So, for the sake of argument, suppose Christ did indeed raise from the dead. That is, imagine He died, was in the grave three days, and then rose, came back from the dead. Suppose that actually happened, and I don’t mean some vague floating mist that Jesus’ disciples claimed was His body.
I’m saying, suppose the bodily resurrection of Christ really happened, what then? How, hypothetically, of course, would His followers have responded?
You’d think it’d leave a movement in its wake. One that would continue to the present day. One that would continue to practice their strange practices. They would do and say things that otherwise wouldn’t make sense. All this would be the result of a revolution that happened because of the resurrection of Christ and couldn’t be explained any other way.
I’m pretty sure it’d lead to a revolution of how people lived and saw things (which are tied very closely together). A revolution would certainly happen. It would affect all sorts of things:
There would be psychological differences in the group that followed Jesus. If the group was frightened after Jesus’ death, for example, hiding away, we would expect that after His bodily resurrection they would be emboldened. They would be excited. They would tell people about Jesus.
In short, their psychological state would go from scared, disillusioned, and depressed to fearless, reassured, and energized. They would go from hiding in shame to hazarding their lives.
Because of the transformation of their psychological state their actions would be transformed as well. So, we would expect, if Jesus did arise from the dead His followers would tell others about it. In fact, they would go to great lengths and suffer much to tell others about Him. They would willingly be counted insane or even go to the gallows, so to speak. In short, they would show through their actions that they had seen, and touched, the resurrection.
Religious texts would be reexamined and reinterpreted in light of the traumatic event. For instance, Jews would look at Isaiah 53 through a different lens. The group of followers would also have other practices that couldn’t be explained in any other way except by the resurrection. For example, they may have a meal celebrating the work of Jesus. This practice would be looked on as very strange by outsiders and yet they would still practice it because of its significance.
Previously held religious traditions would be changed. Changes that couldn’t have taken place except through a cataclysmic event; such as the resurrection of Jesus. Examples of ingrained religious traditions that would be very significant if changed: 1) The day that the religious group gathers for worship. 2) The changing of a religious rite used to enter the religious group. An example here would be the doing away with circumcision as a rite of entrance into a religious community.
It is not unreasonable to believe that if something very big actually happened it would lead to change in tradition. However, it must be understood that traditions do not change unless there is a very traumatic reason to change them. For example, it would take something huge to change the day that a religious group would gather for worship if they were told to worship on a particular day (see e.g. Ex. 20:10) and it would take something big to change the religious rite of passage into a group if there was already a solid precedence for a particular rite (see e.g. Lev. 12:3).
If the resurrection really happened it would have left a heritage in its wake. People would still be impacted by it. People would still gather in mass in celebration of it. People would still be psychologically changed by it. People would tell other people about it. People would… be transformed.
If the resurrection really happened…
If the resurrection really happened you would think we wouldn’t be lackadaisical about the way we lived.
Do we, do I, really believe that Jesus died, was laid in a tomb, and after three days, rose from the dead?
If the resurrection really happened it changes everything!
It changes me. It changes you. It changes our approach to life, to death.
Read 1 Corinthians 15.