INTRO: St. Paul said, I Cor. 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” However, there is ample hard evidence that would stand up in court that Jesus rose from the dead. We will look at two things: what the resurrection means to us, and proofs of it.
WHAT THE RESURRECTION MEANS TO US:
Acts 17:31 says, “[God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
── 1 ── THE RESURRECTION REASSURES US THAT THERE IS INDEED A LIFE AFTER DEATH AND THAT IT IS AS JESUS DESCRIBED IT.
── 2 ── THE RESURRECTION SHOWS US THAT GOD ACCEPTED JESUS’ SACRIFICE FOR OUR SINS.
── 3 ── THE RESURRECTION SHOWS US THAT JESUS IS EXACTLY WHO HE SAID HE IS.
PROOFS (CONCRETE EVIDENCE) OF THE RESURRECTION:
WE KNOW JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS ── HE DID NOT FAINT: The separation of the fluid around the heart into blood and water-like serum was reported when the soldier stabbed Jesus in the chest cavity. (John 19:34, But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.) Any nurse can tell you this is a proof of death, because the fluid doesn’t separate until death has occurred.
WE KNOW JESUS WAS IMMOBILIZED IN THE TOMB: The 100 lbs of spices and the winding sheet would have made it impossible for even a healthy, undwounded man to escape, and would in fact have suffocated a living man:
John 19:39-42, “And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound [weight]. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation [day]; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”
WE KNOW JESUS WAS NOT ONLY PLACED IN THE TOMB, BUT SEEN THERE AND GUARDED BY SOLDIERS WHOSE LIVES WOULD BE FORFEIT SHOULD THEY LOSE THE BODY:
── It was a Roman guard given by Pilate to the Jews, called a “watch”: Matthew 27:65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make [it] as sure as ye can.
── A “Watch” was a crack unit of 16 troops. They were so highly disciplined that they were qualified to guard the Emperor of Rome. If one of them fell asleep on duty, the punishment was to be burned at the stake with his clothes tied around his ankles.
── The tomb was sealed, and the Roman method of sealing a building was first to examine the interior and make sure that what was being guarded was within; then to put two thongs of leather across the entrance held by four clay packs, and a clay pack where the thongs crossed. The roman emperial eagle seal was stamped into the clay packs, and the penalty for disturbing that seal was to be crucified upside down.
THE ENEMIES OF CHRIST DID NOT STEAL THE BODY.
── We know this, because it would have stopped Christianity dead in its tracks if they had been able to produce the body and show that Jesus was in fact still dead. The Jews or Romans would have marched through the streets with the body if they could. They couldn’t.
THE FRIENDS OF CHRIST DID NOT STEAL THE BODY.
── They feared for their lives. They were in hiding.
── They could not overcome 16 crack armed Roman soldiers.
── The tomb was carved from solid rock with no other entrance than the one being guarded by the soldiers.
── The Jews paid the Roman soldiers to spread the lie that Christians took the body while they were sleeping. (Mat. 28:12-15). If in fact the soldiers had been sleeping, or if they indeed had taken a bribe from Jesus’s followers, or if they had fallen asleep, the soldiers would have been executed; and the Jews would have pushed to see that they were executed! Furthermore, the manner of their execution would have been especially painful owing to the fact that they were a crack unit, a watch — the penalty for a member of a Roman watch failing in his duty was to be tied to a stake, have his clothes stripped from his body and tied around his ankles, and to be burned alive (slowly) from having his clothes lit on fire. [Details come from Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Josh was a lawyer who set out to disprove the resurrection and wound up converting to Christianity after he believed the evidence.]
THE BEHAVIOR OF CHRISTIANS AFTER THE RESURRECTION SHOWS IT OCCURRED.
── They came out of hiding.
── They were willing to risk death. Nothing would explain this fact except assurance of life after death.
── They preached the resurrection fearlessly.
── They made the resurrection the central evidence that their gospel was true.
THE BEHAVIOR OF UNBELIEVERS AFTER THE RESURRECTION SHOWS IT OCCURRED.
── The Jews could not prevent the Christians from gathering to worship in the Temple.
── So many Jewish priests in Jerusalem became Christians that the Jewish faith nearly ended.
── Peter and the apostles baptized so many (Acts 2:38 ff) that it would have taken all day (Acts 2:41 says 3,000 souls). Baptizing 4 a minute, every hour you would baptize 240; every four hours you would baptize about 1,000; it would take one man 12 hours to baptize 3,000!
── Today, Jews will not read Isa 53 in their yearly reading of their own scripture! It is so obviously referring to Jesus:
Isaiah 53:3-12, He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 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. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
ALL THE ANCIENT PREDICTIONS CAME TO PASS:
── The description of death on the cross, including the piercing of hands and feet, was predicted in Psalm 22:16.
── The casting of lots by the Roman soldiers for Jesus’ outer garment was predicted in Psa. 22:18.
── Jesus’ thirst was predicted in Psa. 22:15.
── Giving Jesus vinegar to drink was predicted in Psa. 69:21.
SO WE CAN SAY BOLDLY AND WITH GREAT JOY:
── He has risen indeed.
── Everything Jesus told us is true.
── Heaven is real and we will live there forever as Jesus told us.
── God has shown He accepts us because He has shown He accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for us, on the cross.
Glory to God in the highest. There is peace on earth between God and believers because of Jesus Christ. Let us go forth and tell the world that the Savior is real and can save them to the uttermost.