’t), and better yet read through the Bible itself. And even better yet, find a good Christian friend or pastor or a community online that can really take the time to help you think through some of these issues. They’ll be able to do a much better job than we will in answering your questions.

  • Mike Guido says:

    Reply to John Drake.

    Who spiced the body of Jesus?

    Let’s look at a crime scene that took place yesterday. The police ask questions of anyone connected to the crime and everyone who saw what happened.

    Not everyone will have the same level detail or tell exactly the same story. Everyone may have different parts of the story and everyone may be correct in their witness of the events.

    Just because a gospel writer does not mention Nicodemus doesn’t mean he wasn’t there. Just because the women also prepared spices doesn’t mean that Joseph & Nicodemus had already spiced the body of Jesus. The women may not have been aware that Joseph & Nicodemus had spiced the body. Joseph & Nicodemus may have spiced the body in the tomb out of the sight of the women. In that day and age there was absolutely no reason for Joseph & Nicodemus to tell anything to a woman, a bunch of fishermen or anyone else for that matter.

    Also note that the crucifixion was likely on Wednesday and the body of Jesus was placed in the tomb at sunset on Wednesday. The next day was the Passover, also considered a Sabbath day. The women purchased spices on Friday which is after the Sabbath (Mark 16:1 – Passover) and before the Sabbath (Luke 23:56 – Saturday). Remembering that the Hebrew day starts at sunset; Jesus would be in the tomb Thursday night; Thursday day; Friday night; Friday day; Saturday night and Saturday day; 3 days and 3 nights. Jesus was resurrected at sunset on Saturday, not at sunrise on Sunday morning. The stone was rolled back to let people in not to let Jesus out.

    Also, the disciples may have remembered what Jesus said about being raised from the dead on the 3rd day, but they didn’t believe it (Mark 16:11).

  • Daniel says:

    I too have questions like John, however the herbs and info like that does not matter as much to me as it clearly does him. Those questions I can and have by-passed. My question is in the actual account of the resurrection itself. In all four accounts the people who discover the body, and what they saw including number of angels or any angels at all, completely vary. I understand the theory that it is a time of great sadness and that these men may not remember everything. However that is where my doubt lies.
    With that explanation you have to assume that their sadness and emotion create confusion in their accounts. But if, as the bible states, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” then god the bible comes from one source. God. If it is written by men then it is flawed and the resurrection is in doubt, but if it is written by God or one source the stories should agree on at least who and what were at the Resurrection. Since they don’t and the only reason you can give is that the men were distraught, does that not mean that bible was written by men not God?

    I was baptized and this question after the fact has greatly bothered my faith, if anyone can give me a answer to this I would be very grateful.