Summary: Easter and the proofs of the Resurrection.
Easter - the resurrected Saviour.
During the last few weeks we studied about the cross and what it meant to us.
The scriptures tell us that on the first Good Friday darkness came over the land from the sixth hour until the ninth hour or from about noon to three pm. The earth itself was mourning and protesting the death of its Creator and you have the great symbolism of the Light of the world being extinguished and the world being plunged into darkness. It was also a dark day for the disciples and for the early followers of Christ. All that they had sacrificed, all that they had lived for, all that they had believed was seemingly gone. They had identified themselves with this man, whom they were convinced was the Messiah, only to see Him die in the worst possible way He hadn’t even defended Himself!
They took this death as a sign that He was not who He had claimed to be and all of them had fled and abandoned Christ and turned away whether by their words, or their actions. They thought it was over.
Jesus spent much of His last days teaching these men that this would happen. He taught them that He would suffer, He taught them that He would die, but He always linked it with a triumphal resurrection. He always included that He would rise from the grave and that He would be the conquering Son of God who would provide victory!
Jesus had made sure that His disciples would be ready. But because of the way that He died, the disciples lost hope. All of that talk of rebuilding the temple in three days was thrown out of the window. They forgot what it was that Christ had taught them. Remember, these are the men that God chose to change the world through, these are the men who knew Jesus better than any other men on Earth, these were the ones who had been taught and trained and invested in for three years, and yet they now were so sure of defeat that they went away.
Today I want to look at the last chapter and a half of the book of Matthew. I want to pull out the facts and offer proof that Jesus Christ has risen indeed!
Let’s begin by looking at:
I. The Facts
There are certain things that we know, they are not in question. These are documented not only by the historical record of the Bible, but by every other reliable book of history that we have. These are facts that were accepted by all at that time, even those who opposed everything that Christ stood for and did.
A. Christ Died on that Cross.
The death of Christ was never in question. There are some today who try to explain away the post resurrection appearances by saying that Christ never really died on that cross. We know that He died for several reasons.
1) The Romans were Experts
The Romans had perfected the art of torture and crucifixion. They crucified hundreds of thousands of people during the years of their empire. They knew what they were doing. So, when the soldiers came to Christ in order to break His legs and found that He was already dead, you can be sure that they knew what death looked like.
2) Pilate Made Sure
Read Matt. 57-61. Here you have the account of what happened with Jesus’ body after He had hung on the cross and had given up His Spirit. The normal protocol for a crucifixion would have called for the body to hang there for several days. The Romans wanted a visual reminder to the people of who was in charge and what the consequences were for stepping out of line. So, in order for Joseph to get the body, He would have to ask permission from Pilate. Mark 15:42-47 tells us that Joseph is a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, the very body that had sentenced Jesus to death. Joseph would have been alienating himself from other Jews and aligning Himself with Christ. This was a man who was going to stick by Christ even when the disciples wouldn’t.
When Joseph asks for the Body, Mark tells us that Pilate is surprised and sends someone to make sure. So, we know He was dead because careful examination was made of the body.
3) He was handled in preparation for burial
Mark also tells us that the body was wrapped in a linen cloth by Joseph and John 19:38-42 tell us that Nicodemus was also there helping. They would have been moving the body about in such a way that if there was any life left it would have become obvious. Christ was dead, that’s a fact.