Intro : Many doubts voiced about truth, relevance of Christianity. Series
addressing some of those questions. Dealing w/actual objections made by Christianity's
skeptics. So far, discovered there were actual OT prophecies about Messiah which
were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth , which speaks to a deep heart need:
We desire wonder, awe, to provide meaning beyond everyday life! Discovered
there were actual eyewitnesses who recorded the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
of Nazareth , which speaks to another deep heart need: We desire truth instead
of treachery! Last week, we discovered that The Holy Spirit is active within
the church, and His activity is something that can be observed with human eyes and
ears! Again, this truth speaks to our deep heart need: We desire genuine goodness
instead of self-serving hypocrisy!
Peter's Claim! Again, we're returning to very first Christian sermon in history.
Want to examine the ultimate claim Peter makes in this sermon: The resurrection of
Jesus is the best explanation for His empty tomb! Peter makes clear his
conviction that Jesus rose from the dead. (Read Acts 2:24, 31-32.) Repeat claim. Central importance
of this claim to the Christian faith! (Read I Corinthians 15:14-15.) Listen to me now: Here's what we
don't need to debate: whether Jesus' tomb was empty or not! According to Gary Habermas:
"a strong majority" (75%) of the critical NT scholars agree that Jesus' tomb was
discovered empty. Issue is not whether tomb was empty! Issue is how
to explain His empty tomb!
If Jesus' Didn't Rise from the Dead, Why Was His Tomb Empty? (Thanks, J.
Simple! (More popular in earlier centuries; not today!) Women
(you know how easily confused they are!) confused Jesus' tomb w/someone else's!
Simple mistake that no one corrected! Let's say it happened. What would Jesus' enemies
Stolen! Someone stole the body! Possible suspects: Jesus' followers, (Jeffery
Jay Lowder proposes Joseph of Arimathea on
www.infidels.org .) Jesus' family, Jesus' enemies (Jewish and Roman).
Let's say it happened. Who had the motive? Not Jesus' enemies! Jesus' followers,
family? Followers scared for lives, family didn't believe in Him! Even if they wanted
to, big problem: Roman guards outside the tomb! Motives for doing their job: occupying
military force, politically hostile environment, grave of a controversial figure,
and Roman military practice was to kill any soldier asleep on duty!
Swooned! Jesus didn't actually die; He passed out! His body was taken down
and buried, but that He revived in the tomb. (Hugh J. Schonfield popularized this idea in 1965 in
Plot. The 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, speculated that Pontius Pilate was bribed to allow Jesus to
be taken down from the cross before he was dead.) Let's say it happened. Problems?
Jesus too weak to roll stone away. Roman guards still outside tomb. Even if it gets
out and evades the guards, His body looks far from "glorious!"
Stoned/Symbolic ! Appearances of Jesus after His death were "visionary experiences"
due to psychological imbalance of grieving individuals or to actual spiritual experience/
"vision"; however, no bodily resurrection! (Advocated by some members of
the Jesus Seminar
such as Gerd Lüdemann.) Let's say some type of visionary experience happened. Stoned
: Mass visionary hullucinations are highly improbable, at best! (Consensus would
be hard to maintain!) Symbolic : No expectation in Jewish belief/culture
of a non-bodily resurrection! If that is what happened, why the Gospel accounts
of Jesus' eating, or letting Thomas touch His wounded hands and side?
Spurious! The disciples were a bunch of liars. All the resurrection accounts
are made up! Let's say it happened. Why didn't the religious authorities produce
Jesus' body? Why were the disciples willing to suffer and die for something they
knew to be a lie?
Review of the Alternate Explanations! Best that critics of Christianity have
been able to come up with for past 2,000 years: Simple, Stolen, Swoon, Stoned/Symbolic,
Spurious! Common sense: these are weak, unlikely at best. Is there a better explanation?
Peter's Claim Revisited! The best explanation for Jesus' empty tomb is that
He actually, literally, physically, miraculously raised from the dead! But,
even if I've convinced your brain that it was an historical fact that Jesus rose
from the dead, it would be wrong to stop there. Why? Because, as sinners and rebels
against God, we don't just need our thinking changed; we need our hearts changed.
Great news! Jesus' resurrection is not only an historical fact, it is also a heart-
transforming truth that can meet your deepest needs. One of those deep heart needs
is that we desire life instead of death! You've felt the hollow ache. Death's
senseless, cruel interruption of life. Loved one, friend. Things left unsaid. Things
left undone. When we face the reality of our own mortality. Can't believe it's the
end of the story.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is God's declaration that physical death is not
the end of the story! Great news, but it has some important qualifications!
1) Jesus' Resurrection is evidence that Judgment Day is certain! (Read Acts 17:30-31.) What will Judgment Day look like? (Read
2) Jesus' Resurrection is evidence that our future resurrection entirely depends
on whether we trust Him or not! (Read John 11:25-26; John 3:16-18; John 5:24-29.)
Do you deeply desire life instead of death? The resurrection of Jesus is God's guarantee
that He can deliver you from death and hell if you trust yourself to Him.