Now we know when the Buddha died, but when was he raised?1
In the USA Today edition of Tuesday, November 26, 2013, writer Traci Watson reported that scientists have allegedly “uncovered the first physical evidence showing when the great religious leader known as the Buddha passed away, a date crucial to scholars and adherents of Buddhism” (5a).
Excavations conducted during the past two years imply that he died (or, as Buddhists like to put it, he experienced his “great passing away”) in the sixth century b.c., roughly 100 years “earlier than the scholarly consensus” (evidently most have, until now, believed he died between 420 and 380 b.c.).
As Watson notes, this is more than just an academic debate: “Buddhist countries such as Thailand use a dating system pegged to the year of the Buddha’s death.”
What I find most interesting is that no Buddhist scholar or anyone of any religious inclination has ever spoken of the date when the Buddha rose from the dead. There is good reason for that: he’s dead! We may not know when and where he died, but we can be certain of one thing: he’s still dead!
We who identify as Christians happily declare that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was likely born around 4 b.c. He died some 30-33 years later, and was raised from the dead on the third day! Apparently Buddhists have no problem being Buddhists in spite of the fact that their leader is dead. But if Jesus Christ be not risen, then the preaching of Christians “is in vain” and our “faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). If the dead are not raised, and Jesus is as dead as the Buddha, our “faith is futile” and we are still in our “sins” and “we are of all people (even more than Buddhists) most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:17-18).
But praise be to God who “raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24). Buddhists can manage fine with a dead leader. Christians cannot, and are themselves better off dead if Jesus was not raised.