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Resurrection of Jesus Christ: No hoax 

By William J. Dagendesh 

More than 2,000 years after the event, some people still believe that Jesus never existed, or that his brutal execution and resurrection was a hoax concocted by his 12 disciples.

It’s easy to understand why. Humankind tends to accept only what we can embrace with our five senses. If we can’t see, feel, hear, smell or taste something, it simply doesn’t exist.

But, what about the air we breathe — that invisible, harmless gas so vital to our existence. We can’t see it, but know it’s there, especially during a bad hair day. We believe it is there and that it will sustain us and keep us alive. So, why can’t people believe Jesus rose from the dead and that he will return one day as promised?

That’s because people believe that returning from the dead is a feat made possible only through wishful thinking and glorified through too many Hollywood films. Also, people believe the Bible was written by religious leaders who sought to control humankind. It’s no surprise how, over the centuries, the resurrection has led to skepticism toward Christianity as well as world events.

An example is the July 1969 moon landing, when U.S. Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the lunar surface. Skeptics believe the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) fabricated the event so it appeared the U.S. beat the Russians to the moon, fulfilling President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

I believe this perception originated through the centuries. As the years passed, Jesus’ resurrection became shrouded in history, fueling skepticism for following generations. Also, people didn’t always keep an accurate account of historical events, resulting in facts being distorted and history re-written.

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No doubt the Internet has played a major role in shaping public perception, and in damaging the accuracy and potency of God’s Word.

Everyone knows (or should know) that, according to the Scriptures, Jesus rose from the dead three days after being crucified and that Mary Magdalene reportedly was the first person to see our Savior. These events are recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (28:9), Mark (16:9), Luke (24:15-18) and John (20:14) found in the New Testament.

The word Gospel comes from a Greek word, “euangelion,” that means “good news.” In the New Testament, it refers to the announcement that Jesus has brought the reign of God to our world through his life, death and resurrection.

Also, Mark and Luke were not even among the original 12 disciples. Mark is known as Peter’s interpreter, both in speech and in writing, and Luke, author of the third Gospel and the Acts of the disciples, was a physician.

The names of the other 10 disciples are Simon Peter, Andrew, James (the son of Zebedee), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, James (the son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. (Matthew 10:1-4 and Luke 6:12-16.). Despite these recorded accounts, some claim the Apostles fabricated the resurrection or that the Apostles never even existed.

However, that claim is too idiotic to even consider. Think about it. Why would these people risk their lives for a mere hoax? They knew they faced persecution and death if they continued Jesus’ work. In fact, history shows that all but one the disciples were either executed or murdered for continuing Jesus’ teachings.

It is reported that Peter was crucified upside down at his request as he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. Andrew preached in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey and Greece, where he is said to also have been crucified. It is said that four soldiers drove their spears into Thomas, killing him instantly.

The Jewish historian Josephus reported that James was stoned and clubbed to death. Although not one of the original 12 disciples, Paul (Acts 13:9), whose work comprises much of the New Testament, was beheaded for his teachings.

Before he became a champion of Christianity, Paul was known for persecuting Christians and witnessed the stoning death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 8:1) before his conversion. Only John survived execution by poisoning and was exiled to the Greek island of Patmos where he is said to have written Revelation, the last book in the New Testament.

Also, consider that Jesus appeared to a crowd of about 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) before ascending into Heaven. Now, some people claim such testimonies are fraud. Granted, a couple of testimonies might be easy to dismiss, but 500? What did these people have to gain by lying about having seen a dead man speak to the living?

Certainly, they knew the risks they faced claiming to have seen Jesus walking and talking only days after his execution. And what about the other books of the New Testament? Would these authors pick up their pen and, with holy conviction, write down the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection and ascension on what is considered a hoax?

People have asked me, “How can you be sure Jesus rose from the dead? You can’t prove his resurrection happened.” A good response might be, “You can’t prove that it didn’t happen.”

Christianity is based on Jesus’ resurrection. Had Jesus not been risen, his teachings would be nothing more than empty, meaningless words and Christianity would cease to exist. Indeed, it would be the biggest lie humankind has ever known. Yet, more than 2,000 years later, Jesus’ words resonate with humans who crave spiritual enlightenment and the promise of eternal fulfillment.

William J. Dagendesh is an author, writer and retired U.S. Navy photojournalist, editor and public affairs officer. He and his wife of 43 years, Peggy, have lived in southern Colorado 23 years.

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