David Limbaugh

While skeptics have long concocted elaborate theories to challenge that Christ died prior to His resurrection appearances, they all fail on critical examination. He was not drugged; He refused to take the common pain-killing drug offered crucifixion victims. He sustained a heavy loss of blood. He uttered an audible death cry. He was pierced in the side, and blood and water flowed out -- a medical sign of death. Experienced Roman soldiers examined His body and were so sure of His death, they pronounced Him dead without breaking His legs to hasten the process in accordance with the customary practice. He was wrapped in 75 pounds of cloth and spices and placed in a sealed tomb guarded by soldiers. Even had He been alive, He could not have moved the heavy stone to escape, much less without being seen and stopped by the guards. Pilate assured himself Jesus was dead before turning over His body to Joseph of Arimathea to be buried. His grave clothes were left undisturbed.

Naysayers have also failed to make their case for various alternative theories to Christ's bodily resurrection. If Roman or Jewish authorities had removed the body, they could have produced it and nipped Christianity in the bud. The theory that the disciples stole the body is incredible because they were men who denied Christ and fled the scene in fear, not to mention that the tomb was heavily guarded. If the women had gone to the wrong tomb, the authorities would have gone to the correct tomb and produced the body. Also, had they and Peter been at the wrong tomb, they wouldn't have seen the empty grave clothes.

Paul wrote that Jesus was seen by more than 500 people, most of whom were still alive at the time of his writing and could have easily refuted him if he were lying. He appeared over a period of 40 days, on a number of different occasions before multiple witnesses. His appearances were interactive and long enough to be real and not illusions. He performed additional miracles and also walked certain witnesses through the Old Testament, pointing to passages that spoke of Him. He told witnesses He had "flesh and bones," He ate fish in their presence, and He told his doubters to touch Him "handle me, and see."

But the most persuasive evidence for the resurrection is the transformed lives of the disciples. The Bible reports that when the authorities captured Jesus, "all the disciples left him and fled." After He was crucified, they hid in an upper room and locked the doors. But McDowell points out that "something happened within days to totally change this group of cowardly followers into a bold band of enthusiasts who faced martyrdom without fear or hesitation."

Indeed, most of the disciples were martyred for affirming their faith, and not one of them recanted to save himself. Before the resurrection, Jesus' brother James hated all that Jesus stood for; afterward, he preached the Gospel and wrote the Book of James, describing himself as "a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ." Peter, who had denied Jesus three times, defiantly proclaimed the Gospel after the resurrection in the very city he had denied knowing Him. He was ultimately imprisoned and crucified upside down.

We celebrate Christmas because of the fact of Jesus Christ's resurrection.

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert on law and politics. He recently authored the New York Times best-selling book: "Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel."

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