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.

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