Orexin is a neuropeptide that regulates arousal, wakefulness and appetite. Studies are being done on what an increase or decrease in orexin will do to a person’s appetite and sleep. Focusing on sleep this morning (Stay with me, don’t go to sleep!). In one study, monkeys were deprived of sleep for 36 hours and then given either orexin or a placebo before taking cognitive tests. The sleep deprived monkeys given orexin in a nasal spray scored about the same as alert monkeys, while the group of sleep deprived monkeys given the placebo were severely impaired in functioning. The study found orexin not only restored monkey’s cognitive abilities but made their brain look “awake” in PET scans. Jerome Siegel, the lead scientist of the study, said that orexin is unique in that it only had an impact on sleepy monkeys, not alert ones, and that it is “specific in reversing the effects of sleepiness” without other affects on the brain. Going to be handing out orexin and force people to spray in their nose to stay awake this morning.
Good to get 8 hours of sleep. Not good to rely on caffeine or orexin to help us stay awake during the day. In our Scripture reading this morning, it mentions that some of the 500 witnesses have fallen asleep. The Holy Spirit here is not talking about 8 hours of sleep, this is talking about death. In our day, we might say that someone has passed on- meaning that they have died. Death is an unpleasant subject and so we use euphemisms to describe it. The Bible is no different- literally this phrase means to fall asleep as in at night while we are unconscious. However, this euphemism was used, “fall asleep” to speak about death so the word did not have to be mentioned. Jesus even used this phrase to speak about death. Speaking of his friend Lazarus Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,” John 11:11-14, NIV. Getting back to 1 Corinthians 15 we find that most of the 500 witnesses are still living. Amazing- probably about 25 years after this event and most of them are still living. God’s Providence to keep many of them to witness to Jesus’ resurrection alive such a long time.
The Lord did not appear to everyone all at once- some complain. Well, I say this is amazing- 500 of the brothers at the same time. Lee Strobel, author of the Case for Christ, put it like this, “If we were holding a trial to determine the facts concerning the resurrection, and if we were to call to the witness stand every witness who personally encountered the resurrected Jesus and we cross examined each of them for only 15 minutes, we would be listening to first hand testimony for more than 128 hours, that is over 5 days.” One psychologist even said, “Over 500 people having the same hallucination would be more of a miracle than the resurrection itself.” Trust the many witness and the personal accounts recorded in Scripture
I digress again, go back to our Scripture 1 Corinthians 15:6: 2 phrases here, “Still living” and “fallen asleep.” We see here the transforming effect upon life and death of those who have faith in the risen Lord. Yes, we have not seen with our physical eyes, but with eyes of faith. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,” 1 Peter 1:8
Thesis: Transforming effect on the living and on the dying
A. The sight of the risen Christ will make life calm and peaceful.
Think of those disciples seeing the risen Christ and then going back to their villages in Galilee. Lives so small and insignificant but having the assurance that “this child can face uncertain days because He lives.” This Resurrected One is the same one who walked on the water and calmed the seas with just a word. “So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.” Isaiah 28:16, NIV. KJV- “He that believeth shall not make haste.” No worrying or fretting because “I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.” In the Upper Room, Jesus said, “Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” John 14:19, NIV. Confused them so “Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:22, 23, NIV. “You ask me how I know he lives, He lives within my heart”
B. The sight of the risen Christ will make us persistent and diligent in our duties.
Something menial, tedious and small might be distasteful, but doing it for the risen Christ will never be small. The risen Christ is an example for us who will not be turned away from our duties by obstacles, dangers, or threats. The risen Christ is an example of glory following faithfulness, and of the crown being the result of the Cross. “Therefore, ... let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1, 2, NIV.
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV.
C. The sight of the risen Christ leads to a life of calm expectancy.
Studying the resurrection appearances to various people and groups. Trying to fit everything from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and 1 Corinthians 15 into a chronology of events is difficult. I like what R.C. Foster said about this appearing to the 500 and how that fit into the post resurrection appearances (just a theory). The gospel of Matthew has Jesus telling the women to tell the disciples “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”” Matthew 28:10, NIV. We find in the gospel of John that Jesus appeared to some of the disciples who were fishing at the Sea of Tiberius (also called the Sea of Galilee- John 21). These 7 disciples were making their way to Galilee to prepare for a great appearance and, while waiting for that appearing, went fishing. Jesus appeared to them but this was not the great appearing that is talked about in Matthew 28. After this, these 7 disciples gathered all the brothers they could (500) from around Galilee. The appearance to the 500 is at the end of Matthew 28 where they went to a mountain where Jesus told them to go- Matthew 28:16. Vs. 17- When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Talking about more than just the 11 apostles- they had already seen him and had already doubted- but natural for some of a group of 500 to do the same. Then Jesus gave the Great Commission in vs. 18-20. Not just to the 11 but to 500. Interesting!
Great things were done through these disciples. Great things can be done through us!
Difficult to piece together the post resurrection appearances. In the same way, it is difficult to piece together the details before the second coming. Many have tried and still try. “He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” Acts 1:7-9, NIV.
““Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:42-44, NIV.
“Fallen asleep”- Many cultures refer to death as falling asleep. However, the Christian reason for calling death a sleep embraces a great deal more than others who use the term. Many times the Bible uses this imagery of dropping out of consciousness of this world. Death is the separation of the soul from the body but this term falling asleep sounds so much better. Even when the circumstances of that falling asleep are painful and violent, the Bible still uses the term. Think of Stephen being stoned and even there the bible says, “he fell asleep.” Acts 7:60. Not only does this term designate the act of dying, but it speaks of the condition of the departed. They are fallen asleep and continue to sleep. This phrases suggest several things:
A. Relaxation or rest- “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.”” Revelation 14:13. Sleep restores strength, and withdraws us from this world temporarily. Carry this idea into that unseen world but permanently- they are safe in the arms of Jesus. Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe from corroding care, safe from the world’s temptations, sin cannot harm me there. Free from the blight of sorrow, free from my doubts and fears- safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on his gentle breast, there by his love overshadowed, sweetly my soul doth rest.
B. Still have existence- A person asleep does not cease to be a person. No, they are not asleep in their bodies awaiting resurrection day, they are with the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 5:8). In our “sleep” we still know who and what we are. Our dreams may confuse us but we are still “us”.
C. One day we will awake- Last words to the prophet Daniel, “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”” Daniel 12:13, NIV. We shall rise! Amen! In the resurrection morning, when death’s prison bars are broken, we shall rise, Hallelujah! We shall rise
No one has ever gone through death and come back to tell about it. Not so! “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:18, NIV. And over 500 tell about walking and talking with this one!