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Summary: The Resurrection did happen and it did for a purpose. No has been able to prove otherwise.

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Did Jesus Actually Rise From the Dead”

The Case for Faith Series

Matthew 28:1-8 (John 20:1-18)

(quotes taken from the NKJV unless noted)

Wakelee Church ~ Easter Sunday ~ March 27, 2005

Theme: The Resurrection happened for a purpose and no one has been able to prove otherwise!

Introduction – “Look, He’s Moving”

Illus. Three friends…

Three friends were discussing death and one of them asked the others, “What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?”

The first of the friends said, “I would like them to say he was a great humanitarian, who cared about his community.”

The second said, “I would like them to say, he was a great husband and father, who was an example for many to follow.”

The third friend paused for a moment and then said matter-of-factly, “I would like them to say, “Look, he’s moving!” (source: Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com)

“He is not here, He has risen.” These words, recorded by Matthew, spoken by an angel to a very confused set of Mary’s, share the greatest message of the Christian faith. We don’t reincarnate into lower life forms. We don’t just degrade into dust. The message is clear…resurrection is the answer. Death, which had its day on Good Friday, is now vanquished by Life on Easter Sunday.

Did you know that every single dead religious leader in history is in some type of grave right now…

Buddha…in a grave

Confucius…in a grave

Mohammed…in a grave

All the so-called religious leaders of our history…all of them…that is, except one, have a stone with their name over their remains.

With Christ, the stone that was supposed to seal his fate, to seal his death, was rolled away! Christ’s body can’t be found in any casket, any grave, any place! We can say without any doubt…look, he’s moving!

I – If there’s no Resurrection…there is no Christianity!

There are those, however, who would challenge that theology by simply saying, “Yes, Pastor, you’re going to say the Resurrection is true, because if it weren’t true, your faith would be worthless.”

My answer would be, I agree, and I wouldn’t be the only one. Paul told the church at

Corinth, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” –

I Corinthians 15:17

There is no doubt that if it wasn’t for the birth and rebirth of Christ, our faith would be meaningless…

Illus.

It reminds me of a poem sent me over five years ago. Written by a poet named Joann VanDomelen, etntitled "Birth to Rebirth"...

This is a story about a boy

who was born on Christmas Day,

A story of love, pain, sacrifice

and what he gave away.

As a child he laughed, he played,

As all we children do.

As a man, he held a job,

Just like me, just like you.

He toiled like other men…

A carpenter by trade.

He then became a preaching man...

A sacrifice was made.

He preached of love and caring

About His fellow man.

He gathered people to him

As he traveled throughout the land.

He became a source of envy

To those who would not hear.

And so the road to pain and death

Was now so very near.

For his loving gentle ways,

He was nailed tightly to a cross.

His life is what he gave away,

It seemed a terrible loss.

But three days later a miracle…

He was given a second birth.

He was with us again that day

He walked about the earth.

Then he went to join his faiher

In the heavens high above.

And now sends down his pardon

And his ever-abiding love.

I’m so sorry that you suffered, Jesus,

On that cross so cold and bare.

But I’m so glad you pardoned us…

I’m so glad you care.

So be ever mindful of the sacrifice

That Jesus made that day.

To remember that Easter should be celebrated

In a very Christ-like way.

(source: adapted version of “Birth to Rebirth” by Joann VanDomelen-“View From the Pew” Hesperia & Ferry (MI) UMC’s newsletter, March 2001.)

From birth to rebirth, Christ’s death and resurrection are the linchpins of the Christian faith.

In this act...

we experience Christ’s forgiveness.

In this act...

we experience the hope that calms all fear.

In this act...

we begin to experience the full nature of grace.

In Christ’s death and resurrection...

we experience Christ’s overwhelming love.

II–Proving the Resurrection - the three E’s– Early, Empty, and Eyewitnesses

(source: adapted from Lee Strobel’s sermon entitled, “Jesus is Alive – True or False” www.sermoncentral.com)

But we still have yet to answer the question. How do we know that Jesus actually rose from the dead? While, I believe the best way to answer the question is to debunk the charges made against the claim. Today we’re going to do that by using three words…early…empty…and eyewitness.

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