That’s a question that a lot of people have and we can even ask questions like: Was Jesus really born? Did he really live? Was he really the Son of God?
I’m not going to talk about those today, simply because there’s actually a bit of independent evidence that Jesus was alive, did live, did have a ministry and did preach the gospel.
There was at least one Roman and one Jewish historian that talked about Jesus; even the Talmud talks about Jesus being there. They don’t do it in a very pleasing light, it’s pretty negative stuff (they didn’t want to admit that Jesus was the Son of God, they didn’t want to admit they did anything wrong), but they do talk about Jesus.
So there’s a lot of evidence that Jesus really was here on planet Earth. Of course, there’s no evidence that Jesus was the Son of God, that’s a matter of faith. There’s nothing to prove that. We don’t have Jesus DNA to prove that he was God’s Son.
But then again, we don’t have God’s DNA either (assuming God has DNA, we don’t have it. God may not even have DNA, we don’t know).
Let’s talk about whether Jesus really rose from the dead. There are independent sources that talk about Jesus’ death, so we know that he died and we know that he was crucified. There’s a Roman historian that actually wrote about the death of Jesus, and talks about Jesus brother James, and how Jesus and James were crucified. Or, Jesus was crucified, I believe James was stoned to death.
But Did Jesus really rise from the dead? I’m going to pick on Matthew a bit more because, well, Luke wasn’t there. Luke’s Gospel came about because he went around to a bunch of people and talked about Jesus’ life and created the Gospel of Luke based off of that.
Mark doesn’t really get into the Roman soldier part of it much and neither does John. They more focus on Jesus’ not being there (in the tomb), which is really where our focus should be. But I know that there are a lot of questions about whether Jesus really did rise from the dead
If we look at Matthew 27:62-66, this talks about the Roman guard, because the Pharisees knew that Jesus had said: “kill me and I will rise in three days.” They knew that he had said that more than once so they wanted to make sure that the Jesus’ disciples would not come in the night and steal the body away and claim that Jesus had risen from the dead.
They (the religious leaders) asked Pontius Pilate to put a guard over the tomb.
Rome did not do anything small in those days. So, when, when a guard was placed somewhere, it’s not like today where you see two soldiers standing on each side of a doorway, or something like that. If there was a Roman guard somewhere, it was generally a contingent of 10 to 30 people.
And these weren’t just regular people that were standing around and wandering about, these were Roman soldiers. They were trained and conditioned to follow orders. If they were told to stay up all night and guard something, they stayed up all night and guarding something.
It was very common for Rome to execute soldiers that didn’t do what they were told as an example to other soldiers. These soldiers would do what they were supposed to do. And even if one or two or five of these soldiers fell asleep on the on the job, the other soldiers would come by and probably kick him and wake him up and tell them to get back on their feet because one had to stay awake all night, all of them did.
And here’s, here’s what I find interesting about Matthew. I think that these guards were pretty darn smart, because imagine yourself a Roman guard, guarding a tomb. And your only job is to make sure that this tomb doesn’t get disturbed. T
hen all of a sudden, in the middle of the night, a dazzling white light hits you and everybody else, and you realize that inside of that dazzling white light, it looks like there’s a person. Then, with no effort, that person roll this huge stone away. A stone that took several people to put into place gets rolled away with no effort by this one person.
And it actually says in Matthew 28 that the Roman soldiers were so stunned that they acted like they were dead. I think I would too if I saw that.
These guards were smart. They had just witnessed a miracle. In the blink of an eye, this mighty man comes and rolls the rock away. He leads Jesus out of the tomb, and they leave.
These Roman soldiers, though, are sitting there thinking, “great. Now, what do I do? Because if I go to my Roman superiors and tell them, Well, an angel grabbed Jesus and they both walked away, they’re going to execute me for not doing my job and guarding the tomb.”
What do they do? They go to the religious leaders, but not their own religious leaders, because this has nothing to do with their religion. They go to the Jewish religious leaders, hoping that these Jewish religious leaders would have an answer for them.
But it wasn’t all the soldiers it was just some of them. I believe some of the soldiers ran away and just abandon their post and went AWOL, absent without leave, took off, ran away.
How do you explain something like that? If I was a Roman soldier in those in those days, and something otherworldly happened that was way beyond my control; and I witnessed it, but I knew that my bosses were going to kill me because of something that I had no control over… I might just run away too.
I’m betting most of them probably ran away. A few of them, the Bible says, went to talk to the Jewish leaders and these Jewish leaders gave them a bunch of money to say that they had fallen asleep on the job.
And these Jewish leaders even told the Roman soldiers that if the Roman superiors said anything about it, if they were going to discipline them, that the Jewish leaders would intervene on their behalf and help them out.
Here’s the big question at this point: How do we know this? How do we know that Matthew 28:11-15 where it talks about what the Jewish leaders would do for the guards is real?
And how do we know in Matthew 27:62-66, where it talks about the Jewish leaders Going to Pilate, and asking for a Roman contingent to guard the tomb of Jesus? How do we know that this is true?
This is my thought because it is written in Matthew and not in the other gospels.
