The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of Christian salvation faith. Without Christ's physical resurrection from the dead, then you and I -- everyone on earth -- is without hope for eternal life. Without the historical resurrection, everything the Church has taught related to faith and morals rests on sand. If the scriptures are wrong, and Christ did not rise from the dead, then nothing else in Scripture can be trusted for veracity. If Jesus is still in his grave, then biblical Christian faith is a malicious lie and the Church is guilty of unconscionable fraud.
Four of the more prominent theories surface from time to time, especially around Easter. Those theories are commonly labled the Wrong Tomb theory, the Hallucination theory, the Swoon theory and the Stolen Body theory. Many Christian theologians, apologists and teachers have addressed these theories (and others). A simple Google search of each theory will bring up thousands of hits , and do a reasonable job describing those theories and their associated problems, and I urge you to explore some of those sites. However, for the sake of time, I will summarize them below:
Wrong Tomb -- The disciples didn't know where the Lord was buried, so they went to the wrong tomb. When they didn't find His body, they claimed Jesus had risen. Problem: All the religious and political leaders needed to do to disprove the resurrection claim was to go to the correct tomb and retrieve Jesus' body.
Hallucination -- the disciples wanted so badly to see their Lord again that they "hallucinated" His resurrected body. Problems: Again all the authorities needed to do was produce the body.
Swoon -- Jesus didn't actually die, but simply passed out. Problem: Read these accounts of a typical Roman crucifixion, as well as how such crucificion applied to Jesus, and you will immediatly recognize the problem with this theory.
Stolen Body -- the disciples somehow slipped past the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, rolled the boulder from the opening to the grave, and slipped away into the darkness with their dead Lord. Problem: 1) Roman soldiers knew they would be burned alive if they were found sleeping on their watch, and 2) each of the disciples suffered a torturous martyrdom knowing they were dying for a lie they themselves perpetrated.
It has always amazed me why some people go to such illogical lengths to deny the historical event known as the resurrection of Jesus. I can only speculate as to their possible motives.
However, what is important to our lesson here is this: Jesus did, according to the Scriptures and the historical evidence, rise physically from the grave. He ascended physically into heaven where He is now seated physically "at the right hand of the Father." And because Jesus lives forever, you and I can boldly face the future --uncertain as it may seem -- because the power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that gives you and me the grace to live for Christ despite the most sinister obstacles Satan and his children place in our way.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Consider, in the quietness of your thoughts, the Passion of Christ -- the beating, the whipping, the mournful "I thirst" from the Cross -- and then consider what it might have been like to stand by the tomb that Easter morning as the stone began to roll away.
2. Do the lyrics of this hymn many Catholics sing at Mass encourage you? Then share the hymn with others.