Excerpted from our series “The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection Even the Skeptics Believe” with Dr. Gary Habermas
Dr. John Ankerberg: Dr. Habermas, you often speak at universities. You’re either debating or you’re speaking to large crowds of people. And most of the folks on campus, their worldview is overwhelmingly secular. They don’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection. What historical facts about Jesus’ resurrection do you present to people who do not believe in the Bible or miracles?
First of all, what are the five historical facts that you’re going to present today, and then we’re going to talk about how in the world do you get there.
Dr. Gary Habermas: If I were going to begin with five key facts I would use, number one: Jesus died by crucifixion. Now, someone might say, well, what’s that got to do with the resurrection? But, of course, He’s got to be dead before He can be raised.
Ankerberg: And some people used to doubt that.
Habermas: Today it’s extremely well accepted.
Habermas: Virtually no problem. Secondly, just as well accepted is that after His crucifixion His disciples had experiences, real experiences, that they believed were appearances of the risen Jesus. They had experiences that they downloaded as, “I’ve seen Jesus.” And, according to the earliest report, this came with individuals and in groups. Thirdly, it had a profound effect on them. We’re still trying to figure that out in New Testament studies, because they turned the world upside down. They walked away, metaphorically, from their fishing nets and their businesses and their tax collecting to follow Jesus for the rest of their lives, and they were willing to die. You go, well, how do you know they were willing to die? Just look at their lives. They kept putting themselves in danger and did it repeatedly. And as a result, a couple of early skeptics: the brother of Jesus, who was raised with Jesus, becomes a believer when he,… most scholars think that happened when he met the risen Jesus; and then the apostle Paul’s by far the best known, who on the way to Damascus has an experience and believes he meets the risen Jesus. Now, if you take those five and you throw in something else, like the empty tomb, then you’ve got a great starting point here.