Summary: The fundamental question about Easter: Is Jesus alive? How do we know? What is the evidence? And most importantly, what can it do for me and my life? *HANDOUT INCLUDED*
Josh McDowell was an atheist that started out to disprove Christianity. Instead, he became a Christian. One day, a student of his asked him, ¡°Professor McDowell, why can¡¯t you refute Christianity?¡± McDowell replied, ¡°For a very simple reason: I am not able to explain away an event in history ¨C the Resurrection of Jesus.¡±
Matt. 28:6 "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay."
What evidence is there that Jesus rose from the dead?
1. The tomb was empty.
A. The Jews knew the tomb was empty.
The only thing ever offered by the Jews were reasons why the tomb was empty.
Matthew 28:12-13 ¡°When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, "Tell them, ’His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’
B. Christianity could not have begun in Jerusalem just a few weeks after Jesus¡¯ death unless the tomb was empty.
No one would have believed it!
C. The other theories about the empty tomb don¡¯t make sense.
- The disciples stole the body.
Even if they did manage to get past the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, there¡¯s one major problem with this theory:
EVERY DISCIPLE DIED FOR WHAT THEY SAID.
¡ñ Peter - crucified.
¡ñ Andrew - Crucified
¡ñ Matthew - sword
¡ñ James, son of Alpheus - crucified
¡ñ Philip - crucified
¡ñ Simon - crucified
¡ñ Thaddaeus - killed by arrows
¡ñ James, brother of Jesus - stoned
¡ñ Thomas - spear thrust
¡ñ Bartholomew - crucified
¡ñ James, son of Zebedee - sword
- The wrong tomb theory.
The problem: This means that Joseph of Arimathea, who owned the tomb, had to be wrong about it¡¯s location. . . and not just him, but everyone else who helped put Jesus in the tomb, the Roman guards, the Jews who requested the guards, etc. etc.
- The Swoon Theory.
I addressed this idea two weeks ago. The truth is, that Roman soldiers who were professionals at killing people would never allow a live man to be taken off that cross, and could not have made the mistake of thinking that he was dead when he wasn¡¯t. Even if this had happened, do you think that a Jesus in that condition could have rolled the stone away, walked back into Jerusalem, and convinced his followers that he was the Lord of Life?
- The Jewish or Roman authorities removed the body.
The problem that sinks this objection is that the Jews and the Romans BOTH wanted to crush Christianity in the days that followed Jesus¡¯ resurrection.
Instead of killing Christians, all they would have had to do was bring out the body and parade it down main street in Jerusalem, and none of us would be here today, because Christianity would never have become a world religion at all!
2. After rising from the dead, Jesus appeared to people.
1Co 15:3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
5 and that He was seen by Peter, then by the twelve.
6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
8 Then last of all He was seen by me also,
In I Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul gives a list of some of the people who saw Jesus alive after his death on the cross:
- The Twelve disciples
- 500 brethren at once, most of whom were still alive when Paul was writing.
- Paul himself
Paul gives this list, and specifically mentions that most of them are still alive while he is writing this. You notice this ¨C Paul is so sure of the case for Jesus rising from the dead that he is INVITING people to go check out the eyewitness reports!
One or two eyewitness accounts are enough in a court of law to send a man to the electric chair. . . this morning, we¡¯re reading of 500 eyewitnesses of Jesus after he rose from the dead. There¡¯s only one conclusion that can be reached: Jesus really is alive!
3. Jesus¡¯ followers were totally changed.
One of the greatest evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus is the complete transformation of the people who followed Jesus.
If you¡¯ve seen the Passion, or read your Bible, you know that Peter, one of Jesus¡¯ disciples, denied three times that he even knew Jesus.