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Non-Biblical Reasons for Believing
Nonbelievers and agnostics continue to wonder why people believe that Jesus is the son of God. Using the Bible as reference in these discussions is self-defeating; why would a nonbeliever care what the Bible says? Besides, historical fact is sufficient to explain this.
For the purpose of this argument, it is important to understand historically, not only in Christian history, but also in Hebrew history, that Christ did in fact exist; the Hebrew historians did not believe in Christ’s deity, and therefore would have had no reason to lie about him. In addition, it is indisputable that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, and his body did disappear from the tomb. The only disputable facts regarding the story of Christ is what happened between when He was crucified and when the tomb was discovered empty. There are three hypothesizes of what happened. Some believe that Jesus’ disciples stole his body, others believe that he was not really dead, and of course there is the Christ rose from the dead hypothesis.
Jesus’ Disciples Stole the Body
The most commonly held view is that Jesus’ disciples stole his body, and then told everyone that Jesus had risen and ascended to Heaven. However, we also know that, because Jesus predicted that He would come back from the dead, Pilate ordered a ‘guard’ to stand before Jesus’ tomb to prevent the disciples from doing this. While the English word gives the idea that only one man was standing guard, in fact a roman guard was comprised of between 4 and 16 soldiers. The punishment to these men for falling asleep at their post could have been death; it is very unlikely they would have fallen asleep. In fact, the only reason that they were not put to death is because the Hebrew hierarchy defended them – something they would not have actually been willing to do if the guard had actually fallen asleep at their posts. Also unlikely is that the disciples, most of them fishermen and none of them soldiers, could have scared the guard from their post or sneaked past them to steal Christ’s body.
Jesus Was Not Dead
Another view, and to some extent more likely, is that Jesus was not dead when He was placed in the tomb. The idea is that He came back to consciousness and escaped the tomb. Let us look closely at this view; we know, not only from Biblical accounts but also from Jewish history, that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. A roman crucifixion was no picnic – first a nail was pounded through each wrist and each ankle, severing the large nerves running through. Then the convict was hung by the nails through his wrist – unfortunately that would cause the muscles in his chest to tighten so he could not breathe and he would have to push up on the nails in his ankles to breathe. Finally, when the Romans felt he had suffered enough they would break his legs so he would suffocate. The final part of this crucifixion did not happen to Christ, because He died early in the process. However, history tells us that the centurion standing guard stabbed Jesus through the heart to be sure He was actually dead.
Still, people did not know as much about what death at that time as they know now. It is possible that the centurion did not get the heart and just thought Jesus was dead. However, after his death Jesus was placed in a tomb; this tomb was actually a cave, and at the entrance of that cave, a large bolder was placed to prevent entrance (or in this case exits). Then they sealed His tomb, making it even more difficult to gain entrance. Jesus was wrapped, tightly, in strips of linen and 75 pounds of spices and herbs, as was the custom of that time.
If this theory is correct and that Jesus was alive, he probably would have suffocated from the linen he was wrapped in; if he hadn’t and he was able to fight free of the linen he still would have been very weak from loss of blood and his extensive injuries - not to mention dehydration and exhaustion. Then he would have had to move the heavy stone from in front of his tomb and walk miles to where his disciples were. In retrospect, this is even less likely than the first theory.
Jesus Rose from the Dead
What we are left with is the possibility that Jesus rose from the dead, as He said He would. While this is hard to believe, it is not any harder to believe that the other hypothesis of the disappearance of His body. If you are going to believe this, then you need to take it a step further. Jesus declared that He would rise from the dead – He told the truth. If He told the truth about this, then we must assume that He is the son of God, and that everything else He said is true.
 PBS.org. (1998.) The Historical Jesus. Retrieved 30 March 2012 from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/jesus/tikkun.html
 GreekBible.com. (2012.) Matthew 27:65. Retrieved 30 March 2012 from http://www.greekbible.com/l.php?koustwdi/a_n-----asf-_p.