Summary: Jesus said "on the third day I will rise." But did He? And how can we be confident of Christ's resurrection?

The 53rd chapter of the Old Testament book of Isaiah is a powerful passage. For centuries Jewish Rabbis believed it talked about the coming Messiah. But they struggled with the message

Isaiah 53 spoke of the Messiah as A SUFFERING SAVIOR: “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5

It also said that the Messiah WOULD DIE: “He was cut off out of the land of the living (He would die), stricken for the transgression of my people. And they made his grave with the wicked…” Isaiah 53:8-9

And then (in our passage for today) it said the oddest thing: “When his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall SEE HIS OFFSPRING; he shall PROLONG HIS DAYS.” Isaiah 53:10

How’s He going to SEE HIS OFFSPRING?? How’s He going to have His days PROLONGED?? I thought he was going to die! Well, He was going to die… but He wasn’t going to stay dead!


Back in 1865 Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. For weeks afterward… Lincoln’s body was displayed in Washington D.C. and various cities in the nation as it made its way to his home in Springfield, Illinois. There his body finally “laid to rest” in a cemetery… but Lincoln didn’t get much rest. In 1876, there was a plot to dig Lincoln up and steal his body… didn’t work. Eleven years later (because of rumors that his body wasn’t in that grave) his coffin was dug up and opened to confirm it was there. It was. But the rumors continued… so 14 years after that, the coffin was dug up again. Both times witnesses were present… and to confirm Lincoln was still in the grave. Lincoln’s body was moved 17 times and his coffin opened 5 times before he was finally resting in peace 36 years later inside a steel cage beneath 2 tons of concrete that was poured ten feet high over his coffin.


About 2000 years ago… there was another body that folks wanted to make sure STAYED IN THE GRAVE. But this time that didn’t happen.

Matthew 28:1-6 “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid…. HE IS NOT HERE. For he has risen, just as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.’

You see, Jesus died and was buried… but He did not stay in the grave. The enemies of the church, and of Christ wanted to keep Jesus in the grave. They even had Pilate seal the tomb and post a guard of Roman soldiers.

Matthew 27:62-64 tells us: “the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So. they went and made the tomb secure by putting a SEAL on the stone and posting the guard.”

There was a seal on the tomb. and a guard at the stone - but on the 3rd day Christ’s body was gone. Jesus simply left the grave… and he wasn’t going back.

But NOW, the chief priests and the pharisees had a problem. They had an empty tomb, but they had no BODY. So, the best they could do was to spread the lie that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body and buried Him elsewhere.

ILLUS: Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection the Roman government issued a decree called “The Nazareth Inscription.” (see 2nd P.S. at end of the sermon) It’s a marble tablet about 2 feet long and 15 inches tall and it was a decree by Emperor Claudius (who died in 54 A.D.), pronouncing a death penalty in Israel for anyone caught robbing bodies from tombs. Normally, grave robbers didn’t steal bodies. they stole valuables! But somehow a body had come up missing… and I’ll give you 3 guesses as to whose body turned up missing (

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