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Circumstantial Evidence of the Resurrection
The Silence of Jewish Leaders
Why wasn't the resurrection flatly denied? The Jewish leaders (referred to as Sadducees, Pharisees, chief priests, scribes) looked at Christians as a thorn in their side, both before and after the resurrection. This is why they were so adamant about stopping Peter and John from preaching. But through it all, they never denied the resurrection that these apostles were preaching. The following passage from the book of Acts is indicative of the interaction between the apostles and the Jewish leadership. While it is a fairly long reading, it bears examination in extracting the true disposition of the Jews,
"As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent. When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, 'By what power, or in what name, have you done this?'
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, 'Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.'
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, 'What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.'
And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, 'Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.' When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened." (Acts 4:1-21)
Verse 14 is especially powerful: When presented with the fact of miracles performed through the power of the resurrected Christ, they [the Sadducees] had nothing to say in reply. Furthermore, during this same event about 5,000 men, most likely Jews, came to believe. Why would 5,000 men believe in the resurrection, and Jesus as Messiah, if the Jewish leaders had offered a strong case against the resurrection? The answer, quite simply, is that the attesting case in favor of the resurrection was beyond reasonable doubt.