Did The Resurrection Happen … Really? (book review)

Did The Resurrection HappenJosh McDowell is an amazing apologist! He has a tremendous knack for being able to “put the cookies on the bottom shelf.” By that I mean that he can make complex topics accessible to a wider audience than most authors. In Did The Resurrection Happen … Really? he and Dave Sterrett do just that with some great arguments for and against the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This book is classified as fiction, because fictional characters are having a discussion at a fictional university about the deep subjects of life and death, and life after death. Although the characters are fictional, the questions being discussed are real, and the sources quoted in defense of each side of the argument are all non-fictional.

McDowell and Sterrett (who are Christian apologists) don’t dumb-down the arguments against the claims of an actual physical death and an actual physical resurrection. They quote from some of the most well-known proponents of these arguments, and then thoughtfully and persuasively rebut those claims.

Because this book is written in a conversational style, it bring the reader right into the coffee chats of the characters. It also helps the reader see how he/she could have a similar dialogue with others who question the biblical account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The book is well footnoted, so curious readers can dig deeper and research further. But don’t let this fact lead you to believe that this is a heady, academic book. As I mentioned earlier, McDowell and Sterrett definitely make these concepts accessible to a wide audience.

This would be an excellent book to read if you have friends who are skeptical to the biblical account. It would also be a very good resource for those preparing to attend a university where the faculty might be more antagonistic toward the biblical worldview. In any case, it was a very enjoyable and educational book.

No Conspiracies Here

Burning heartsCould it really be this simple? Could it be that Jesus died and rose again just like the Bible says? Or does it need to be more complicated than that? Are there other theories that seem to fit the facts?

At the feast of Pentecost where Jewish people from all over the world convened in Jerusalem just 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus, Peter stood up to address them:

  • Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem… (Acts 2:14). He addressed locals and guests.
  • Jesus of Nazareth was a Man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you, as you yourselves know (v. 22). No one shouted Peter down or disputed this claim. Quite possibly because there were those in this audience who had personally seen or experienced one of Jesus’ miracles.
  • God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact (v. 32). Anyone could have easily refuted this claim because the tomb of Jesus was within walking distance, and yet no one did dispute what Peter said.

A short time later, healing a lame man outside the temple, Peter and John were hauled before the Sanhedrin (rulers and elders of the people [Acts 4:8]). This was the very group who convinced the Roman governor Pilate to have Jesus crucified.

  • It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Whom you crucified but Whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed (v. 10). They didn’t dispute this, but they just told them to stop preaching in this name (v. 17).

Paul was a devout member of the Jewish religious leadership until he had a personal encounter with Jesus. It became awfully difficult for Paul to argue Jesus was dead, when he had seen Him and talked with Him! Paul’s former colleagues had him arrested by the Romans. The Roman governor Festus noted that the claims of the Jews against Paul was about a dead man named Jesus Who Paul claimed was alive (Acts 25:19). This is nearly 30 years after the resurrection of Jesus occurred. King Agrippa didn’t scoff this off. In fact, Paul said he was glad to talk to the king since “the king is familiar with these things…. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). Again, Agrippa didn’t dispute the claim of Jesus’ resurrection, but simply accused Paul of trying to convert him to Christianity.

There is something in our hearts that wants the resurrection to be true.

  • We don’t want to work all our lives for nothing.
  • We don’t want to invest in relationships, only to have them end when one person dies.
  • We want there to be something more. We want there to be something that makes sense of the world.
  • Only the resurrection helps us make sense. Only the resurrection gives us lasting hope. 

An old song by the band Kansas says:

Deep within the hardest heart

There is something there that knows

There’s a hunger life can never fill

Til you face the One Who rose

There were two followers of Jesus that were out for a walk later in the day after the resurrection. They, too, were trying to figure out if the news reports they heard about Jesus’ resurrection was fact or fiction. Jesus met them on the road (although they didn’t recognize Him) and He walked and talked with them. He explained how all of the things in the Bible pointed to these facts: a Savior would come, a Savior would die, and a Savior would be raised to life again. As Jesus sat down to eat with them, they recognized Who He was, and then He disappeared from their sight. As they hurried back to tell the other disciples, they said, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked” (Luke 24:32).

Does it take faith to believe the biblical resurrection story? Yes!

Does it take faith to believe the conspiracy theories? Yes!

But I believe not only is the resurrection account more plausible, but it’s more satisfying too. The resurrection of Jesus rings true because IT IS TRUE, and because you were created by God to believe this truth so you can be in a relationship with Him.

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