JESUS AROSE BODILY FROM THE DEAD!
OUR DILEMMA – JESUS AROSE BODILY FROM THE DEAD. (Or He didn’t)
I. WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MESSAGE OF A MAN RISING FROM THE DEAD?
- Jesus Christ and his historical resurrection from the dead forms the factual foundation upon which Christianity is based.
- The apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” ( )
- The resurrection is of crucial practical importance because it completes our salvation. Jesus came to save us from sin and its consequence which is spiritual separation from God (spiritual death)( ).
- The resurrection also sharply distinguishes Jesus from all other religious founders. The bones of Abraham and Muhammad and Buddha are all still here on earth. Jesus’ tomb is empty.
- If Jesus really rose from the dead, then it validates his claim to be divine and not merely human.
- If Jesus Christ is God, then when he died on the cross he provided a means for God and humans to be reconciled. Nothing in history could be more important to every person on earth than that.
- If Jesus Christ is God, since he is omnipotent and present right now, then the following is true:
- He can transform you and your life right now as nothing and no one else possibly can.
- He has a right to our entire lives including our thoughts, behavior, activities and actions.
- Our absolute obligation is to believe everything He says and obey everything He commands.
- Every sermon preached by every Christian in the New Testament centers on the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
- The message that spread across the world was not merely the message of a great teacher, or of a healer, or a prophet. The world had heard those messages before.
- The news was that a man who claimed to be the Son of God and Savior of the world had risen from the dead.
II. WHAT IS THE HISTORICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION?
- He lived – He did exist. That Jesus was a person in history is agreed upon by most historians and is supported by ancient Christian, Jewish, and pagan sources.
- He died– Historians regard the death of Jesus by crucifixion as ordered by Pontius Pilate to be as Historically certain as any other fact of antiquity. Crucifixion was a common occurrence in the time of Jesus. All the accounts specifically state that He died (i.e., His spirit departed, etc. ( ; ; ; ). ( ). Pilate asked the Centurion who had crucified Jesus, and he confirmed Jesus was dead.
- He was buried – All four Gospels agree that Jesus’ body had been buried in the rock tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin.
- He arose from the dead – The story of Jesus does not end with the crucifixion, but with the resurrection. The message of the Gospel was not that Jesus was just a “good man” or a “miracle worker”, but God in the flesh.
- The message of the Gospel that swept the world was that He had risen from the dead!”
III. HE APPEARED ALIVE TO A VARIETY OF PEOPLE:
1 CORINTHIANS 15:3-8.
- WOMEN WITNESSES. The four Gospels all agree that the first persons to find the tomb empty were Jewish women including Mary Magdalene. In the first century culture women were devalued. It is very unlikely that anyone would make up such a story using women as their witnesses. If the empty tomb story was fiction, one would expect that Joseph of Arimathea, already identified as the tomb’s owner and a respected male leader, would be credited with the discovery and called as a witness.
- HIS TOMB WAS GUARDED. Skeptics dismiss Matthew’s story about the guards being bribed, that they fell asleep, giving the disciples opportunity to steal the body. ( ) Matthew would have no reason to make up the story about the guards being bribed except to counter the story of the guards saying they fell asleep (see v. 15). Either way, the guards were there. The body had been in the tomb, the tomb had been guarded, and the body was no longer there.
- PAUL AND LUKE’S INDEPENDENT ACCOUNTS. Paul’s list of resurrection witnesses in ( ), coincides with Luke’s account at several points. Luke does not mention the appearances to James or to the five hundred. Thus, Paul and Luke give us independent accounts of the appearances they both mention.
- CLOPAS AND THE UNNAMED MAN. Luke gives the name of one of the two men on the road to Emmaus who saw Jesus as Clopas, but not the name of the other man. If he was making up names he would presumably have given both of the men’s names. The fact that he identifies only one of the two men by name is best explained if that man, Clopas, was the source of Luke’s account. In short, this fact is evidence that the account came from an eyewitness.
- THE CONVERSION OF JESUS’ HALF-BROTHER, JAMES. Although Luke does not mention the resurrection appearance to James (the Lord’s brother), mentioned by Paul in ( ), Luke does report that James had become a leading member of the apostolic group.Since Jesus’ brother had rejected Jesus during his lifetime ( ), Paul’s reference to Christ appearing to James is probably based on fact.
- JOHN’S EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT. The writer of the Gospel of John emphatically states that he was an eye witness of the death of Jesus, of the empty tomb, and of resurrection appearances of Jesus. ( ) He sincerely had these experiences or he was lying. Appeals to legend or myth are out of the question here.
