Summary: Part 1 in series on Resurrection - why it matters so much. This begins an apologetics series on why we can actually believe in the Resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8 – TA-DA!
A Sunday School teacher had just finished telling her third graders about how Jesus was crucified and placed in a tomb with a great stone sealing the opening. Then, wanting to share the excitement of the resurrection, she asked: "And what do you think were Jesus’ first words when He came bursting out of that tomb alive?" A little girl’s hand shot up into the air from the rear of the classroom. Leaping out of her chair she shouted out excitedly, "I know, I know!" "Good," said the teacher. "Tell us, what were Jesus first words?" And waving her arms high in the air she said: "TA-DA!"
What a day of victory for the Lord and for us. The day that Christ rose from the grave. It changed our world, and it changed our eternity. It brought life from death, light from darkness, joy from despair, and healing from pain. It redeems the past, makes sense of the present, and secures the future. It gives hope, purpose and meaning to everyday life. It lifts us up, builds us up, and keeps us up. Arguably, Resurrection Day is the single most important day in the history of the world.
But, in case you hadn’t noticed, most of the world misses that. The holiday doesn’t carry as much commercial value as Christmas, so it gets overlooked. Years of tradition don’t usually go into Easter plans. Yet, it contains a promise that believers have clung to since the dawn of the church: Things will be better!
The Resurrection is the cornerstone doctrine of the church. Josh McDowell said this about what makes Christianity different: “All but four of the major world religions are based on mere philosophical propositions. Of the four that are based on personalities rather than philosophies, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder.
In 1900 B.C. Judaism’s Father Abraham died. In 483 B.C. Buddhist writings say Buddha died “with that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains behind.” On June 6, 632 Mohammed died.
In 33 A.D. Jesus died but came back to life appearing to 500 people over a period of 40 days.”
But the world is not ready to believe that. So, it tries to shoot the Resurrection down. Cartoonist Joe McKeever once drew a group of tourists looking at the Garden tomb in Jerusalem. It’s an open tomb where the stone door has been rolled away. Their guide says, "The angel moved the stone to reveal an empty tomb and a risen Christ. Ever since, man has been trying to roll that stone back!"
The world makes different arguments. “Miracles are not scientific.” “It was a spiritual, not a physical, resurrection.” “The biblical accounts are too contradictory.” “The historical accounts aren’t trustworthy.” “Jesus didn’t really die, so he really didn’t rise from the dead.” “It was all hallucinations.” “The woman went to the wrong tomb.” And so on. And so on. And these arguments are all meant to prove that if the Resurrection didn’t really happen, then we are wrong. And ultimately, they want to prove our faith is misplaced. At best, anyway, they don’t have to accept it. It’s like what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:14: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
I do know that the early church was built around the doctrine of Jesus rising from the dead. On Pentecost, 50 days after the Resurrection, Peter preached these words: “Seeing what was ahead, he [that is, David] spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.” The very first Christian sermon preached revolved around who Jesus was and what He had done.
Another time shortly after, Peter managed to preach a sermon on the street. He said this, from Acts 3:15: “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” This, and the miracle healing, irked the Jewish officials that they had Peter and John arrested. So Peter came back with these words from Acts 4: “If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."