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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
September 1, 2019
Proofs of the Resurrection
Matthew 28:11-15; Selected Scriptures
Over the last few weeks we have examined the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and His post-resurrection appearances on that first day up through His appearance to Thomas eight days later. (See: The Resurrection of Jesus & On the Road to Emmaus & Overcoming Unbelief). This morning I want to go back a little in the time sequence to Matthew 28:11-15 which occurs the morning of Jesus’ resurrection. At about the same time the women are reporting to the disciples their experience with the angels and their announcement, “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said,” the soldiers that had fallen unconscious when the angel rolled the stone away were reporting to the chief priests. Matthew reports about this event because it is strong evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. This morning we will be examining that passage and then additional proofs of Jesus’ resurrection.
The reason for spending so much time on Jesus’ resurrection and its proofs is two-fold. First, the resurrection is pivotal to our faith. Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15:4 that it is as a core tenant of the gospel message itself. He then continues on verses 12-19 to deal with the specific problem that had arisen in that church in which some were saying “that there is no resurrection of the dead” (vs. 12). Paul then points out that “if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is in vain” (vs. 13-14). He states this again in verses 16-19 in even stronger terms adding that if Christ has not been raised “you are still in your sins,” and “we are of all men most to be pitied.” Without the resurrection, the message of Christianity is a farce. It would be a false religion giving a false hope based on a lie and those following it would need to be pitied, for it would leave people in their sins believing falsely that they were forgiven. But our faith is not in vain, we are not in our sins, and we are not to be pitied because as Paul states in verse 20, “but now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”
Second, I stressed in my sermons the last couple of weeks that it was difficult for people to believe that Jesus was actually physically alive again. The women believed after they were told by the angel and saw the empty tomb. John believed when he saw the empty tomb and Jesus’ grave clothes lying inside. Every other person mentioned on that first day did not believe until they physically saw Jesus. Thomas was not the only one that was doubting. When Jesus revealed Himself to Thomas He told him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
Since Jesus has ascended to heaven and is now at the right hand of the Father and is preparing a place for us to be with Him, we will not see Him physically until He returns. That means everyone saved since Jesus’ ascension has had to believe without physically seeing Him. Our belief must be based on the reports of credible witnesses and the working of the Holy Spirit upon us. I pray the Holy Spirit will enlighten you to understand and believe these truths, but it will be my task this morning to point out to you that to believe that Jesus Christ was raised back to life from the dead just as He said is more reasonable than to believe that He did not. These are proofs of the resurrection.
Ancient Hope of Resurrection
Throughout history there have been those that have doubted the resurrection. Though the Hebrew scriptures speak clearly that there will be a resurrection, there were many Jews that did not believe it. The Sadducees, an extremely important and powerful religious group denied it as well as angels and miracles, and that is why they were so sad u cee.
Jesus dealt with them on this issue in Matthew 22 telling them “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God.” And what do the Scripture say and how powerful is God? Jesus continues in verse 31 quoting from Exodus 3:6, “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Death is not the end. Life continues past the grave.
The Old Testament, Jesus and the New Testament writers all make many clear statements regarding the resurrection of the body. Job 19:25-27 expresses the confidence in a future resurrection saying,
25 “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26 “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; 27 Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me! Ezekiel prophesied of it in his vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. It is proclaimed in Daniel 12:2 when Michael the archangel told him, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.” Revelation 20 describes that judgment.
Jesus’ claim was that He would be raised from the dead. Jesus told His disciples repeatedly that He was going to Jerusalem where He would suffer and be killed, but be raised up on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:9,23; etc.). Jesus also told his enemies in John 2:19 in reference to His body, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” In John 10:18 Jesus said that no man could take His life from Him, but He had the authority to lay it down, and He also had the power to take it up again. The claim of all the gospel narratives is that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. The message of the rest of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ did just that. He took up His life again and was resurrected from the dead.
