Summary: Today, we'll be looking at several facts of the Resurrection...
1.) The Reality of the Resurrection – Christ is risen indeed!
(1 Cor 15:1 NKJV) Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,
(1 Cor 15:2 NKJV) by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain.
(1 Cor 15:3 NKJV) For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
(1 Cor 15:4 NKJV) and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
(1 Cor 15:5 NKJV) and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
(1 Cor 15:6 NKJV) After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
(1 Cor 15:7 NKJV) After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
(1 Cor 15:8 NKJV) Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
A songs has the words:
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when He rose up from the dead?
We weren’t around when George Washington or Abe Lincoln lived but we know the history—they existed!
We were not around during the time in which the Resurrection of Jesus Christ took place. However, there were many who did observe Jesus, who was once confirmed dead but was now alive. These New Testament “witnesses” were fully aware of the background against which the Resurrection took place. Let me share with you some of this background:
* The body of Jesus, in accordance with Jewish burial custom, was wrapped in a linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to form a gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body.
* After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb, an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance of the tomb. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by means of levers) against a tomb entrance.
* A Roman guard of strictly disciplined, fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb.
* This guard fastened on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to "prevent any attempt at vandalizing the tomb. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb's entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.
But three days later the tomb was empty. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead.
Luke reports that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days, showing Himself to them by many "infallible proofs." The apostle Paul recounted that Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers at one time, the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote.
Many security precautions were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ's tomb that it becomes very difficult for critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from the dead.
Consider these facts:
FACT #1: BROKEN ROMAN SEAL
As we have said, the first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called into action to find the man or men who were responsible. If they were apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People feared the breaking of the seal.
Could it have been Jesus’ disciples who broke the seal? I don’t think so. The Scriptures tell us that before, during and after Jesus’ trial, His disciples did nothing but display signs of fear and hid themselves. Peter, one of these disciples, went out and three times denied that he even knew Christ.
FACT #2: EMPTY TOMB
The disciples of Christ did not run off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the lie would be evident.
The Resurrection "could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned." (Paul Althaus)
The disciples would have been going around preaching “He’s risen” and people would have responded, “Man you guys are crazy” have you been to the tomb lately? Looks to me like there’s a corpse there.”
FACT #3: LARGE STONE MOVED
On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the one and a half to two ton stone that had been lodged in front of the doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it.