Evidence for the Resurrection

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I’m going to invite you to turn to the book of John chapter 20 as we just celebrate what this day represents for us as God’s people hope in Christ and why it’s such a good day for us. And I was thinking this past week, just all the things that I, I have to rejoice over what my family’s rejoicing over. Cause one of the, one of the things that we’ve experienced this past week’s not only not only just thinking through the hope of the resurrection of Christ, this Easter celebration culminating this weekend, which by the way, if you’re visiting with us, you’re invited to a picnic in the park with an Easter egg hunt after our services conclude today at one o’clock. But, uh, you know, thinking about the resurrection, Jesus, some other great things happen in my family this week went on vacation and, and while, while on vacation actually got an email, it turns out I, uh, I’m going to be a multimillionaire.

There’s this Nigerian Prince that I found, he’s looking for somebody that he trusts that these people were coming against his fortunate, had slaughtered his family all but him, and he was looking for one person that he trusted in because he didn’t want the money to fall in the wrong hands. At least it would be going somewhere good. So he just said to me, all I needed to give him was my personal information on my bank account routing number and I am going to be a multimillionaire. I just want you to know this morning, as soon as that clears my account, I’m just going to share it with you. Right? I mean that is what a blessing that is upon the resurrection. I also just receive a fortune in so many different ways and you guys know I didn’t really do that in case you give into that scam.

No, I’m not that gullible. It didn’t happen. But you know, sometimes when someone shares a story, it’s easy to recognize that the truth claims within or the statements within it are too good to be true. Then there are other times that the offer is so great that it is worth looking into. You know, this morning, if you’re not a follower of Jesus, let’s just recognize that the claims of Christianity are that good. It’s worth even if you’re a skeptically looking at it from the outside, just wondering why in the world someone would believe that the claims are are so good, it is worth looking into. In fact, in first Corinthians chapter two Paul said this, no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him. So even as a believer, people would, Christians would acknowledge that no matter how good you might think that you’re going to have it in Christ both now and into eternity with him, no mind can even wrap. Wrap the idea around just how great it will be for God’s people. You know, on the other side of that, if you believe in Jesus, if you’ve come to accept Christ, the savior and the resurrection of Jesus, I mean that is an outlandish claim.

Thank God, becomes flashed. Wells among us dies. Verse sins overcomes the grave and this resurrected, I mean Paul said it was so important. Then in first Corinthians 15 this is how he describes it and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. You’re still in your sins and those who have fallen asleep talking about those who have died in Christ, they’re lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ. We are of all people most to be pitied and so it was a follower of Jesus. The question for you as well as why do you believe it’s such an outlandish claim this morning I want to look at John chapter 20 because it deals with the resurrection of Jesus and I’m going to look at two encounters from two different groups of people that go to the tomb of Christ and from that experience in the first century of the resurrection of Jesus, just take away from that too significant thoughts for all of us as we hold to this claim. Maybe we skeptically look at this claim to see if, if, if the statements of the resurrection of Jesus are really as good as they claim to be. When you read in John chapter 20 it tells of of Mary Magdalen, it starts off in verse one and when it’s still night outside, she and other ladies named Mary multiple marries go to the tomb and when they get to the tomb they see the stone had had been rolling, rode away.

Jesus is no longer there. She goes back and runs to the disciples and she says, w the body has been taken. We have no idea where they’ve lain Christ. And then in verse three it starts to tell the story of Peter and the other disciple. Many people believe this other disciple is John. He writes the book of John or the gospel of John. And so he doesn’t leave his personal name in here because he’s the author of the story. But he says, so Peter and the other disciple went forth and they were going to the tune and the two are running together and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first. And then this next section just says something significant about the resurrection that I think is worth us just grabbing a hold of this morning and cleaning, cleaning too with our lives, our faith, our trust.

And it says this, and stooping and looking in, talking about the other disciple, he saw the linen wrappings lying there. He did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came following him and entered the tomb and he saw the linen wrappings lying there and the face cloth, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciples who had come, the other disciple would come first to the tomb, also entered. And he saw and believed for as yet they didn’t understand the scripture. He must rise again from the dead.