Yet, even with these kind of clear claims there are many that doubt and deny the resurrection. I want to make it clear that in order for anyone to deny that Jesus Christ was raised from dead, they have to deny all the testimony given to that fact, and they have to claim to have a superior knowledge than those who were physically there at that time. Right from the start there have been those that are willing to lie and make of fabricated stories in order to deny the resurrection as we shall see in our study of Matthew 28:11-15 this morning. Stories have continued to made up and many theories have been offered to try and explain away the resurrection, but each of them easily falls before the weight of truth. I want to quickly examine these ideas and show why they are false, then point to the evidence that proves Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
The Report of the Soldiers – Matthew 28:11-15
I begin with the report of the soldiers to the chief priests as recorded in Matthew 28:11-15. This was the start of what has become known as the Theft Theory. I will cover the experience of the soldiers before expanding on refuting this idea in general.
After Matthew gives his simple account demonstrating that Jesus was resurrected from the dead in a tangible, physical body, he went on to reveal the activities of Jesus’ enemies to document that their response also attests to the fact that Jesus rose back to life.
Matthew 28:2–4 records what happened to the soldiers that morning, 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.
Matthew then recounts the angel’s announcement to the women who were then to tell the disciples. He then records their meeting Jesus and worshiping Him and again being told to tell the disciples. Starting in verse 11, Matthew reports again on the activity of these guards that had been at the tomb that morning. 11 Now while they were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.
Let me call your attention to some of the important details. First, notice here that this takes place at the same time that the women are returning to tell the disciples. Apparently, after they had regained consciousness, some of the guard went back to Jerusalem.
Second, notice that it is only some of the guard. There are several reasons for this. First, the guard had been frightened out of its wits by the earthquake and seeing the angel to the point they had fainted. It is doubtful that all of them were still together, and some may have even fled out of fear once they could move again. It is also true that if they had stayed together, they would have attracted Pilate’s attention as they came into Jerusalem, and that was something they wanted to avoid if at all possible. That leads to the third point to note.
The guards reported to the chief priests instead of Pilate. They had been put under the authority of the chief priests as stated in Matthew 27:65, so it is reasonable that their first report should be given to them. However, these soldiers were under orders to guard the tomb through the third day. They would have been in grave danger of Pilate putting them to death for failure to accomplish their mission of guarding the tomb of Jesus and abandoning their post. That would be good reason to avoid reporting to Pilate first.
Fourth, notice that the guards tell the chief priests “all that had happened.” They did not make anything up. They did not make excuses for themselves, for what excuse could they make? They were risking their lives no matter what they did, for if the chief priests did not believe them and became angry, they could have the soldiers put to death for negligence of duty. The story may have seemed outlandish, and even more so to any who were Sadducees since they did not believe in angles, but the soldiers thought the truth to be their best defense, so they told them all that had occurred about the earthquake, the angel and the missing body of Jesus.
Matthew continues, 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ 14 “And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” 15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, [and is] to this day.
The chief priests now call for the elders – the Sanhedrin – to assemble so that they might figure out a plan to deal with this situation. Notice that there is no questioning of the soldiers about what happened. Their story was taken at face value to be the truth, which is even stronger than it might initially appear since there were Sadducees in the Sanhedrin. This lack of challenge to the soldiers’ story demonstrates that they believed the soldiers. What they had been told was the truth.
It would seem that this would have shaken them to the core and they would have all repented on the spot of such a great work of God demonstrating that Jesus’ claims were true. Instead, they come up with the plan to bribe the soldiers so that they would lie about the situation as a damage control measure. But why bribe them? These men were generally known for being greedy, not generous, so why pay a lot of money to the soldiers when they could be silenced forever by accusing them negligence in duty in allowing the body to be stolen?
They would have then been executed and silenced forever, and that could have all been done fairly quickly. In Acts 12, an angel comes and leads Peter past the guards and out of jail. When Herod found out the next morning that Peter had escaped, he examined the guards and had them led away to be executed.
So why not accuse the guards of negligence and have them executed instead of paying them a bribe to lie and say they were negligent and then protect them from Pilate? The answer is simple and becomes apparent in Herod’s actions in Acts 12. The guards would have been examined before being executed, and if they were examined and they all told the story about the angel, the stone being rolled away, fainting and the tomb being empty, there would be independent witnesses to the claims that would be made by Jesus’ disciples about seeing angels, the stone being rolled away and the tomb empty. The Sanhedrin did not want to risk the truth coming out in an examination by a Roman official and especially Pilate since there would be plenty of people present to report the testimony of the guards.
