April 20, 2022
Easter, Why Believe in the Resurrection – Luke 24:1-6
Listen to last week’s Easter sermon – Why I believe in the Resurrection.
Read Luke 24:1-6
Pastor Eric drew our attention to Luke 24:1-6 on this Easter Sunday as he reminded us of the significance of coming together as a congregation to worship the living Christ. Unlike some religions, we are not entering a temple that contains relics, or the remains of a dead god, but rather we are worshipping a living God who is present and active in our midst. The purpose of this gathering, however, is not merely to worship the Lord; we are here to encounter the living God, who is aware of our suffering, our doubts, our needs, and our difficulties. Thus, we are able to speak to Him right here, right now. By celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are also honouring the One who declared, “I am the resurrection and the life”.
This day marks the fulfillment of what Jesus Himself had predicted over 2,000 years ago. The Bible is therefore entirely trustworthy. Today we celebrate not only a very special historical event but also Jesus Christ, the author and creator of life, whose Spirit dwells within each and every believer. We, as Christians, believe in a future day in which we will also rise.
As someone once stated,
Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day were just three days apart.
Why is Christ’s resurrection significant? In his letter, the apostle Paul explains what would happen if there were no resurrection.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-16
In this passage, Paul addresses those who reject and preach against Christ’s resurrection. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, Paul’s preaching would be pointless. His ministry would be devoid of significance. In the words of Paul, everything hinges on the death and resurrection of Jesus, as these events are the foundation of the Christian faith. Without them, Christianity cannot exist. The apostle Paul also states that not only would his preaching be in vain, but our faith would be as well.
Pastor and author, Brian G. Hedges, once said
The resurrection of Jesus (alongside his crucifixion) is the central historical event in the Christian faith. Without the resurrection, there would be no Christianity.
Paul further asserts that, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then all of us are liars, including every pastor, teacher, preacher, apostle, prophet, and gospel writer throughout history.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:16-18
As Paul points out in this passage, if Christ has not been raised, then our faith holds no meaning and we are still responsible for our sins, without hope of redemption.
Pastor Eric agrees with the following statement from the BBC,
Through resurrection, Christians believe life has triumphed over death, good over evil, hope over despair. The resurrection is a sign of God’s great power. Nothing is too great for God to achieve, and this is comforting and encouraging for Christians in difficulty.
Pastor Eric adds, “not only for Christians in difficulty but for everyone in the world”.
Someone else said
Without the resurrection, none of Jesus’ promises would be trustworthy. If Jesus did not rise from the dead after promising many times that he would do so (Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 17:9; 23; 20:19; 26:32), He should be pitied or scorned, not believed and obeyed.
According to C.S. Lewis in ‘Mere Christianity’,
He would have been deceived or a deceiver, but His most amazing promise has come true, so how could we not depend on and live by all the rest of His promises?
How can we be certain that Jesus was raised from the dead?
1 – Secular historical sources document this fact.
The non-Christian historian Jew, Flavius Josephus, wrote,
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him man; for he was a doer of the wonderful works…He drew over to him many Jews, and also many of the Greeks. This man was the Christ. And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross…those who had loved him from the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive on the third day, the divine prophets having spoken these and thousands of other wonderful things about him. And even now, the race of Christians, so named from him, has not died out.
This excerpt provides proof of Christ’s resurrection, as it originates from a Jewish non-Christian source.
Thomas Arnold, another historian and author of ‘The History of Rome’, states,
The evidence for our Lord’s life and death and resurrection may be, and often has been, shown to be satisfactory; it is good according to the common rules for distinguishing good evidence from bad. Thousands and tens of thousands of persons have gone through it piece by piece, as carefully as every judge summing up on a most important cause. I have myself done it many times over, not to persuade others but to satisfy myself…I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort…than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.
