It’s not surprising that Rollins College Professor Areej Zufari believes, as do other Muslims, that Jesus Christ was not resurrected and that his earliest followers did not view him as God, contrary to the Bible and the belief of billions of Christians worldwide through the centuries.
The reality is, however, that reams of research by secular and Christian experts from multiple disciplines in recent years demonstrate that the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion — as described in the New Testament — is among the most solidly documentable facts of ancient history. (RELATED: “Muslim Prof Insists Jesus Wasn’t Crucified, Christian Student Suspended After Disagreeing.”)
As Christian apologist Josh McDowell explains: “After spending more than 700 hours studying this subject and thoroughly investigating its foundation, I came to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on humanity, or it is the most important fact in history.”
Being an investigative journalist, McDowell’s analysis makes sense to me. So, here are three questions for Professor Zufari:
Who got the body if Jesus was not resurrected? As the New Testament makes clear, Jesus repeatedly predicted his death and resurrection prior to the gruesome event. That’s why leaders of the Jewish Sanhedrin that controlled Jerusalem, subject only to the Romans, insisted on a Roman guard on Jesus’ tomb.
That’s significant for two reasons: The Romans crucified Jesus, which means the Roman seal was placed on his tomb after burial. The penalty for breaking that seal was death. The same penalty was imposed on the Roman guard if it failed in its duty. Yet all of the accounts agree there was no body in the tomb when Mary Magdalene and the other women arrived on the third day after Jesus’ death.
Either Jesus’ friends or his enemies got the body. But how could the disciples – scared, scattered and suspected by the authorities – suddenly gather themselves together from their grief to plan and carry out a successful attack on the Roman guard at the tomb? They almost certainly would have been sliced and diced in short order by the Roman guards.
His enemies didn’t remove his body from the tomb either, because if they had done so, they would have rolled the decaying corpse down Main Street Jerusalem weeks later when the Peter and the other disciples put the city in an uproar by claiming Jesus had been resurrected. Had the authorities done that, it would have ended Christianity forever.
Why would the disciples die for a lie? Is it reasonable to think the disciples knew Jesus’ resurrection was a fable, but went ahead for whatever reasons and proclaimed it as truth? Ask yourself – would you go to what you knew would be a horrendous death for telling the world what you knew to be false? Me neither.
Yet all but one of the original disciples went to their graves insisting to all who would listen that Jesus had been resurrected and that they had talked to him. Six of them were crucified, while two were killed with the sword, one with a spear and one with an arrow. Surely, if the resurrection claim was a lie, at least one of the disciples would have confessed when subjected to torture.
Was Jesus lord, liar or lunatic? “Before Abraham was, I am” was Jesus’ claim to divinity (see John 8:58). If he made that claim knowing it to be untrue, then he was a liar, yet there is nothing in his life to indicate he lived like a liar. And wouldn’t he have renounced his claim at his trial since he was charged with the capital crime of blasphemy – making himself equal to God?
OK, then couldn’t he have believed that he was divine, even though it wasn’t true? After all, lunatics come along regularly claiming to be Jesus or God or some other allegedly divine being. But lunatics don’t live the kind of life Jesus lived, counseling his followers to turn the other cheek, to love others as themselves, to pour out their lives in service to others, and so forth.
If he wasn’t a liar or a lunatic, that only leaves one other option. We could go on and on and on in this vein but here’s a better way – check out McDowell’s classic “More Than A Carpenter.” It’s a concise, rigorously researched and enjoyable classic summary of mountains of evidence and analysis demonstrating the truth of Jesus claims.
So, Professor Zufari, check it out and then share your answers to these three simple questions. I’ll even send you – or anybody else who asks, for that matter – a copy of McDowell’s excellent little treatise. It just might be the most important book you’ve ever read.
Mark Tapscott is executive editor and chief of the Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.