I also want to point out that there should have been an immediate repentance on the part of the chief priests and Elders at the news brought to them by the soldiers. Instead, they reject the truth and seek to cover it up with a lie. This is a factor you must keep in mind as you proclaim the gospel to others. You cannot argue people into the kingdom of God. Certainly you are to present the claims of Jesus, and it is good and proper to point out all the facts that prove Jesus’ claims including His resurrection. However, you must recognize that when someone rejects the Lord Jesus Christ, they also reject the truth and its claim on their lives. They willfully and knowingly hold to what is not true simply because it is what they want to believe. Paul describes this condition of sinful man in Romans 1 in several ways including that they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (18), and “they exchange the truth of God for a lie” (v. 25). So don’t be surprised when you receive similar responses from people. You may even find that they even agree that what you are telling them is true, but they reject it anyway. Such is the deep sinfulness in the heart of man. That may even be the case for some of you here today. You know the truth, but you refuse to heed it and you continue to live your life according to the lies and deception of your own mind because that allows you to continue in sin.
We are to present the truth and the arguments that back up the claims, but we must leave it to the Holy Spirit to convict people and enlighten their minds to accept the truth and repent.
The soldiers go from a nearly hopeless situation of losing their lives for negligence of duty no matter what they do in reporting what happened, to what to them seemed like a win, win situation. The chief priests, instead of being mad at them and demanding their lives, make a deal where they would both be protected from anything Pilate might want to do to them and be paid a handsome sum of money.
The deal may look attractive to those who reject God, but as Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, “For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? No matter what price was paid to the soldiers for lying about what they had seen, it was not enough to cover the cost of their souls which became condemned by their willful rejection of what they knew to be true – Jesus Christ had conquered death and came out of the tomb.
The attempt to cover up the resurrection of Christ with a lie did not work anyway. The account of the bribe to lie was found out and reported, so the very attempt to cover up the truth became another testimony to it. Matthew is the only one that records these events, so either God revealed it to him directly, a possibility, but without any evidence given, or what I suspect happened is at least one of the guards did become a follower of Christ and so gave a first hand account of what had happened to him that morning at the tomb and with the chief priests and Sanhedrin.
The Theft Theory became the most popular explanation among the Jews that did not want to believe Jesus was raised from the dead. That would be expected since it matches exactly what the guards were bribed to say. Let me expand a little more on why the idea that Jesus’ body was stolen is ludicrous.
The foundation for the theft theory is that someone would have motivation to steal Jesus’ body, so the question of who stole the body would have to be answered first. Jesus’ enemies would have no motive to steal the body, in fact they had the opposite motive as recorded in Matthew 27:62-66.
62 Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ 64 “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.
Some have argued that this was the temple guard thinking that would help their case in proving the body was stolen. It does not. First, all the evidence is that this was a Roman guard. The particular Greek word in this passage is not used of the Temple Guard, but only of the Roman guard. In addition, Pilate would not have allowed the Temple guard jurisdiction outside the temple, and these guards were ultimately responsible to Pilate, not the priests. All of these facts back up back up the point that it was a Roman guard. However, even if they were temple guards instead of Roman guards at the tomb, their presence would still disprove the theft theory.
1) Both the Roman & Temple guards were well disciplined and used to having night watches. Both groups would incur strict punishment if found asleep at their post. For a Roman guard, that could mean death. For a Temple guard it meant at minimum a severe beating, and the captain of the guard also had the right to use his torch to set the clothes of the sleeping guard on fire. That gives some new meaning to Revelation 16:15 which says, “Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes.” Punishment would have been severe for either type of guard if found asleep, and they would have to be either asleep or unconscious for the body of Jesus to be stolen.
2) The guards reported all that had happened and I will point out again that no one questioned the truth of what they said. There was no attempt to refute it and no attempt to check out the veracity of what they said. By not challenging the guards’ story, the Jews gave tacit assent to their story. Instead, the chief priests bribed them to tell a lie, and the lie is easily exposed by what they were told to say by two simple questions. If the guards were asleep, how did they know it was the disciples that stole the body? If they were awake, how were the disciples able to get away with the body?