He probably had met Pilate at one point, or at least seen him. He would go into the Roman barracks and areas like that, and he knew Roman soldiers. My guess would be that some of the Romans were still his friends. And if he had Roman friends after he became a Christian, he may have even talked to them about Christ.
We know throughout the Bible that there were some Romans that secretly worshipped Jesus. They may not have done it publicly for whatever reason, but they secretly worshipped Jesus.
Maybe some of these Roman soldiers secretly did too. I’m not talking about the ones guarding the tomb, but maybe the ones that were part of Pilot’s personal guard, or something like that.
These are the people that Matthew would have known too, Being a tax collector, he’s not just going to give that tax money to any Roman soldier, it would have to be someone higher up so that they can get it to Pilate. And Pilate knows that he did his job. That’s why I think that Matthew may know some things that Mark and John didn’t know about the guards.
That’s why I think that he may have known about the Jewish leaders asking for the Roman guards to be there. That’s also why I think I think the Romans did go back to Pilate in time (the Romans that didn’t run away). They would have had to have gone to their leaders and explained things at some point.
It couldn’t have taken long for everyone to know that the tomb is empty. They had to have gone to their leaders.
They went to the Jewish leaders first, then they went to the Roman leaders, who started getting upset. And I would guess that the soldiers said, please talk to the Jewish leaders, they’ll explain everything.
That would be my guess, that’s what I would do.
But in the middle of all this, of course, were all these other people that were around Pilate constantly. And word probably could have eventually gotten to Matthew.
Now, I doubt that he heard it right then right away because he had run away. All the disciples had run away when Jesus was crucified because they didn’t want to get crucified as well. And their whole ideal about Jesus being the Son of God was blasted because Jesus died.
But I think later on, when things calmed down, that kind of kind of the calm in between the two storms, the storm when Jesus died, and the storm of Christianity really started going again, when Jesus came back, there was a period of time there, where it says that most of the disciples went back to what they knew.
Matthew may have gone back to collecting taxes; we don’t know what he did. Maybe he couldn’t collect taxes because people knew that he was a Christ follower, but who knows? The only reason that Pilate crucified Jesus was because he was forced into it. He didn’t have anything against Christ followers at that point, so Matthew may have gone back to being a tax collector, and may have started hearing stories about the soldiers and gotten firsthand information about what happened.
And to me, this is one of the reasons why I believe Matthew’s story. There are a lot of people that tried to poke holes into Matthew, distorting it. How would he know these things? The guards would never go to the Jewish leaders.
But, it, if you think about it the way that I talked about it, it kind of does make sense. And if it makes sense, then it makes sense that Jesus really did rise from the dead.
Because there’s nothing in the historical documents that talk about these Roman soldiers being crucified for the tomb being opened. As a matter of fact, other than Jesus being crucified, there’s nothing in historical documents that talks about where Jesus was laid to rest, what happened to the tomb, what happened after the tomb, other than in the Bible.
Remember, history is written by the whoever’s in charge. The people in charge were Rome and the Jewish leaders. They didn’t want people to think that Jesus was the Son of God, who would blow away the entire Roman religion. It would make the Jewish leaders look really bad because they had now crucified their own God, which of course they did.
But there’s no way they were going to admit it at the time. I mean, there are 1000s of Jewish people today that won’t admit it. But Christianity is the biggest religion in the entire world.
And yet, there’s still Jews that won’t admit that. Back then I think that’s why we see so little except for the Gospels themselves.
But here’s another reason why I think Jesus really did rise from the dead. Now, the Gospels talk about how Jesus came to individuals and came to the 11 disciples. But there’s also a reference in 1 Corinthians 15:6. Where it says that Jesus showed Himself over 400 people after He was resurrected. The interesting thing is that 1 Corinthians was written right around 53 to 54. AD. Jesus died in 33 AD. In fact, we’re pretty sure that Jesus died on April 3 of ad 33. That was the time of Passover on that year, and they’re pretty sure that he died that year.
So that would be the day that he died if he died that year. Like I said, we’re pretty sure but we’re not 100% positive, there’s not that many records to talk about years back then.
But 1 Corinthians talks about how Jesus showed Himself to over 400 people. And that letter was written within 20 years of Jesus actually dying and coming back from the dead.
There were many, many people that were still alive, that could easily have refuted that. They could have said, “No, that didn’t happen. Jesus didn’t rise from the dead.”
But here’s what’s interesting about historical literature is that there’s also nothing written that disputes this. If it didn’t happen, historical literature would have said, “This is so false, that did not happen. That’s nothing but BS.”
But it doesn’t say that. The historical literature is completely absent about all that. And I believe it’s absent because it really did happen.
So Did Jesus really rise from the dead? I believe he did. If you’re Christian, you really should believe he did, because that’s the basis of all Christianity.
If you’re not a Christian, and you have questions, hopefully I’ve answered some of those questions a little bit. And that’s really what this podcast is about, trying to take difficult questions and make them a little bit easier to understand. There’s enough evidence to me to show that Yeah, even if I’m not a Christian, even if I just look at it from an historical standpoint of what’s there in history, what’s in the Bible and what’s not there in other historical documents; I would say yeah, even from an historical perspective, it seems likely that Jesus did rise from the dead.