Inspired by TV’s CSI, Nigel Bovey unearths the evidence of Jesus’ death and resurrection
Dead men do tell tales. And it is the job of crime scene investigators to uncover the evidence. If you missed the ‘best-ever’ episode of Five’s popular crime series CSI on 2 September 2005, here’ s the lowdown.
CSI units are based in New York, Las Vegas and Miami. In each city rubber-gloved, torch-wielding teams use a mixture of high-tech gadgetry and highbrow brainwork to sift, dissect and analyse crime scene exhibits that will bring the villain to justice. (The crime in question is usually murder.) No stone goes unturned, no hair is left out of place. Intuition, guesswork and pet theories are consigned to the back burner. There’s only one thing that will solve the mystery – evidence.
So what about the events surrounding the most famous death of all time – the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? What evidence is there that he not only died but was also raised to life? Let’s take a look.
All four Gospels describe the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The earliest, Mark, appeared around 30 years after Jesus’ death. Existing copies of the Gospels date from around AD 340. By comparison, the earliest copy of Julius Caesar’s The Gallic Wars dates from AD 900, some 950 years after it was first penned. If we can readily believe the accounts of Caesar’s campaign in France, why dismiss the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus as less than the gospel truth?
All four Gospels record accounts of people meeting Jesus after his resurrection. In total, the New Testament mentions that at least 519 people saw Jesus after he was raised, 13 of whom are named. What would today’s police give for 13 identifiable witnesses to an incident?
Three times Jesus said that he would be betrayed, killed and rise again. Was Jesus telling the truth? After the resurrection, the disciples told people that the once-dead Jesus was now alive. Why didn’t the authorities put a stop to it by producing his body? Some disciples faced death because they refused to stop preaching that Jesus was alive. They refused the chance to recant. Who would die for a lie?
After his death Jesus was put in an unused tomb. It was sealed with a stone, which was itself also sealed. There was a round-the-clock military guard. Jesus was the first and only occupant of the tomb. This was not a case of mistaken identity. On Easter morning the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. The clothes Jesus had been wrapped in were left, folded, in the tomb. So who moved the stone?
Three grief-sticken women, including his mother Mary, at the tomb on Easter morning? The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb? The Jewish authorities? Jesus himself, allegedly fainted but actually dead? None of them had the means, motive and opportunity to roll back the stone and remove the body.
The evidence, therefore, points to one logical conclusion. The resurrection of Jesus was an act of God.
And if further proof is needed, just ask any one of the millions of people whose lives have been changed by the Lord of Life and Death.
Photo of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem by Berthold Werner
This article first appeared in The War Cry and is reprinted with permission