Interesting. This section of scripture verses five to nine of the passage because here in our English translations, you see this word saw reflecting what the disciples do. They see that the body’s not there. Peter goes in and sees the same thing and John goes in and sees again, but what makes this section of scripture is so interesting is that in the Greek text, this word saw is actually three different words in English. That just translates for us as what they’re seeing, but, but in Greek, it’s three different words for us to understand the significance of what they’re doing while they visit this to John, the first disciple to the tomb to take a look inside and it uses the Greek word which means to glance he, he looks into the tomb, he sees exactly what Mary reported, that Jesus, his body isn’t there. And then Peter enters in the tomb and it says this word, they array. Oh, and then John, again, it uses the Greek word Ida and what it’s saying in this passage that John runs up to the tomb.

He just takes a glance and he sees that it’s empty. And then at the end when it uses the word I though for Jonah, John again is saying he’s perceiving with intelligent comprehension and he believes, he hears Mary’s claim that Jesus, his body has gone and they don’t have any clue where they’ve taken his body. And Mary’s assume that someone’s come to Jesus, his body and has removed it after all, if you remember how the story goes, the tomb was sealed and soldiers were placed on the outside and the break that seal you would be a full, that would mean certain death because it had the silver approval by the political leaders to no one could touch it. And so if you are caught removing that seal, your life would’ve would’ve been punished by death right then and there.

Well, Roman soldiers to leave the duty of guarding the tomb if they were caught vacating that their lives were at risk. So logically in her mind, someone has come and taken the body and they don’t know where they’ve laying Christ. And so John goes in and he first, he glances and sees it and then with logical comprehension he goes into the tomb and he acknowledges what Mary said is true. You believed the body isn’t deep gone. And then there’s what Peter recognizes in the moment they arrive. It’s where we get the English word for theory and this word they are means to observe intensely. And I can tell you logically as, as Peter walks into this tomb, he, he’s recognizing something. Mary’s claim is that someone has taken the body and they don’t know where they’ve landed. And yet while Peter’s looking at us, he’s thinking, wait a second, the that are wrapped around Jesus are still here. So if someone took Jesus out of the tomb, they would have had to carry him.

I’m naked. Like if you’re going to rob something, if you’re just, you’ve been given the command to remove something from somewhere. If it’s a human being, I’m chances are logically thinking about it. You’re, you’re not going to remove the body in that way. And so Peter, in his mind, he, he’s trying to wrestle with the idea of what in the world could have, could have happened in this moment. What are the disciples after the truth? They genuinely care about Jesus. Peter is trying to be Sherlock Holman, Dr. Watson in this to what’s happened. They wanted the truth this morning. We don’t need a scam. We need the truth.

Peter’s logically processing through the significance of this moment. In the point of the story is w w when it comes to Christ, you don’t have to equate faith with ignorance, but our faith is not on a philosophy. It’s not on a feeling or an idea. Our faith is in an event and in first Corinthians 15 verse 17 that is exactly what Paul said. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. That the resurrection of Jesus is paramount to the Christian faith. And so why do you believe it or why have you not embraced it?

You know, when you study the resurrection of Christ, historically, there are many evidence to verify the claims of the disciples in the first century in John chapter 20 and what the recording is. It leads to their understanding of the resurrection of Christ. Because when you read the the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus and beyond, you see that the, the reaction of the disciples when Jesus was crucified was to become cowards. They were running and hiding. Peter even cursing at Jesus as Jesus was taken to trial. They’re abandoning their faith, they’re abandoning the Christ, and yet they go from being cowards to courageous or for a truth claim saw a dead man walking.

You know, for us this morning, we would have no reason to embrace the truth of Jesus’s resurrection if it were not for the first century followers of Christ that promoted it and wrote about it in scripture. So the first evidence for us that I would say, I’m going to share just some evidence, is on the resurrection. This isn’t conclusive, but the first evidence of the resurrection is that the followers of Jesus promoted the resurrection of Christ. Because if they didn’t acknowledge it, there’s no sense in any of us believing it because they’re affirming it to us.

