Eyewitness Testimony


Episode 5 - The 3rd Kind of Supporting Evidence for the Resurrection - Learn the evidence that gets it's facts from eyewitness testimony.


Part 3 of Help Others To Take the Teachings of Christ Seriously




3 important reason that we should be familiar with the supporting evidence for the resurrection:

1. We can help others to look at Christ differently. Most people who don’t take the teachings of Christ seriously are not familiar with the supporting evidence for the resurrection.  When we introduce the evidence to some of these people, they may begin to consider that Jesus really is the Son of God.

2. We need to be ready to respond to opposing views.  If we begin having a conversation with others about the validity of the resurrection, we should be familiar with the supporting evidence.  Otherwise, when we can’t respond to opposing views we just end up encouraging more doubt about the fact that Jesus rose from the dead.

3. We gain confidence to talk with others about Christianity.  The more familiar we are with the evidence for the resurrection, the more confident we feel about engaging in a conversation with others about it.


Evidence that gets it’s credibility from eyewitness testimony

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 speaks about the eye witness testimony. There are important kinds of evidence that come from the eye witness testimony and if you and I can remember this one word, it can help us to remember the evidence: The word is ‘ALIVE’. Each letter in the word ‘ALIVE’ reminds us of a particular kind of evidence that we can talk about.

A is for Attitudes that were changed in a big way!

1. The disciples’ attitude of fear that was turned to boldness. They were scared after the crucifixion. Their leader had been killed. Would they be next? John 20 tells us that the disciples were living in fear and gathered in a room with the door locked. But their attitude changed drastically. Their fear was replaced with boldness. They had gone from being too scared to be seen in public, to being so bold that they wanted to go outside and tell the world – even if it meant that they would loose their lives. Their attitude changed in a big way!

2. James, the brother of Jesus – His attitude of possibly feeling embarrassment about being associated with Christ, was changed to an attitude of feeling honored to be associated with Christ. He wasn’t a believer. In fact, in John 7, the brothers of Jesus told Him to leave and take his works to another area. 7:5 says ‘for not even his brothers believed in Him.’ James, along with His brothers may have been embarrassed to be associated with their Brother, Jesus. But the fact is, after seeing Jesus alive, James, the brother of Jesus, became a leader in the church! His attitude totally changed. 3. Saul of Tarsus (who later became known as Paul) was an enemy of Christians.  His attitude of hatred towards Christians was changed to love .While on the road to Damascus with letters from the high priest to arrest any Christian that he found, he was blinded by a bright light, he heard Jesus, spoke to Jesus, was blind for 3 days and so shaken up that he didn’t eat or drink for 3 days. Later, this man began preaching that Jesus was the Son of God. He also became a church leader and later was beheaded by Nero for his faith. He had a big change in attitude.

A is for Attitudes that were changed in a big way!

L is for Living Witnesses that could confirm the story. In 1 Corinthians 15:6, Paul had said that Jesus appeared to over 500 brothers at once, and many of them are still living. This statement ‘and many of them are still living’ could be considered an invitation for people to check out his story. Living witness could confirm that Jesus really was alive!

The fact that Paul was bold enough to mention that some of these people are still alive is good evidence that he was confident about these stories. I think it’s likely that He had even spoken with some of these people.

While speaking with a young man several weeks ago about the Gospel, I remember bringing up the topic of the resurrection. I didn’t go through all the different kinds of evidence because he never questioned the idea, since I had already explained about the different people who had seen Jesus after He rose from the dead. That bit of information seemed to make a difference. Later, he asked me where he needed to go to pray to become a Christian. He wanted to know if he had to go to a church or he could pray from home.  Of course, I told him that he could pray to become a Christian from either of those places.  Don’t be shy about talking about the eyewitness testimony of the resurrection. It may be just what someone needs to hear to feel confident that this is the truth.

L is for Living witnesses that could confirm the story.

I is for Individual & Group meetings that disprove the hallucination theory.

Some have said that the disciples only hallucinated that Jesus was alive. It was all in their imagination.  If someone has a hallucinations it means that while they are awake, they are sensing things that appear to be real, but in reality those things have been created in their mind.

Two things to know about hallucinations

1. Where hallucinations begin

2. How recurring hallucinations end

Where hallucinations begin

They begin inside the mind, not outside. And then, people believe they see, hear, feel and even smell things that aren’t really there.

Three things that can contribute to a hallucinations

1. The familiar Place and time – hallucinations about people typically happen at a place that is special in some way, that could remind the person of someone else – and at a special time

Example: someone has passed away and you are used to seeing that person in a particular place at a particular time every day or on certain days.

If the followers of Christ saw a hallucination, an example for them might be if they only saw Him in the upper room when they would normally meet together.

We are going to see that It wasn’t one appearance in the upper room ( a place where Jesus met with them regularly ). It was several different appearances in a variety of places.

2. The Expectancy – I’m expecting to see this person.

If the followers of Christ saw a hallucination, we might read that they were expecting to see Him.  But as we will see, meeting Christ was the last thing his followers expected.

