Jesus sells. That’s why they have cover stories on Him in magazines and TV specials, even if some of them offer strange theories to try to explain away things like the original Easter.
I’ll never forget the evolution of a famous TV newsman, the late Peter Jennings, the anchor ABC’s nightly news broadcasts.
In 2000, Jennings hosted a special, “The Search for Jesus.” He never found Him because he relied almost entirely on liberal Bible scholars who dismissed the reliability of the Gospel accounts. The special, though well done, needlessly cast doubt on all the basics about Jesus.
But in 2004, Jennings hosted another ABC special, on Jesus and Paul. This special was fairer, at least they featured an occasional conservative scholar, such as the great Dr. Paul L. Maier.
During that 2004 special, Jennings was walking around Rome, observing that Peter and Paul, two key leaders in the early Church, were absolute nobodies in the first century when they came to that city. They were total outcasts, and both were put to death there as martyrs for their faith. Yet now these two dominate the city. As does, of course, the Jesus they served.
When Jesus walked out of the tomb, He changed history. This is 2014 because Jesus was born circa 2014 years ago. We wouldn’t be talking about Him if He had stayed dead.
The famous skeptic David Hume argued that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead because dead men don’t rise from the dead. True, they normally don’t. However, that’s what makes Jesus’ case so special. Hume employed circular reasoning here. But the Christian does not.
I don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead, only because the Bible says so (which would be circular reasoning). Actually, I believe in the Bible, largely because of the historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.
The biggest single reason I believe Jesus walked out of that tomb bodily is because the disciples were so transformed. At Jesus’ death, they had been very scared. Peter, their leader, denied three times that he knew Him, just to save his skin.
But then something happened that transformed them and made them unstoppable. They claimed that they saw Him risen from the dead, not just once, but many times. They were not wallowing in credulity. In fact, if you read the Gospels, we see that many of the disciples were the original skeptics of the resurrection. We even have the common phrase “Doubting Thomas” because Thomas didn’t believe it---until he saw Jesus alive.
I’ve had the privilege of interviewing many leading Jesus scholars (both believers and skeptics) on the questions of who is Jesus, are the Gospels reliable, and did He rise from the dead?