Easter 2002: “Evidences For Jesus’ Resurrection”
1.1. In our study today, seeing that it is Easter Sunday, 2002, we are going to look at the resurrection of Christ from the dead from a couple of perspectives:
1.1.1. The fact that there is solid evidence to support the historical validity of the resurrection of Christ from the dead
188.8.131.52. We are going to concentrate upon and examine several of the many evidences that Christ did in fact raise from the dead
1.1.2. The implications that arise depending upon whether or not Christ was raised from the dead
2.1. The following is the account in John’s gospel, chapter 20, of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, “1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.2 And so she *ran and *came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”3 Peter therefore went forth, and the other disciple, and they were going to the tomb.4 And the two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter, and came to the tomb first;5 and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.6 Simon Peter therefore also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *beheld the linen wrappings lying there,7 and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed.9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;12 and she *beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.13 And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”14 When she had said this, she turned around, and *beheld Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.15 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She *turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.19 When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and *said to them, “Peace be with you.”20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord.21 Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.25 The other disciples therefore were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”26 And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, “Peace be with you.”27 Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.”28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”29 Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”30 Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
3. The apostle John’s account of Jesus’ resurrection is only one account of the four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each one gives his own unique perspective and details of the resurrection of Jesus, just as testimony given by each witness in a court of law will vary in detail and focus. None of the accounts contradict each other, rather they each introduce elements the other writers neglected to mention or possibly notice. If all of the accounts were identical we would know that a plot had been formed by the apostles to deceive everyone by their concocted story.
4. Chuck Misler in his most recent news letter writes the following concerning the upcoming Easter holiday and the resurrection of Christ, “Mohammed, Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha), Confucius, Jesus Christ. To many, these names are all of equal value; they represent great teachers who spoke words of wisdom and enlightenment. They are the leaders of major religions, and their words and ideas live to this day, each having won the loyalty of millions and even billions of followers. All four of these men died and were buried. However, three still lie in the grave.”
4.1. Jesus Christ alone is the risen Lord over all.
5. As Jesus was going about His ministry, we see from the numerous gospel accounts that He was performing many signs and wonders for the people. He healed all who came to Him who were sick and who were possessed by demons, and on three occasions He raised people from the dead. The Jewish leaders however became incensed at Him for a couple of reasons: He condemned them for the hypocrisy in their religion, and He did not recognize and even circumvented their spiritual authority. The Jewish leaders, both Scribes and Pharisees, were constantly asking Jesus to perform a sign for them to validate the fact that He had the authority to do the things that He was doing (for some reason the signs He had been performing weren’t enough for them?!), to prove that He was in fact their Messiah. In Matt. 12:39-40, we read that Jesus told them that He would give them a sign, and this sign involved His resurrecting from the dead, “39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
5.1. Those who are willing to honestly investigate the evidence for Christ’s resurrection will come away knowing that there is no other explanation for the events that followed His crucifixion other than the fact that Christ raised from the dead.
6. The great English preacher of a century and a half ago, Spurgeon, once preached about the proofs for the resurrection of Christ saying, “Yet beyond a doubt it can be shown that there is as much evidence for the resurrection of Christ as for any fact in history. There is, probably, no fact in history which is so fully proven and corroborated as the fact that Jesus of Nazareth, who was nailed to the cross, and died, and was buried, did rise again. As we believe the histories of Julius Caesar — as we accept the statements of Tacitus — we are bound on the same grounds, even as historical documents, to accept the testimony of Matthew, and Mark, and Luke, and John, and of those persons who were eye-witnesses of his death, and who saw him after he had risen from the dead. That Jesus Christ rose from the dead is not an allegory and a symbol, but it is a reality.”
7. Many men have attempted to disprove the resurrection of Christ by examining the accounts of the resurrection found in the gospels as well as the accounts in secular history. On Terry Watkin’s web site are a couple of stories of men who attempted to disprove the resurrection of Christ and ended up becoming Christians as a result of their study:
7.1. “After investigating the evidence of the resurrection, Lord Darling, former Chief Justice of England, stated, ". . . there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true."
7.2. “Dr. Greenleaf, the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, was one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He wrote the famous legal volume entitled, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr. Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the "myth" of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection — Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion! He wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. In which he emphatically stated: "it was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD . . . (Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, p.29). Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the best supported event in all of history! And not only that, Dr. Greenleaf was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence, he committed his life to Jesus Christ!”
