Summary: A message on the Resurrection.
HISTORY, MYSTERY, VICTORY
INTRO: In one sense, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact to be accepted by faith. To say that a person died and was buried is simply to acknowledge the experience of people. But to say that one who died rose bodily from the grave, never to return, is to announce a miracle demanding faith.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is history, for it happened; mystery, for it cannot be explained; victory, for He rose the victor.
I. THE RESURRECTION IS HISTORY.
No one really doubts the fact of Christ’s death. Since the time of Adam, death has been an appointment for all people except two (Enoch and Elijah). Jesus also had an appointment with death, and He kept it. There came that day when the sun hid its face at noonday, the earth shook, and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. Everyone who witnessed the crucifixion said, “He is dead!”
How do we know He was dead? In John 19:33-36 we are told that the soldiers came to Jesus to break his legs so he would die before the end of the day. He was already dead when they came to him. Notice especially verse 36. NOT A BONE OF HIS BODY WAS BROKEN. This is also true of the Passover Lamb (see Ex. 12:46 and Num. 9:12).
The resurrection of Christ is as factual as His death. Those who question this do so in the face of irrefutable evidence. Evidence exists of the empty tomb, the repeated appearances to as few as one and as many as more than five hundred, and the dramatic change in His disciples.
The authorities of the first century could not refute the historicity of the resurrection by disproving the claims of the apostles, and neither can the skeptics of the twentieth century.
ILLUS: In the early part of this century, a group of lawyers met in England to discuss the biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. They wanted to see if sufficient information was available to make a case that would hold up in an English court of law. When their study was completed, they published the results of their investigation. They concluded that Christ’s resurrection was one of the most well-established facts of history!
In his little book, Countdown, G. B. Hardy has given us some thought-provoking questions about the resurrection. “There are but two essential requirements:
1. Has anyone cheated death and proved it? 2. Is it available to me? Here is the complete record: Confucius’ tomb—occupied. Buddha’s tomb—occupied. Mohammed’s tomb—occupied. Jesus’ tomb—empty! Argue as you will, there is no point in following a loser.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a reality. Countless changed lives testify that it’s a fact—not a fable!
II. THE RESURRECTION IS A MYSTERY.
The disciples couldn’t understand the resurrection. They heard Jesus foretell His resurrection; however, when it actually took place they were bewildered (vv. 4, 11).
The resurrection of Christ is still a mystery. We have the Bible which reports the event, but we are unable to understand it. The return of life to that brutalized body is a mystery. The manner of His exit from the tomb is also a mystery. The stone was rolled away from the entrance to the tomb so that people could see that it was empty, not to let Jesus out.
ILLUS: When the Garden Tomb was discovered in 1885, the godly General Gordon was convinced that this was the place where the body of Jesus had lain. There is a traditional tomb inside the wall of modern Jerusalem, but no certainty attaches to the site. The Garden Tomb, hidden for centuries, was covered with rubbish twenty feet high. When they first cleared the spot, with great caution they gathered all the dust and debris within the tomb and carefully shipped it to the Scientific Association of Great Britain. Every part of it was analyzed, but there was no trace of human remains. If this is the real tomb of Christ, then Jesus was the first to be laid there and he was also the last.
The Lord rose bodily from the sealed tomb, but who can explain that? Furthermore, the nature of His post-resurrection body is also a mystery. The Lord’s body was physical, for people could both see and touch it; yet the Lord was not limited by physical barriers. Who can explain that?
The mystery of the resurrection must be accepted by faith. To do so is not unreasonable, for the Lord God has given evidence that Jesus did rise from the grave. Since the fact of His resurrection is firmly established, people of faith can accept the inexplicable aspects of the event.
III. THE RESURRECTION IS VICTORY.
The resurrection meant victory for Christ. Jesus died as a criminal. He was arrested, tried, and executed as a criminal. The fact that He was innocent doesn’t alter these facts. Thus His resurrection was an event of personal vindication. It proves that the Lord is who He said He is.