The greatest lie?
The obvious solution to the questions this raises is to say that the accounts of the resurrection were made up, a myth created by a small group of Jesus’ close disciples. But the idea that the followers invented a lie is clearly nonsensical when we learn what they themselves did with the rest of their lives. They had seen Jesus mocked, tortured and killed and, very naturally, they were initially confused and scared. If they honestly believed that Jesus’ public mission had come to an abrupt end with His death on the cross, they would surely have removed themselves from the very dangerous limelight at the first opportunity. Yet after Christ had risen from the dead, and the Holy Spirit had descended on Mary and on the apostles, everything changed. The Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in a language that was understood by all the foreigners present and to work “many signs and miracles” (Acts 2).
Of the apostles chosen by Jesus, all but the one who betrayed Him devoted the rest of their lives to spreading the gospel message, often alone and in unfamiliar parts of the world. So we do not have here a politically motivated group who manipulated young and impressionable individuals to go out and die for their faith whilst they themselves watched from a safe distance. Rather, with the exception of Judas, the apostles practised what they preached, giving everything including in most cases their very lives, even though every one of them was vividly aware that Jesus had been put to death on the cross. If their message was untrue then their actions are inexplicable.