7.3. “After an appraisal of recent scholarship on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Professor William Craig contends that "the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, and the origin of the Christian faith - all point unavoidably to one conclusion: the resurrection of Jesus."
8. Walter B. Knight has written a quote of Michelangelo concerning his surprise that so many of the artistic renditions of Christ have Him hanging on a cross, he writes, “When Michelangelo visited several great art galleries in European cities, he was deeply impressed by the preponderance of paintings depicting Christ hanging on the cross. He asked, “Why are art galleries filled with so many pictures of Christ upon the cross—Christ dying? Why do artists concentrate upon that passing episode, as if that were the last word and the final scene? Christ’s dying on the cross lasted for only a few hours. But to the end of unending eternity, Christ is alive! Christ rules and reigns and triumphs!””
9. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, how can you explain all of the many great hymns that have been written throughout the centuries about Christ’s having raised from the dead? The following are some examples:
Come, ye saints, look here and wonder,
See the place where Jesus lay;
He has burst His bands asunder;
He has borne our sins away;
Yes, the Lord has risen to-day.
- Thomas Kelly, Come, Ye Saints, Look Here and Wonder
In the bonds of Death He lay
Who for our offence was slain;
But the Lord is risen to-day,
Christ hath brought us life again,
Wherefore let us all rejoice,
Singing loud, with cheerful voice,
- Martin Luther, In the Bonds of Death He Lay
"Christ the Lord is risen to-day,"
Sons of men and angels say.
Raise your joys and triumphs high;
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply.
- Charles Wesley, Christ the Lord is Risen To-Day
10. The fact that the resurrection of Christ was not disproved in the first century is evidence that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.
10.1. The fact that the Jews in Jesus’ day could not find the body of Jesus nor disprove the fact that Jesus raised from the dead is a very convincing proof of His resurrection.
10.1.1. If they could have found
Jesus’ body they would have paraded the dead body of Jesus all through the
11. The very existence of the church today is evidence that Christ was raised from the dead, for over the centuries many tried to destroy Christianity from the face of the earth. The first 300 years of the church ten Roman emperors over a period of 300 years tried to destroy every document and evidence of the existence of Christianity.
12. The very presence of each of you who know Christ this morning is an evidence that Christ has risen from the dead, for even today men and women are telling of how the living Christ has transformed their lives as they have received Him as their Lord and Savior. Churches all across the world are filled with people whom Christ has transformed for eternity and His kingdom.
Before we think about the theories that people have come up with to
disprove the resurrection of Christ, let’s think for a minute what the four gospel
writers have written about what happened to Jesus on the day that He died. The Romans first put something over his head
and began to punch Him in the head telling Him to prophesy about who it was who
was punching Him. Then, they began to
beat Him about the head with rods, or poles.
They placed a crown with 4”-6” thorns upon His head. They gave Him 30 lashes with a ‘cat of 9
tails’. This is a whip with a number of
leather thongs on the end, each of which has pieces of bone or metal on the
ends. This pieces of bone and metal dig
into the muscle, blood vessels, veins, ligaments, tendons, bones, and
organs. Then, when pulled out they tear
part of those out of the person. The
Jews were not allowed to give over 39 lashes because 40 was considered a lethal
punishment. Many men died after
receiving 39 lashes, and if a man lived through 39 lashes he would never be the
same, and probably never be able to walk uprightly again. They then tried to force Jesus to carry His
cross up to
14. The several theories which have been concocted throughout history for disproving that Jesus was in fact resurrected from the dead actually end up being evidence that Christ in fact did raise from the dead. These are the best ones:
14.1. THE SWOON THEORY
14.1.1.This theory believes that Jesus revived in the tomb and came out and found His disciples.
14.1.2.Those who created and hold to this theory believes that Jesus revived in spite of the fact that He had been beaten, He had been given 39 lashes with the Cat Of 9 Tails, He had been too weak to carry His own cross to Calvary, He hung on the cross for 6 hours, the guards were so convinced that he was already dead they they didn’t break His legs to hasten His death when they came to take His body, the Roman soldier had stuck a spear into His side releasing blood and water from the heart and the sack surrounding His heart, they had taken Him to the tomb and covered His body all over with 100lbs. of sticky spices, His body was wrapped numerous times all around with the burial cloth, He was placed into a tomb with a stone of 1 ½ to 2 tons rolled against it, the tomb had the Roman seal placed over the stone, and a Roman guard of 4 to 16 of the world’s best fighting men guarding the tomb.
