The Question, “What if Jesus Survived the Crucifixion?”

  • One argument sometimes raised against the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus is called the Swoon Theory. This argument posits the idea that Jesus never really died as a result of the crucifixion, but instead, Jesus was mistakenly declared dead and placed in a tomb. After three days in the tomb, Jesus awoke, emerged from the grave, and convinced his followers that he had risen from the dead.

There are a number of problems with the argument that Jesus survived the crucifixion, for example:

  • The Romans were expert executioners; and the executioners presiding over Jesus’ crucifixion made certain he was dead. The Gospels record that the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus had their legs broken to hasten their deaths. However, when the executioners examined Jesus they found no reason to break his legs as he was already dead (John 19:33).
  • The biblical record also reports that the executioners jabbed a spear through Jesus’ side to assure he was dead (John 19:34). The Gospels record that blood and water spilled out of this stab wound, indicating death by traumatic shock and acute heart failure.

Furthermore, even if we assume Jesus survived the crucifixion, there are still numerous challenges for the Swoon Theory to overcome:

  • How did Jesus escape the mummy-like grave clothes he was buried in (John 19:38-42)?
  • How did a barely alive Jesus move the large stone blocking the tomb’s entrance (Matthew 27:60)?
  • How did Jesus get past the guard unit commissioned by Pilate to make the tomb secure (Matthew 27:65)?
  • How did a bruised and battered Jesus convince his followers that he was the risen Lord who had triumphantly conquered the grave?
  • And lastly, what happened to Jesus if he wasn’t God incarnate who rose from the grave and ascended into Heaven? Are we to believe that someone of Jesus’ acclaim just disappeared from history, never to be seen or heard from again?
  • The Swoon Theory is ultimately a desperate attempt to explain away the overwhelming historical evidence for the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus.

For more information on the resurrection of Jesus Christ please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, The Resurrection: Fiction or Fact?, available in CD or MP3 in our online store.