The Cross and the Resurrection

Shane Willard

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That statement misses two important things: 1) it totally discounts the fact that the Bible has historical validity. It treats the Bible as some spiritual book that's all written on a level of analogy - that's what it treats it as. Any time you're dealing with a book that's dealing on a level of analogy, you can manipulate it here and there; but it totally discredited the historical validity of the Bible. 2) it infers the fact that the Bible is one document. So what he was inferring was we have this one book called the Bible, and the beginning seems to indicate that we need a saviour, and the end seems to indicate we need a saviour, so they manipulated the middle to make the beginning and the end fit. You know what? If the Bible was one book, he would have a good point; but here's what he's missing - the Bible is not one book; and let me help you with something. Christians do not believe in the resurrection simply because the Bible says so. It's not that simple, because the Bible is not just one book. The Bible is 66 books. Its 66 books, and it has historical validity.

When you send your children to school, they study history - hopefully. All of our world history books come from mainly two sources: the Gallic Wars and Tacitus' work. So you've got an historian named Tacitus, who wrote about the Caesars for them; and you've got a guy who wrote the Gallic Wars. The Gallic Wars, we have five copies of those manuscripts, and our world history books are based on them. Tacitus' work, we have nine copies of his manuscripts, and our world history books are based on them. Now let me ask you a question further. If our world history books are based on Tacitus' work, and Tacitus was employed by Caesar to write about the Roman Empire, do you think it's possible that some of his writings would have been biased in favour of Caesar? Why? Because he'd have got his head cut off otherwise right? So we have five manuscripts of the Gallic Wars, and nine manuscripts of Tacitus' work; we base our entire world history based on them, and no one questions whether or not it's valid. Yet Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts - we have 5,000 manuscripts of them, and they all say roughly the same thing, and it wasn't about a Caesar. It was about a Jewish carpenter who happened to be a rabbi.

So these things survived. If you put the resurrection on trial, and you were the jury, and I was the lawyer, here would be my case:

1) you have seven sworn witnesses that it happened. In the New Testament, seven different men wrote in their writings that they either saw what happened, or they talked to enough people who saw what happened, that it was credible. Here were the four men: you've got Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James and Peter. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James and Peter, so you have four businessmen, Jesus' brother, a Jewish theologian, and you have a medical doctor. All seven of these people said that there was clearly enough evidence; either they saw it with their own eyes, or they'd heard enough testimony to say: wait a minute, no, this happened.

2) Of these seven witnesses, 5,000 of their manuscripts survived. Now if you talk to anybody about textural criticism about any piece of literature, if you have 5,000 manuscripts that did survive, you've got a ton more over 2,000 years who didn't survive. So the fact that 5,000 manuscripts survived, about the witness of seven people, actually bodes very, very well. It bodes very well.

3) They were not predisposed to believe in the resurrection. None of them were predisposed to believe in it; so it wasn't like they wanted to believe it so bad, that they had to go find it. It wasn't that at all. As a matter of fact, it was the exact opposite. Every time Jesus tried to warn them that the resurrection, and the crucifixion, and all of that was going to take place, every time - they just didn't get it. It always says: they didn't understand what He was saying; like there was one really embarrassing time, where Jesus is having a real sort of gut-wrenching moment with them. He's like: don't you understand that the son of man is going to suffer at the hands of men? It's going to be horrible! He's going to die - but when you see these things, do not fret, because He's going to rise again.