There begins to build a basis for the truth claim that the followers of Jesus acknowledge it and when they acknowledge it, it’s important to recognize they had nothing to really gain from it. Earthly in this world. Because when you read the lives of the disciples, they became courageous to the point that they didn’t run away from persecution. They ran into persecution. Yeah, there are many religious leaders that would have claimed certain truth, but often times you find in their truth, they face persecution. We’re often running the right way. These disciples spread all over the known world and continued to face persecution head on cause their faith wasn’t in the philosophy, wasn’t it an idea or feeling? It was in a truth claim that they could not deny. I had witnessed a dead man walking and we’d go to the end of the earth to explain that hope to a world that was lost and die. Because by his life we were promised life in him

to the point. And the apostle Paul writes, first Corinthians 15 which is an important passage, I think on the resurrection of Jesus. Paul Paul says in verse three I receive, I give to you what I also received, that Christ Christ was crucified according to the scriptures, was buried and resurrected according to the scriptures and appeared in enlist. All of these people appeared. And he says that Christ even appeared to 500 people at one time. Some of them have fallen asleep or died, but some are still alive and walking around today. And he says, actually many of them are. And so what Paul is saying is if you don’t believe this claim, Jesus has appeared to hundreds of people and you can test the street claim by eye witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. And Paul wanted peoples to rest their faith in the certainty of the resurrection, not just the idea.

And some people have asserted, well, maybe Jesus didn’t really die according to Islamic beliefs that there’s a few different claims that they make. But in the end, maybe it wasn’t Jesus. Maybe Jesus didn’t really die, but he’s just consider for a moment what that would entail. Jesus is beaten. Jesus is whipped to the points that his flesh would have hung like strips of cloth. He’s crucified by professional executioners whose entire job is to kill people. And then after he’s declared dead by the professional executioners he’s run through with a spear.

Then as if that’s not enough without any medical attention wrapped in cloth, no food, no water. He’s sealed them to me for three days. If there’s anyone we know for sure that’s bad, it’s Jesus.

And so Paul gives this claim to, to, to test even from the eye witnesses who are giving their lives for the first 250 years of Christianity, it faces persecution. These individuals have nothing in the game. In fact, they lose many things because of their pronouncement of their faith in Christ. And, but, but the one thing they would not let go of is the claim that Jesus had been resurrected. Not only does this biblical manuscripts tell us the claim of of Christ, not only do we find those those written in God’s word in the new Testament, but even extra biblical claims outside of the Bible, give us evidence of the accounts.

Well, the resurrection of Jesus mean Christian history from the first century after the disciples is documented. They’re quoting scripture there. They’re laying out tree claims. Ignatius, Polycarp, Clementa room, all first century followers of Christ writing still exists today, acknowledging the resurrection of Jesus, that God became flesh died for us. First century Jewish historian Josephus, first and second century Greek philosophers write about it. There there are two individuals and in Greek history, Thallus and flake and who who write about in two separate accounts, they write about the darkness that existed on the day Jesus was crucified. Unbenounced to them that it was the day that Jesus was crucified, but they blame it on an eclipse. Scientifically when you study that time period, scientists will say it would be impossible for an eclipse to exist that day.

Plenty of the younger, it was the governor of Bethania in the beginning of the second century rights of killing many Christians over and over. He says, even that as he killed when it seemed like two more would appear before him, and he acknowledged that they sang to Christ as to a God. Lucian said, Christians worship a man who introduced their novel rights and was crucified. And these are just the tip of the iceberg of extra biblical accounts that that take to the evidence of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. Even even false Christian groups started to appear heavily in the second century to some degree, give rise to the credibility of Christ.

And you might hear people say, um, from time to time, I’ll have time to dive into this evidence. But there are books of the Bible that had been lost, which are ridiculous claims once you actually investigate history. But in the second century after all the apostles are dead, Gnostics began to write extra biblical writings that they were a group that weren’t, wouldn’t be, wouldn’t have been considered Christian, but they began to write writings on Jesus as well, trying to give their own, their own identification of Christ, but what they’re at least acknowledging is the evidence of Christ himself and even contributing some of their writings to the resurrection of Jesus looks like the gospel of Thomas and Barnabas.