- ANCIENT SKEPTICISM. Luke reports the skepticism of the men disciples the morning the tomb was found empty, ( ) and John reports Thomas’s skepticism about Jesus’ resurrection, ( ). These accounts, (see ; ), demonstrate that the perception of ancient people as gullible, who would believe any miracle story, is a modern prejudicial stereotype.
- PAUL’S CONVERSION. Paul was a notorious persecutor of the early Christians prior to his becoming an apostle. His explanation, that Christ appeared to him and called him to faith and the apostolic ministry, is the only plausible explanation for his 180-degree change. Moreover, Paul’s experience was entirely independent of the experience of the other apostles.
- PAUL’S GENTILE MISSION. Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus did not result merely in him accepting Jesus as the Jews’ Messiah. Instead, he saw himself, a trained and zealous Pharisee, as commissioned by Jesus to take the good news of the Messiah to uncircumcised Gentiles. The fact that Paul embraced such a calling against his former passionate beliefs and training makes any appeal to hallucination or delusion implausible.
IV. WHAT DO SCRIPTURES TEACH ABOUT THE RESURRECTION?
- ( ) “And the Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven to test Him. 12 And sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” 13 And leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side.”
- ( ) “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him saying,” Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 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”.
- ( ) “And the Pharisees and Sadduces came up, and testing Him asked Him to Show them a sign from heaven. 2 But He answered and said to them, “When it is evening, you say,’ It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? 4 “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them, and went away.
- ( ) “FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I SHOULD HEAL THEM.”
- ( ) Jesus plainly taught that He would not “perform” for those who denied Him. He did, however, do public miracles in order to validate who He was, God in flesh.
- Jesus claimed to be the Son of God which, in that culture, meant to claim equality with.God, ( )
- ( ) Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” a statement that infuriated the Jews who were familiar with God’s self-description to Moses in ( ) when He said, “I AM that I AM. Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
The Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection: http://gospelway.com/god/resurrection_evidence.php
The Gospel claims that Jesus’ resurrection gives evidence that He is who He claims to be.
V. EVIDENCE OF OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES AND THEIR FULFILLMENT.
- Old Testament predictions of the resurrection.
- ( ) Jesus and His apostles repeatedly claimed that Old Testament prophets had predicted His resurrection See also, ( ; )
- What prophecies would this refer to? ( – ; ; ) (cf. 2:23-32).
- Jesus’ predictions of His resurrection.
- Jesus Himself repeatedly predicted not just His death but also His resurrection.
- He began early in His ministry to make such predictions and continued right up to the end. (See ; ; (and parallel accounts).
- ( ) Note the details: He would be betrayed by the Jewish leaders, but would be killed by the Gentiles (Romans). They would scourge Him and crucify Him (a uniquely Roman execution), but He would rise again on the third day.
- The events surrounding Jesus’ death.
- Note that these events were recorded by people who were personal eyewitnesses (apostles Matthew and John (see ).
- Or by people who, as historians, recorded what was personally told them by eyewitnesses like LUKE and MARK (see ).
- Note the evidence from the Jews of His innocence at His trial. (
- The witnesses produced by Jewish leaders could not convict Jesus (their testimony did not agree), yet the Jews condemned Him for claiming to be the Son of God.
- That assumes He is not the Son of God and assumes the point to be proved! What if He is the Son of God? (Cf. ; ; )
- Judas, after having betrayed Jesus, acknowledged Him to be innocent. ( )
- Jesus faced several trials before Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate repeatedly declared Jesus to be innocent, yet condemned Him to death because the Jews insisted ( ) (Cf. ; ; ; ).
- Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, a King among the Jews. He also found no guilt in Jesus ( )
- The men in charge of Jesus’ crucifixion concluded that He was a righteous man ( ; ).
VI. WHAT WAS THE CRUFIXION REALLY LIKE?
- He was scourged – This was a beating with a whip of many leather thongs, often embedded with bits of metal or glass. People often died just from such beatings. ( ; ; ).
- He was nailed to the cross. Spikes were driven through His hands and feet, nailing him to the cross. Then the cross was lifted up, suspending him, where he remained for at least three hours. ( ; ; ; ; cf. ; ; ).
- His side was pierced with a spear, ( ). Soldiers came to break his legs to hasten death, but they did not have to do so since He was already dead. So they pierced His side with a spear. This also confirms that He died on the cross. All of this was personally witnessed by multitudes of people, both friends and enemies ( ; ).