3. The natural belief in the idea that is expressed – I’m not resistant to the idea.

If the followers of Christ saw a hallucination, we might expect them to recognize Christ right away and immediately accept the idea that He really was was alive.

But the fact is some of His followers didn’t immediately recognize Jesus, and they were resistant to the idea that He was alive.

I is for Individual meetings with Christ

3 individual meetings with Christ and his followers that the Bible talks about that disprove the hallucination theory. 1.  Mary Magdalene

The women had been preparing spices to anoint the body, and took spices to the tomb on Sunday morning. They were not expecting to see a living Christ – they were thinking about anointing a dead body.

They were thinking about something else also: who will roll away the stone? Mark 16:3 But Mary Magdalene saw Christ and had a conversation with Him – John [20:11], :14-15

She did not recognize Him – thought He was the gardener – John [20:14]-15

2. Thomas, a disciple of Christ, said that he would not believe at first without touching Him.

John [20:25]. But he said to them,” Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Obviously, Thomas was not expecting a risen Jesus Christ.

An Hallucination comes from something that is already imagined in the mind – it’s a projection of something you already imagine – and these people who believed Jesus was alive were as surprised as you and I might be.

But Thomas also was resistant to the idea that Jesus could be alive.

3. The Two Travelers on the road to the village of Emmaus – 7 miles, walking with Christ. This wasn’t a glimpse of Jesus. They were traveling together. Talking together.

They were not expecting to see Christ.

They didn’t recognize Him.

Here are two people who would have been naturally resistant to the idea of a resurrection because they were both unbelievers:

1. James, the brother of Jesus, was an unbeliever – but Christ appeared to him and he ended up becoming a leader in the church. 2. Saul, being an enemy would have likely agreed with the crucifixion of Christ – he certainly was not expecting a risen Lord.

Discouraged followers, unbelievers and enemies are certainly not the best candidates who would be hallucinating about a risen and victorious Jesus. But these were not days about hallucinations. These were days about real interactions with Christ. A real resurrection had happened.

I is for individuals and groups – so let’s talk about the groups.

3 Groups.

If there was is such a thing as a group hallucination ( and that is debated since hallucinations are individual occurrences. Some say groups of people could not experiencing the same hallucination but only an illusion)

But if there could be a group hallucination, 2 things would be needed first: expectancy and emotional excitement. The followers of Christ did not have either of these after His death.

In my research about hallucinations I found that psychologist say that hallucinations are individual and private – not group or collective.  The idea of a group hallucination is debated.  But if there was a group hallucination, then 2 things would be needed:

expectation and emotional excitement.

Jesus followers would not have had either of these. Instead, their leader and teacher had died. First group – the disciples – discouraged followers The disciples were not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. A resurrected Jesus was not in their mind. I understand that they were mourning the loss of their friend and some might say this is good reason for an hallucination – but they didn’t imagine a victorious risen Lord – they were feeling defeated and scared. Luke [24:11] – when the women told the disciples that they had seen Jesus, it says that they did not believe them.

In fact, when Jesus actually appeared to the disciples, they did not believe that it was Him. Luke [24:37] says that they were startled and frightened thought they were seeing a ghost.

This was definitely not a group that was expecting to see Jesus. There was no hallucination.

When Jesus appeared to this group, they were as amazed as anyone could be.

The second group is Paul and his soldiers.

It was a different kind of appearance – it was a bright light –

Besides the fact that this wasn’t an expectation in their minds, there are a couple of physical aspects of it that confirm that it was not an hallucination: first, they were physically made blind from the light, and second he and the soldiers heard the voice of Jesus.

And remember who recorded this history – it was Luke – considered to be one of the most reliable historians. This is more than a story – this is history about a group of soldiers who were temporarily blinded and heard a voice.

There were physical results – blindness.

Which brings us to the third group

1 Corinthians 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. It means they have died.

If the disciples didn’t expect Jesus to be alive, then most or all of his others followers probably didn’t either.

They didn’t expect Him to be alive, and they weren’t excited – instead they were discouraged. I would imagine that when word got around that Jesus was alive, and the crowd gathered, rather than have a group hallucinating that they were seeing the same thing, you would have found about 500 individuals that were trying to decide whether or not this was real.

And out of 500 people, wouldn’t someone try to touch Him to see if He was real?

The psychological evidence just does not support a group hallucination – they simply were not expecting a real live Jesus to be speaking to them. So, how do recurring hallucinations end? – they become less and less, eventually fading away, or they come to an abrupt stop when something bad happens.

Well, the proposed hallucination of the risen Christ did not just fade away, instead it ended after 40 days. But it wasn’t from something bad happening, instead the historian, Luke, wrote that Christ went up to heaven in front of His followers.

But if this was a hallucination, here is what is really interesting and puts the final nail into the coffin for the hallucination theory: the hallucination would have ended for everyone at the same time. After Jesus walked on the earth for 40 days, the disciples, His other followers – they did not see Christ anymore. It was over. Jesus had gone to heaven and they watched Him go up. And, by the way, Hallucinations don’t explain the empty tomb, the stone rolled away and the missing body. Remember First – hallucinations begin in the mind – and this doesn’t fit the eye witness testimonies of people who claimed to have seen Christ.

