The Christians were mistaken about Jesus' resurrection

by Matt Slick

Sometimes critics of Christianity say that Jesus' disciples were mistaken about His resurrection.  They say that because no one can rise from the dead, then the disciples were wrong when they said that Jesus rose from the dead.  First of all, they are assuming something that may not be true.  After all, if there is a God, then why can't a resurrection happen?  But, when I ask them to explain how it was possible to be mistaken about something like a person rising from the dead according to the gospel accounts, I don't get any answers except, "Well, they were wrong."

It is true that the disciples made mistakes.  After all, they were only human.  But, how could they be mistaken about something as serious and as monumental as Jesus rising from the dead?  Is it likely that they simply goofed, that somehow after seeing Jesus die on the cross, and after fleeing and going into hiding, that the figure that appeared before them in the closed room that looked like Jesus and sounded like Jesus and had holes in His hands and feet really wasn't Jesus?  Were the women who saw the empty tomb also mistaken when they looked into it and saw that the body wasn't there?  Was the apostle John mistaken when he said that Jesus appeared before Thomas and said, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing," (John 20:27).Was it Jesus or not?  If not, then who was it?  Did the disciples make up the story?  Did the apostle John lie when he wrote the account?  If so, where are the records refuting this preposterous notion?  There aren't any.

Is it possible that all the disciples were mistaken about the same thing at the same time especially when they were believing that Jesus had died and was still dead?  What would cause them all to switch from believing that when you're dead you're dead to believing that Jesus died and rose from the dead?  Was Paul the apostle also mistaken when he was riding along the road to Damascus and claims to have encountered Jesus?  Remember, Paul was a persecutor the Christians.  He had authority to arrest the Christians and imprison them.  He was a devout Jew and quite powerful in the Jewish religious system.  How is it that he changed his mind so drastically and claims to have seen the risen Jesus (1 Cor. 9:1)?  Was he also simply mistaken?  If so, how?  What did he see on the road to Damascus that changed his life if not something incredible?

Is all of Christianity a big "oops"?  Might we meet the disciples in the afterlife and have them say to us, "Uh, remember that resurrection thing about Jesus we wrote about?  Well, we goofed.  It really didn't happen.  We mistook the empty tomb -- never did find His body -- the prophecies of the Old Testament about Him rising (Psalm 16:10), the prophecy of Jesus saying He'd rise (John 2:19-21), the accounts of the women saying that they had seen Him risen, the appearances of a man who looked like Jesus and who had holes in his hands and feet and appeared to us in closed rooms, the conversion of Paul -- that was weird -- oh, and all those miracles He did and those that we then did afterwards, too, well, that was all a big mistake.   Also, it was a big mistake going around Israel and all of the Mediterranean proclaiming Jesus had risen from the dead while we suffered persecution and death...yeah, it was all a big mistake.  Hope there are no hard feelings."

Is it rational to think that the disciples were simply mistaken about something as serious as stating that Jesus had risen from the dead?  How do you mistake someone rising from the dead?  What would have to happen for numerous people to change their minds about someone coming back to life?  Or is it more rational to simply conclude that the disciples weren't mistaken and that Jesus actually did rise from the dead?


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.