Summary: People try to dilute and water down the Gospel and preaching. Jesus Christ has been sighted by the masses and crowds and oh what a difference the Risen Jesus makes.
“Crowd Dilution” Jesus Sightings Part 4
“After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:6
Intro: Today we conclude the Sermon Series “Jesus Sightings.” We have looked at the Jesus sighting of the Easter Jesus by Mary Magdalene and the other women. We heard about two men on the road to Emmaus sighting Jesus after the resurrection. We explored another Jesus Sighting by the Disciples. The title of today’s sermon is “Crowd Dilution.” Dilute means to weaken, to thin, to lessen, to take away the strength, to decrease the value or worth. We are going to talk about the mass sightings of Jesus by the crowds. All of the other sermons I have talked about Jesus sightings from the perspective of either his disciples or people who came to believe in Jesus.
Today I want us to approach Easter from the perspective of those who crucified Jesus. Think in terms of those who denied Christ and tried to create doubt and disbelief in the resurrection. They tried to weaken the testimony of the Jesus sightings. They tried to decrease and lessen the value of the words of the women. They called them “Women Tales” fairy tales and women gossip. They called the claim by the two men from the “Emmaus Area” a hoax, like we would think of a U.F.O. sighting. They diminished, the “Disciple Stories” as false teaching and lies. Their plan was to plant fear, doubt and divisiveness and it was working. They were keeping the Gospel at bay. The testimonies about the resurrection were questionable at best, But then Jesus appeared to more than five hundred at the same time. There will always be people who say that Jesus did not rise from the dead. But the number of Jesus sightings kept spreading.
Some said, Jesus was only unconscious and later revived. Mark 15:44-45 Tell us the Roman soldier told Pilate that Jesus was dead. Remember they did not break Jesus’ legs because Jesus had already died. And to make sure Jesus was dead the Roman Soldier took a spear and pierced Jesus’ side.
Two of Jesus’ close friends Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemous told in John 19:38-40 how they took the dead body of Jesus and wrapped him in grave clothes and placed his corpse in the tomb.
Some said, unknown thieves came and stole Jesus body. Some said, the disciples stole Jesus body. But remember the tomb was sealed and guarded by Roman guards. Matthew 27:65-66 Jewish leaders came to Pilate and said, “…Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first” (Matthew 27:63, 64).
When the chief priests and Pharisees asked that “…the sepulchre be made sure…,” the Greek word sphragidzo is used for “made sure.” This word described a legal seal that was placed on documents, letters, possessions, or, in this case, the sealing of the tomb. Its purpose was to authenticate that the sealed item had been properly inspected before sealing and that all the contents were in order. As long as the seal remained unbroken, it guaranteed that the contents inside were safe and sound. Before sealing the tomb, however, these legal authorities were first required to inspect the content of the tomb. They would look at the body of Jesus to properly identify who he was And that he was dead and that his body was inside the tomb to see that the body of Jesus and everything inside the tomb was in its proper place. Including the napkin over the face of Jesus in John 20:7 that is later found folded beside the empty grave. In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the master and servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it. When the table was furnished perfectly, then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table until the master was finished. If the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m done.”