Did Jesus really come back from the dead?

The key to any event in history being credible and true is witnesses. The proof, for instance, that the insanity and terror of trench warfare in World War 1 was tragically real is the men who wrote in their diaries about it, sent letters home about it, took photographs and painted pictures of it, and many of those who survived wrote books about it and told stories to their children and grandchildren.

A veteran could stand up before a room full of school children, therefore, and none would question his credibility, even though none of the children had witnessed World War 1 themselves. He was believable because he’d been there. He’d been a witness.

It’s an accepted tradition throughout the centuries too, that if there is some record of an event preserved by people of that period, whether it be a document like the Magna Carta, or paintings on a Pyramid wall, or the scribblings of an arrogant tyrant etched in rock, that there must be some truth to it. The record may be exaggerated or skewed by a bloated ego, or it may deliberately stretch the facts to support a national agenda, or there may be many different and even contradicting reports of an event, but none of those things has stopped events in the past being taught and accepted as fact, so long as there were witnesses.

It makes my job a lot easier when telling the story about Jesus being resurrected from the dead, because it’s already an accepted tradition that witnesses are the key to an event in history being credible and true. What applies to other historical events being true must apply equally to Jesus, therefore. So long as there are witnesses who made records of what happened, it doesn’t matter if the records are exaggerated, skewed or they differ widely, because none of those things have mattered in accepting other historical events as being true. Differences in stories don’t mean the event never happened. Witnesses to a road accident, for instance, differ widely sometimes in their memory and view of what happened, but it doesn’t mean the accident never happened. They were witnesses and that’s all that matters.

When Jesus told his disciples in John 15:27, therefore, that “you must testify about me, for you have been with me from the beginning,” he too was simply working on the accepted principle that credibility depends on witnesses. And yes, even his witnesses differed in their view and record of what they saw, as we see in the differing stories of those who witnessed his resurrection, but never have differing stories in other events been reason for dismissing them as never happening.

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