- Sermon Notes
He is Risen Indeed!
- It has been rightly said that Christianity stands or falls on whether Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead.
- The Apostle Paul did as well when he wrote…
1 Corinthians 15:14, … if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and so is your faith.
- But how can we be certain that Jesus Christ was truly raised from the dead since His death took place almost 2,000 years ago?
- Tonight, we’re going to study one of the post-resurrection appearance accounts of Jesus Christ and discover life-changing answers to this question, answers which confirm He is Risen Indeed!”
- Ever since the first Sunday after Jesus was crucified and buried, “Conspiracy Theories” have been concocted to argue against the most important event in human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- But before we can be certain that Jesus Christ was truly raised from the dead, we must answer another important question, “How do we know the Gospel accounts are reliable?”
- Scholars have developed a standard for determining authenticity, standards similar to what detectives use to determine if a witness is credible.
- Early Testimony – How soon after the event in question was the testimony recorded? Less time equals greater credibility. Scholars agree that it takes at least 120 years for myths to develop and spread. The Gospels were written between 10-30 years after Christ’s resurrection which increases the credibility.
- Eyewitness Testimony – Eyewitness testimony is stronger than second-hand testimony. When more than one independent witness attests to an event, there is a strong support that the event occurred.
- Embarrassing Details – Details which may embarrass a witness or potentially weaken one’s argument increases credibility because people typically try to make themselves “look good”.
- Unsympathetic Sources – If testimony affirming an event is given by a source who does not sympathize with the person, message, or cause, then authenticity increases. Why? Typically, people are biased against their enemies, not for their enemies!
Transition – How do the Gospels measure up to these standards for credibility? Very strong on all four point
I. Eyewitnesses Confirmed Jesus is Alive
A. Jesus’ first two appearances were to women
- Matthew states that “as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week” there was “a severe earthquake” because “an angel of the Lord had descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone” from Jesus’ tomb. (1-3)
- Some women who followed Jesus visited His tomb to prepare His body for burial (1).
- Mark’s Gospel records that they were saying to each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16:3)
- But when they arrived, they discovered the soldiers were either passed out or gone, the stone had been rolled away, and the tomb was empty.
- Then angels told the women that Jesus had risen from the dead just as He had said. (5-7)
a. The women ran back to the apostles, but they thought the women were speaking “nonsense”. (Luke 24:11)
b. Peter and John ran to the tomb and discovered their report was true; the stone had been rolled away, the tomb was empty, and only grave clothes remained. (John 20:4-10)
6. According to Mark and John, Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.
Mark 16:9, Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.
- This means that Matthew 28:9 records the second appearance of Jesus to the other women in the group that Sunday morning.
Matthew 28:9, And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
APPL – Why is this significant? Embarrassing Details!
- First, remember the apostles were not present to help take the Lord’s body down from the cross to prepare it for burial.
- It’s also important to note the apostles were not the first ones to get up early in the morning to finish preparing Jesus’ body for burial.
- In fact, they did not even come with the women to help them roll stone away. Likely, they were asleep.
- Let’s be honest; what kind of help would they have been if they had tried to confront the soldiers to take Jesus’ body away? All of them had abandoned the Lord when He was arrested.
- Peter was no good with a sword and denied Jesus three times when asked if he was a disciple of Jesus.
- The truth is they were hiding in fear, depressed, and defeated because they had forgotten what Jesus had told them repeatedly; that He would die but would also rise again three days later. (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 26:32)
- They should have remembered the words of the Lord and been the first ones at the tomb to witness the greatest event in human history; but they were not because they thought Jesus was still dead. Conspiracy? No. Embarrassing details.
- Second, the women went to the tomb with spices and asked who would roll the stone away because they also thought that Jesus was still dead.
- Third, in that day and culture, women were treated like second-class citizens; their testimony was not admissible in court.
- So, if the Gospel writers wanted to avoid any questions about the resurrection, they would have cleaned-up their accounts and said that Jesus first and only appeared to His faithful, loyal, “male” disciples.
- But by declaring that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene and then to the other women, God strengthened the credibility of the Gospels.
APPL – The story of Christ’s birth is filled with embarrassing details as well.
- He was born in a manger and His first bed was a feeding trough for farm animals.
- His first worshippers were dirty, despised shepherds.
- Then after His resurrection, His first worshipper was a former prostitute who had been possessed by seven demons.
- God is not afraid of the truth. Rather, God uses the truth to send a message to us all.
- What is God’s message? Jesus is not a Messiah for the rich and famous only. He is Savior for all!