It is preposterous to think the disciples could have stolen Jesus’ body. This is the group of men (with two exceptions) that ran away when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. These men (with one exception) would not approach the cross as Jesus was being crucified. These are the men that were still hiding in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews even after Mary had told them that morning that she had seen Jesus alive (John 20:19). Is it even remotely reasonable that such a group of men would have tried to steal Jesus’ body away from the watchful eyes of armed guards? Even if they had found the courage to go to Jesus’ tomb and would have found the guards asleep, would such timid men have risked waking them by rolling the stone away? And if they did roll the stone away, would they have carefully unwrapped the body there? Or would they have just grabbed the body and gotten away ASAP!
If Jesus’ body had been stolen, then all you have to do to prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead was produce His body. But there are no accounts in any sources of anyone except Mary even looking for Jesus’ body after He left the tomb. The chief priest and elders did not organize or commission a search for Jesus’ body because they knew they could not find it for Jesus was no longer dead. As the angel said, “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.”
The Swoon Theory
This is the idea that Jesus did not really die on the cross. He just swooned, or passed out due to the physical strain. He then revived in the coolness of the tomb, arose and departed. Such an idea flies in the face of all the testimony given. Consider the following:
1) The Soldiers, Joseph & Nicodemus all judged that Jesus was dead. The Centurion, a man certainly very familiar with death said he was dead (Mark 15:39), and testified to that fact when questioned specifically about it by Pilate (Mark 15:44). The soldier that was charged to break his legs did not because “He was already dead” (John 19:33). Joseph & Nicodemus took care of Jesus’ body and buried Him. They would have known whether Jesus was dead or not just by the temperature of the body. They wrapped Jesus in burial clothes, covered with spices and set Him in the tomb.
2) The soldier was surprised that Jesus was dead so he tested to make sure by piercing His side with a spear which resulted in blood and water coming out. Medically this speaks of a ruptured heart and that death has been long enough that the blood has begun to clot and separate from the serum. I point out some of the medical evidence of this in my earlier sermon on Jesus’ death.
3) All of the disciples believed Jesus rose from the dead and not to have just revived, and they lived the rest of their lives accordingly.
Consider as well what the swoon theory requires:
First, here is what Jesus has been through until He was buried. Jesus was deprived of sleep, beaten & severely scourged. He was so weary and weak that Simon of Cyrene had to be compelled to carry His cross for Him. Jesus was nailed to a cross & crucified for at least three hours. His side was pierced with a spear resulting in blood and water flowing out. He was then wrapped in grave clothes which are strips of linen cloth wrapped around the body which were layered with about 70 pounds of spices in between the layers. A separate facial cloth covered his face before being wrapped. He then lay in the grave from Friday evening to Sunday morning without food or drink.
Second, here is what Jesus would then have to do after all the things He has suffered. Jesus would revive on Sunday morning, somehow wriggled free of all the grave wrappings, roll the stone away by Himself from the inside of the tomb, overpower the guards, then after talking with Mary at the tomb, the other women somewhere near the tomb or in Jerusalem, He took a seven mile walk to Emmaus with two disciples. He then disappeared from their sight, and somehow went back the seven miles to Jerusalem to appear before the disciples. That would be some recovery! Quite a tale told by skeptics who do not want to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I suggest they have more miracles to contend with than I do simply believing the Scriptural account.
The Hallucination Theory
According to this theory, all those that claimed to have seen Jesus after His crucifixion were just hallucinating.
Problems for this idea begin with the fact that none of the psychological factors necessary for hallucinations to occur were present among the disciples. All of them rejected the initial reports by the women that Jesus was alive. Only John believed relatively easily once He saw the empty tomb and grave clothes. The rest continued to reject reports of Jesus being alive and even had a hard time believing when Jesus appeared among them. Thomas refused to believe until he could touch Jesus’ hands and side. These were people who were forced into a position of believing Jesus was alive.
