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Summary: Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, we can experience Him through the living hope of His resurrection today.

ENCOUNTERING THE RESURRECTED JESUS

OPEN: The Lord’s Prayer

INTRO TO TOPIC: HOW IMPORTANT IS THE RESURRECTION?

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” (1 Cor. 15:12-14, NKJV).

1. Jesus loves us so much He died for us! After Jesus died on the Cross (Good Friday), three days later He raised from the dead and began appearing to His disciples.

2. Easter Sunday – or resurrection day – is the most important day of the Christian year.

THE BIG IDEA: Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, we can experience Him through the living hope of His resurrection today.

1. THEORIES THAT CLAIM THE RESURRECTION WAS A HOAX:

A. The (Coma) Theory which claims that Jesus did not actually die on the cross, but He was in such a state of exhaustion due to loss of strength and blood, that He ‘swooned’ into a coma. Believed to be dead, He was taken down and put into a tomb (where) He revived and somehow pushed the stone away and slipped out into the night unnoticed by anyone. He then reappeared to His followers, claiming to have been raised miraculously, when actually He had only fallen into a coma.

B. The Kidnap Theory which says that Jesus did actually die, but in the middle of the night, someone came and took His body. Unseen by the soldiers, the kidnapper pushed back the stone, stole the body, and hid it where it would never be found.

C. The Hallucination Theory which borrows from the kidnap theory, says his body was hidden away. And those disciples who later thought they were seeing the raised Christ were having a hallucination.

2. EVIDENCES FOR THE RESURRECTION:

A. Jesus Really Died: A Response to The Coma Theory:

“So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 13:39).

“31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” (John 19:31-34).

• After the brutal torture Jesus experienced as He was whipped and beaten, and His six hours on the Cross, He was undoubtedly dead!

• Jesus couldn’t have rolled the stone away after being so weak! “Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.” (Matt. 27:26). Discuss the scourging.

QUOTE: “Before the scourging began, Jesus was stripped of His garments and bent low over a low post, with wrists and ankles shackled into that position. The instrument used for scourging was a circular piece of wood to which were attached long, leather thongs. Into these leather thongs or straps were sewn bits of glass, bone and metal…The flagellum was brought all the way back and whistled forward, making a dull drum sound as the strips of leather smashed against the back of the rib cage…It was designed to reduce the naked body to strips of raw flesh and inflamed, bleeding wounds. It was not uncommon for a man to die on the stump…It is easy to forget that Jesus was tortured, brutalized, and mistreated for an extended period of time before He was led to the place of execution. He had become so marked and swollen that His individual features were scarcely distinguishable.” (Charles Swindoll).

B. The Empty Tomb: A Response to The Kidnap Theory:

o Who would have kidnapped His body? His enemies wouldn’t have done it: The Romans put guards on the tomb to prevent that: “So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.” (Matt. 27:66).

o His disciples wouldn’t have stolen His body. If they had, they wouldn’t have been willing to die for a lie like that! “People will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely believe they’re true, but people won’t die for their religious beliefs if they know their beliefs are false.” (Lee Strobel).

o The empty tomb is one of the greatest proofs for the resurrection!

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