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Summary: A resurrection Sunday message.

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1 Corinthians 15:12-20 "What Does the Resurrection Mean?"

• Every year thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the "stations of the cross" to stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough thicket and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the empty tomb. It was neglected. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as they cross, but there they stopped. Far too many have gotten to the cross and have known the despair and the heartbreak. Far too few have moved beyond the cross to find the real message of Easter. That is the message of the empty tomb. (Lavon Brown)

Today, we’re going to talk about that empty tomb.

The tomb was empty because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What does the resurrection mean?

It’s helpful to understand some of the theories that have been proposed over the years to explain the resurrection.

(Theories from the Believer’s Study Bible, Logos Bible Study System from Nelson Publishers)

1. Swoon Theory: Jesus did not actually die.

2. Spirit Theory: Jesus’ spirit returned but not his body.

3. Vision Theory: The disciples hallucinated.

4. Legend/Myth Theory: The resurrection is only a myth or story with a teaching point. A real Jesus is possible, even probable, but not really necessary.

5. Stolen Body Theory: The body was stolen by (1) the Jews (2) the Romans, (3) the disciples (Matthew 28:11-15), or (4) Joseph of Arimathea

(John 19:38ff.).

6. Wrong Tomb Theory: The disciples went to the wrong tomb, found it empty, and erroneously concluded that Jesus had risen.

7. Deliberate Lie for Profit Theory: The disciples fabricated the resurrection story for profit.

8. Mistaken Identity Theory: The disciples mistook for Jesus someone who looked like him.

9. A Literal, Bodily Resurrection: Jesus was raised form the dead, historically and bodily, by the supernatural power of God (1 Corinthians 15:3ff.).

As Christians, we believe in a literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Not reincarnation – Jesus didn’t come back as a bird or a cow or even another person.

No, Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

He came back as Jesus.

So, what’s the big deal?

Is it important to believe that the resurrection did really happen?

Is it necessary to believe that Jesus actually came back from the dead and lives on even today?

Paul gives us a list of "if-then" scenarios in this passage of Scripture to help us determine if it really matters.

These "if-then" scenarios will help us understand what the resurrection really means.

First of all, Paul says:

1. "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?" (vs 12)

There are lots of people out there who simply don’t believe it’s possible for a person to be brought back from the dead.

They believe that when you’re dead, you’re dead, and there’s nothing else that can be done for you.

Fact is people are being brought back from the dead all the time.

Medical technology has become so advanced that we are able to pull people from the clutches of death after they stop breathing and their hearts stop beating for several minutes.

I heard of one case not too long ago where a woman had been declared dead and was tagged and on her way to the morgue when she suddenly gasped for air and sat up on the gurney.

Isn’t that amazing?!

And when those types of things happen we hail them as miracles of modern medicine.

But we have so much trouble believing that the God of the universe, who created everything out of nothing, can, by an act of his own will, raise a person from the dead.

And it gets even tougher to believe that he would purposely allow someone to die a painful death on a cross just to raise him up from the dead – for us – so that we can have life.

But that’s exactly what happened.

We preach that Christ has been raised from the dead to a world that doesn’t think it’s possible to raise people from the dead.

Could make us appear to be a little silly, but let’s persevere.

2. Paul goes on to say in Verse 13, "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised."

And he repeats himself to emphasize his point in Verse 16, "For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either."

The Bible tells us that Jesus conquered death.

When something is conquered, there has to have been a battle.

When there’s a battle, someone has to emerge as the victor.

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