14.1.3.So, in spite of all of this, Jesus revived, removed His burial cloth and the 100lbs. of spices sticking to His body, moved the stone out of the way of the tomb without waking the Roman soldiers, rolled the stone up out of the way, and then found His disciples and revealed Himself to them telling them that He was just fine after all.
14.2. THE DISCIPLES STOLE THE BODY
14.2.1.The gospels tells us that this story was created by the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day. Those who created and hold to this theory believe that though the Romans had placed a 1 ½ - 2 ton stone against Jesus’ tomb, placed a Roman seal over the stone so that if anyone tampered with the tomb they would be killed, and placed the 4-16 of the finest soldiers to guard the tomb that the world has ever known, that the disciples mustered themselves and their courage together and came and attacked and overpowered the Roman guard. They then moved the stone, rolling it up and out of the way. Then, they stole away the body of Jesus and went and told everyone that He had risen from the dead.
14.2.2.This theory of course negates all of the numerous eye witnesses of Jesus after His resurrection, including up to 500 who saw Him in total as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.
14.2.3.This theory of course is also held regardless of the fact that all of the 12 apostles but John were killed for their faith refusing to recount that they were personal eye-witnesses of His resurrection.
184.108.40.206.On Terry Watkins website is the following quote concerning how it that the 12 apostles would not have gone all the way to the grave without recounting that Jesus had raised from the dead if it were in fact not true, “Michael Green, principal of St. John's College, Nottingham, writes concerning the apostles, ". . . You could imprison them, flog them, kill them, but you could not make them deny their conviction that on the third day he rose again." Dr. Greenleaf wrote, "IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD!"”
14.3. THEY WERE ALL HALLUCINATING
14.3.1. Those who hold to this theory believe that Mary Magdalene came to Jesus’ tomb on that first Sunday morning and in her distraught and grieving state of mind hallucinated that she had in fact seen and talked with Jesus. Then, she ran to the disciples and told them that she had seen the Lord. Then, they ran to the tomb and had an hallucination of Jesus. In fact, each of the one’s who claimed to have seen Jesus had the same hallucination, including each of the following:
220.127.116.11.Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9).
18.104.22.168.Other women (Matthew 28:8-10).
22.214.171.124.Peter (Luke 24:34; I Corinthians 15:5).
126.96.36.199.The two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35; Mark 16:12).
188.8.131.52.Ten of the eleven remaining disciples (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-29) .
184.108.40.206.All eleven remaining disciples, eight days later (John 20:24-29).
220.127.116.11.Seven disciples by the
18.104.22.168.Five hundred followers (I Corinthians 15:6) .
22.214.171.124.James (I Corinthians 15:7) .
126.96.36.199.1.This is Jesus’ half brother,
not the apostle James. This James became
the pastor of the church in
188.8.131.52.The eleven at the ascension (Acts 1:3-12).
184.108.40.206.The apostle Paul upon the
220.127.116.11.1.The man who was originally
named Saul was the most zealous of all of the Pharisees in
14.4. THEY ALL WENT TO THE WRONG TOMB
14.4.1.Those who hold this theory believe that Mary Magdalene was so distraught that she went to the wrong tomb, found that it was empty and then thought that Jesus must have raised from the dead and went and told the disciples about this. They then went to the wrong tomb and came to the same conclusion. The Romans went to the wrong tomb also when they tried to figure out what was going on. In fact, Joseph of Arimathea who owned the tomb, even went to the wrong tomb.
Secular history gives evidence of the fact that Christ rose from the
dead. Josephus, who was a Jew,
not a Christian, is the only credible historian of Jesus’ day, and he was under
16. The doctrine of the resurrection of Christ is the single most crucial doctrine of the church. For upon this doctrine hinge all else that the church believes and stands upon.
16.1. If Christ be not raised from the dead, then the following implications must be made:
16.1.1. The Bible is not the word of God, not inspired of God, not infallible, and not inerrant. It is only the word of man.
