The Truth of the Resurrection Luke 24:1-12 Edrick Corban-Banks
Sunday 21st November 2021, St Peters Akaroa.
I wasn’t to thank Clive for sharing the letter to Jesus written by Lloyd Gering last week when I read it through it seemed to me as though if could have been written by someone whose on journey to learning more about Jesus. I know a few of you found it challenging but its also good to flex the brain muscle and to reflect on our belief and understanding. Christianity is not learn by rite religion. It is challenging and reasonable. And we do not leave our brains at the door when we come into church. We know of course that Geering was a member of the Jesus Seminar, and denied the death and resurrection of Jesus. I think the main reason he was tried for heresy. But the w question that arises from Geerings stance, as a professed Christian, , ,
Can a person who calls himself a Christian like Geering, ever doubt the resurrection of Jesus Christ? can we believe the in the resurrection.
Well the answer is simple I if Jesus had never been an historical figure. The resurrection never happened and now of us would be here. The world would not exist as we know it. Tu can be s certain it will be dramatically worse.
the question itself is very crucial. Let me put it another way. Suppose that Jesus did not rise from the dead, how do you explain what happened that first Easter morning?
That is the question that has fascinated great minds for 2000 years.
The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits,’ the pioneer of life,’ He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so.
I know that the vast majority of us believe in the resurrection … and we hardly think about whether it really happened. What I’m going to say may surprise you, but there are other explanations, some of them quite brilliant, for the apparently empty tomb. If we stick our heads outside our doors and listen to the men and women of the world, we will find that there are many sincere people who have questions. Easter questions.
This supreme question is this: Can a person who calls himself a Christian ever doubt the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Yes or no, what do you say? More importantly, what does the Bible say?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central fact of the Christian faith and is therefore open to every kind of question.
Michael Green said it this way:
Christianity does not hold the resurrection to be one among many tenets of belief. Without belief in the resurrection there would be no Christianity at all. The Christian Church would never have begun; the Jesus movement would have fizzled out like a damp squib with his execution. Christianity stands or falls with the truth of the resurrection. Once disprove it, and you have disposed of Christianity.
In our society there are two great religious holidays–Christmas and Easter. Christmas is the time of year when we gather with family and friends to sing carols, decorate the tree and exchange gifts. Christmas is the climax of the whole year. Easter? Well, for most people it’s just another long weekend, another chance to get away for a few days.Even Christians view Easter as a second-rate holiday!
I think we’ve gotten our thinking badly mixed up. If Easter had not happened, Christmas would have no meaning. If the tomb is not empty, the cradle makes no difference. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then he really is just a misguided Jewish rabbi with delusions of grandeur. If Easter is not true, then Christmas is only the story of an obscure baby born in an out-of-the-way village in a forgotten land 2000 years ago. It is Easter that gives Christmas its meaning.
Note this In all the New Testament no major doctrinal point is ever built upon the virgin birth of Christ. Not one. It’s true. It happened. But it’s never discussed or mentioned. In fact, two gospels don’t even say anything about it.
But the resurrection? That’s a different story. In every part of the New Testament, it comes up again and again. Read the sermons of Acts. As another commentator pointed out When the first Christians preached, they didn’t mention Bethlehem; they talked about the empty tomb. They never got over the fact that on Easter Sunday when they went to the tomb, Jesus was gone.
This week I’ve been reading I Corinthians 15, that famous passage where Paul reasons out loud about the resurrection and the implications if it did not happen. Evidently some believers in Corinth were teaching that Christians would not rise from the dead when Jesus returns to the earth. Paul answers by saying, “That’s foolish because if Christians do not rise from the dead what you are really saying is that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead because those two things go together–his resurrection and ours.”
Then he says it twice: “If Christ has not been raised.” (I Corinthians 15:14,17) So what, Paul?
- Our preaching is vain. (14)
2. We are despicable liars. (15)
3. Our faith is vain. (17)
4. We are still in our sins. (17)
5. Dead Christians have perished. (18)
6. We are to be pitied more than all people. (19)
That is precisely my point: The resurrection is the central fact of our faith. Disprove it and nothing is left.
That’s why from the very beginning, skeptics and doubters have attacked the Christian faith at this very point. It’s not the virgin birth, it’s not the miracles, it’s not his death. The resurrection is the touchstone.
And that’s why questions are welcome on Easter Sunday. This is the heart of what we are all about. Everything we do rests on this fact–Jesus rose from the dead. If it weren’t so important, no one would bother to doubt it . You can doubt some miracle of Christ if you want and the only loser will be you … but if you doubt the resurrection of Jesus, the foundations begin to crumble.
So it is that sincere men and women ask hard questions about Easter–and well they should. It all begins or ends right here.
Lee Strobel and investigative journalist and atheist whose wife became Christian decided in order to rescue her from this “cult “that he would investigate the Resurrection utterly disprove it and get his wife out. He knew that if he could disprove the historicity of the resurrection, he would shatter her beliefs. Didn’t happen. He spent 2 years investigating and the result was Strobel became a Christian and an amazing apologist. “ he wrote the book” the Case for the resurrection” went on to write “The Case for Christ”
All of this raises another question: if we had been there that first Easter, would we have believed or would we have doubted?
