Summary: Do we embrace the resurrection as something that actually occurred in history, or do we think of it simply as folklore, a legendary tale that may or may not have really happened?
Brother Mike has been teaching us a great series every Wednesday night and a couple of weeks ago, he taught on the Resurrection. Well, I’m going to take it a little farther this morning as we learn the truths about the resurrection. I hope to strengthen your belief in the resurrection in this message.
How many of you read the newspaper? How many of you watch the news on TV? How many of you get your news from the internet? How many of you count everything you read on the internet as truth?
For most of us, national or global news stories are just that: stories we see or read in the news. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but on rare occasions we might be able to say, “Hey! I was there! I saw that in-person when it happened!”
Of course, none of us were there at the greatest event that ever has happened that changed everything. None of us were at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But every spring, we joyfully celebrate it. We call it Easter. Now here’s the question: Do we embrace the resurrection as something that actually occurred in history, or do we think of it simply as folklore, a legendary tale that may or may not have really happened? You say, “Of course I believe it actually happened. But you would be surprised to know that many who claim to be Christian don’t really consider the resurrection as an actual occurrence.
Many people favor this latter view—that the resurrection sounds nice but is just a tale that is told. Then there are others that view the resurrection as an “inspiring story” about a great teacher named Jesus, but they don’t believe He is the true Messiah who was resurrected for all mankind.
Well, the Apostle Paul had something to say about it. In fact, he had a lot to say about it. We’ll be using 1 Corinthians 15 as our background passage. In this writing, Paul made a claim: Jesus did physically rise from the dead, and many people could attest to that. Many people of that day COULD say, “I was there!” And since Christ actually rose from the dead, His resurrection set into motion a wonderful hope that we NOW have that death is not the end, but only the beginning of eternity with God, seeing Him face-to-face. PRAYER –
Let me set the scene for you. There was a false claim that was spreading around the city of Corinth and some Christians were beginning to believe it. Some were saying that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, as many had reported. So, Paul, in his writing this letter to the Corinthians, argued against this false claim that had become so popular.
It’s an idea familiar to us today: that people simply don’t physically rise from the dead. That is, not until the rapture. Our soul goes to be with Jesus at the moment we close our eyes in death here on earth. But our physical bodies will rise when Jesus comes back at the rapture.
Scripture describes this event in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
So, Paul writes this portion of his letter to them with a clear reminder of the gospel message—that is, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and how important all of that was to make the gift of salvation possible. Do you hear what I’m saying? Without the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we have no hope of eternal life, no hope of a heaven in the presence of Almighty God.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-2. The critics that are out in the world, even today, sometimes deny that Jesus was a real person at all, let alone that He died. But there is just too much evidence that testifies to the historical nature of Jesus’ death. The gospel accounts, as well as other NT writers recorded accounts of Jesus’ death, along with other facts about His life.
For example, non-Christians who also referred to Jesus’ crucifixion in their writings include, Tacitus, the most trusted ancient Roman historian; Josephus, the Jewish historian, and Lucian of Samosota, the Greek satirist. These were actual writers in their own capacity that wrote the history books from that day. They recorded actual facts, some from first-hand experiences.
These were not necessarily Christian writers. None of these had any reason to support Jesus or His followers. Some, in fact, were opposed to them, which actually adds to the trustworthiness of their comments about Christ’s crucifixion.