And Frank Morrison, who was set out to discredit the resurrection but was persuaded, wrote a best-selling book titled ‘Who Moved the Stone?’ In it, he said,
I had been brought up in a rationalistic environment, and had come to the opinion that the resurrection was nothing but a fairy tale happy ending which spoiled the matchless story of Jesus. Therefore, I planned to write an account of the last tragic days of Jesus…But when I came to study the facts with care, I had to change my mind, and I wrote my book on the other side. My first chapter is significantly called, ‘The Book that Refused to Be Written.
Many people have attempted to discredit the resurrection of Christ, but after studying the facts, they were convinced that this event had actually occurred.
2 – The tomb was well secured.
Read Matthew 27:62-66
Some skeptics contend that the disciples stole Christ’s body in the middle of the night. In light of the above passage, such a statement is absurd since the priests and Pharisees expected the disciples to attempt to steal Jesus’ body. Consequently, Pilate ordered them to take soldiers along to make the crypt as secure as possible. Sealing the stone and posting soldiers to guard it made it impenetrable to thieves.
According to most scholars, the stone stood seven to eight feet high and weighed approximately two tons. This made it physically impossible for any one person to move. Not only was it extremely heavy, but it also had a seal. The NLT version of the Bible indicates that more than one guard was on duty. There is widespread belief that there were anywhere between four and thirty highly trained guards present at the tomb. Roman law stipulated that anyone who tampered with a seal could be put to death. In light of this, people were hesitant to approach the tomb.
3 – It was predicted by Old Testament prophets.
Read Luke 24:44-47
The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Hosea, and Micah, five authors who were not acquainted with one another, nor lived in the same era, foretold Christ’s death and resurrection centuries before these events actually occurred. Furthermore, Jesus declared that the law of Moses, the books of the prophets, and the Psalms stated that He would die and rise again on the third day.
4 – Women were the first to see Jesus resurrected.
Read Mark 16:9
Women and children had no credibility in Jesus’ day. Why would those who are fabricating this story say that Christ first appeared to a woman? Would they really want to make it sound so unbelievable? It is worth mentioning that although Paul was fully aware of who his audience was, he did not hesitate to state that Mary Magdalene, an ex-prostitute who had been possessed by seven demons, was the first person to witness Jesus’ resurrection. The culture discriminated against women, but Jesus did not. He appeared to women first.
5 – The post-resurrection appearances prove its authenticity.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:6, Luke 24:36-40, and John 20:24-29
Jesus appeared to Peter, John, and the women. Thomas, who did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, also saw the risen Saviour. The Lord also appeared to His disciples. Paul reported that Christ appeared to 500 brothers simultaneously. Some of these brothers were deceased, but most were still alive. Would Paul have written this if some of these people were still alive and those who sought to discredit Jesus’ resurrection had the ability to verify their sources?
6 – Various details prove it.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John provided different accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. As a result, skeptics claim that the Bible contains contradictions. In Pastor Eric’s view, this is not a source of doubt, but rather, yet another indication that Jesus truly rose from the dead. This further strengthens his belief. The four evangelists described the same event from their own perspective. If they all told the exact same story, then it would be obvious that it was fabricated.
7 – You are the evidence.
You are living proof that Jesus is more than just a historical figure. You are the evidence that Christ is still active in the lives of people today. Christ continues to save, heal, forgive, call, speak to, help, and raise up. The congregation of which we are part is a testament to this, as well as the millions of followers of Jesus throughout the world who are willing to die for Him, even in countries where it is illegal to gather in His name. Therein lies the proof!
Read Luke 22:54-62 and Acts 4:18-19
The Bible does not conceal the fact that the apostles were afraid. Despite walking with Jesus for three years, fear often overtook them. Peter denied the Lord three times. Yet, in the book of Acts, when he is threatened for speaking in the name of Jesus, Peter replies boldly, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than Him?” From where did he obtain his courage and boldness? From Jesus Christ! The fact that Christ is still transforming the lives of believers today is evidence that He is alive.
Read Romans 10:9
What do you believe?
Watch video here.
Small group notes (Connection Groups)