You investigate the Bible itself. Again, you can look at prophetic statements concerning what Jesus would do, how Jesus would die, and even the specifics of his, his birth, his life, and his death. One of the things that I, I really enjoy about the early church is before scripture was started to be formulated in the new Testament before the apostles started to put pen to paper and writing letters about the Jesus and Sydney significant things the church needed to know abroad throughout the world. Before that took place. Right after the resurrection of Jesus, you see that the church started to develop creedal statements and creedal statements or concise statements of belief in which they establish their faith upon.

The church started to recite these creedal statements of the significance of their faith and they became such prominent statements that when scripture started to be written just just 12 years after Jesus, his crucifixion, the book of James came along and then Galatians and on that when these scriptures were written that the, the apostles and disciples started to include these creedal statements in the text of scripture. In fact, in first Corinthians 15 three when Paul says to check the eyewitnesses accounts, what Paul is saying as he’s declaring to check the eyewitness accounts, he is reciting the creedal statement of the other church I give to you what I’ve also received, the Christ Jesus was crucified according to the scriptures and it was buried and raised again according to the scriptures. He’s reciting a statement of faith of the church was already pronouncing among themselves.

And maybe one of the interesting arguments I can make this morning, and this again isn’t conclusive. If you want to look for more arguments, you can Google evidence for the resurrection this morning and just read through those yourself. If you want to skeptically an investigator as a believer, if you just want to further investigate evidence is for the resurrection. Well, one of the arguments that I think bolsters Christianity is the testimony of the individuals God chooses to reveal himself when he first was resurrected. Because when you read John chapter 20 what you see is that when Jesus appears, we’re going to read this verse in just a moment, starting in 11 when Jesus first appears the people he chooses to appear to or women most specifically Mary Magdalen, and we think in our 21st century mind, what’s the big deal about appearing to a woman that God’s made us equal and we all have worth and value in God’s eyes and that equality and the first century.

That’s not the way people perceive women, or at least the way men perceive women. And I would venture to say women maybe even perceived themselves the way other others are. The men emulated their worth and value in this society. And if you were to go to court and you wanted testimony to be brought for some reason to validate a claim, the the claim of a woman was considered worthless or, or, or not valuable. The, the, the men were considered the ones that needed to, to pronounce something as in within the court of law. And, and so when Jesus appears to a woman, as the first person to validate the resurrection, the first century, it’s as if Jesus is saying to the society, I don’t give a rip about what you think about the value of people. I see the equality of all people, meaning for us, this is the evidence for us.

But for us and reading this story, if you were to make up, if you were to create this event and want to make up a credible story in the first century, the person that you would want to pick to validate the resurrection wouldn’t have been a woman Greek philosopher Celsus in the second century. He argued against Christianity, wrote against Christianity. In fact, one of the main arguments he used to disprove Christianity was how Jesus first appeared to a woman to validate his as erection. Now, I will tell you today, if we were to meet him, I would help you beat him up. Right? But it looks pretty beaten up already. Jesus. To him, that doesn’t matter. He loved his disciples. You loved all the Marys I followed.

In fact, when you read the story, which I think is the second proof of the resurrection, it starts to share the heart of Mary at this resurrection, and I just want to say looking at Christianity intellectually, I think it’s important truthfully, without trying to belittle other people that may hold other faiths of value. I think it’s the only belief that exists in this world that you can honestly look at intellectually, and I’m even acknowledging within that atheistic agnostic ways of thinking. Christianity a a fine is the only place that you really can’t, don’t have to throw away your mind to finally embrace everything within the context of a faith or belief. Yeah. For me, that was important in my journey and walk with Christ. In fact, it’s how my walk with Jesus started. No, I assumed all religion was just a guess.

