Summary: What difference does Easter make? The sermon looks at "explanations" for Jesus’ death on the cross. But Easter matters because we all have baggage in life, we will die one day, and we need help.


March 23, 2008 Jay Davis Robison MARK 16:1-8

Do you suppose it will make any difference?

Augsburg Sermon Book for the year 1985: "I’ve never seen such a crowd in church, the woman exclaimed’. I didn’t know her, but apparently she was impressed by the number of people here for Easter worship. Then, as she was shaking my hand and moving toward the front door, she added, "Do you suppose it will make any difference?" Pastor held her hand so she couldn’t get away, "What do you mean? Will what make a difference?" "Easter," she shot back. "Will Easter make any difference for all these people, or will life tomorrow be the same as it was yesterday?" Lady’s question is truly a profound question. "Will Easter make any difference for all these people, or will life tomorrow be same as it was yesterday Will Easter make any difference in your life?

1. Two explanations FOR JESUS’ “RESURRECTION”


1. Believe that Jesus survived the cross. He was not dead, He had only fainted. The cold tomb revived Him and He made appearances as a resurrected Messiah.

2. Jesus experienced:

- Multiple trials to make sure he obtained capital punishment

- Whipping, struck by a staff on the head again and again

- Crown of thorns, more spitting and beating

- Crossbar burden: [approx 110 lbs]

- Crucifixion with nails: with supporting archaeological evidence

- Spare from breaking the legs: he must die to be spared

- A spear was thrust into His side, blood and water came out

- Certified to be dead before handed to Joseph

- The grave clothes could not easily be removed


- Could a weak man like this survive three days without food or water in a damp tomb, take off the grave clothes, push the heavy stone, overcome the Roman guards, walk miles on feet that had been pierced with spikes, and give His disciples the impression that He is a conqueror over death?

1). Some say that Jesus really didn’t die on the cross

a). They say that Jesus merely swooned from the torture, pain, and exhaustion of the crucifixion and that when they took him down from the cross, his body was merely mimicking death.--they literally claim that Jesus was buried alive

After 3 days was revived by the cool air of the tomb & walked out under his own power.

c). Of course, if you believe that scenario, then you believe that Jesus not only survived the crucifixion, he was also able to disentangle himself from about 70 pounds of tightly-wound grave cloths, move a huge boulder that covered the tomb, and then overpower a bunch of armed Roman guards that Pilate had stationed near the tomb.

--And he did all that without the benefit of food and water for three days. (Yeah, right!)


Stolen BODY

Matthew admits some people believed and tried to spread as rumor (28:11-15)

2. This doesn’t make sense because:

- The stone weighed approx. 1.5 to 2 tons, and was stuck in a grove

- Guarded by Roman guard [which some estimate to be about 16 soldiers]

- The tomb has a Roman seal [Anyone who breaks the seal is condemned to death]

2). Others say that the disciples stole the body

a). This theory was first proposed by the Sanhedrin, who worked to gain Jesus’ crucifixion Mt. 28:12 says that the chief priests on the Sanhedrin “devised a plan, they gave some Roman soldiers a large sum of money, telling them ‘You are to say, his disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’”

ii. Mt. 28:15 continues: The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And

this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

b). However, the theory that the disciples stole the body has several weaknesses:

First, Roman soldiers did not sleep on duty IF Roman soldiers were known to be asleep on duty, they would face the death penalty

Second, disciples were not strong enough to remove stone & then carry Jesus’ body out of the tomb before the soldiers could stop them Roman soldiers were not blithering idiots. They were some of the best fighting men in the world. Jesus’ tomb was heavily guarded and when Roman soldiers were told to guard something, they did it with expertise.


The resurrection has been responsible for the martyrdom of 1000s of people. Many of the original 12 disciples faced torture and death for his statements and beliefs. The disciples were frightened at first; why, after the death of Christ, did they get so bold as to

- (1) plan the theft (2) fight off, or bribe away the Roman guard (3) remove the huge stone (4) carry away the body (5) create the greatest hoax in human history.

Remember these are same guys who only a few days earlier ran for their lives from Jesus

It’s absurd to believe that the eleven remaining disciples could have gotten by, through

or around the soldiers and stolen Jesus’ body.

3). Some say the disciples were hallucinating

Wanted so much to believe Jesus was alive they saw something that really wasn’t there.

b). Again, this theory has it’s problems:

First of all, the disciples weren’t expecting Jesus to rise from the dead

*Mk. 16:11 states that when reports of the resurrection first came to the disciples, they did not believe them. “When they heard that Jesus was alive and that some had seen him, they did not believe.”

ii. Second, the same hallucination could not possibly occur to hundreds of people in several different locations over a period of forty days if anything, such a consistent report from that many people is proof FOR the resurrection, not a hallucination.

