The Week That Changed The World #3: Sunday At The TombVideo Link
Why do we celebrate the Resurrection 2000 years after it happened? We don’t celebrate last years Super Bowl or last years World Series. We hardly celebrate our nations important events and we are just over 200 years old. Why do we still celebrate and believe in the resurrection?
Today even in churches who claim to be following Jesus Christ, there are many who don’t believe in a literal resurrection. Don’t believe He is alive. Here is a letter written to a local advice column along with the response:
Dear Eutychus: Our preacher said, on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered
Dear Bewildered: Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear through his heart; embalm him; put him in an airless tomb for 3 days and see what happens. Sincerely, Eutychus
Many others come to church on Easter Sunday expecting to hear the same old message about a 2000-year-old myth. Now, they don’t call it a myth but to them it actually is because the resurrection of Christ doesn’t make any more difference in their lives today than the story of Zeus throwing lightning bolts or Apollo riding a chariot across the sky that is the sun. They even may say they believe in Jesus but it is a belief without any passion, without any commitment, without any effect in their own lives. In a way the angel in our key verse, Luke 24:5 could have been talking to them. The angels asked the women that morning, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?"
That’s what many are doing when it comes to the resurrection. "Looking for the living among the dead." It’s no wonder Christianity doesn’t work for them they are looking for a dead leader, instead of a living Savior, a wise teacher, instead of the One who created the universe, they want a manageable myth, instead of the Man death could not hold. But my Jesus, the real Jesus, was the virgin born child of Mary, He lived without sin, He was crucified for sin, died and was buried in the tomb and 3 day later arose defeating sin. He is alive today and that reality is that only reality that can and will change people’s lives.
I want to look at the resurrection of Christ this morning, first as a historical truth, secondly as a present power in our lives daily and finally as the foundation of a future hope as sure for us as was Jesus’ own that first Resurrection Sunday.
The Historical Resurrection - Luke 24:1-12
Luke 24:1-12 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. -- It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
The Difference That Makes All The Difference.
Do you know what is the biggest difference between all other religions and Christianity? Christianity is the only one that claims their founder is still alive and running the operation.
Abraham is considered the founder of the Jewish faith and you can visit his tomb in Israel. Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, didn't even believe in resurrection. He said about death that it is "with that utter passing away in which nothing remains." (Yeah, give me some of that.) Mohammed, founded Islam as a way of defeating his neighboring tribes. And he is in a tomb in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Million go on pilgrimage every year to visit, their dead leaders resting place.
None foretold his own death and His own resurrection, 3 days later. Those leaders could not have done such a thing because they unlike Jesus were only men, but Jesus was the Son of Man and the Son of God. He Is Alive
Facts Of the Historical Resurrection of Jesus.
It occurred in a definite time and place. There are ten accounts of Jesus being seen after the resurrection, not counting John’s book of Revelation.
It was witnessed by men and women followers I Corinthians15:3-8.
The Jewish leaders could not refute the witnesses. All they had to do was produce the body but they could not. Matthew 28:11-15
The Jews in the Temple grounds on the Day of Pentecost could have denied the assertions of Peter about the resurrection, but they dared not. Acts 2:22-24
The Apostles and other witnesses of Jesus being alive after His death, were willing to die and did die for that testimony of Christ. You have to ask yourself, would they die for what they knew was an outright lie?
"Yet even the most skeptical Biblical scholars concede that something extraordinary happened in Jerusalem after good Friday to account for the radical change in the behavior of the disciples, who at Jesus' arrest had fled to their own homes in fear. Could Jesus' resurrection account for the fact that within a few weeks they were boldly preaching their message to the very people who had sought to crush them?" U.S. News and World Report Apr.16, 1990 pg.53.
In addition to the Bible accounts there are over 20 ancient historical accounts, written by some of the greatest historians of antiquity that mention Jesus, not as a myth but as a man who lived, and died in Israel.
Josephus' who account was a history of the Jews, written for his employer. It is one of the most detailed, written at end of 1st century.
"Now there was about this time Jesus a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for He was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him many Jews and also many Greeks. This man was the Christ. And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross, upon his impeachment by the principal men among us. Those who loved Him from the first did not forsake him, for he Appeared to them alive on the third day, the Divine prophets having spoken these and thousands Of wonderful things about him. And even now the race of Christians so named from him, has not died out."
Historian Cornelius Tacitus (116 AD). Tacitus is a significant Roman historian of whom scholars have learnt much from, we also find that he refers to Jesus in his writing.
Tacitus writes about Pilate (the prefect that judged Jesus). However, particularly significant for our cause is that Jesus is mentioned by a hostile and independent source within 100 years of his existence (roughly 80 to 85 years). “Christus, the founder of the [Christian] name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, by through the city of Rome also.”
