In 2007, a documentary aired on the Discovery Channel entitled The Lost Tomb of Jesus. It was produced by James Cameron, who is a famous American producer and director of movies like Avatar and Titanic. This documentary tells the story of a tomb that was discovered by archaeologists in a Jerusalem housing development project called the Talpiot Tomb. In this tomb was discovered ten ossuaries. An ossuary is a chest or shelf that contains the final remains of the deceased.
Three of those ossuaries were labeled in Aramaic with names of significant N.T. figures.: Mariam (or “Mary” in English), Yosef (or “Joseph” in English) and Yeshua (or “Jesus” in English). It was common to bury families together during this period of history.
A few archaeologies claimed this was the tomb where they actually laid the body of Jesus. However, not too long after the remains were publicized, well respected archaeologists – Christian and non-Christian – debunked the “bad science” of the claims that it was the actual tomb of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
But the story about the actual tomb discovery did produce another controversy: what if they actually found bones on the ossuary labeled Yeshua? Hypothetically, how would Christians respond? Would some Christians discount Christianity and the resurrection if remains of Jesus were found? It is a hypothetical question, but some Christians foolishly answered, “It wouldn’t matter, because our faith is not based on historical facts but on God’s love.” In other words, there were some Christians who believed the resurrection didn’t actually have to happen for them to remain Christians.
One wise non-Christian who spoke out about the claims of some Christians that the resurrection doesn’t matter wrote about it in Newsweek magazine. Rabbi Marc Gellmann, who is the Senior Rabbi of a Temple in New York, wisely wrote this:
“Some Christian respondents to this film have said that even discovering the bones of Jesus would not seriously undermine their faith. They say that 2,000 years of tradition does not just get canned because somebody found some bone boxes in the basement of the Israel Museum. I know many Christian clergy who have told me that the main truth of Christianity for them is to love as Jesus loved and that no archeological discovery can change that spiritual lesson. I love these folks but, as an outsider, I just don’t agree that decisive refutation of Jesus’ resurrection would have no effect on Christian faith. Unlike Judaism and Islam and Hinduism and even Buddhism, which are built on God’s teachings, Christianity is built both on God’s teachings as well as on an historical event proving a transcendental miracle. …
“The divide separating Christians from non-Christians is not between those who think loving all people is good and those who think loving all people is bad. The real divide is between those who believe that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day as proof that he was indeed the Messiah sent by God, and those who do not believe this article of faith and this audacious historical claim.”
Rabbi Gellmann got it right: Christianity must have the resurrection. Without the historical event of the resurrection, you do not have an authentic Christianity.
Thanks be to God that Jesus did raise from the dead!
But what if He didn’t raise from the dead? What then? The goal of this special week-long Easter series is to answer that question.
In Corinthians 15:12-19, Paul outlines six consequences that would result if the resurrection did not occur. In other words, if Jesus truly didn’t raise from the dead, would that matter? Paul says, “It matters greatly,” and here are six reasons why.
Tomorrow, we consider the first consequences of Jesus NOT being raised from the dead.