The Purpose and Proof of the Resurrection
Let’s be honest. We are human, and we don’t like the concept of death. We dread the day of death of a loved one, even if they have lived a full life, we don’t want to lose them. And we think about our own demise as well. We have a healthy fear of death. That’s why you always carefully read the label on your medicine before you pop it in your mouth. That’s why you stay in your lane as you drive your car. That’s why you wear your seat belt. That’s why you don’t lick the bug zapper. That’s why you don’t live in Cleveland! We aren’t eager to die, but we know that we will. Every person who came before us died. “But what about Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead?” He died twice! And even if we live long enough to make it onto the Smuckers jar, life is still relatively brief. The clock is ticking. Live every day like it is your last…and one day…you’ll be right! And then what happens? Is it the end of your existence? Do you go somewhere? Is it a better place? Are you sure? The Bible says that the vast majority go to hell. Could you be in that group?
After six hours on the cross Jesus cried aloud the best word that has ever been screamed on earth: “Tetelestai!” = “It is finished!” And then He died. Is this the end of He Who was in the beginning? Will Christianity die out in a short-lived puff of smoke?
I’m happy to remind you today that although almost everyone thought it was all over, including His disciples, on the third day Jesus shouted triumphantly, “Over my dead body!” as He conquered death, hell, and the grave, and rose again just as He promised! And just like the end of the world is only the beginning, this was just the beginning for Jesus and all who would follow Him and be saved! He was about to make all things new.
It is very interesting that after Jesus cried ‘It is finished’ and died, from that point forward no hostile hands were allowed to touch Him. It’s as if God the Father said, ok, enough, hands off. The soldiers who usually would have broken His legs so He could no longer rise to breathe…for some reason didn’t, and the Scripture was fulfilled that no bones of His would be broken. Instead, they stuck a spear into His chest cavity and out flowed blood and water. The blood is symbolic to us of the continual fountain which still flows today to wash away our sin, if we apply it. The water suggests congestive heart failure. You could say that Jesus died of a broken heart as He hung there paying for our sins, thinking of us!
Not only did the soldiers never touch Him again, they didn’t even take Him down as they usually would have. Instead that job was granted to one of His followers, named Joseph, upon begging for it. He was a secret disciple, rich. Perhaps not wholehearted, but still a follower. With him was a guy named Nicodemus who, similarly, first came to Jesus under cover of darkness [Nic at night!]
Jesus had suffered all kinds of physical abuse and indignities for at least 18 hours, but then suddenly, it was “hands off!” And these two men took the body down, wrapped it for burial, and laid it in the private garden tomb.
Pilate commanded that a seal be placed over the stone, and guards posted lest His body be stolen away by His disciples. But we know it was the furthest thing from their minds. They are elsewhere, hunkered in a bunker, hoping not to be tracked and killed themselves. It’s amazing to me what the religious leaders said in v. 63...
v. 63 5 times Jesus specifically told the disciples that He would rise again [Mt. 16:21, 17:9, 22-23, 20:18-19, 26:32] He even told the disciples where to meet Him after His resurrection. But they have forgotten, and are living like they have no hope, and meanwhile the unbelievers remember Jesus’ words, and expect it may happen!
What a picture it must’ve been—the Rock of Ages sealed behind an aging rock. The Light of the world is now shut up in darkness. The One Who came to give life is now dead, but not for long! I don’t care for the crucifix because my Jesus is no longer on that cross...I serve a living Savior! “Gospel” means “good news”...and it wouldn’t be good news if He had only died for us, and not risen again.
4 Purposes: [why He had to literally rise from the dead]
1. His resurrection was the single sign of His deity.
He claimed to be God, but this was the day He proved it. Many have made the claim, but never have any of them beaten death! Doing miracles wasn’t enough...other believers in the Bible worked miracles, which was a sign that they were OF God, but only the resurrection could prove that He was God! Even the antichrist will be able to work miracles, but once he is sent to hell it is never to rise again, but not Jesus—because you can’t keep the God-man down!