Second, having many people hallucinate the same thing on so many different occasions is impossible. Jesus was first seen by Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9), then women returning from the tomb (Matthew 28:9-10). Peter saw Jesus later that same day (Luke 24:34 / 1 Cor. 15:5), the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), the apostles except Thomas (Luke 24:36-43), then all the apostles including Thomas (John 20:26-29), the seven by the Lake of Tiberias (John 21:1-15), 500+ believers on a Galilean mountain (1 Cor. 15:6), to James (1 Cor. 15:7), to the eleven at the Ascension (Acts 1), to Stephen (Acts 7), to Paul (Acts 9), and to John on Patmos (Rev. 1).
That is too many people at different times and places and too many people together at the same time and place for it to be some sort of serial and mass hallucinations of the same thing. The rumors of Jesus’ resurrection and all of these hallucinations supporting it could easily have been proven false by just producing the body of Jesus. But the body could not be produced. If it was just hallucinations, then there would have been no need to bribe the guards to lie.
The Wrong Tomb Theory
This theory is that Mary and the others went to the wrong tomb and then assumed Jesus must have been raised from the dead.
First, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses had both been at the tomb on Friday, so they knew which tomb it would be. Second, it was the angel that directed Mary to make sure she was at the right tomb. Third, Mary initially thought Jesus’ body was stolen. Fourth, who was it then that talked to Mary and the others that they recognized to be Jesus? And if they had gone to the wrong tomb and Jesus was still in His tomb, then it should have been very easy to produce the body and disprove the claims Jesus was risen. It would also have been cheaper than bribing an incompetent guard that was guarding the wrong tomb.
Jesus Was Resurrected Spiritually, Not Physically
This is the idea that Jesus was made spiritually alive, but not physically alive. This is a popular idea in our own time.
This has the same problem as the wrong tomb theory in that it should have therefore been easy to produce the dead physical body of Jesus, but there is not even an attempt to do so. A second problem with this theory is that after His resurrection, Jesus ate physical food when He appeared to the disciples (Luke 24:41-43), and He invited Thomas to physically touch His hands and side (Jn 20:27). He had done the same thing with the other disciples when He first appeared to them specifically to show He was flesh and bones and not just a spirit (Luke 24:39). The apostle John states in 1 John 1:1 he had physically seen and touched Jesus.
Here are five additional evidences for Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead.
1) The enemies of Christ gave no refutation to the proclamation that Jesus was raised from the dead. In Acts 2 they remained silent at Peter’s preaching. In Acts 25 the Jews charged Paul with all sorts of things, but they did not refute what Festus understood as the central issue which is that Paul claimed that Jesus’ was alive. The Athenians sneered at Paul, and King Agrippa said Paul was out of his mind, but none gave a word of evidence to refute Paul’s claim that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
2) The radically changed lives of the disciples are powerful testimonies to the risen Lord. These men that were so afraid prior to the resurrection became those that “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Something radical suddenly happened to each of them. Peter, who denied Christ when asked by a young slave girl at Jesus’ trial, boldly proclaimed 53 days later to the people he was preaching to that they had “nailed Jesus to the cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death, but God raised Him up again, putting and end to the agony of death . . .” (Acts 2:23-24). How could Peter and the other Apostles had such a radical change if they had any doubt that Jesus was resurrected?
3) The existence of the Church itself. Could the church have been founded and grown in the midst of such persecution that was suffered if its central message was a lie? That is not to say that religions founded on lies cannot grow despite its adherents being persecuted. There are plenty of groups around that show that people will believe lies and willingly suffer for it in order to gain what the cult or false religion offers them. At the root of each is someone or a small group of people that gained something for themselves as they exploited others. The Christian church is opposite both of those.
The claim of the first Christians is that they were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. They had no motive to lie about it, because the radical change that claim made in their own lives caused them to live for God’s glory and give to others and not for their own glory and to gain from others. All the apostles except John died as martyrs. None of them gained worldly wealth or fame by their ministries. All of them called others to believe in Jesus and follow their examples of sacrificial service to others.
Biblical Christianity grows because it offers forgiveness of sins, a restored relationship with God, and eternal life which conquers the fear of death. At the same time, it gives strong warning that those following Christ will be persecuted even to martyrdom. Those who follow it are taught to sacrifice of themselves and their wealth for the good of others.