John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Transition – But it does not stop with these two post-resurrection appearances. The Bible declares that there were multiple eyewitnesses to Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
B. Jesus appeared to over 500 eyewitnesses
1 Corinthians 15:5-8, He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
- According to the Apostle Paul, Peter was Jesus’ third appearance; a one-on-one meeting which must have brought great comfort to Peter since he had denied the Lord three times only a few days earlier. (1 Corinthians 15:5)
- That Sunday afternoon, Jesus’ fourth appearance was to two disciples who were on their way home to Emmaus. (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-32)
- That same evening, Jesus appeared for the fifth time to the ten Apostles in the Upper Room; but Thomas was not with them. (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25)
- Then a week later, Jesus appeared for the sixth time to the eleven Apostles. There Thomas confessed his faith in Jesus when he famously declared, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28)
- Over the next 32 days, Jesus appeared four more times to His disciples before He ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. (Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-12)
- Jesus appeared for the eighth time to over 500 people on a mountain in Galilee. (Matthew 28:16-20; 1 Corinthians 15:6)
- For the ninth appearance, Jesus appeared to His half-brother James. (1 Corinthians 15:7)
APPL – Why were these post-resurrection appearances recorded?
- Multiple eyewitness accounts increase credibility so that people will believe Jesus Christ is alive and place their faith in Him for the salvation of their souls.
- The Apostle John said it best…
John 20:30-31, Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
II. God’s Word Predicted Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
A. Jesus died according to the Scriptures
1 Corinthians 15:3, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
- Christ must suffer (the cross) before glory (the crown).
- After Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden, God declared that Messiah would suffer.
Genesis 3:15, And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel.
- David prophesied of Christ’s sufferings almost 1,000 years before His coming.
Psalm 22:16-18, For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
- Isaiah also prophesied about the death of Christ about 700 years before it occurred.
Isaiah 53:5, 9, But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death,
because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
APPL – Conspiracy? No. It was all part of God’s plan.
B. Jesus rose according to the Scriptures
1 Corinthians 15:4, … and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
- Again, David prophesied of Christ’s resurrection.
Psalm 16:10, For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
- Isaiah spoke of Christ’s resurrection as well.
Isaiah 53:10-11, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.
APPL – During His ministry on earth, Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies.
- If you want to understand the Old Testament, look for Jesus.
- He is found in the prophecies, the priesthood, the sacrifices, the ceremonies, and feasts like the Passover and the Day of Atonement.
- Coincidence? Conspiracy?
- No! It’s concrete evidence that Jesus is the Messiah because He fulfilled God’s eternal plan!
APPL – What impact did the post-resurrection appearances have upon Jesus’ disciples?
- They were transformed.
- They went from depressed, afraid, unbelieving disciples to bold, faithful, Spirit-filled proclaimers of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
- In fact, they couldn’t stop talking about Jesus.
Acts 4:19-20, But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.”
APPL – Many of the disciples were tortured and martyred because they would not renounce their faith in Jesus Christ and that He had risen from the dead.
- If they knew it was a lie, they would have confessed their lie to save their own lives.
- One Bible scholar noted that “Liars make terrible martyrs.”
- But they lost their lives in order to gain something far greater, eternal life!
APPL – Yet there was a conspiracy. Matthew 28:11-15 records the first one called the “Stolen Body Theory.”
APPL – Can the Stolen Body Conspiracy theory be refuted? Yes. In fact, two of the eyewitnesses play a key role in refuting this and all other resurrection conspiracy theories. Who were they? They were the Apostle Paul and James, the half-brother of Jesus.
- Why are they important? Before they became born-again Christians, they were Unsympathetic Sources!
- Paul was Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted Christians (Acts 9).
- James, the half-brother of Jesus, was a skeptic who thought Jesus had lost His mind. (John 7:5)
- A skeptic and a persecutor wouldn’t die for a lie.
- Paul would have used all the power at his disposal to make Christians reveal the location of Jesus’ body.
- James would have just walked away.
- So, their eyewitness testimony destroys the “Stolen Body Conspiracy Theory.”
APPL – Why was the death and resurrection of Jesus necessary?
- God is holy and He requires that each person perfectly keep His Law; the Ten Commandments.
- But if we lie, steal, or lust even once, we have broken the Law and stand condemned before God.
James 2:10, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
- The penalty for even one infraction is death, eternal separation from God in the lake of fire.
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death
- All are guilty because all of us have sinned.
Romans 3:23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
- But Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin and rose again to give us the gift of eternal life.
Romans 6:23, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- How do we receive this gift of salvation?
Romans 10:9, … if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.
APPL – I am not talking about taking a blind leap of faith. Please look at the evidence:
- Early Testimonies and Multiple Eyewitnesses;
- Embarrassing Details and Unsympathetic Sources;
- Fulfilled prophecies and Changed lives.
Jesus Christ is still changing lives. Will you ask Jesus to change your life by asking Him to forgive you and give you His gift of eternal life with Him?
Matthew 28:1-15 NASB
Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “[a]Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”
8 And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them [b]and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus *said to them, “[c]Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
11 Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and [d]keep you out of trouble.” 15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.