Last Sunday millions of Christians celebrated Easter. But if the bones
of Jesus were found tomorrow, would you walk away from Christianity?
Why? Because faith in a dead Jesus is worthless. Even the Apostle Paul
says so. In I Corinthians 15:14, he writes, “if Christ has not been
raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Did you catch
that? The bones of Jesus would make our faith useless.
C’mon Paul, isn’t that kind of harsh? No and here’s why. Imagine a
group of people who have dedicated their lives to Peter Pan. They
construct a beautiful building to gather in celebration of Pan’s life.
They sing songs to him and tell stories about his wonderful deeds. What
would you think about such a group? What a waste of life. Peter Pan
is a fairytale. We should feel sorry for such people.
Well, if Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave, then Christianity is a
fairytale. Just like Peter Pan, it’s make believe and Christians are
wasting their lives. And what should people think about us? Paul
concludes that if Christ hasn’t been raised, “we are to be pitied more
than all men” (verse 19).
So, when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus, what’s at stake for
How in the world do we show that a 2,000-year-old event actually
happened? Mary Magdalene didn’t whip out her flip camera and record
footage of the resurrected Jesus. The disciples didn’t snap
post-resurrection photos on their iPhones and then upload them to
Facebook for all their friends to see. So what’s a historian to do?
Two things in particular:
#1 – Find the facts: Historians rely on historical data like
archeology, ancient documents and recorded eyewitness testimony to
reconstruct the past. In addition, certain principles guide them in
determining which historical accounts are reliable and which are not.
For example, if there are several independent sources reporting the same
event, that’s pretty reliable history. If those sources are actual
eyewitnesses and not secondhand reports, that’s pretty reliable
history. If those eyewitness accounts are closer in time to the actual
event, that’s pretty reliable history. Given this process of
investigation, historians can discover historical facts.
#2 – Find the best explanation: Once the historian has gathered
her facts, she looks for an explanation that fits the facts. She has to
determine if the facts support an alleged historical event. Sometimes
she concludes “yes” and sometimes “no.” There are plenty of times when
there just aren’t enough facts so the historian simply says, “We don’t
know what really happened.” Since there is no video footage for most of
human history, the honest historian does her best to the follow the
facts to the best possible explanation.