Then I saw the logic within Christianity and it blew me away. I can remember being a pagan hardened hard-hearted to God, opening myself up to a follower of Christ and just saying, just show me the evidence. I, you know, I need to figure out something about the significance of life and why in the world I exist. So I want to give you an opportunity to show me. And then I started to read people like Josh McDowell and Chuck Colston, Lee Strobel, and see us, Louis and Simon Greenleaf, all skeptics, all had a hard heart bent attitude towards Christianity. All invested, investigated intellectually. The evidence of Christianity all became believers all recorded it in books. All of them displaying the, the logical reasoning behind it and why the evidence for the resurrection can, can just lead you to the place of only embracing Christ.

And then my eyes are open to the rock solid foundation. That was Jesus. I remember reading this quote by CS Lewis when he became a believer later on in life, and this is what he said when he, he was just in pursuit of the truth. I mean, think of that in the in the tomb. That’s all Peter was doing. He, he was reasoning within his mind. How in the world could Jesus, his body be gone, but the clothes be there maximum carry them off naked. C S Lewis, when he wrestled with the logical truth of Christianity, he said this, the most dejected, reluctant convert in all of England, drug into the kingdom of God, kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting my eyes and every direction for a chance of escape. He saw the truth of what was me. I’m going to be on, actually I should say every time I should say something from up here being honest or as a believer in general, it’s probably the attitude I should carry.

But you know, when you consider intellectually the faith of Christianity, there’s still something missing because you’re going to have it all up here and still truly not be a worshiper of Christ. James two said even the demons believe, and so while we see in John chapter 20 the followers of Jesus intellectually looking for the truth of what happened in that moment. Then when you get something from Mary within the story that I think is also significant as it relates to crisis resurrection, and it says this, but Mary standing outside the tomb weeping, and so as she wept, she stood and looked in the tomb and she saw two angels in white city, one of the head and one at the feet or the body of Jesus had been laid and they said to her woman, why are you weeping? She said to them, because they have taken away my Lord.

I don’t know where they’ve laid him. When she had said that, she turned and saw Jesus standing there and did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking supposing him to be the gardener? She said to him, sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you’ve laid him. I will take him away. And Jesus said to her, Mary, and she turned and said to him, and Hebrew, Rabboni, which means teacher. Jesus said to her, stop cleaning to me for I have not yet ascended to the faith or to the father. Excuse me, but go to my brother.

You’ve seen the story. Mary’s recognizing that she’s lost something significant to her. She’s weeping at the table and sometimes it’s not lost that we truly, and it’s not until last, that we truly recognize the value of the thing that we no longer have. And when Mary sees Jesus, again, story tells us that she holds on to Jesus in such a way that she never wants to let go. And what it’s saying about is that intellectually it’s not where the story ends, but even in acknowledging what Jesus has done for all of us in this room, justice with Mary, it needs to be personal.

You know when you consider the story of Mary and her cleaning to Jesus, if there’s anyone that understood the worth of this moment, if there’s anyone that would say to us this morning that there is this claim that is so good to be true, it’s worth investigating. It was her because not only was Mary a woman in the first century, which would have been her value had been diminished by the cultural society. Luke chapter eight tells us in the first three verses that she was demon possessed. In fact, the passage of scripture tells us she was possessed by seven demons, which I don’t think necessarily has to be seven demons. What I think it’s saying to us by seven is a number of completeness. It’s saying to us, she was really possessed.

They owned her. If you study demon possession in, in the new Testament, you, you can see this, and I don’t have time to dive in a demon possession this morning, but, but when you read about those that are demon possessed, you’ll see that often physically and sexually harming themselves. That’s what’s taking place in their lives. When you read those accounts, recognizing her loss and Jesus her identity in Christ, she realizes what she’s losing, but by the death of Jesus, but, but now in this resurrection, she’s cleaned to him so hard because of the hope that she has in Christ and it’s sang to us. Her story just says to us in a personal way, I don’t know where we’ve all been, but I don’t think it matters because in the story it’s telling us where we need to be. Mary was a woman, not a man. She suffered mentally. She came from a place of weakness, not from strength. She was a a center, not a religious leader, and Mary cleans in the story to Jesus in a personal and real way.

There’s not just a dead philosophy. He’s a living, breathing God and savior in the flesh who has come to redeem. And the fact that he’s overcome the grave to us this morning means that he is alive right now.

