The Hallucination Theory
The Resurrection of Christ has long been in dispute -- for the critics that is... We've already covered the swoon theory previously, but now let's look at this one: The Hallucination Theory. It's premise is this: "If Jesus died," some will claim, "then everyone who saw Him after His death must have hallucinated!" But there are several problems with this theory.
First, over 500 people saw Jesus at once. It is a scientific fact that hallucinations are not contagious! In addition, the disciples did not expect Jesus to come back; they saw Him die. When He appeared to the eleven while Thomas was absent, Thomas would not believe until he had seen Jesus for Himself. This in itself discredits the hallucination theory; for likely candidates of hallucinations must be expectant, not skeptical! The disciples were anything but expectant! As far as they knew, Jesus was not coming back. Even Cleopas and his companion, walking on the road to Emmaus, stated, "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel"; they thought it was the end. Interestingly, when disciples saw Jesus just before His ascension, the Scriptures say, "But some doubted" (Matthew 28:17). Why was that phrase included? Because even those who doubted still saw Jesus, proving that they were not hallucinating!
But supposing that those who saw Jesus after His death did hallucinate, there is still one problem: anyone could disprove the hallucination; they could go to the tomb and get His body, or take those who experienced the hallucinations to a contemporary who had seen Him die. In addition, the disciples were too depressed to even BELIEVE that Jesus was coming back; as we said before, they saw Him die -- they had all these hopes and dreams for Him, and then... He died. They were so afraid that they hid in the upper room, with -- I might add -- the doors and windows locked; yet Jesus STILL appeared to them! But here is something else which disproves the theory: they thought it was a ghost; in other words, they were not expecting to see Jesus, as would have been the case in order for them to hallucinate. But Jesus Himself proves that it was really Him; He said, "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have" (Luke 24:39). To further prove His point, Jesus said, "Do you have anything to eat?"
If Jesus died and did not rise again, but the disciples merely hallucinated, why didn't anyone say that they were psycho when they said, "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know--Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.... This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses" (Acts 2:22-24, 32). Grant it, some accused them of being full of new wine, but that was before Peter's sermon and after they witnessed the manifestation of the Spirit. And the Scriptures record (vs. 41): "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them." So the question remains, why did all those people, upon hearing Peter's words, believe if Peter and all the rest had merely hallucinated? The answer is simple: the didn't hallucinate; they saw the resurrected Christ, and anyone around town could verify the facts -- all of these events happened while many Jews were in Jerusalem for the Passover!
T. J. Thorburn writes, "Hallucinations have never stimulated people to undertake a work of enormous magnitude, and, while carrying it out, to lead lives of the most rigid and consistent self-denial, and even suffering. In a word, ... we are constrained to agree with Dr. Sanday, who says, 'No apparition, no mere hallucination of the senses, ever yet moved the world.'"
Acts 10:38-43 "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."