The Jewish Talmud (400 – 700 AD) The Talmud is an ancient record of Jewish history, laws, and rabbinic teachings compiled throughout the centuries, and makes several references to Jesus. As a rather hostile anti-Christian source it is no surprise that the Talmud rejects the divinity of Jesus, and rather attempts to attack his character and yet it clearly states He lived and died.
These are the facts, not the myths of Jesus life, death and resurrection. We need to face them and not only those facts but we also need to face our own facts in light of the reality of Jesus.
Facing Our Own Facts.
Historically speaking the existence, life, death and resurrection of Jesus is one of the best documented life of ancient times. The facts of Jesus life are really not in question but what we should question is the reason for His life, death and resurrection. Jesus of Nazereth, truly lived, died and rose again, but why?
First Jesus came to this world and died in order to be our substitute for Sin. He took our place took on God’s wrath and paid the penalty for our sin. Jesus death was a vicarious death, meaning he did not die for His sins but for the sin of others.
“The sufferings of Christ were not just the sympathetic sufferings of a friend, but the substitutionary sufferings of the Lamb of God for the sin of the world. - Henry Clarence Thiessen and Vernon D. Doerksen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 235.
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
This is a double imputation. Jesus' righteousness is imputed to us and our sin is imputed on Christ. He was not a sinner, nor was He guilty and that innocence, that guiltlessness, that sinlessness meant God could allow Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, to be our sacrifice for sin.
Secondly, Jesus’ suffering and death was a propitiation, an atonement and a ransom. Jesus death proved that God would judge sin but it also showed God’s love and mercy for the sinner. Romans 5:8 But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Finally, His resurrection was proof that His promises here true and His power greater than death and the grave. 2nd Corinthians 15: 53-57 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here is the fact you must face, Do you share in the power of His resurrection? Have you accepted Jesus death as your sacrifice for sin? Have you ever repented of your sin and put your faith in the only one who in his own power rose from the dead? Is it a fact that you are trusting in Jesus this morning?
There have been many who tried to prove a myth, but wound up believing the reality.
J. Warner Wallace, was an atheist, homicide detective. He was so well known at solving decades-old murders, he ended up as the foremost expert on national TV true crime shows. He decided to turn his detective skills to disproving the Resurrection. Instead after examining the facts he became a believer and an advocate for Christ.
As a young atheist in college, Josh McDowell set off to write Evidence That Demands a Verdict to show the evidence about Christ, including His Resurrection, was so weak, the verdict would be “Not True.” But you probably know what happened, He wound up writing one of the most extensive books and made a career out of proven the truth of Jesus and His resurrection.
Many years ago, a lawyer by the name of Frank Morison wrote a book with the title Who Moved The Stone? He set out with the purpose of disproving the resurrection, of proving that Christ did not really rise from the grave. But the book turned out to be entirely different. It is a searching study of the scriptural story of Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection. He makes the unquestionable point that the resurrection is a historical fact. Lawyer-like, he disposes, one after another, of the dozens of theories invented to account for the removal of the body from the tomb.
A famous civil war General Lew Wallace was also an atheist and tried to prove the myth of Jesus resurrection but again instead of proving it he wound up writing the book “Ben Hur: a story of the Christ” and it became the best selling book of the 19th century and they are still making movies about it.
Quote: Victor Hugo’s, the famous French author, said this just before his death, "When I go to the grave I can say, as others have said, "My day's work is done." But I cannot say, "My life is done." My work will recommence the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes upon the twilight but opens upon the dawn." -Victor Hugo
D.L. Moody when still a young man, was called upon suddenly to preach a funeral sermon. He hunted all throughout the four Gospels trying to find one of Christ's funeral sermons, but searched in vain. You know what he found? He found that Christ broke up every funeral he ever attended. Death could not exist where he was. When the dead heard the voice of Jesus they sprang to life. He said, "I am the resurrection, and the life."
To Jesus, Jairus daughter was not dead she was only asleep, and it took no more than His gentle touch and words to bring her back from the clutches of death.
Jesus walked up to a funeral procession coming from the city of Nain. He saw the tears of a widowed mother who had lost her only son. Jesus broke up the funeral as if he just bringing her lost little boy back home.
Mary and Martha watched their brother Lazarus slowly slip from sickness to death and then to the grave. They buried him and for four days he lay in a tomb, four days for his body to decay, four days his flesh to rotted. But Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life" and he told them to roll away the stone. Then He called out, "Lazarus, Come forth" and a decaying body wrapped in grave clothes was remade new and sprang back from eternity at the sound of His voice.
Is the resurrection real to you today? The resurrection will not be real if Jesus is not real to you. Is He your personal Saviour; is he your lord? Do you believe in the power of his death over sin on your behalf
It's time to believe in the one who defeated sin, death and the grave. It’s time to let Jesus prove the power of the resurrection is not a myth, but the most powerful reality you can every experience.