September 3, 2022

Subject: Evidence #12 for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Weakness of the Swoon Theory

Ed Croteau

John 20:8 “The other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed.”

Skeptics have invented 6 theories to try and debunk the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The challenge: can Christians show all of them are false? In this week’s article, we’ll look at the Swoon Theory.

The Swoon (or Resuscitation) Theory. Jesus did not die. The disciples saw only a resuscitated Christ. Christ was nailed to a cross and suffered from shock and blood loss. But He didn’t die. He only fainted from exhaustion. When He was placed in the tomb, He was still alive. The disciples, mistaking Him for dead, buried Him alive. The tomb’s cool damp air revived Him. He then appeared to His disciples as the Lord of life.

Refutation #1 = The Linen Wrappings. The swoon theory cannot answer the problem of the linen wrappings lying undisturbed, exactly as they had been before wrapping Christ’s body. Jesus would have had to get out of the wrappings which were wound tightly around His body with over 100 pounds of spices.

This is also the testimony recorded by the apostle John, which led him to believe Jesus rose from the dead: “Stooping and looking in, he (John) saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there, and the facecloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So, the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed.” (John 20:5-8).

Refutation #2 = The Circumstances of the Cross. The Bible records that Pilate, the soldiers, the Jews, the women who went to the tomb to prepare His body for burial, all judged Jesus to be dead by crucifixion.

“The Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. The soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.” (John 19:31-35).

“Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.” (Mark 15:43-4).

Refutation #3 = The Physical Condition of Christ after Crucifixion. If Christ only swooned, He was still half dead. He then had to walk 7 miles on the Emmaus Road to His disciples and convince them He was the Conqueror of death and Prince of Life. Yet that is exactly what happened. They were all convinced He rose.

Refutation #4 = Removing the Stone. The stone weighed 1-2 tons. Although heavy, 2 men could move it into place. The difficult task was removing the stone because it was set inside a sloped groove. To close the tomb, the stone was rolled down the groove and covered the entrance. To open it, the stone had to be grabbed at its edges and rolled up the groove. Jesus, if alive inside the tomb after His brutal beating and crucifixion, could not access the stone’s edges and then on His own roll it up the groove. He would be trapped inside.

Refutation #5 = Getting by the Roman Guards. The soldiers were in a panic after finding Jesus’s tomb empty. After His crucifixion, the Jews told Pilate to seal the tomb and guard it with soldiers: “Remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After 3 days I will rise.’ Command the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come and steal Him away, and say ‘He has risen from the dead.’ Pilate said, ‘Go your way, make it as secure as you know how.’ They sealed the stone and set the guards.” (Matthew 27:63-66).

But the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. So how did the soldiers and the Jews explain this? The soldiers fell asleep: “Some of the guard came and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they assembled with the elders, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, ‘Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’” (Matthew 28:12-15).

Wouldn’t it have been better to parade the dead body of Jesus through Jerusalem? So why did the Jewish leaders concoct this story of the disciples stealing the body? Because no one could locate Jesus’s dead body!

The complete debunking of the Swoon Theory is yet another convincing case for why the Resurrection is true.

Ed Croteau is a lay pastor and resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the LS Tribune, on Facebook and his website