Summary: The resurrection makes a difference in what we think about Jesus and how we live our lives today.
A. Once a singing group called The Resurrection was scheduled to sing at a church.
1. Unfortunately, a big snowstorm postponed the performance, so the minister fixed the sign outside the church to read, “The Resurrection is postponed.” I’m sure that created some alarm!
2. Aren’t you glad the resurrection of Jesus was not postponed?
B. The story is told of a man who stood looking through a shop window at a beautiful picture of the crucifixion.
1. Standing next to him was a ragged little boy who was also captivated by the picture.
2. Wondering if the boy really understood what he was looking at, the man asked him, “Sonny, what does that picture mean?”
3. “Doncha know?” the boy answered, “that there man is Jesus, and them others is Roman soldiers, and the woman cryin’ is His mother, and…they killed him.”
4. The man thanked the boy and walked away. In a moment he heard pattering footsteps behind him.
5. The little boy said breathlessly, “Say, mister, I forgot to tell you, but He rose again!”
C. That little boy felt the need to tell the rest of the story, and so must we!
1. Last week we talked about the death of Jesus, and thank God that the story does not end there.
2. Paul tells us that this is “of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6)
3. The triumphal rest of the story of Jesus is that He arose from the dead.
4. His story did not end with the cruel cross, but with the empty tomb.
5. And since the moment of the resurrection of Jesus, none of us have to look at death the same way ever again.
D. Most of us are familiar with grief and death.
1. The reality of death came early in my life as many important men began checking out.
2. When I was 10 years old, my dad died, then a few years later my grandfather died, and a year later my father’s brother.
3. Since then, two more grandfathers, and three grandmothers, great aunts and uncles and many dear friends.
4. I’ve conducted over 60 funerals during my ministry; 8 of them this year!
5. Death brings with it the harsh lesson of irreversibility. Those who die, stay dead.
6. But the amazing promise of Jesus is the awesome promise of reversibility.
7. With Jesus, nothing – not even death – was final. Even that could be reversed.
E. The resurrection is so important that our entire faith and hope as Christians rests on that foundation.
1. Paul told the Corinthians, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Cor. 15:13-14)
2. In my devotional time on Thursday morning, I was reading from Philippians 3, when I came across this passage, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Phil. 3:20-21)
3. What a glorious hope we have, indeed!
F. But how can we be sure? How can we know for sure that Jesus arose from the dead?
1. People who try to discount or deny the resurrection of Jesus tend to portray the disciples in one of two ways: either as gullible people who would believe anything, or as shrewd conspirators who dreamed up the whole story and who pulled a big one over on the world.
2. The Bible paints a distinctly different picture of the disciples.
3. With regard to being gullible, the Gospels portray Jesus’ followers as being very leery of the initial rumors about the resurrection.
4. Although Thomas got labeled “doubting Thomas,” in reality all the disciples showed a lack of faith.
5. None of them believed the wild report the women brought back from their early morning visit to the tomb.
6. Even after Jesus appeared to them in person, Matthew reports, “some doubted.” (Mt. 28:18)
7. So they were not gullible – initially it was hard for them to believe the resurrection.
G. As for the conspiracy theory, it falls apart on close examination.
1. If the disciples had set out to concoct a seamless cover-up story, they failed miserably.
2. Chuck Colson, who participated in a feeble conspiracy after the Watergate break-in, says that cover-ups only work if all participants maintain a unified front.