Remember Second – hallucinations don’t stop for a lot of people at the exact same time. When the 40 days were up Jesus was not seen anymore.

(1)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0003742/

http://www.amazon.com/The-Evidence-That-Demands-Verdict/dp/0785242198

http://www.equip.org/articles/explaining-away-jesus-resurrection-hallucination/#christian-books-3

http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/crj_explainingaway/crj_explainingaway.htm

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/visions-of-jesus-a-critical-assessment-of-gerd-ludemanns

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallucination

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Hallucinations http://www.gotquestions.org/hallucination-theory.html http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/doctrine-theology/resurrection/the-resurrection-of-christ-by-j-gresham-machen/

http://www.compellingtruth.org/hallucination-theory.html

http://www.diffen.com/difference/Delusion_vs_Hallucination

http://www.charminghealth.com/applicability/hallucination.htm

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/hallucination.aspx

http://www.sciencebrainwaves.com/tag/auditory-hallucinations/

A is for Attitudes that were changed in a big way.

L is for Living Witnesses that could confirm the story.

I is for Individual and Group meetings that disprove the hallucination theory.

V is for Verification that they were not seeing a ghost

Some don’t believe that this was a physical resurrection.

Jesus understood how helpful it would be for us to have physical verification that He was not a ghost. And so, He gave a lot of proof.

Acts 1:3 ESV [3] He presented himself live to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

Here are 5 of the physical proofs:

1.  The women – they took hold of His feet – Mt 28:9

2.  He fixed breakfast for the disciples fish and bread – John 21:9-13

3.  After Jesus had been invited to stay with His traveling companions on the road to Emmaus, Jesus broke bread and gave it to the two men that he had been traveling with Luke [24:30]

4.  He invites the disciples to touch Him to see that He is real. He shows then His hands and feet. Luke [24:39]-40

5.  He asked them if they had anything to eat. The disciples gave Him some broiled fish and He ate it. Luke [24:41]-43

This was all proof.

V is for verification that this was not a ghost.

ALIV E

E is for Early Christians who were willing to suffer & die, rather than pretend that the resurrection had never happened Is the fact that the disciples and other early Christians died for their faith evidence that the resurrection really happened?

What about other people who die for their religion? Over the years, many people have died for their beliefs – either religious or even political beliefs. But their death does not mean that those beliefs were correct. The fact is, many people have died for lies.

So what’s the difference between the deaths that the disciples died and the deaths that other people have died for their beliefs that turned out to be wrong? Is there a difference?

The answer is yes – there is a difference.

Many people have died for what they believed to be true, but it turned out to be a lie. But the disciples were different. They would not be dying for what they thought was true but turned out to be a lie. Instead, they would dying for what they knew was a lie all along.

They would be maintaing the lie that they had seen Jesus after his death and spent time with Him for 40 days before going to heaven. Even through suffering and under the threat of death, they would stick to their lie.

These disciples would not be dying what for what they thought was true. They would be dying for what they knew to be a lie.

Now consider this: these disciples went to different parts of the world to spread the Gospel. So, they didn’t have each other to encourage each other to keep the lie going.

To say that they died for a lie, knowing that it was a lie, means that even when they were alone – facing death – they would still maintain the lie.

To say that they died for a lie, knowing that it was a lie, means that they stuck to the lie even when they saw Christian women and children being put to death by being burned at the stake or being fed to a lion. How likely is it for all 11 of the disciples to keep the lie going even in this kind of situation?

These disciples lived for years after the crucifixion. Peter lived about 33 more years. That is a long time to continue to keep up the lie, especially if you are under the threat of suffering and death by the government.

And it would not just have been the disciples that kept up this lie, it would also have been the many other followers that Jesus has seen. Remember, Paul said that over 500 people had seen Him at once – many of which were still living when Paul wrote it. So, many of them may have been included in the terrible persecution by Nero.

E is for ….

Early Christians that were willing to suffer & die, rather than pretend that the resurrection had never happened

… And this is strong evidence for the resurrection.

When someone reminds you that people die for lies all the time, we need to remind them that people die for lies that they think are true. If the early Christians, who saw Jesus, died for a lie, then they would have been dying for a lie that they knew was a lie. And, this was extremely unlikely.

There is strong evidence for the resurrection. You can speak with humble and bold confidence.

http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1-300/whatever-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles-11629558.html

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/04/what-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles-how-their-deaths-evidence-easter/

Remember the Word ALIVE. Review what each of the letters stand for. Any don’t be afraid to talk about the evidence that gets it’s credibility from eye witness testimony.

Attitudes that were changed Living Witnesses that could confirm the story Individual & Group meetings that disprove the hallucination theory. Verification that they were not seeing a ghost Early Christians that were willing to suffer & die, rather than pretend that the resurrection had never happened.


Recent Posts

See All