So . . . What’s So Important About Easter?
Introduction: The idea that Jesus never died on the cross can be found in the coran; and to this day there is a shrine that supposedly marks His real burial place in Srinagar, Kashmir.
As the 19th century dawned, Karl Bahrdt, Karl Venturini, and other conspiracy theorists tried to explain that Jesus’ resurrection was a fake. They alleged that He only fainted from exhaustion, or that He was given a drug that made Him appear to die – and that He later was revived as He laid in the dark, damp, and cold tomb. They claimed (as do many others even today) that Jesus’ miraculous resurrection was merely caused by resuscitation, and that’s why the tomb was empty.
Others have tried to claim this too. In 1929 D.H. Lawrence said it; in 1965 Hugh Schonfield’s book, The Passover Plot alleged it; in 1972, Donovan Joyce alleged it in his book, The Jesus Scroll; then in 1982, the book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, added a twist to this ridiculousness. He said that Jesus bribed Pilate to take Him down from the cross before He died. But get this: all of these men, in the end, had this to say: “We would not – and still cannot – prove the accuracy of our conclusion.”
This “story” continues still today. But, according to Dr. Stein, what does the evidence say? (Prayer).
Today, I want us to examine from the testimonies of professionals:
1. What Happened to Jesus Before the Cross?
2. What Happened to Him at the Cross?
3. A Question For The Heart.
4. What Happened at the Tomb?
I. What Happened Before The Cross?
A. It all began at the Last Supper when Jesus went with the disciples to the Mount of Olives – to the Garden of Gethsemane. If you recall, He prayed there all night.
1. He was praying because He knew what lied ahead and was expecting a huge amount of suffering and was under a lot of psychological stress.
B. As He prayed, the Bible says that He sweated drops of blood. This can happen; in the medical realm (though uncommon) it is a type of stress is known as hematidrosis.
1. The severe anxiety causes the release of chemical that break down the capillaries in the sweat glands.
2. As a result, there’s a small amount of bleeding into these glands, and the sweat comes out tinged with blood.
C. This condition also attacked Jesus’ skin to make it extremely fragile so that when He was beaten and flogged by the Roman solders, His skin was very sensitive.
D. Roman floggings were known to be brutal. Jesus experienced a savage beating so inhumane that it ought to shock us to death.
E. He was beaten with a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them as well as sharp bone.
1. As the whip struck the flesh, these balls and bones would cause bruises and contusions.
a. As the beatings continued, the skin would break open and cut His flesh severely.
2. Dr. Alexander Metherell M.D. P.H.D., says that His back would have been so shredded that part of His spine was probably exposed by the deep, deep cuts He took.
3. Dr. Metherell goes on the say these whippings would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to His back, the buttocks, and the back of His legs. It was terrible!
a. The whip would tear into underlying skeletal muscles producing shaking, quivering, ribbons of exposed flesh.
F. These beatings put Jesus into what is called hypovolemic shock – meaning that Jesus was suffering from losing a large amount of blood.
G. This shock does 4 things to the body:
1st The heart races to pump blood that isn’t there;
2nd The blood pressure drops severely – fainting or collapse;
3rd The kidneys stop working
4th You become extremely thirsty (to replace the blood lost).
H. Jesus was in hypovolemic shock as He carried the cross up the road to Calvary (that’s why He fell).
G. Because of these beatings, Dr. Metherell says, “There’s no question that Jesus was already in serious to critical condition even before the nails were driven into His hand and feet.”
II. What Happened At The Cross?
Jesus carried the top part of the cross – the rest was already in the ground.
A. They nailed Him to the top part first (through the wrists).
B. It’s important to note that that the nails went through the place in His wrists where the median neve runs.
1. It’s the largest nerve going out of the hand and would have been crushed as the nails were pounded in.
a. That would feel like when we hit our crazy bone. The pain was unbearable.
2. It was so bad that they had to invent a new word – excruciating! It literally means: “out of the cross.”
a. Think of that! They needed to create a new word because there was nothing in the language that could describe the intense anguish caused during the crucifixion.
C. At this point Jesus was hoisted up and the crossbar was attached to the vertical stake. Then they drove the nails into His feet.
1. Again, the nerves would have been crushed in His feet with similar pain.
D. While hanging there His arms would have been immediately stretched (probably about 2 inches) and both shoulders would have been dislocated.
NOTE: This fulfilled the prophecy in Psalms 22, “. . . all my bones are out of joint.”
E. The Cause of Death – Crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation. The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put His chest into the inhaled position.
1, To inhale Jesus had to push himself up on His feet to relax
the tension on His muscles used to inhale. (for only a moment).
2. While doing this the nail would have torn through His feet and eventually lock up against the tarsal bones.
a. After managing to exhale, Jesus would then be able to relax back down to take another breath in.
3. But . . . every time He took of breath, the process would start all over again; pushing Himself up to exhale – scrapping His bloodied back up against the stake.
F. This would go on and on and on until Jesus was completely exhausted and at some point, He wouldn’t be able to push up an longer to breathe.
1. In medical terms this caused respiratory acidosis – the carbon dioxide in the blood is dissolved as carbonic acid, which caused the acidity of the blood to increase.
a. This would then lead to a rapid heart beat.
2. In fact, doctors say that Jesus would have been aware of this – that He was near death which was probably when He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.”
G. So, what then caused the death of our Savior? Cardiac arrest!
1. His love for you and me . . . . broke His heart!
H. The Bible says that the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two criminals that were crucified with Jesus. Why did they do that?
1. They wanted to speed up their death because the Sabbath was coming and Passover was coming – so the Jewish leaders wanted to get this all over before sundown.
a. By breaking their legs they wouldn’t have been able to push themselves up in order to breath – making death come quicker.
