Summary: The reality of the Resurrection has deep transforming impact on our lives.
Max Lucado, in his book, “Six Hours One Friday,” tells the story of a missionary in Brazil who discovered a tribe of Indians in a remote part of the jungle. They lived near a large river. The tribe was in need of medical attention. A contagious disease was ravaging the population. People were dying daily.
A hospital was not too terribly far away — across the river, but the Indians would not cross it because they believed the river was inhabited by evil spirits. And to enter its water would mean certain death.
The missionary explained how he had crossed the river & was unharmed. But they were not impressed. He then took them to the bank & placed his hand in the water. They still wouldn’t go in. He walked into the water up to his waist & splashed water on his face. It didn’t matter. They were still afraid to enter the river.
Finally, he dove into the river, swam beneath the surface until he emerged on the other side. He raised a triumphant fist into the air. He had entered the water & escaped. It was then that the Indians broke into a cheer & followed him across.
That’s what Jesus did for each of us in his death and resurrection. He entered the river of death and came out on the other side so that we might no longer fear death, but find eternal life in Him.
Ø The resurrection of Christ is reaching out to us today… calling us to follow and experience eternal life.
Like the tribe of Indians… we may have to cross our own perceptions.
So it was for those we first heard about. Mary… disappointment. Disciples… locked up in fear. Thomas… confused and stuck in doubt.
What changed them?
> Reality. It’s critical to understand that the resurrection reaches out to us with reason and reality. It is not myth or merely mystical thinking that reaches out to us today. Consider….
1. Prophetic Preparation (Established in prophetic history)
There are as many as 48 prophetic pointers about the Messiah that God had given through the prophets over the previous centuries… beyond any coincidence… and any control (i.e where born, how buried, etc).
> One chance in a trillion (repeated 13 times total)
2. Historical Origins (Expressed in historical accounts)
· Nature of the testimony
J.B. Phillips, after translating and paraphrasing the NT Gospel accounts says, “There’s not the slightest flavor of myth here. No man could have set down such artless and vulnerable accounts as these unless some real event lay behind them.”
God had called together a group far too unspiritual to fathom a resurrection, and far too fearful and simple to fake one.
So what happened? What changed these confused and hopeless followers into those who changed the world with it’s message?
Perhaps John said it best….
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
Ø Unlike myth-makers and religious professionals…. These disciples weren’t trying to forge a hope, it was forging them.
What else stands out in the historical origins of the resurrection?
· Disciples died for their testimony
· Caused conversion of contenders (James, Saul)
· Immediacy of new social structures, communion, baptism… all based on Christ Divine authority and atoning death.
All this emerged so quickly after this figure was crucified and abandoned by his followers … for which no other reason can for this… no other reason is given… HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD… JUST AS HE HAD BEEN CLAIMING HE WOULD.
Sir Lionel Luclhoo, a brilliant and savvy attorney whose astounding 245 consecutive murder acquittals earned him a place in The Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most successful lawyer. Knighted twice by Queen Elizabeth, this former justice and diplomat subjected the historical facts about the resurrection to his own rigorous analysis for several years before declaring, “I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that is COMPELS acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.” (Strobel, Case for Christ, p. 255, which provides footnotes.)
3. Ongoing Power (Extended in historical experience)
Whenever and wherever He is received… lives have been changed.
Ø Just as it was described…
1 Peter 1:3 (CEV)
“ God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on.”
“New life”…the resurrection isn’t offering to simply enhance life as we know it… but to impart new life.
It’s not just an addition to your old life, something you just tack on. It’s a whole new deal. It’s brand new.