A Striking Modern Proof for the Resurrection of Jesus

By Michael Brown Published on March 31, 2024

The New Testament writers universally claim Jesus rose from the dead, and they report he was seen by numerous eyewitnesses. Not only so, but history tells us some of these same eyewitnesses subsequently died for their faith. They were that sure Jesus rose from the dead.

Was it likely they made the story up? Not if they were willing to die for it. As the saying goes, you don’t die for a lie.

But maybe they were self-deceived? Maybe they really believed they saw Jesus rise from the dead but they were suffering from cognitive dissonance, causing them to go into intense denial?

Was it a Hallucination?

That’s what some theologians and psychologists have suggested. They claim that the followers of Jesus — or, as he was known to them, Yeshua — were so sure that he was the Messiah they could not believe he stayed in the grave.

Surely, they thought to themselves, he will conquer death. Surely he will rise again. Surely he will fulfill his mission.

And so, because their beliefs were so strong and the pain of his death so real and unbearable, they hallucinated his resurrection from the dead.

They weren’t lying. They were deceived.

The Disciples’ Reactions to Jesus’ Death

Now, other scholars have pointed out that there are very few accounts of mass hallucination of a resurrection. In fact, there is nothing in recorded history that equals what is recorded in the New Testament.

Not only so, but to the embarrassment of these first followers of Jesus, the very men who would become the leaders of this new movement, the New Testament does not paint them in the most flattering terms.

They resisted all talk of Jesus dying on the cross. They tried to stop the soldiers who took him to be crucified — Peter chopped off one of the men’s ears! — and when he was being killed, they fled in fear for their own lives.

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And then, once he died, they went into hiding with the doors locked, thinking they might be next. They were anything but hopeful. Instead, they were depressed.

And when some of Yeshua’s female followers claimed that they went to his tomb but he was not there, the men did not believe them.

They were utterly shocked by his resurrection. They did not see it coming at all. And that means the cognitive dissonance theory breaks down. The resurrection was the opposite of what they were expecting.

A Modern-Day Test Case

But we now have a modern-day test case by which we can evaluate the New Testament claims — and it’s a very close parallel in many ways.

In 1994, a famous rabbi named Menachem Mendel Schneerson died at the age of 92. He was so revered by his followers they began to proclaim that he was the Messiah. And then, towards the end of his life, when he was rendered mute by two strokes, they waited anxiously for his miraculous healing and restoration.

“The Messiah (or, Moshiach, as they called him) is about to be revealed!”

Instead, he died.

But not all of his followers were grieving. Some were actually dancing in the streets, sure that he would rise. After all, he was the Messiah!

And after he was buried, some kept vigil at his grave, waiting for his resurrection. But it never happened.

They were waiting for it. They expected it. They believed that, at any moment, he would rise from the dead. But he didn’t — and to this day, none of his followers, who number in the multiplied tens of thousands, claim to have seen him in the flesh after he died.

None of them had a meal with him. None of them touched him. None of them talked with him face to face.

Yeshua’s Resurrection vs. Rabbi Schneerson’s Death

It’s the exact opposite of the New Testament account, where the disciples were depressed and hopeless, sure that it was over, only to be shocked by Yeshua’s resurrection.

Not only so, but the New Testament records that his followers met with him for several weeks, even having meals together, and that he appeared to 500 followers at once.

Why, then, didn’t the same thing happen with the followers of Rabbi Schneerson, known as the Rebbe? Why didn’t they imagine it too?

What makes this all the more interesting is that, to this day, many of the Rebbe’s followers still claim that he is the Messiah. They say his death was a test for our physical eyes. Or that he is spiritually present with us. Or that if you check his tomb, he isn’t there.

Yet, to repeat, none of them claim to have met him physically, risen from the dead and alive again. In fact, on their calendars, they do not record the day of his death. They are still in denial about it.

In sharp contrast, those first followers of Jesus strongly emphasized the reality of his death — crucified like the lowest criminal, no less — but then stated that he also rose from the dead. And there were eyewitnesses.

Were The Disciples Deceived?

Were they suffering from cognitive dissonance? Did they deceive themselves into imagining this?

Centuries of psychological data, coupled with new evidence from the followers of Rabbi Schneerson, provide a simple and clear answer: absolutely not.

(To see this article in the form of a compelling, animated video, go here.)

 

Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He is the author of more than 40 books, including Can You be Gay and Christian?Our Hands Are Stained With Blood; and Seize the Moment: How to Fuel the Fires of Revival. You can connect with him on FacebookX, or YouTube.

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