2. Jesus legs however were not broken because He had already died – plus it fulfills prophecy that none of His bones were broken.
J. Jesus couldn’t have faked His death; remember the hypovolemic shock from massive blood loss - before the crucifixion ever began?
1. Plus . . . on the cross – He couldn’t breathe; the spear thrust in His side. There’s no possible way Jesus faked His death.
K. If Jesus did fake His death,
how could He have walked around after nails had been driven through His feet!
How could He have appeared on the road to Emmaus a short time later?
How could He have used His arms after they had been stretched and pulled from their joints?
Remember the massive wounds on His back?
Remember the spear thrust into His side?
L. Let me ask you this: Do you think for a moment that s person, in that kind of pathetic condition, could have ever inspired His disciples to go out and proclaim the He is the Lord of life and that He had triumphed over the grave? No Way!
1. After suffering the horrible abuse, with all the catastrophic blood loss and trauma, Jesus would have looked so pitiful that the disciples would have never hailed Him as the victorious Conqueror of Death!
2. It’s impossible to say that if He had appeared to them in that awful state, that the apostles would have started a worldwide movement based on the hope that someday they too would have a resurrection body like this? There’s just no way!
III. A Question For The Heart.
Jesus intentionally walked into the arms of His betrayer; He didn’t resist arrest; He didn’t defend Himself at His trial – it was clear that He willing subjected Himself to an agonizing torture. Why? What could have possible motivated Him to agree to endure that punishment?
A. Jesus knew what was coming and He still went through it anyway! Why?
B. Because this was the only way He could redeem you and me! By becoming our substitute and paying the death penalty that you and I deserve! That was His whole mission for coming to earth!
1. The answer can be summed up with one word – and that would be LOVE!
IV. What Happened at The Tomb?
1 Corinthians 15:3-7 (TLB), “I passed on to you right from the first what had been told to me, that Christ died for our sins just as the Scriptures said he would, 4 and that he was buried, and that three days afterwards he arose from the grave just as the prophets foretold. 5 He was seen by Peter and later by the rest of “the Twelve.” 6 After that he was seen by more than five hundred Christian brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died by now. 7 Then James saw him, and later all the apostles.”
A. This was a very early creed passed on by Jesus to the church. 1 Corinthians 15:3 (“For what I received I passed on to as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins just as the Scriptures had said. Then verse 4 says: that he was buried, and that three days afterwards he arose from the grave just as the Scriptures said.”
B. The creed then goes on to say: 5 He was seen by Peter and later by the rest of “the Twelve.” 6 After that he was seen by more than five hundred Christian brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died by now. 7 Then James saw him, and later all the apostles.”
1. Essentially this creed is a 4-line formula.
The 1st one refers to the crucifixion
The 2nd refers to His burial
The 3rd to His resurrection
The 4th refers to Jesus’ many appearances.
a. As you can see, verse 4 affirms that Jesus was buried.
2. This creed is really a summary that corresponds line by line with what the Gospels teach.
C. How secure was the tomb where Jesus was laid?
1. The were slanted grooves, at the top and bottom of the tomb. They were carved into the rock at the very low entrance of the tomb. Then, a large disk-shaped stone was rolled down those slanted grooves which “locked” it in place.
a. It would take several strong men to roll that stone to roll the stone back up in order to reopen it.
2. As if that wasn’t enough – guards were placed at the entrance and a Roman seal was placed on it.
D. But . . . here’s the deal; that tomb is empty! PTL! It’s EMPTY!!
1. Mark 10:34 (NLT) says, “They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.”
2. Dr. Norman Anderson, who lectured at Princton University and served at the Faculty of Laws at the University of London, once said, “The empty tomb, the, forms a veritable rock on which all rationalistic theories of the resurrection dash themselves in vain.”
E. The empty tomb – the hope for all humanity – is truly empty! We know this because He appeared to many believers after the resurrection.
Jesus appeared to:
Mary Magdalene – John 20:10-18
To the other women, in Matthew 28:8-10
To Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-32
To the eleven disciples and others in Luke 24:33-49
To then apostles and others, with Thomas not being there in John 20:19-23
Then to Thomas and the other apostles in John 20:26-30
Then to seven apostles in John 21:1-14
To the disciples in Matthew 28:16-20
And He was with the apostles at the Mount of Olives before He ascended into Heaven in Luke 24:50-52 and Acts 1:4-9
Conclusion: I believe with all of my heart that there was a resurrection. And if there is a resurrection, there is a Heaven; and if there is a Heaven – there is a Hell too. Revelation 20:11-15 (NLT) says, “And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. 14 Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. 15 And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Listen to me this morning people; our very lives are at stake here . . . forever – as for others as well. Life is precious; life is valuable; life is fleeting. Mark my words: death is coming! And it is sometimes sudden. But you be sure – death is 100% inevitable. Over 150,000 people die in this world every day.
There is physical death (described above); and there is spiritual death. This is the worst kind of death ever known because this death is . . . ETERNAL! It is absolute separation from God . . . . FOREVER!!
Revelation 21:8 says it all. “But cowards who turn back from following me, and those who are unfaithful to me, and the corrupt, and murderers, and the immoral, and those conversing with demons, and idol worshipers and all liars—their doom is in the Lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This is the Second Death.”
Bad news? Death is our enemy; good news? Death is defeated!
Jesus died the death; Jesus took all of the pain; everything that you and I deserved He paid for on that cross (expound and close).
* SOME OF THIS INFORMATION CAME FROM THE BOOK, “THE CASE FOR EASTER” BY LEE STROBEL