Many wanted a sign from Jesus that He was God. He said the only sign you’ll get is Jonah’s sign, 3 days and nights in the belly of the earth, and then out I’ll come!
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
2. His resurrection verifies the truth of Scripture.
The Bible falls apart if He remained dead. But since He rose, we have proof that the Bible is true. The OT made numerous predictions about the Messiah someday coming and conquering death. The odds were against that, it was next to impossible that the Jews would kill their own Messiah, and if they did, it would be by stoning, not by crucifixion. Plus, no one had beaten death before...until now!
3. His resurrection secures our future resurrection.
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
1 Corinthians 15:20
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
“First” means there will be more to follow! We have hope in death. Because Jesus conquered death for us we also can cheat death with His help!
The resurrection completes the gospel! Death, burial, resurrection.
4. His resurrection starts His ministry of High Priest.
He’s our Mediator, our Intercessor. [Heb. 8:6] We can now go to the Father without the help of a human priest, like in OT times.
v. 51 Tradition states that 2 teams of horses could not have torn that veil in the temple. Our Catholic friends do much good in this world, but I must differ with them on this matter of needing to confess to a man.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
You don’t have to put your brain on the shelf to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. Our faith is not blind faith. We’ve got good reasons to believe in it. There are undeniable proofs that would hold up in any court of law.
1. The remarkable change in the life of the disciples.
One minute they are cowering behind closed doors. The next they are declaring His resurrection, walking in victory, and all of them were willing to lay down their lives for it! The History Channel did an expose of the disciples in which they asserted that they made the story up. But why lay down your life for a made up story. I think you’d have to study and practice to become that stupid, but there’s several cable channels today that think we are, and they ask us to believe some dumb, unfounded things. Well, ours is a reasonable faith.
One day Peter is denying Him, saying, I don’t know the son of a...and a few days later He is proclaiming Whom He truly is the Son of! And he’s preaching to thousands who are getting saved. What happened to Peter? He saw the risen Savior! He died by crucifixion himself, for preaching the truth of Christ!
One moment Thomas is doubting and saying I won’t believe unless I see Him. The next minute he’s believing, and why? Because Jesus walked through the wall and into that house and showed him the nail holes in His hands! And Thomas later died for Christ, run through by a lance.
Luke was hanged from an olive tree in Greece, John was boiled in oil and exiled, James was beheaded, the other James was beaten to death with a club, Andrew was crucified and preached to his persecutors until he died, Jude was shot to death with arrows, Matthias was stoned and beheaded...and you want me to believe it was all for a made up story?
2. The testimony of more than 500 eyewitnesses.
1 Corinthians 15:6
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once;
And other extra-Biblical historical sources affirm this to be fact. Non-believers don’t even challenge this one, other than some weirdoes who claim it was a mass hallucination! It’s a well documented fact. One or two witnesses can make or break a case during a trial.
You can’t pay off that big of a crowd. Somebody’s gonna testify the truth if it is a mass conspiracy.
Another interesting thought: Who were the first witnesses to the risen Christ? Two Marys [28:1]. Two women. In that culture, their testimony was deemed as utterly worthless. No one would believe them. If Jesus’ followers wanted to start a rumor that He had risen, they would’ve picked a couple of men to be the first to testify.
3. The power in the Name of Jesus to transform lives.
For 2,000 years the name of Jesus has not just reformed alcoholics, but transformed them. Purified prostitutes / made liars tell the truth / turned haters into lovers / turned wife beaters into docile men / made whoremongers faithful / cleaned up cursing mouths / has saved souls from hell!
Every other religion on earth has this in common: their founder is today dead. But I can say:
“I serve a RISEN Savior, He’s in the world today, I know that He is living, whatever men may say. I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer. And just the time I need Him, He’s always near. He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, He lives! Salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!
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