Cults seek to exploit others for the gain of its leaders. They motivate followers by appealing to their greed and selfishness (see 2 Peter 2). They “tickle the ears” of their followers by telling them the lies they would like to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).
There are many false religions, but a common theme among them is motivation of their followers by fear. It could be fear of death or punishment in the present by that religion itself, or it could be fear of eternal damnation and punishment unless you perform the actions required by that religion. While there is a proper fear of a holy and righteous Creator and it is necessary to warn unrepentant sinners about Hell, the motivation of Biblical Christianity is love of God and others which Jesus said are the two greatest commandments.
4) The fact that the church meets on Sunday’s rather than Saturday is because of Jesus’ resurrection. The church was formed out of Judaism in which Sabbath worship was commanded and ingrained into their society. The church began to worship on a the first day of the week in honor of Jesus’ resurrection since that is when He rose from the dead.
5) The two ordinances of the church also proclaim Jesus’ resurrection. The Lord’s Supper (Communion) arose out of the Jewish Passover feast which commemorates God freeing Israel from bondage to Egypt through the last plague which did not fall on those who followed the instructions about the sacrificial lamb. The Lord’s Supper commemorates of Jesus’ death (1 Cor. 11:23-24) because He, as the Lamb of God, became the sacrifice for our sins, yet Acts 2:46 records it as a time of joy. How could the occasion be joyful if Jesus remained dead? Without the resurrection, we would remain in our sins, as has already been pointed out from 1 Corinthians 15:17. Jesus’ resurrection is the proof that His claims and promises, including forgiveness of sin because of His sacrifice, are true.
Paul describes the purpose and meaning of Christian Baptism in Romans 6:1-7 with verse 4 stating, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Christian baptism is proclamation of your belief and personal identification in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I will close with this quote by History Professor Thomas Arnold, author of the 3 volume, History of Rome, who wrote this, “The evidence for our Lord’s life and death and resurrection may be, and often has been, shown to be satisfactory; it is good according to the common rules for distinguishing good evidence from bad. Thousands and tens of thousands of persons have gone through it piece by piece, as carefully as every judge summing up a most important cause. I have myself done it many times over, not to persuade others but to satisfy myself. I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” (As quoted in Evidence that Demands a Verdict, pg. 191).
What is your response to the resurrection from the dead of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you reject it as did the Chief priests and elders because it exposes the lie you are currently living? Do you hold to some bribe from the world – fame, fortune, pleasure – to keep you from believing the truth? Or do you weigh the evidence and believe as did John and then fall at His feet to worship as did the women on that glorious morning? I pray it is the latter and that it will be demonstrated in every aspect of your life as you strive to live for His glory in all that you say, do and think. We follow and serve a risen Savior who has given hope for the present and eternity. We welcome you to join us in doing that.
Sermon Notes – September 1, 2019
Proofs of the Resurrection – Matthew 28:11-15; Selected Scriptures
Jesus’ resurrection is __________to our faith – without it, we are still in our sins and our faith is worthless
It is __________ for people to believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead and is alive again
Jesus is in heaven at the right hand of the Father & we will not see Him until He returns – we believe by ___
Ancient Hope of Resurrection
Jesus claimed He would rise again, the __________document it, and the epistles proclaim it
Denials of the resurrection are easily shown to be ________and contrary to the testimony of the time
The Report of the Soldiers – Matthew 28:11-15 (The Theft Theory)
Matthew 28:2–4 records the severe earthquake, the angel rolling the stone away, and the guards __________
The guards report to the chief priests that _________while the women were on their way to tell the disciples
Only ______of the guard return to report – some may have fled, and they wanted to avoid attracting attention
They were assigned to the chief priests, so they report to them ______& they could avoid Pilate temporarily
The guards tell the chief priests “all that had happened” – they tell the ________ as their best defense
The elders (Sanhedrin) join the chief priests and take their story at face value without ______________
They could have had the guards executed, but they ________them to lie instead with a promise of protection
The bribe and the lie avoids the risk of them being __________and the story of their experience being retold
The chief priests and elders knew the truth, but ______it and seek to cover it up with a lie to fit their desires
Present the truth and the arguments to back up the claims, but leave the __________ in God’s hands
Getting the bribe and protection was attractive to the guards, but what is the value of your ____? Matt. 16:26
The bribe and lie _________, for the truth was found out and reported (one of the guards?)
