I live in the south, and, in the south, bad weather comes in all shapes and sizes. From thunderstorms to tornadoes and hurricanes, we see it all. And, with bad weather, come the inevitable power outages. And this leads to calls for generators, because most people can’t seem to survive a few hours without power.
One of the things the company I work for does is to install automatic standby generators. We’ve installed hundreds over the past few years due to a lot of bad weather. Mrs. Jones was one such customer, but she had a legitimate reason for needing a generator. She had cancer and she was on oxygen. A power loss was a life threatening situation for her.
I gave her a quote and she and her husband approved the installation. We came out, installed and tested the generator and everything seemed fine. But, then the calls began. She called and said the generator didn’t start during it’s weekly self test. I went and checked on it and it ran fine, so I figured that it was a fluke. It wasn’t. This began a frustrating 8 month process to solve her problem.
I could not seem to find a problem with her generator. Every time I came to check for a problem, it would run fine. The only thing I knew to do was to begin a process of elimination. I started with the controller, then the governor, then I changed the air filter. Nothing seemed to work. After elimination all other potential causes, I was convinced that she was having a fuel problem. But the fuel pressure tested fine.
Out of frustration, I hired another generator tech to diagnose the generator. He found the problem. The fuel pressure was randomly dropping which was causing the generator to cut off. He just happened to be testing it when this occurred. I called the plumbers who promptly replaced the fuel regulator and the problem was solved. She hasn’t had an issue since. It took eliminating all others potential causes before I became confidence that the fuel was the culprit.
Process of elimination is a common practice used while troubleshooting. What about the Gospels? Can we use this tool to eliminate all other potential causes other than that they are true and reliable? Let’s find out. Let’s look at the resurrection since it at is the core of the Gospel narrative. Let’s see what it’s potential causes might be.
First potential cause: The swoon theory.
The swoon theory claims that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. He just passed out, later revived and walked out of the tomb, thus leading the disciples to assume that he had been raised from the dead. There are several problems with this theory. If Jesus did revive, how did he unwrap the grave clothes, roll the stone away from the tomb, and overcome the Roman guards placed at the tomb? And even if He accomplished all this, He would have been in a very weak and wounded condition. He would have been hard pressed to convince anyone that He was miraculously risen. It would have taken weeks for Him to physically recover. There are so many holes in this theory, that most skeptics have stopped trying to use it.
Second potential cause: The Disciples stole the body.
This claim has multiple problems as well. Just as with the swoon theory, how could they have overcome trained Roman guards and rolled the massive stone away? Also, what would they have done with the body? Someone would have eventually noticed or told where the body was being hidden. And why would they have done this? They had no motive. They were all cowering in fear that they would be crucified as well. It’s also important to note that no one in history ever denied that the tomb was empty. They just tried to come up with reasons other than that Jesus had been raised from the dead. They are still trying this in our day. The Romans even passed a law after this criminalizing body thefts. Why would they care if this happened? Because the missing body of Jesus caused them quite a bit of trouble.
Third potential cause: Hallucination
Many skeptics claim that the disciples hallucinated that Jesus had risen. They were so convinced that Jesus would rise that they tricked themselves into thinking this happened. Again, we have problems. Hallucinations occur to individuals, not groups of people. Jesus appeared to multiple people at multiple locations, on multiple occasions. 1 Corinthians 15 records that Jesus appeared to 500 people at once! Paul basically said, “these witnesses are still alive. Go ask them what happened!” And another problem for skeptics is the empty tomb. Even if they were hallucinating, you still have to explain the empty tomb.
Fourth potential cause: The Disciples lied
Another claim is that the Disciples lied. Why would they lie? What would be their motive? They gained nothing from lying. They were ostracized, beaten, tortured, persecuted and martyred for this claim. They would have been better off lying and saying that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead! And, again, what about the empty tomb?
Fifth potential cause: Jesus really rose from the dead.
This is the claim that skeptics cannot bring themselves to consider. Jesus really rose from the dead. But if you use the process of elimination, the other causes fail time and time again. Like the Mrs. Jones’ generator, all other potential causes have been eliminated. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead provides the best explanation to the events surrounding His death. This makes the best sense of the empty tomb, the devotion of the Disciples and the multitude of appearances.
The swoon theory, the stolen body theory, the hallucination theory, and the claim that the Disciples lied quickly fail upon careful examination. The process of elimination leaves only the truth that Jesus rose from the dead. Place your faith in Him today.