Summary: When things seemed at there worst God provided His very best through the resurrection of His Son.
Introduction: Most of us are more familiar with the Disney movie than we are the book, but in Rudyard Kipling’s, The Jungle Book Mowgli, the man cub, asks the animals what’s the most feared thing in the jungle. He’s told that when two animals meet on a narrow path that one must step aside and let the other pass. The animal that steps aside for no one would then be the most feared. Mowgli wants to know what kind of animal would that be? One tells him it’s an elephant. Another tells him it’s a lion. Finally the wise old owl exclaims, “The most feared thing in the jungle is death. It steps aside for no one.”
1. We will all face the reality of death.
Death is not going to “step aside” for us. So the question isn’t “will I die?” but rather, “what will happen to me when I die?”
To this day, hundreds of millions of people put their faith in Muhammad, Buddha or Confucius, but they all died centuries ago. Not one of them rose from the dead—none even claimed that they would come back from the dead. Of all the great spiritual leaders who walked the earth, Jesus is the only one who died and then rose again from the dead.
2. Jesus faced the reality of death so that we could have hope beyond the grave.
Jesus’ resurrection is the most important and crucial part of our faith. If the resurrection did not happen, then the claims of the New Testament are nothing more than a lie. Arthur Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury put it bluntly in his book The Resurrection of Christ: “No resurrection, no Christianity.” Without the reality of the resurrection, our Bible is just a collection of good sayings and good advice.
I read of a Muslim man who became a Christian in Africa. Some of his friends asked him, “Why did you become a Christian?” He answered, “Well, It’s like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions and you didn’t know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dean and one alive. Which one would you ask which way to go?”
3. Four Reasons to put your Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1) The empty tomb.
Jesus wasn’t there! People can try to explain it away, but the fact remains—Jesus was not in the tomb come Sunday morning. The cross gets most of the attention, because it was there that Jesus died. But we need to realize that there is an even greater symbol of our faith—the empty tomb. There were two criminals who died on crosses just like the one that Jesus hung upon. But only Jesus rose from the dead and walked out of the tomb where he was laid. It is the empty tomb that gives assurance to that one criminal who called out to Jesus “remember me,” and it is still giving assurance of our faith today.
2) The testimony of the eyewitnesses.
Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the two on the road to Emmaus, to the Disciples, and to more than 500 others according to Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. Lee Strobel, in his book The Case for Easter points out that if every person the Bible identifies as being an eyewitness to Jesus’ resurrection were called to the witness stand to be cross examined, it would take 129 hours to hear their testimony at only 15 minutes a person.—In other words, it would take from breakfast on Monday until Friday at dinner time listening around the clock to hear the testimony of those witnesses.
3) The transformation of the twelve disciples.
The Disciples went from being cowards to courageously defending their faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah who had risen from the dead. You don’t make that kind of transformation in just a few weeks unless something dramatic happens in your life. It did—Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them!
4) The work of Jesus today.
Jesus told His disciples to wait until the Holy Spirit came upon them, and then they would have the power to go out and be His witnesses. What began 2,000 years ago continues today. The same Jesus who rose from the dead is the same Jesus who will one day come again for all who have put their faith in Him.
Paul said that it was of utmost importance that his readers understand the heart of his message about Jesus. The heart of that message was that Jesus died and rose again. That is what makes Christianity different than all other religions. It is what gives us hope beyond death and into the eternal future God has prepared for all who will accept His Son as their Savior.