The theft theory requires ____________to steal Jesus’ body – His enemies did not have any – Matt. 27:62-66
It was a Roman guard, but even if it was a Temple guard, their presence still ___________the theft theory
Roman and Temple guards would be severely punished if found ___________ on watch
The guards reported all that happened and there was no attempt to ___________ what they said
The lie proves the ________- if asleep, they could not know who stole the body, if awake, they would stop it
The disciples were too _________ to attempt to steal Jesus’ body even if they wanted to do so
If someone stole Jesus’ body, they would not have taken time to _______ His body from the grave linens
Jesus’ resurrection could easily be disproved by finding His _________- but they did not even look for it
The Swoon Theory – Jesus did not die, but only passed out and revived later in the coolness of the tomb
The Soldiers, Joseph & Nicodemus all judged that Jesus was ___________
The soldier confirmed Jesus was dead by piercing Him with his _____resulting in blood & water coming out
All the disciples believed Jesus rose from the ___________ and lived their lives according to that belief
Jesus went through __________physical suffering, blood loss, crucifixion, spearing, wrapped in linens, entombed from Friday evening to Sunday morning without food or water
He would have had to revive on His own, unwrap Himself, roll the stone away from the inside, __________ the guards, talk with Mary & the other women, walk 7 miles to Emmaus & back, appear to the disciples
The Hallucination Theory – all those who claimed to have seen Jesus alive were hallucinating
None of the disciples had the psychological factors _____________ for a hallucination
Many people hallucinating at the same time and others the same thing independently __________________
If it was mass hallucinations, then Jesus’ _________could be produced to disprove the resurrection claims
The Wrong Tomb Theory – Mary and the others went to the wrong tomb
Both Marys knew the __________of the tomb, the angel directed them, Mary talked with Jesus there
If they had gone to the wrong tomb, then Jesus’ _____could be produced to disprove the resurrection claims
Jesus Was Resurrected Spiritually, Not Physically
A spiritual resurrection would mean Jesus’ ________could be produced to disprove the resurrection claims
Jesus ate physical food and invited the disciples to touch Him to prove He was there in ________and bone
The enemies of Christ gave no ______________ to the proclamation that Jesus was raised from the dead
The radically ___________ lives of the disciples are powerful testimonies to the risen Lord
The __________ of the Church itself despite severe persecution is due to Jesus’ resurrection
The church meets on _________ rather than Saturday in honor of Jesus’ resurrection
The two ordinances of the church, Communion and ___________, proclaim Jesus’ resurrection
If you do not yet believe Jesus rose from the dead, why not? And if you do, how has it __________your life?
KIDS KORNER – Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times a reference is made to Jesus’ resurrection. 2) Talk with your parents about the evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.
THINK ABOUT IT! – Questions to consider in understanding the sermon and its application. What is the importance of Jesus’ resurrection to the Christian faith? Explain. List some passages from both Testaments that speak to the hope of a future resurrection. When did the guards report to the chief priests? Why did they report to them instead of Pilate and why is it only some of the guards? What is the significance that they reported “all that had happened”? Why were they bribed to lie instead of having them executed for negligence? Why would people reject the gospel even when they acknowledge it may be true? How do we know what happened with the guards? Why were guards placed at Jesus’ tomb, and how does that refute the story His body was stolen? How does the story the guards were bribed to tell refute itself as a lie? Why is it preposterous to think the disciples could have stolen Jesus body? What is the swoon theory? Why is it ludicrous even at face value? What demonstrates Jesus did actually die? Why is the hallucination theory a fantasy? How do we know they went to Jesus’ tomb? How do we know Jesus was physically resurrected? Why didn’t Jesus’ enemies search for His body in order to refute the resurrection claims? How are the radically changed lives of the disciples evidence of Jesus’ resurrection? How does Biblical Christianity differ from cults and false religions in its core beliefs and motivations? What is the tie between the ordinances of Communion and Baptism and Jesus’ resurrection? Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead? If not, why not? If so, how has it changed your life?
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