Summary: How would the available evidence for the Resurrection hold up in a court of law? A simple look at the evidence for the resurrection.
A Case for the Risen Christ
Intro: How important is the resurrection? One Theologian said “…the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: First, it is a very unusual event. And second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live” (Wolfhart Pannenberg, Prism Magazine- March/April 1997); Another preacher put it this way, “The resurrection is the fulcrum of faith. The resurrection is the axis, the center, the core, the pivot point of faith for a Christian. If there is no resurrection of Jesus, then Christianity is just another ancient religion with its own particular form of spirituality and morality. The truth of Christianity hinges on the resurrection” (Edward F. Markquart).
-That may sound like a series of overstatements to you, but let me assure you that it is not. As Christians, we don’t have a leg to stand on if there is no resurrection. The amazing thing is that there is a lot of substantial evidence that verifies the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ!
-The problem with access to so much information these days is that we don’t always know what to do with it all. Sometimes information overload can cause confusion.
-I heard of a grandfather who wanted to see how much his four-year-old granddaughter knew about the Easter story. He put her on his lap and asked, “Julie, why do we celebrate Easter?” Without hesitating, she said, “Jesus was crucified. After He died, His body was put into a grave. They rolled a big stone in front of the opening. A bunch of soldiers guarded the tomb. On the third day, there was a big earthquake and the stone rolled away.”
-Grandpa was pleased with how much his granddaughter knew about the Easter story but then she continued, “When the earthquake happened, the entire town came out by the grave. And if Jesus came out and saw His shadow, they knew there would be six more weeks of winter!”
-This morning I hope to simplify the overwhelming data about the Resurrection. What if we were in a courtroom trying to determine the truth about the claims of a resurrection? Each of you has jury duty this morning. How would the available evidence hold up in a court of law? Let’s go to court.
-In the opening argument we want to get the whole story right about what happened on that first Easter. With all the information available in the world today, most of it is irrelevant and not very useful. I find much of it interesting and enjoy searching it out (i.e. sun darkened when Jesus died. Passover is always full moon – solar eclipses cannot occur at full moon. God darkened the sun some other way [dust storm, His hand, some other way]). A lot of these things don’t really matter. What does matter tremendously is whether or not Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus staked His entire reputation on the Resurrection -- if it didn’t happen, everything that Jesus said and did is up for debate.
-The issue before the court this morning is not that of a crime, but a claim -- a claim so remarkable and so vital that it can either make or break the credibility of Christianity. The claim is that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead. The Resurrection is the supreme miracle of Christianity -- it’s at the very heart of the faith. If it never happened, the Christian faith collapses into mythology and billions of people have been deceived. If it did happen, it authenticates everything Jesus did and said -- and believers have the guarantee of eternal life and forgiveness of sins.
-The Apostle Paul stated it boldly in 1 Corinthians 15:17: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.” The Resurrection is either one of the most wicked, heartless, vicious hoaxes ever or it is the most fantastic fact of history.
-We will look at overwhelming evidence that Jesus Christ did exactly what He predicted He would do -- that on the third day He rose from the dead. Acts 1:3 states that “After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive.”
-That’s what we intend to do this morning – look at three key pieces of evidence that will provide convincing proof that Jesus rose from the dead.
Exhibit A: The Empty Tomb
-The Bible teaches that after professional executioners crucified Jesus, His corpse was placed in a solid rock tomb. After His body was covered with about 100 pounds of spices, it was extensively wrapped in strips of linen cloth. A very large stone, estimated to weigh about 2 tons, was then rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb.