Summary: a look at the compelling evidence for the resurrection of Christ
Projectionist: show video clip 3 of Risen DVD
We are in part 3 of our Easter series, “Risen” If you are here this morning and you are not a Christian, maybe because you know some Christians or maybe because you worked for one and it wasn’t a good experience, or maybe you used to be one but then something happened and you walked away and never looked back or maybe some of you simply stopped believing. Some of the things we Christian believe do seem pretty far out there.
If what we said so far describes you or maybe someone you know, you have picked the perfect day to be with us! Because I’m going to ask you to look at the One thing that seems to some to be the most unbelievable thing about Christianity, and when we finish, I’m going to ask you to believe it. Our topic this morning is The Resurrection: Myth or Miracle?
As we look at the various world religions, historians can trace roots and developments. Historians can study the development of movements and, looking at the political and cultural climate in which they developed, give reasonable explanations for how the movement gained momentum and traction. There is, however, one notable exception to this: Christianity. Historians agree, something triggered the birth of a worldwide movement two thousand years ago that “turned the world upside down” over the span of a few years. If Jesus wasn’t resurrected, what’s the catalyst for this world-changing movement? One scholar said, “The coming into existence of the Church rips a great hole in history, the size and shape of the resurrection.”
I want to state right up front that we don’t believe in the resurrection because the Bible says so; it is far better than that! We believe in the resurrection because of the ancient accounts of the eyewitness! We have eyewitness accounts that have survived the centuries and have been handed down to us in the Gospel accounts. These accounts are not credible because they are in the Bible, they are in the Bible because they are credible documents, a fact many never seem to grasp.
Think of it this way: when you were in college you probably read in English class a book that was a compilation of great short stories. They were not great because they were in that volume, they were included in that volume because they were already considered great. Same is true with the Bible.
Now some of you might want to take exception to this. You think that because these accounts are found in the Bible they are automatically suspect. I mean are the accounts written by His followers, and wouldn’t you expect them to say what they say? Well actually, you might be surprised to actually hear what they say.
This morning I want to look at Luke’s account found in Luke 24:1-12. A couple of facts about Luke’s Gospel before we look at what he wrote.
First, Luke is the only Gentile whose writings are included in the Bible. He was not a disciple of Christ as in the 12 or 72 or 120. He was a gentile physician by vocation and an investigative reporter by avocation.
Sir William Mitchell Ramsay is considered to be one of the greatest archeologists who ever lived. He was the first Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology at Oxford University. He started out very skeptical of biblical writings and made it a goal to refute the writings of Luke in particular. After a lifetime of study, he concluded that the book of Acts “could bear the most minute scrutiny as an authority for the facts of the Aegean world, and that it was written with such judgment, skill, art and perception of truth as to be a model of historical statement.” And about Luke himself, Ramsay wrote, “You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historians and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment.”
Scholars who study ancient literature date Luke’s account at about 60A.D.— That is 27 years after the event itself; not a century, not two centuries but 27 years; the eyewitnesses were still around.
So forget for a minute your objections to the Bible, all I am asking you to do today is give honest consideration to what you are about to hear.
Simon Greenleaf was a Jewish professor and one of the foremost authorities in the history of the United States on evidence. He is the man who made Harvard Law School what it is today. Once he was challenged by a student to investigate and apply the rules of evidence to the resurrection. As a result, he became a Christian.
Dr. Greenleaf wrote, “All that Christianity asks of people is that they would be consistent with themselves, that they would treat its evidences as they treat the evidence of other things and that they would try to judge its witnesses as they deal with their fellow men when testifying to human affairs and actions in human tribunals. The result would be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability and truth.”