The second proof is the testimony of the eyewitnesses

A lot of people saw Jesus alive after His death If several of us were playing golf and I hit a hole-in-one, I’d go and tell a lot of people about it. If they didn’t believe me, I’d call up those of us who played together that day and have them confirm my story.

Any sensible person will believe a report corroborated by several witnesses


Lee Strobel, The Case for Easter points out that if every person the Bible identifies as being an eyewitness to Jesus’ resurrection were called to the witness stand to be cross-examined, it would take 129 hours to hear their testimony at only 15 minutes a person.

--In other words , it would take from breakfast on Monday until Friday at dinner time listening around the clock to hear the testimony of those witnesses.

Bible reports that Jesus appeared not just to a couple of people but 100s of people during 40 days after his resurrection & each of them told similar stories about their experiences.

1). He appeared to Mary Magdalene in John 20

2). He appeared to two men walking to the village of Emmaus in Luke 24

3). He appeared to the twelve disciples (who couldn’t believe their eyes)

He had to say to them, “Why do you doubt who I am? Look at my hands and my feet.

He was saying, “You can see that it’s really me!” In Luke 24, Jesus says, “Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.”

1 Cor. 15:6 “Jesus was raised on the 3rd day according to the scriptures & he appeared to Peter & then to the 12. After that he appeared to more than 500 at same time most still living.”

a). Paul is saying that resurrection of Jesus didn’t happen in a corner somewhere

b). Large numbers of people saw Him alive: in different locations, at different times, and in different circumstances over a forty day period.

3rd proof is the transformation of the twelve disciples What else would account for changes if the lives of the disciples except the power of the resurrection? Hiding after his death fearing same thing happened to Jesus happen to them

But after seeing Jesus alive again they became bold and courageous Peter denied Jesus three times because he was afraid of a servant girl who recognized him But little more than 6 weeks later, Peter is preaching about Jesus to a crowd of thousands of people.

Would you be willing to stake your reputation, your family, and your well being for a lie?

2). Almost every one of Jesus’ close disciples was executed for their faith in Him.

a). They died because they believed He rose from the dead

b). Peter was crucified upside down. Paul was decapitated.

c). These guys were serious about proclaiming the resurrection because it was all true!

Why would the disciples GIVE THEIR LIVES FOR A DEAD MAN?

Sir Lionel Luckhoo in Guinness Book of World Records, as most successful trial lawyer ever. He won 245 murder defenses in a row. Old TV show Perry Mason producers had him lose a case after he won 70 in a row, because they didn’t think anyone would find his character credible without a loss now and then. Lionel Luckhoo had fame, success, & wealth but he felt empty inside. Older he got, the more meaningless life seemed to him. At 63 turned his analytical skills to the claim that Jesus rose from dead. Found message of Jesus’ resurrection satisfied his personal needs & his intellectual questions “I have spent more than 42 yrs as a defense trial lawyer in many parts of the world. I say unequivocally the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so over-whelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt!”

2. We’ve got LIFE

On several occasions, Jesus said he would die and then come back to life. Sometimes he

Matt. 17:22-23 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

So, Jesus makes this stupendous claim. If he does come back from the dead, everything he said about himself -- that He is the son of God; the Messiah; that when you’ve seen Him you have seen God; that He is the way, and the truth, and the life, and nobody comes to God except through him -- then all of that is true, and anything that anybody else has ever said about who God is and what He’s like is false.

Let’s go back to the first century for a moment. Suppose you’re one of Jesus’ followers. His followers all knew what he said. Then He is killed, crucified like a common thief. You’re waiting. Friday, Saturday, and then Sunday -- and when Jesus gets up, comes out of the tomb, and appears to you and hundreds of others -- you are amazed, shocked, dumbfounded and incredulous because you know the implications.

Jesus is no longer just a man. In one swoop, he exposes every other religion for what it is: schemes and speculations of mere mortals who stepped onto the stage of history for just a season. They said a few good things then later died, leaving their philosophies behind.

All that stuff Buddha said about great nothingness but Buddha is still dead & Jesus is alive. Followers of Islam believe Mohammed was the greatest prophet of God. Jesus, on the other hand, was a prophet as well, but not as enlightened as Mohammed, they say. Jesus is alive, but Mohammed is still dead. You want to build your life on the words of a dead man, or upon one who came back to life? Frederick Nietzsche said that God is dead. But it’s Nietzsche who’s dead! That spirit guide who told your friend that Jesus is just one of the ways to a higher spiritual plain is dead wrong. No matter what Tom Cruise or John Travolta say, L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology is dead wrong as well. You see, if Jesus really rose from the dead, then Christianity is true and every other religion is false

Christianity is a religion of salvation, & there is nothing in the non-Christian religions to compare w\message of a God who loved, and came after, & died for, a world of lost sinners” (John Stott, Basic Christianity, p. 15). Islam doesn’t have such a god. Nor does Hinduism, Buddhism, nor even Jewish faith. Only Christianity worships a God who died our death, that we might live His life.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 TNIV

Renewed day by day

There are those here in this church who will tell you the same thing about their lives

Jesus’ power has touched them They will tell you that Jesus’ resurrection power has freed them from alcohol or drug addiction. --It has saved their marriages, brought them out of deep depression and given them a purpose Some of them will tell you that the reason they are still alive today is because they’ve met the risen Jesus.

