(1) If Jesus literally and bodily rose from the dead, Christianity is true. If He did not raise from the dead, Christianity is a twisted fairy tale.
(2) Virtually all New Testament scholars–Devout Christians, diehard skeptics, and everything in between–believe the eyewitness accounts of the New Testament to be sincere and historically reliable. If Jesus rose from the dead, Christianity must be true, so skeptical New Testament historians will only admit the early Christians believed Jesus rose from the dead.
(3) The skeptics have proposed several theories to explain why the disciples believed Jesus rose again. We have examined the hallucination theory and the theory that the disciples went to the wrong tomb. Neither of those theories pass the “smell test.” If you want to see why they are not convincing, please refer back to my previous posts.
Now we will examine the Swoon or Apparent Death Theory. In my humble opinion, this is the most rediculous theory attempting to explain how Jesus did not raise from the dead.
Crucifixion was the most brutal method of execution in Jesus’s day (and probably still is in our day). After Jesus was brutally beaten–by the temple guard, Herod’s soldiers, and Roman soldiers–the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke say that Jesus was not strong enough to carry His cross all the way to Golgotha (it had to be carried by one Simon of Cyrene).
At Golgotha He was nailed to His cross with six inch iron spikes. In addition to massive bloodloss from the nail wounds, the crown of thorns, and scourging with the cat of nine tails whip, Jesus slowly and painfully died as he drowned in his own bodily fluids. The gospels record that the Roman soldiers were about to break His legs (to keep Him from breathing by pushing Himself up) and deternined this was unecessary because He was already dead. These guys were professional killers, and knew a dead body when they saw one. However, just to be sure they rammed a spear into His side, piercing His heart, and “at once there came out blood and water” (John 19:34, ESV).
If you would like an even more detailed account, written by medical doctors, please refer to “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ” at http://brainshavings.com/supplements/crucifixion/death2.htm.
If nothing else, watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion or Jesus of Nazareth. Ask yourself, “Do I really think Jesus lived through all that? Really?!?” Honestly, it’s a lot more likely He rose from the dead, than that He survived Roman crucifixion. If you actually believe Jesus just fainted, I seriously have to question whether your skepticism is based on logic and reason, or simple bias against Christianity. That’s right, Christopher Hitchens, I’m talking to you!
The lunacy doesn’t end there!!!
Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that the skeptics are right and Jesus only fainted. Prior to His burial He would have been enbalmed in 75 pounds of linen bandages and spices. If this did not suffocate Him, He surely would have died from blood loss and exposure in the cave tomb.
Let’s get even dumber! Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, He surived all of that. He still would have had to unwrap all those bandages, push the two ton boulder away from the entrance of the tomb, and then (while still badly wounded) fight elite Roman guards before appearing to His disciples.
If you are willing to believe this, rather than Jesus’s resurrection from the dead… you better get a check up, I think you’re dead from the neck up.
This also does not explain Jesus’s appearance to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Jesus appeared in light bright enough to blind Saul (until he was miraculously healed). After this experience, Saul completely changed his mind about Christianity. He was transformed from the most zealous persecutor of Christianity to the most zealous preacher of Christianity. This cannot be explained by Jesus narrowly surviving crucifixion, and years later appearing to Saul with a big torch and and a megaphone to scare Saul into believing in Him.
Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul, who tells the Corinthians that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. This is the man who writes that the gospel message is that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose on the third day. This is the man who boldly proclaims that Jesus appeared to the apostles, over 500 disciples at one time, and last of all to him, a persecutor of the Church. You simply can’t explain that with a fainting Messiah.