Description: Jesus' proof of divinity by resurrection - well substantiated proofs
What is the Meaning of Life?
More Evidence for the Resurrection
by Ernest O’Neill
Did Jesus actually destroy death? Did he actually rise from the dead? You may say, “Big deal, why is it
important?” Well, there is no other man in the history of the human race who has even appeared to be able to
break the barrier of death.
Lots of gurus have claimed to be able to do it. Lots of con men have pretended that they did it. Yet, nobody,
including Muhammad and Buddha and Zoroaster and all the other great religious leaders, nobody else has
actually given evidence in history that they have destroyed death.
This man Jesus has. Why is that important? It is important because we are trying to answer the question, “Why
are we alive? What is the meaning of life?” It seems that any of us who give answers to that question share
all the limitations of the rest of the human beings in the world. That is, we have never been off the earth.
We don’t know what happened before we came to it; we don’t know what will happen after we leave. We don’t seem
able to break the time barrier of our own very short lives. So anything we say about what the meaning of life
is or how it came to be here is rather meaningless, because we know only what happens in our own seventy or
What we need is some man who has broken that barrier, someone who has lived beyond himself and who has lived
beyond the span of his life here on earth, and seems to know something about space beyond what we have found
out with our space shots.
Now, this man Jesus is the only one who has ever appeared to have done that. One of the reasons we say that is
that he not only talked like the Son of the Creator of the world, but he acted like the Son of the Maker of
He not only lived a perfect life, he not only gave the most exalted ethical teaching the world has ever heard,
but, above all else, he died and then came back to life again after three days and appeared to friends and
enemies alike for about a month. Then he vanished from the earth forever. His bones have never been found.
That’s why we believe that he’s more than just a human being. That’s why we believe he’s speaking truth when
he talked as if he had visited the Creator of the world and came back after his resurrection. You may say,
“Well, aren’t there other explanations?”
It’s very hard to find any explanation that is as rational and as reasonable and believable as the historical
evidence for the resurrection itself. One scholar has said, “There is no historical event that is so
documented, that is so reinforced logically, legally, psychologically, socially, philosophically,
semantically; there is no other event that is so substantiated as the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.”
Why do we say that? Because there are two facts that are very hard to get rid of. One is the empty tomb itself
and the other is the resurrection appearances. What about the empty tomb? It is interesting to see that right
from the earliest times, there was an attempt to deceive all of us about the man’s resurrection.
There is this record that occurs in one of the books of the New Testament. It is a manuscript that is backed
up not only by the Sinaiticus and the Alexandrinus that you can see in the British Museum, but also by other
manuscripts, almost 4,000 of them. They reinforce that when we are reading what I am about to read to you, we
are reading history that is more carefully substantiated than any other history that we have of the time.
Here is the way it runs in Matthew 28 and verse 11, “While they were going, behold the guard went into the
city and told the chief priest all that had taken place. When they had assembled with the elders and taken
counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers and said, ‘Tell people, “His disciples came by night and
stole him away while we were asleep.” If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you
out of trouble.’ So they took the money and did as they were directed and the story has been spread among the
Jews to this day.” It is interesting that though there was that early attempt to spread a lie, the lie has
remained a lie and has been recorded as a lie by the historical authorities.
In fact, we have the fact recorded that he rose from the dead and that his disciples did not steal the body,
but that he did rise from the dead. Now some say, maybe his disciples stole the body. They might have been so
taken up with this great man that they had followed so faithfully and were so ambitious for their own lives
and their own positions that maybe they thought they would make him out to be a god. They went further and
stole the body and then claimed that he had risen from the dead.
Now, one of the difficulties with that is that men will die for what they believe is true, but they will not
die for what they know to be a lie. Men will die for what they think is true, but they will never die for
something they know to be a downright lie. In other words, it was their preaching that he rose from the dead
that caused them and their children to be fed to the lions and to be crucified. Now, men will not die and take
their children to death for something that they themselves know to be a lie that they made up.
So, when we talk about his disciples stealing the body and then preaching that he was alive, we are asking
ourselves to believe an ethical and a psychological impossibility. It is something that you or I wouldn’t do.
We would not make up a lie and then die for it and cause the death of our children and our relatives. We would
refuse to do that.
Eventually we would confess that it was a lie and that we just made it up. We would talk about his teaching
and his life, because that’s the important thing. But we wouldn’t hold on to a story about his rising from the
dead. So, there is an ethical and psychological impossibility to believing that his disciples stole the body.
Some have said that maybe the Romans stole the body. After all, he was a nuisance to them. He was someone they
wanted rid of as quickly as possible. He was someone who was causing unrest in the empire. So, maybe the
Romans stole the body so the Jewish people wouldn’t have yet another martyr to band behind and rebel against
the rule of the emperor.
Well, if they did, then they had a very easy way to squash the idea of his resurrection. All they had to do
was to take the body they had stolen and parade it through the streets of Jerusalem. So, if the Romans stole
the body, all they had to do was put it on a cart and haul it through the streets and say, “Look, there’s your
great, divine being. There is your Son of God. He was just a man like the rest of you.”
In other words, you can’t argue that the Romans stole the body, because if they did, they had right there the
best argument to destroy Christianity that anybody could possibly possess.
Now others say that maybe he just swooned. He didn’t really die on the cross; he just swooned. Later, in the
cool and damp of the tomb, he recovered and regained consciousness. Now, this is a more difficult explanation
to accept than the idea of the resurrection itself. The reason is that the Romans were the experts in death.
They were not only the experts in death, but, you remember, they first checked crucifixion victims if they
were dead, and then they went further and broke their legs if they weren’t dead.
Now, they didn’t break the legs of Jesus. They simply put a spear into his side and out came blood and water,
so that they were sure beyond all doubt that he was dead. So, first of all, they were the experts in killing.
Secondly, it is a greater miracle to believe that in the dampness of the tomb, after suffering the dreadful
wounds of the crucifixion, he not only revived, but was able to unbind the burial clothes that bound him and
roll back the stone from the tomb, and then appear alive and well. It is more difficult to believe that than
to believe in the resurrection itself.
No, it seems that this man did destroy death. Let’s talk more about it next time.