Summary: Stage a courtroom drama concerning the case for the resurrection of Jesus and help affirm the belief of the listener
“The Case for Easter”
1st Peter 3:15
OBJECTIVE: To stage a courtroom drama concerning the case for the resurrection of Jesus and help affirm the belief of the listener
INTRODUCTION: With all of the focus that the film “The Passion of the Christ” has given the crucifixion of Jesus, it can become easy to forget that the death of Jesus was only a prelude to the most important of Christ’s works; His bodily resurrection.
Often people who attack the Christian faith go right to the resurrection to make their case.
“The Sadducees” A political group in Jesus’ time equivalent to the modern secularist often attacked Christ about the validity of resurrection from the dead.
Antagonists against Christianity know that the resurrection is central to the Christian faith – to destroy it would be to destroy Christianity – which is often their ultimate goal.
“The Commission of the Jury” Tonight I want us to transform ourselves from congregation, to courtroom. You are going to take the role of the jury. I will be giving you the evidence both for and against the resurrection of Christ, and in the end I want you to make a decision, by weighing the evidence, as to what you believe is really the truth…
VIDEO CLIP – “A Few Good Men”
“Two basic theories” Those who argue against the resurrection of Christ usually split into one of either two groups, those who believe He never died on the cross and those who believe He never rose. We are going to treat both as separate cases, which are going to be argued with separate defenses.
Trial 1: Jesus didn’t really die on the cross
i. Swoon Theory
1. Believe that Jesus survived the cross. He was not dead, He had only fainted. The cold tomb revived Him and He made appearances as a resurrected Messiah.
2. Jesus experienced:
- Multiple trials to make sure he obtained capital punishment
- Whipping, struck by a staff on the head again and again
- Crown of thorns, more spitting and beating
- Crossbar burden: [approx 110 lbs]
- Crucifixion with nails: with supporting archaeological evidence
- Spare from breaking the legs: he must die to be spared
- A spear was thrust into His side, blood and water came out
- Certified to be dead before handed to Joseph
- The grave clothes could not easily be removed
- THIS THEORY BEGS ONE BIG QUESTION:
- Could a weak man like this survive three days without food or water in a damp tomb, take off the grave clothes, push the heavy stone, overcome the Roman guards, walk miles on feet that had been pierced with spikes, and give His disciples the impression that He is a conqueror over death?
3. “EXPERT TESTIMONY”: “Medical doctors account of crucifixion”
4. “So I ask you as jurors, please weigh the evidence” – Do you believe that it is possible Jesus simply fainted and that the Roman soldier’s professional executioner made a huge mistake by burying a living man?
ii. Mistaken Identity Theory
1. Believe that the wrong person, maybe Judas Iscariot or even Simon of Cirene (the person who helped Jesus carry the cross) was placed on the cross instead of Jesus
2. This argument struck me as really reaching for an answer, even into the realm of complete fantasy. But in my searches for questions concerning the crucifixion, this one came up on multiple occasions.
- Jews do not look all alike, any more than do people of other races; this argument assumes a lot of people were very careless.
- If the Romans crucified someone else, why would anyone make up the story that Jesus had been crucified? If Jesus had not been crucified then there would be no argument concerning the resurrection
3. 3. “So I ask you as jurors, please weigh the evidence” – Do you believe that it is possible that so many people made so many blatant errors as to accidentally place the wrong person on the cross? And if so, then why would anyone fabricate a resurrection story that would hold no weight because the person had never died?
So ends trial #1 as we all must decide
“Did Jesus really die on the cross?”
Trial 2: Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead
i. Stolen Body Theory
1. Believe that the disciples stole the body- as Matthew admits some people believed and tried to spread as rumor (28:11-15)
2. This doesn’t make sense because:
- The stone weighed approx. 1.5 to 2 tons, and was stuck in a grove
- Guarded by Roman guard [which some estimate to be about 16 soldiers]
- The tomb has a Roman seal [Anyone who breaks the seal is condemned to death]
- A MAJOR OBJECTION:
- The resurrection has been responsible for the martyrdom of thousands of people. Many of the original 12 disciples faced torture and death for his statements and beliefs. The disciples were frightened at first; why, after the death of Christ, did they get so bold as to