Summary: the Passion of the Christ
Who is the greatest defense attorney of all time? According to the Guinness Book of World Records the all time best lawyer is Sir Lionel Luckhoo who successfully defended 245 consecutive murder trials. Luckhoo is a real life Perry Mason.
How does someone win 245 consecutive murder trials? You would need an intelligent mind being able to analyze and dissect the evidence presented in even an “air tight case.” As a man with such an impressive legal record, Luckhoo would qualify as an expert on what makes reliable and persuasive evidence.
As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ today, wouldn’t it be great to have the expert opinion of a man like Luckhoo regarding the evidence of Christ’s resurrection? Wouldn’t it be good to know if the evidence supports what we believe? We’re in luck. Before his death in 1997 Luckhoo did examine the evidence of Christ’s resurrection to see if it fits the test of legal evidence. Here is what he concluded:
• . . . Evidence of the empty tomb points unmistakably to the Resurrection of Jesus. For whereas the tomb of Mohammad in Medina holds the bones of Mohammad, and the tomb in Shantung holds the bones of Confucius and the tomb in Nepal holds the bones of Buddha-there are no bones in the tomb that once held Jesus, FOR HE IS RISEN. . . I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.
What does the evidence say? Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
This morning we’re going to look at some of the evidence that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. When Luckhoo examined the evidence he came to the only conclusion possible; JESUS IS ALIVE. Once the verdict was in Luckhoo then did what logically made sense; he committed his life to Jesus Christ, the risen savior. What will your decision be when you examine the evidence?
WHY IS THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST SO IMPORTANT?
• 1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (NIV)
• And if Christ wasn’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. (MsgB)
The entire Christian faith hinges on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then the Christian faith is no better than any other religion. Christians would be no better off than the Muslim, the Buddhist or anyone else; in fact Christians would not even be in better standing than the atheist or agnostic!
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then the atheist has a stronger case for the non-existence of God. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God; bold statement. But Jesus made an even bolder statement:
John 10:17 This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. (MsgB)
If Jesus did not have the power or authority to rise from the dead, then His claims to being the Son of God are false. The atheist could claim Jesus couldn’t rise from the dead because He could not be God’s son, because there is no God. If God existed then surely God would not let someone who claimed to be “loved by the Father” remain in the grave.
Now of course we could argue for the existence of God, but if Jesus is not raised from the dead, then the only option to overcome the atheist’s belief is to concede Jesus was not the Son of God. To do this however undermines the Christian faith. Putting it plain and simple: if Jesus is not raised from the dead, WE DON’T HAVE A LEG TO STAND ON!
Before we think about Jesus being raised from the dead, we need to answer another important question. DID JESUS REALLY DIE? Was Jesus dead and then resurrected, or did Jesus only recover from His injuries and show Himself as a resurrected Savior?
The idea Jesus did not die, but recovered from the crucifixion is called the Swoon Theory. Muslims are taught Jesus did not die, but passed out or was drugged and only appeared to be dead. Later Jesus recovered in the coolness of the tomb from His injuries and showed Himself to His disciples as the “risen Christ.” The Swoon Theory says the resurrection did not occur because Jesus never died.
A close look at the events which took place at Christ’s crucifixion will show the fallacy of the Swoon Theory. Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of Christ” portrays the events which took place. Many things have been said about Gibson’s film.