Did Jesus Really Resurrect From The Dead?

Did Everyone Believe In The Resurrection Of Jesus???

The exact day on which Jesus was crucified may be a matter of dispute. But it would appear that within a few days Jesus had recouped sufficiently to walk to the vicinity of the tomb in which he was supposed to have been buried. He knew that even if no one else came to visit the tomb, Mary Magdalene would with the intention of anointing his body with oil. This confidence may have stemmed because of a special relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, whom he, by many accounts loved especially.

Doubting Thomas

My own pencil drawing of Doubting Thomas

According to the Gospel of John (John 20:1-18) Mary Magdalene went to the tomb shortly before dawn. When she saw the tomb open, she thought that someone had moved the body of Jesus and ran to tell Peter and an unidentified disciple what she had seen. Peter and the unnamed disciple went back with Mary Magdalene and when they found the tomb empty, they left. But Mary Magdalene sat nearby and wept. She hoped that someone would come along who had information about the body of Jesus.

Mary Magdalene Mistook The Resurrected Jesus For The Gardener

When she suddenly turned she saw a man, who she thought was the gardener. According to John 20:14-16, this man asked Mary Magdalene “Woman why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Mary Magdalene responded, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” It wasn’t until Jesus called her by name and when she did she cried out to him “Rabboni” (teacher in Aramaic). The important factor to note is that someone so dear to Jesus was not able to recognize him and mistook him for the gardener. The reason for this is probably because this was not a resurrected Jesus but a resuscitated Jesus. His face, body and demeanor showed evidence of the ordeals of crucifixion. According to resurrection narratives if the angels could have appeared in radiant white garments, there is no reason why Jesus should have appeared in the garments of a gardener.

Doubting Thomas

It was not just Mary Magdalene that did not recognize the post-crucifixion Jesus. Jesus is said to have appeared to Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus. They too did not recognize Jesus initially.  It is said that at first “their eyes were holden” Luke 24:16. It is not certain if the other disciples to whom he appeared also had difficulty recognizing him. This probably gave rise to the moniker “doubting Thomas”.

In spite of six resurrection predictions the women who went the tomb with their spices that morning were expecting to find the remains of Jesus. They went there for the sole purpose of anointing the decaying body of Jesus (1). Resurrection was the last thing they had expected to witness. This is the case even with the apostles who went there later to investigate the empty tomb.

Besides if Jesus had indeed resurrected why would he appear to Mary Magdalene disguised as a gardener? And why would he ask the eleven disciples to meet him atop a mountain in Galilee and not meet him somewhere in Jerusalem itself? If he had indeed resurrected he may have had the flesh and bones of a human being, but he would have nevertheless been divine. He would then have had nothing to fear from the Jewish elders or the Romans who were responsible for his crucifixion.

Inconsistencies Regarding The Resurrection Narratives

The inconsistencies regarding the resurrection narratives are itself an indication that the resurrection was a later day concoction to match Old Testament prophecies retrospectively.  The reason why Jesus asked his disciples to meet him atop a mountain in Galilee may have been to avoid being detected by the Jewish elders. But did he indeed ask for something so unreasonable?  Depending on where this mountain is in Galilee we are talking about a distance of 60-100 miles. This message about the meeting was delivered by the angel to Mary Magdalene after the sun had risen. And she would have had to convey this instruction to the disciples either in person or through Peter to the disciples who it is rational to assume were hiding in different places. And even if this information was successfully passed on, would it have been possible for 11 not so young men to walk or even run that distance to reach their destination that same day?

According to Mark (16:7) the messenger of God told the women “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he (Jesus) goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.” According to Matt (28:7-10), the message was a little different. It was “And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he (Jesus) goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him.” According to Matthew the meeting with the disciples in Galilee must have been the first. “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted”. (Matt 28:16-17). If the disciples had seen Jesus earlier there was no question of any doubt. Mark agrees with the first meeting narration of Matthew.

However Luke and John have different versions of Jesus’ first appearance other than the one to the women. Luke says that the first appearance was on the road to Emmaus and then in a room in Jerusalem. According to John the first appearance was in the evening in a room where Thomas was not present. These are not the only discrepancies regarding the resurrection. There is no consensus between the Gospels regarding the time the women visited the tomb, who these women were, what the messengers of God said, to who Jesus first appeared after the crucifixion and where this first appearance took place.

Different Narrations As Regards The Guards At The Tomb

There are different narrations even as regards the guards at the tomb. When it was found that the tomb of Jesus was empty, according to Matthew, the guards report the incident to Pilate. This would make the guards Roman. But according to Peter, the guards report the empty tomb to the chief priest. This would mean that the guards Jewish. If in fact the guards were Roman, they would have been executed for dereliction of duty. And as there is no report of such an eventuality, it would appear that the guards were Jewish (2).

According to (Matthew 28:1–4) an angel rolled away the stone that sealed the tomb of Jesus. And according to (Matthew 28:11–15) the chief priests bribed the soldiers to say that the apostles had stolen the body of Jesus. According to some scholars that it was specially decreed by that “graves and tombs lie undisturbed forever” and that tomb robbers be “executed for tomb robbery” in reaction to the Christian claim that Jesus had resurrected (3).

In Acts and the Gospel of Luke we are told that the disciples were commanded to stay in Jerusalem. We are also told that this is where they met Jesus (see Acts 1:4 and Luke 24:33, 47, 49). In Matthew 28:10 and Mark 16:6-7, we learn that the disciples are asked to go to Galilee, and in Matthew 28:16-18, we are told they meet Jesus there, not in or near Jerusalem.

Jesus appears to the disciples

(Fig 2) The resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples

Based on what Mark, Matthew, and John say we can assume that Jesus’ first post-crucifixion appearance was to Mary Magdalene. However for the next several days Jesus began to meet with his disciples. In spite of the fact that these meetings were clandestine it began to add credence to the suspicion of the Jewish elders that Jesus did not die on the cross. These appearances were probably against the advice of Joseph of Arimathea. It is likely that with the exception Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene, young Juda and a handful of Essenes, no one else was aware that Jesus did not die on the cross. When Joseph of Arimathea began to feel that it was no longer safe for Jesus to stay at his house he asked the Essenes to take Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Juda to Ephesus, where Mary his mother and John the beloved disciple were already relocated.

References:

(1) The Resurrection of Jesus. (n.d.). Retrieved 2012, from http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Luke/Resurrection-Jesus

(2) Craig, Dr. Willaim Lane. (2012). Retrieved 2012 from  http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?60412-Peter-Kirby-will-speak-in-Los-Angeles/page2

(3) Hinckley, Gordon B. “The Son of God,” Ensign, December 1992, Retrieved 2013 from  http://rsc.byu.edu/easterconference/2007/roundtable

Picture Credits:

(Fig 2)  https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=637&q=resurrected+jesus+appears+to+the+apostles&oq=resurrected+jesus+appears+to+the+apostles&gs_l=img.3…2903.14627.0.15069.41.16.0.25.25.0.180.1695.8j8.16.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.29.1753.YUilnNq1H1Y#imgrc=5o2_HSKVPhREEM%3A

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