“People will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely believe they’re true, but people won’t die for their religious beliefs if they know their beliefs are false.” The Case For Christ, Lee Strobel
This quote comes from an interview in which Strobel is discussing the circumstantial evidence surrounding the Resurrection with J.P. Moreland, Ph.D. Moreland contends that one of the best pieces of circumstantial evidence supporting the Resurrection is the fact that many early disciples, and all but one apostle, died for their faith. In response Strobel notes that many people throughout history have been willing to sacrifice their lives for their beliefs including Muslims, Christians, Mormons, Hindus, Jews and Buddhists.
But of all these religious groups only one makes the radical claim that its founder rose from the dead, and that same group claims to have witnessed the risen leader.
Two thousand years later we must take a living Christ on faith, but Jesus’ earliest followers did not: They said they saw Him alive. Now, if they really saw Jesus alive after He died on the cross, their radical lifestyle changes and their willingness to die for the gospel makes complete sense; it’s exactly the kind of response you’d expect.
However, if the disciples claimed to have seen Jesus alive between the Resurrection and the Ascension but knew they had fabricated the story, would they have been willing to die for that lie? Consider it this way: If more than 500 people in North Korea today lied about witnessing the risen Christ in bodily form, how many executions do you think it would take to expose the falsehood? One? Maybe five? I doubt it would take more than that to reveal the story as a hoax. So why couldn’t the brutalization and murder of the earliest Christians force them to recant their testimony of the Resurrection?
Strobel’s conclusion: Because the Resurrection actually happened; they couldn’t recant their testimony because it was true.