See, Mary defines for us the picture of the gospel story throughout all of scripture. You know, the reality is when you read this account of, of Mary clinging to Jesus, the truth, as she would have never found the Lord unless he came and found her first, he shows up and says to her, Mary, and she turns and says, Ripona, it’s to say to us today that God is doing the same thing right now for you.

His story being told to our ears that our heart maybe be awakened to a God who is not dead but alive, so alive, that for the first 250 years of Christianity in the midst of persecution, they did not resist and proclaiming the truth that a dead man walks.

So that for us, there’s hope in our sorrow as the song says, cause he lives we can face tomorrow giving us a future and a hope in him. So let me end with this thought. And when it comes to Jesus people, religions, I’ve done some pretty foolish, ignorant, cus worthy things with Jesus. I can remember when I was 16 years old, I, I open up the Bible one day and I came. I came from a little rough background, poor single mom, the Hills of West Virginia, you guys know we’re hillbillies or res people have more guns and they have extended family, have more cars in the driveway than they have family in their home. That’s the kind of, and and, and armor reading the gospels. When I was 16 and, and just my life began to awaken to this Jesus. And so I thought, you know, I’m going to go to a church, or at least this place, they call a church that’s close to me.

And I remember walking into the building and I came to the, this person in the church and I said, can you take me to someone that’s maybe a leader here? Because I just want to ask them about Jesus. And so this person took me to what was the leader in this church? And I, and I said, you know, I just want to learn about this Jesus that I’m reading about. And the person just looked at me and said, you know, um, I don’t, I can’t help you, but I want you to know that you’re here and you’re not wearing the proper attire to be at her church. Uh, this morning, okay, well is there anyone that can thank you and is there anyone that can help me? And went onto the, to the next person and they said the same exact thing. I can’t really help you with this Jesus, that they claimed to follow, but you’re wearing the wrong clothes. And being a poor kid, I didn’t have nice clothes. Finally I went to the third person, said the same thing, you know, I just said, no, I thought I was meeting, came here to meet with Jesus. But the Jesus I read about in the Bible is not here. And I just walked out and my heart grew hard and in fact, I hated people that said they followed Jesus.

So much so that there was this minister that you guys got to meet on the men’s retreat that came to the school that I was a part of as a kid in high school. And he would come to tell me about this Jesus and I was just a jerk. Everything that I wanted to say, those guys that kept me from, I felt like knowing Christ, I just, I said to him and finally after about three or four years, God softened my heart. It was because I was living my life aimlessly and no idea why I existed on the world I was supposed to do. I was in college trying to figure out a path that I want to pursue in life. Just I remember laying in bed at night thinking, what in the world am I doing? If I could figure out why I exist and maybe I can figure out what it is I’m supposed to do but I, unless I know why I exist, how could I ever pick something that I’m supposed to do that’s meaning well in life, I’m just kind of floating along.

And then I went back to that ministry. I was mean to him and I told him, I just want to know if this claim that you’re giving is true. And if it is, I want to know where the evidence is for that because it’s worth it. A hold onto it, but if not, I’m just going to continue to do what I’m doing. Let’s say all that to you this morning to say this. If it, if at all possible in your life, if you could just put, put apart just the religious garbage, the people tack on Jesus and just look at the simplicity and the goodness of who Jesus is.

Don’t let the adversity you face keep you away from the purity of Christ. The disciples lost their, their direction after the hardship they face the Southern resurrection of Jesus and the reality of that moment, it transformed them from cowards to courageous that Mary in the story whapped over the loss of someone that had changed her life. And when she sees the hope of the resurrection, the goodness proclaimed in Jesus. She understands how good it is and she just cleanings with all that she has. She just claims and in that cling Jesus says to her, share it. Oh, the disciples just share the period of the goodness of what this moment is so we could just strip away all the crap from our lives. Just for one moment, just recognize the hope of what the story is. This isn’t a Nigerian Prince asking you for your bank account. This is Jesus, the hope of the world coming to rescue your life, to just claim and rejoice I, no matter where you’ve been, it’s about where Jesus calls you to be.