The Resurrection: Magic or Miracle?

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We have all been to a magic show or have at least seen magic done before at one point in our lives. We stare in amazement at the wonderful illusions performed by the magician only to later realize that really, it’s just some cheap trick. We have all heard the fairytales of wizards, witches and warlocks, conducting potions and casting spells. We grew up on them as entertainment. For these reasons, we naturally develop a skepticism toward the supernatural. I can understand why miracles would be no different for someone who doesn’t know Christ. It can be hard to accept that miraculous things can and have happened. Especially when the only things you have been influenced by were illusions and cheap tricks.

However, by not believing in miracles and simply dismissing the possibility you are in turn professing a naturalistic worldview, declaring that everything created is governed naturally. That there is no spiritual realm if you will. When you look at any culture, it is evident that some sort of spiritual realm is recognized. I think that is important to note, that while you may not believe in miracles, that does not mean that they do not happen. Craig Keener writes in his book; Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts : “ it is nevertheless clear that miracles can occur despite some participants’ lack of faith”

We all know the stories of the various miracles in the Bible even if you don’t believe them. While it is important to note that many of these miracles have a very solid foundation as fact, for now I will simply discuss the most important one; the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think that it is safe to say that much of the Christian faith relies solely on the fact the Jesus rose from the grave. This is the foundation of the faith. True, Christians use the Bible as a reference point for this belief, however you do not need to look at scripture to realize that it really did happen. There are three widely accepted facts surrounding the resurrection of Christ: The empty tomb, Jesus’ resurrected body, and the testimonies and deaths of His followers.

The Empty Tomb

The stone was rolled away! That’s right, it’s a fact the tomb was empty. Most scholars can attest that three days after the death of Christ, his burial tomb was vacant. Despite the fact that this was recorded by multiple different sources, (Including Mark which was very early after the crucifixion) scripture also says that women discovered it. If the tomb wasn’t actually empty -and this was a lie, the authors attesting to it would not have written that women found the grave. In the Jewish culture at the time women’s testimonies were considered worthless. Furthermore, the Jewish leaders tried to bribe the guards at the tomb. They tried to get them to say that the disciples stole the body of Christ! Why would the Jewish leaders attempt a bribe if the tomb was not in fact empty?

Jesus Resurrected Body

Even liberal critics will agree that many people saw what they believed to be Christ’s resurrected body. In his book; The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Gabriel R. Habermas reminds us, “Atheistic New Testament scholar Gerd Ludemann concludes, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.” Paul (someone who used to persecute Christians) is among these to testify to such a matter. The four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John collaborate Paul’s story. Furthermore, Paul attests that over five hundred people saw Jesus’ resurrected body. He writes in 1 Corinthians that, “many are still alive” at the time of his writing. This means that when Paul wrote this letter, there were still people alive to attest that Jesus’ resurrection was factual and actually saw Him their selves.

The Testimonies of the Apostles

Perhaps one of the most convincing arguments supporting the resurrection of Christ is the testimonies of His followers. Before the resurrection Jesus’ disciples were hiding from the Romans, scared of what may happen. It was clear that a radical change took place after three days. All of the sudden, the disciples reemerged and boldly declared their faith, no longer scared or afraid. In fact, the majority of Jesus’ followers died proclaiming their faith in Christ. For example, Paul was be-headed, and Peter was crucified upside down in Rome under the emperor Nero. These men believe so strongly in the resurrection of Jesus that they gave their lives in defense of it. Many faced much more persecution than that before their death. They were imprisoned, beaten, and humiliated. Some were to be boiled alive and tortured. Why would these men do this? Why give up your life for something that you know to be fabricated? If these men followed Jesus and believed His teachings- and upon His death they realized the teachings to be false, why continue the charade of a dead man? What benefit would it be for these men to be persecuted for nothing? The simple conclusion is that these men did not die in defense of a lie, but rather supporting the truth. They knew what they saw, Thomas stuck his fingers through the holes in Jesus’ hands. The Savior had risen, and they saw Him with their own eyes. They died… because they knew that Jesus lived.

In conclusion, there are many things that point to the validity of the resurrection, not only the Bible itself. The greatest miracle of all is the resurrection, it is by far the most important in regard to humanity. In his book; Miracles, C.S. Lewis states, “Death and resurrection are what the story is about and had we but eyes to see it, this has been hinted on every page, met us, in some disguise, at every turn, and even been muttered in conversations between such minor characters (if they are minor characters) as the vegetables.” The resurrection is not some cheap trick or illusion that you can purchase at the gift shop. It is not some magic potion or spell that leaves you questioning the truth. It is truth. The stone was empty, Jesus was not there three days after His death. Over five hundred people saw the resurrected Christ in person. The resurrection of Christ is a belief that was worth dying for thousands of years ago and is still worth dying for today.

References

Chatraw, Joshua D. & Mark. D. Allen. (2018). Apologetics At The Cross: An Introduction for Christian Witness. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (2001). Minneapolis, MN.: Crossway.

Keener, Craig. Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (2 Vols). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.

Lewis, C. S. Miracles. London & Glasgow: Collins/Fontana, 1947. Revised 1960

Habermas, Gary & Michael Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: 2004.

2 comments

  1. Wonderful, thanks for sharing this! Thinking about magic tricks, the illusion ‘works’ because the trained magician has diverted the attention of his audience, thus enabling the trick to happen. For the follower of Christ, we must train ourselves to be ever-focused on the Lord. As we do, we are less likely to be ‘tricked’ by some flashy show.
    Blessings,
    Pastor Chuck

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agreed! -and one you sift through the smoke and mirrors you can find the truth. The same goes for Christianity. We face distractions, diverted attention, and illusions on a daily basis. It is up to us find truth -not subjective truth but absolute, and that can only be found in our Creator.
      God Bless you and Thanks for your insight, I really appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

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