It is natural to start thinking about the afterlife at Easter. For Christians, we have been given a foretaste of Heaven in our faith’s founder, Jesus Christ. While many religions have wise teachers and famous adherents, only Christianity’s founder backed up His teachings with historically verifiable miracles (John 14:11; 1 Corinthians 15). Jesus’ resurrection was not only the creative cause of the Christian faith, but served as its primary preaching message. It not only proved His teachings true, it proved He was God.
Christianity’s critics have to explain the resurrection away by claiming that it was a mere hallucination conjured up in the minds of Jesus’ distraught disciples, or that they thought they had seen a ghost. This attempt, however, is not historically legitimate. When Jesus appeared to his disciples after His resurrection, he gave proof of his physicality. “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have,” Jesus said – and then went on to consume physical food (Luke 24). When Thomas had trouble believing the disciple’s story, Jesus had him touch his wounds – prompting Thomas to confess Jesus as “My Lord and my God” (John 20:24-28).
Perhaps the disciples simply made the Resurrection up – an April Fool’s joke that ended up being taken seriously. This is even less likely than the above theories because the disciples had everything to lose and nothing to gain by lying about the Resurrection. To a man they faced horrific torture and death over their preaching yet not one ever recanted.
Neither the ghost, hallucination, or liar theories make sense of the historical data. Jesus was far more than a wise guru—He is the Son of God. We can be historically certain that we serve a risen Savior whose resurrection is a preview of our own!