There is the evidence that Jesus’ disciples had real experiences with one whom they believed was the risen Christ. However, just because the disciples think they saw Jesus doesn’t automatically mean that they really did. There are three possible alternatives:
- 1. They were lying
- 2. They hallucinated
- 3. They really saw the risen Christ
Which of these is most likely? Were they lying? Well if so, why did 10 of the disciples willingly die as martyrs for their belief in the resurrection? People don’t often die for a lie. If Jesus did not rise, the disciples knew it. They would have been dying for a lie that they knew was a lie. Ten people would not all give their lives for something they know to be a lie.
The hallucination theory is untenable because it cannot explain the physical nature of the appearances. The disciples record eating and drinking with Jesus, as well as touching him. This cannot be done with hallucinations. Second, it is highly unlikely that they would all have had the same hallucination. Hallucinations are highly individual, and not group projections. Imagine if I came in here and said to you, “wasn’t that a great dream I had last night?” Hallucinations, like dreams, generally don’t transfer like that.
Since the disciples could not have been lying or hallucinating, we have only one possible explanation left: the disciples had really had seen the risen Jesus.