VII. WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT HIS BURIAL?
- The body was prepared for burial ( ) with 100 pounds of spices and wrapped in strips of linen. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did this, as witnessed by various women from Galilee including Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. ( ; cf. ; )
- The body was laid in the tomb ( ). This was a new tomb in which no one else had been buried ( ). It was hewn from rock and had a large stone over the door. Again other people witnessed this ( ; ).
- The tomb was sealed and secured by guards – . The Jews feared that, if the body left the tomb, the disciples would claim Jesus was resurrected. So they sealed the stone over the opening and placed a guard outside the tomb for the express purpose of making sure the body did not leave the tomb.
NOTE: How could the disciples steal the body, as the Jews later claimed, when a guard was expressly placed there to stop them? Rolling away the huge stone and removing the body would surely awaken the guards. The penalty for sleeping on guard duty was death (
NOTE: Suppose Jesus had swooned, not died, then awoke three days later after suffering from all of his injuries and lack of food and water. How could He remove the grave clothes and leave the tomb? He could not dig out, since the tomb was stone. How could He roll away the rock (so large the women could not move it – ), evade or overpower the guards, and still appear strong and healthy to convince the skeptical disciples that He had been resurrected?
VIII. WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT HIS RESURRECTION?
- Testimony of angels – . When the women came to the tomb, angels told them Jesus had been raised- ; . In addition to the testimony of people, we have the testimony of angels, that Jesus arose from the dead. This was miraculous in itself.
- The empty tomb–One of the most important facts to be explained is the empty tomb. What happened to the body?
- – The women entered the tomb and saw where the body had been laid. ; .
- – The enemies explained the disappearance of the body by saying the disciples stolen it while the guards slept (see earlier discussion). If the guards were really asleep, how would they know what happened to the body? How did they know Jesus did not arise and walk out past them? Why should anyone accept the testimony of men regarding what happened while they slept? But all this testimony, including that of Jesus’ enemies, confirms that the tomb was empty!
- If the appearances of Jesus were just hallucinations, the body would still be in the tomb. If the Jews still had the body of Jesus, why didn’t they produce it and disprove the disciples’ claims that He had risen from the dead? Any explanation for the events surrounding Jesus’ death must account for the fact that the tomb was empty and the body was missing!
- The appearances of Jesus
- – Jesus presented Himself alive by many infallible proofs for a period of forty days. His appearances are the most important evidence to consider. Here is a list of the appearances
- Mary Magdalene – ; (note the other disciples did not believe her).
- Other women – – They saw, touched, and heard Him.
- Two disciples on the road to Emmaus – ; . 13. They saw and heard Him for a prolonged period. Again, the others did not believe them.
- Peter – – .
- All of the apostles; He appeared to them on several occasions, (note that they saw, heard, and touched Him for prolonged periods). He ate in their presence. Again, they were skeptical and demanded proof. ; ; ; ; .
- Thomas with the apostles – – He was skeptical until He saw, heard, and touched Jesus, including His wounds.
- Saul of Tarsus –
- – This is a summary list that adds James and an appearance to over 500 at one time, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote.
- Jesus ascended to heaven in the presence of the apostles ( ; ; ).
- The apostles preached repeatedly that they were eyewitnesses of these events – ; .
IX. WHERE I CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION?
- Bill Putman www.answersforreallife.org
- Teaching tools for GODISNOWHERE APP.
- LIFE SURE IS CONFUSING – A free book by Bill Putman.
- “Handbook of Christian Apologetics”, Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, Monarch Publications, 1995
- Evidence That Demands A Verdict Volume 1, Josh McDowell, Here’s Life Publishing, Inc., San Bernardino, CA 92402
- A Ready Defense, Josh McDowell, Here’s Life Publishing, Inc., San Bernardino, CA 92402
- Defending Your Faith: Reliable answers for a new generation of skeptics and seekers, Dan Story, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, 1997
- Letters To A Skeptic – Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd – Chariot Victor Publishing
- Reasons to believe – R.C. Sproul – Zondervan Press.
- Knowing God – J.I. Packer – Inter Varsity Press.
- Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis – HarperCollins Publisher
- 77 FAQ’s – Josh and Sean McDowell – Harvest House
- Answers to Tough Questions about the Christian Faith, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, 1980,
- Here’s Defending You Faith: Reliable answers for a new generation of skeptics and seekers, Dan Story, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, 1997