3. We’ve got BAGGAGE

if Jesus rose from the dead, then we, as a human race, must have been in very bad shape. In other words, if God had to send his only begotten son to die for our sins, our situation must have been extremely perilous. When a criminal is condemned to die, either by lethal injection or the electric chair, we assume that what he did must have been particularly heinous. In this case, it’s our sins which are so heinous that they could only be atoned for by God himself taking the form of a man and suffering the penalty of divine justice.

We all know the reality of the world in which we live. If I were to take a poll of the people in this room, my guess is that I would find many of you who had been molested as children. Sadly, I would also find that some of you had done some molesting. Some of you have been raped. Some of you have been cut, beaten, or even verbally abused to the point where you thought you would lose your mind. You have been mistreated by teachers, by employers; and you yourselves have mistreated schoolmates and co-workers mercilessly because they looked different, or they spoke differently than you and your small group of friends.

I am not leaving myself out of this. You all may think I’m wonderful, but my family knows the truth. I get moody, and I snap at them for no good reason. I try my best to be a great father, but instead I see myself passing on my quick temper, my laziness, and other sinful qualities on down to my children. I was seeing all this sinful behavior pop up in my children which I knew came directly from me. I remember him wisely looking at me, and then saying, "Look at it this way, In addition to everything good that you’re passing down to your children, you are also providing them a need for a Savior."

Elliott Spitzer in the news of hiring an escort service several times spending 1000s

Replacement admits he has had an affair David Patterson

Today show March 19 is it that maybe we are biologically not monogamous?

And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless

and you are still guilty of your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:17 NLT


Resurrection of Jesus Christ serves notice that my sin is so dreadful, that you & I are so deeply flawed, that nothing short of God’s only son could pay for and break of the power of sin in our lives & the lives of those we love. No matter how hard we try to be better people, no matter how shiny we polish the exterior of our lives, Christianity says it will never be enough. If Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then we were in such bad shape that God had to send his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.

Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that he will go to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you Vs 7 CEV

Grace is shared with us

4. We’ve got A DATE WITH DEATH

They didn’t believe there was anything to life beyond the grave. You lived & then you died. Finito. The end. If Jesus rose from the dead, we are immortal beings with a body & soul who were destined to be resurrected w\immortal bodies to match our immortal souls.

Jesus’ resurrection begins to answer some of the big questions of life. Where did we come from, where are we going? Does life have meaning? I don’t know how many of you have had someone close to you die.

Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.


You don’t know any mortals. Nations, philosophies, buildings, art -- these things are mortal, and their lives compared to yours are like the life of a gnat. But the people you room with, speak with, laugh with, date, snub, hurt, and use -- these are immortal beings. You see, if Jesus really rose from the dead, then life does not end at the grave.

What that does is to give this life incredible value. Why do you think that historically it has been Christians who start schools, build hospitals, establish orphanages, feed the poor, house the homeless, and generally go to dangerous places in order to spread the love of God through Jesus Christ? It’s because of the resurrection! They know that because Jesus rose from the dead, then life does not end at the grave -- so they are working to help people not just for now, but for eternity!

But Christ has been raised to life! And he makes us certain that others will also be raised to life. 1 Corinthians 15:20 CEV

little boy had a terminal illness. He knew he was dying even though his parents hadn’t told him, so one day he asked "Mom what’s it like to die? Will it hurt? Mother thought for a moment as she searched for an answer to the question then said, "Charlie", do you remember when you used to play with your friends all day? You’d be so tired that when we’d sit around & watch TV afterwards, you’d fall asleep in the chair with your clothes on. Well, that wasn’t where you belonged, but in the morning, you always woke up where you did belong--in your own bed. Your Dad carried you up the stairs, into your room, and tucked you into your own bed where you belonged." "Charlie, I think that’s what death is like. It’s like waking up some morning and finding ourselves in another room, in the place where we belong. safe in the strong loving arms of Jesus."

How will this message make a difference in my life?

I am a little worried I do not know how to be close to God

Especially if you have been let down in life before, hard to believe God there

The drama and music reminded us that behind our celebration today is the rest of the story. And all of you who have come today are among the fortunate because you know why we celebrate. And you are not alone. A Gallup poll says that 84% of people who don’t go to church believe Jesus rose from the dead. After all, Jesus’ resurrection was not done in secret. There are over a dozen references in the New Testament that say Jesus met people, touched people, and talked with them after his crucifixion.