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Summary: Sometimes the leastlikely are most likely to catch a glimpse of the risen Christ.

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Title: Jesus Sightings

Text: Matthew 28:1-10 (11-15)

Thesis: Sometimes the least likely are most likely to catch a glimpse of the risen Christ.

Introduction

On a flight to Florida, an educational psychologist was preparing her notes for a presentation to a parent-education seminar in Miami. An elderly woman was seated next to her and as she chit-chatted she explained that she was returning to Miami from Boston where she had spent two weeks visiting her six children, eighteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

The grandmother then asked her seat companion what she did for a living and the psychologist told her about her work and was bracing for the usual onslaught of usual questions and probing for free professional advice. Instead, the elderly woman sat back, opened her magazine and said, “If there’s anything you want to know, just ask me.” (Homiletics, April 2010, P. 68)

So much for being an expert!

On May 10, 2005 ABCNews correspondent Elizabeth Vargas hosted Resurrection, a 20/20 news special that asked: “What really happened after Jesus’ crucifixion?” She asked scholars, theologians and archeologists the questions millions of people have wondered about: “Was the tomb empty? Did Jesus physically rise from the dead and walk around on Earth after his death? Or were his followers simply highly imaginative?” (http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Resurrection/story?id=744818&page=1)

In an interview with beliefnet, Vargas spoke of her interest in the resurrection. And she added her belief that there are many people who think the resurrection of Christ is one of the single most important events in the history of humankind.

She spoke of how she had interviewed a range of biblical scholars and leading theologians from the evangelical, Jewish and Catholic worlds. Her research included scholars with a liberal bent as well as representatives from the Jesus Seminar. She noted that while there may be vast differences between what they believe, they all agreed the tomb was empty, including non-believers. (http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/Movies/2005/05/Investigating-The-Resurrection.aspx)

In her report on the resurrection, Vargas quoted many scholars and among those quoted were:

1. William Lane Craig of Talbot School of Theology who stated: “He [Jesus] probably literally got up and walked out of the tomb.”

2. Kathleen E. Corley of the Jesus Seminar stated: “I think it was visions and hallucinations.”

3. Daniel Schwartz of Hebrew University in commenting on the resurrection of Christ stated: “Something definitely happened.”

Whatever you may think of expert witnesses, there is plenty of evidence beginning to surface in the literary world that calls experts and expert studies into question. In fact David Freedman, in his book Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us rattles off factoids that include statements to the effect that two-thirds of the findings published in the top medical journals are refuted within a few years. He says there is statistically a 1 in 12 chance that a medical doctor’s diagnosis will be so wrong that it causes the patient significant harm. (Kayla Webley, Experts and Studies: Not Always Trustworthy, Time Magazine, June 29, 2010)

Of course Freedman himself cites numerous experts so I guess it is likely that much of his findings are hokey as well.

But I think the point is well taken, researchers can pretty much research and manipulate their finding through selectivity to support whatever they want to prove.

However, it is interesting to me that if we just set aside all the biblical, theological and archeological scholarship, if we just set aside all the collected wisdom of all the experts and simply look at the story of the resurrection of Christ and listen to the simple testimony of people who were there… maybe it isn’t all that hard to arrive at the truth.

The most credible of witnesses are eyewitnesses.

I. The most credible witness to truth is an eye witness

So the women hurried away from the tomb afraid, yet filled with joy, and ran to tell the disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They ran to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. Matthew 28:8-9

A. The resurrection is the linchpin of our faith.

On the farm you are likely to see just about anything imaginable used to tie things together. Bailing wire is always good for a make-shift, stop-gap solution. But if you were hooking a tractor and an implement together you use a reliable and substantial link... otherwise the implement may come loose and a run-a-way farm implement is not a pretty sight.

There are all kinds of hitching mechanism but a linchpin is a popular means of connecting and holding things together. A linchpin is a locking pin that once in place and locked will not slip out.

The resurrection is a linchpin to the Christian faith. Without the resurrection there is no hope of eternal life left for Christianity.

Paul wrote in Corinthians, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified that God has raised Christ from the dead. But if he did not raise him, if in fact the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile; we are still in our sins. If Christ has not been raised those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” I Corinthians 15:13-19

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