Summary: The empty cross and risen Lord is the paramount doctrine upon which the believer rests his or her eternal destiny. I Corinthians 15:14 states that if Christ did not die and rise, then our preaching and faith is completely worthless.
DID JESUS REALLY DIE AND RISE AGAIN?
Key Verses: 3-4 “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”
INTRODUCTION: The cross of Jesus Christ is central to Christianity. It is the foundation of the church, the only way by which fallen, sinful men can approach a Holy Sovereign God. The empty cross and risen Lord is the paramount doctrine upon which the believer rests his or her eternal destiny. I Corinthians 15:14 states that if Christ did not die and rise, then our preaching and faith is completely worthless.
I. THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION DISPUTED
A. For the past year the number one best selling fiction book has been the DaVinci Code, which denies the resurrection of Christ.
B. Hugh Schonfeld in his book, The Passover Plot, suggested that Jesus might have been given a hallucinogenic drug just before the crucifixion allowing him to faint lose consciousness or “swoon” into a death-like trance. Believing that he was dead, he was taken off the cross and entombed. Several days later the disciples returned to the grave, resuscitated him with a narcotic and proclaimed resurrection.
C. Another theory presented by a college professor was that James, the brother of Jesus, helped perpetrate the myth of the resurrection by showing up on the road to Emmaus and was mistakenly identified as Jesus.
D. Islam denies the death of Christ. The general assumption accepted through the centuries by Muslims is that God loved His prophet so much that just before the crucifixion, He lifted up Jesus into heaven and allowed someone else made to resemble Him to be crucified in His place. The key passage from the upon which this assumption is based Koran is from Surah 4: "And because of [the Jews’] disbelief and because of their saying: We slew the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! Those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise"
II. THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION DEFENDED
A. Luke 9:22 …The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
B. The Gospels tell us that prior to the crucifixion; Christ was stripped then repeatedly struck on the head with a staff. A crown of thorns several inches long was pressed into his scalp, which was further beaten in with the staff causing severe bleeding. He continued to be beaten by the soldiers so brutally that Isaiah 52:13 states that Christ no longer looked human. Isaiah 50 states that they pulled out fistfuls of his beard. During the flogging, Christ most likely was tied to a post, leaving his back entirely exposed. Using a whip, called a flagrum or flagellum which consisted of small pieces of bone and metal attached to a number of leather strands, Christ’s back was laid open like raw hamburger. The number of strikes is not recorded in the gospels. The number of blows in Jewish law was set in Deuteronomy 25:3 at forty, but later reduced to 39 to prevent excessive blows by a counting error. Often those beaten died from the beating. From the beating, Jesus was made to walk on the path to be crucified at Golgotha just under ½ mile carrying the crossbar or patibulum of His cross, which weighed between 80 to 110 pounds across His shoulders. Laying the cross upon the ground Christ was nailed to the cross with 7” long nails, which were driven in the wrists sending shocks of pain through the arms. When the cross was erected upright, there was tremendous strain put on the wrists, arms and shoulders, resulting in a dislocation of the shoulder and elbow joints. The arms, being held up and outward, held the rib cage in a fixed end inspiratory position which made it extremely difficult to exhale, and impossible to take a full breath. Due to the shallow breathing, the lungs begin to collapse in small areas causing hypoxia and hypercarbia.