16.1.2. Christ was either misquoted, a lying deceiver, or completely delusional.
16.1.3. The apostles were either lying deceivers or completely delusional.
16.1.4. Paul wrote the following implications, in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, if Christ be not raised from the dead, and we have hope in Christ only in this life:
18.104.22.168.Our preaching is in vain.
22.214.171.124.Our faith is in vain and worthless.
126.96.36.199.We who preach the gospel are false witnesses against God, preaching a lie, and therefore guilty before God.
188.8.131.52.We are still in our sins.
184.108.40.206.We are of all men most to be pitied.
16.2. However, if Christ be raised from the dead then the following implications must be true:
16.2.1. Every word that Christ spoke has been verified by this deed which could only happen to one who is more than just human, but one who is divine.
220.127.116.11.Every word of prophesy that Christ spoke will one day also come true.
18.104.22.168.Every teaching that Christ spoke must also be true.
16.2.2. The inspiration, authority, and infallibility of the Bible itself is affirmed.
16.2.3. Christianity must be superior to all other religious, for every other religious leader is dead and buried in a grave, however Christianity is the only religion whose founder is not buried for He has an empty tomb.
16.2.4. Every believer in Christ who has been born again has been raised up to new life in Him (Col. 3:1), made new creations in Christ where everything is new in our lives (2 Cor. 5:17).
16.2.5. The following taken from Col. 2:13-15 is proven to be true,” 13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”
22.214.171.124.The power and authority of the Devil has been conquered and disarmed.
126.96.36.199.The debt of our sins was nailed to the cross with Christ and paid in full.
188.8.131.52.We can be forgiven of all of our transgressions through His death on the cross for us.
184.108.40.206.Christ can indeed make us alive together with Him.
16.2.6. Christ will return one day and judge the world in righteousness as the word of God says that He will, and every person will give account of themselves to Christ.
16.2.7. There is indeed a heaven and a hell for a destination place for men and angels as Christ taught.
16.2.8. Christ will one day also raise believers up from the dead and give to them the same resurrection body that He has (1 Cor. 15).
17. Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If you were to die today do you know that you would go to be with God in heaven? If you were to die today and God were to ask you why He should let you into His heaven, what would you tell Him?
17.1. If in answer to the first question you do not know for sure that if you died that you would go to be with God in heaven, or if in answer to the second question you think that somehow if God did let you into heaven that it would be based upon your goodness, then I have some sober news for you. You need to receive Jesus Christ into your heart and life by faith if you want to make it into heaven after you die…
The following is the
18.1. The Bible teaches that we are ALL sinners.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23.
You may ask, “how have I sinned?” Or, “what is sin?” Sin is the transgression of God’s laws (1 John 3:4). The 10 Commandments tells us God’s standard of righteousness and what is sin. The first commandment is: You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and strength. The second Jesus said is, “You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself”. You shall not commit adultery (Remember Jesus said that if you look on a woman to lust after her you have committed adultery with her). You shall not bear false witness (lie). You shall honor your father and mother. Etc., etc. We have all broken God’s commandments, and thus we are sinners, and thus we cannot ever be pleasing to God on our own merit. We all fall short of the glory of God.
18.2. The Bible says that just payment for sin is DEATH.
“For the wages of sin is death...”, Romans 6:23a.
We die spiritually, physically, and eternally because of our sin. This is what we have earned by our rebellion against God and transgression of His laws.
God is merciful. He personally
paid the penalty for your sin on the cross of
“...But the FREE gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”, Romans
Salvation is a gift, and therefore by definition it cannot be earned. Eph. 2:8-9 tells us that salvation is by grace through faith, not on the basis of our works, but it is the gift of God, “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”
18.4. “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved”, Romans 10:13.
18.5. How do you accept Jesus Christ into your life?
“...If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that
God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved”, Romans 10:9.
Jesus must come into a person’s life as their ‘lord’ or ‘master’, and therefore they must confess with their mouth the fact that Jesus is their ‘lord’. Is He master of your life?
Receiving Christ as ‘lord’ of one’s life involves repenting, or making a 180 degree turn, from sin in your life and turning to Christ as your ‘master’. Do you need to repent of any sin, any rebellion, any transgressing of God’s laws?
You must ask Christ to come into your life. In Rev. 3:20, Jesus said that He stands outside and knocks upon every person’s heart and if anyone hears His voice and opens the door of their heart to Him He will come into their heart and fellowship with them, “20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.”