Summary: The message shows how the resurrection of Jesus was a life changing reality to the first disciples, how it had the power to convert all kind of people all over the world and how it was a part of the Gospel itself.
Forty Days With the Risen Jesus
THE FACT AND THE IMPORTANCE
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“They found the stone rolled away from the door and when they went in they did not find the body. They were perplexed about this (and one of the angels) said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?
“After His sufferings He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days.”
1 Corinthians 15:17, TEV
“If Christ has not been raised then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins.”
A cab driver taking a missionary to his hotel, asked him. “With so many religions and religious leaders, how can we know which one is true?” The missionary said, “Christians are the only ones who follow the only religious Leader who claimed to be God and proved it by rising from the dead.” The graves of all religious leaders are famous for what they contain. The grave of Jesus is famous for what it does not contain. The Bible makes this central to our faith. When some Christians at Corinth adopted the Greek idea that our souls live on after death, but not our bodies, Paul told them without the bodily resurrection there is no Christian Faith and no forgiveness. Paul made it a part of the gospel, saying that to be saved we must “believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead.’ (Rom. 10)
A. THE FINALITY OF DEATH
Resurrection (to stand again) applies to the body and to have a resurrection you must have a soon to decay, lifeless corpse. One thing the Romans knew how to do was to kill people. Not even our strongest critics doubt that Jesus lived and died during the reign of Pilate. God saw to it that Jesus’ death was witnessed openly and publicly and made known to the thousands of pilgrims who had come from all over the world for Passover. His death was certified by the Roman government and verified to the Jewish Supreme Court.
God saw to it that the body of Jesus was buried by two of the most influential men in Jerusalem, members of the Supreme Court. The burial, like the death was certified by the Jewish and Roman authorities who sealed the tomb and put soldiers there to guard it. The dead Jesus was buried.
Think what death did to Jesus - physically! It took Him away. That mighty life was gone as gentle friends took His pale body down, drained of life and stained with His own blood. Those strong, tender hands that built plows, hugged children and cleansed lepers were now limp, scarred and still. Those feet that helped Him stand tall to aid His friends and face up to all the howling winds of temptation, were limp and bloody. His kingly head hung low and was scarred by thorns. His gentle side was ripped open by Roman steel. His piercing eyes, full of compassion, warming the soul were now glazed and blind. His matchless voice, fountain of the Father’s thoughts, was stilled, to speak no more. Death, as we know, is final and brutal.
B. THE CERTAINTY OF RESURRECTION
Jesus was gone but the resurrection gave him back. He was the same Jesus they knew and loved - different, yes - but still the same. The same facial features, the same stance and walk, the same certain look, the same handshake, the same unmistakable voice, the same everything! Jesus was back! Jesus was alive and well!
Death could not hold its prey
He tore the bars away
The resurrection of Jesus’ body and His continued life on earth for forty days is as verifiable as any other historical event of that day. The 27 historical documents of our New Testament all put His resurrection to the forefront. The affirmations of early church members that they had seen him, is recorded by Jewish and Roman historians Adolph Harnack, the well respected secular historian, did NOT believe in the resurrection. But he said that to be true to history he had to admit that the first Christians did. He said,
“The firm confidence of the disciples of Jesus was rooted in the belief that He did not abide in death, but was raised by God. That Christ was risen was, as sure as the fact as His death, and became the main article of their preaching about Him”.
(History of Dogma, Chapter 2)
1. The Church’s Change
As evidence we have the Christian Church built not upon His teachings, but upon His life, death, resurrection, ascension, presence with us, and promise to receive us when we die. We have the change of the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, something unthinkable to a Jew. The number one evidence, however, was the almost immediate transformation of the disciples from cowards (John 20:19) to heroes (Acts 5:29), ready to die for Jesus (Acts 1-5).