To put it another way, what would it take to convince you that someone you loved had come back to life after being dead three days? Suppose it were a close friend or a family member and you had seen them die? What would it take to convince you? Rising from the dead is not a common thing. At best, it hasn’t happened for many generations.
If we had been there in Jerusalem with Matthew, James and John … would we have believed the strange rumors that Sunday morning?
Let us for the moment, consider the evidence. Jesus died on the cross. No one ever survived roman crucifixion. How did the people who knew Jesus best react to the news of his resurrection?
Here’s a simple observation They were not expecting a resurrection. That was the farthest thing from their minds. Forget his predictions. Forget all that brave talk. Forget those wild dreams. They had given up.
Strange fact. Who really expected problems? Who was afraid that “something” might happen? Hear the words of Matthew 27:62-66. The Jewish leaders had more faith than the disciples. So did the Romans!
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ’After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting a guard.
The believers had no thought of a resurrection. Who came first to the tomb that Sunday morning? The women. Were they looking for a resurrection? No. Mark 16:1 says they came to anoint the body of Jesus. In those days a body was prepared for burial by covering it with spices and then pouring on a sticky ointment. In the confusion and hurry late Friday afternoon, the spices had been places on Jesus’ body but not the ointment. The women came to finish the job of embalming!
And what did they find when they got there? The stone rolled away and an empty tomb! All four gospels agree on this fact. The women did not have the slightest clue as to what had happened. They were not looking for a resurrection.
An angel told them what had happened and still they did not believe it.
Mark puts it this way: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” (16:8)
And John says that when Mary left she found Peter and John and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (John 20:2)
Luke adds the final detail that when the women told the rest of the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead, “They did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” (Luke 24:11)
Nonsense. Of course. No one rises from the dead. Not after three days. Not after being beaten and scourged. Not after being crucified. Not after hanging on a cross for six hours. Not after having a sword thrust in the side. Not after being covered with 150 pounds of spices and wrapped in a suffocating burial cloth. Not after being sealed in a tomb.
No. The odds are against it. It’s impossible.
And Mark says, “When they heard that Jesus was alive … they did not believe it.” (Mark 16:11)
Simple. It’s too hard to believe otherwise. It goes against nature. So they didn’t. We all know the rest of the story. But I don’t want to get to that just yet. I want to point out that the people who knew Jesus best and loved him most had grave doubts. They could not and would not believe it.
Alfred Edersheim, author of perhaps the greatest book on the life of Christ written in the English language: wrote this
What thoughts filled the minds of Joseph of Arimathea, of Nicodemus, and of the other disciples of Jesus, as well as the Apostles and the women about Jesus death?
They believed him to be dead, and they did not expect him to rise again from the dead. The evidence is over whelming from the moment of his death, in the burial spices brought by Nicodemus, in those prepared by the women … in the sorrow of the women at the empty tomb, in their supposition that the body had been moved, the confusion of the disciples, , in the doubts of so many, and indeed in the express statement, “For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”
What does this tell us? The people who knew Jesus’ best and loved him the most did not expect a resurrection and had to be convinced against their own will!
What finally convinced them? Jesus did! The tomb was empty … the angel said he had risen … all that could be explained. But Jesus himself appeared to them … alive from the dead. The same Jesus … the one they had watched die … he appeared and they saw him, talked to him, touched him, heard his voice, looked into his face, watched him closely. It was true! Jesus had come back from the dead. Against all their expectations, the truth came home to them … Jesus had risen from the dead!
And that brings us back to our original question: Can a person who calls himself a Christian ever doubt the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Yes indeed, for the ones who knew him best and loved him most doubted at the first.
.We can understand this, The first disciples loved Jesus so much they refused to believe the truth at first because they didn’t want to be disappointed. You can’t blame them at all. Love made them doubt … and then it made them believe.
Thomas missed that first meeting on Easter Sunday. I think he was so heartbroken that he simply went off by himself to suffer alone. When the news came of Jesus’ resurrection, he couldn’t believe it. After all these years, Thomas has gotten a bad reputation, but he’s really no worse than the others. They didn’t believe at first, either. He said, “Unless I see him and unless I touch him, I will not believe.”
We tend to look down on Thomas … but Jesus didn’t. He said, “Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.” Then he said, “Stop doubting and believe.”
Doubters are welcome at the empty tomb! Our Lord welcomes Easter questions!
I was looking through a list of church ads and found one from a Lutheran church that I liked very much. It said, “The tomb is empty … No bones about it.” That sums up it, doesn’t it?
Jesus himself asked this question of those who come to him, “What do you think of Christ? Whose Son, is he?” Before you answer, as one commentator pointed out , here is the evidence for you to consider. Go to the tombs of the founders of the great world religions. Call the roll:
Mohammed … … “Here”
Buddha … … … .”Here”
Confucius … … . .”Here”
Moses … … … . . “Here”
Jesus Christ … . . .
No answer … Because he is not there. The tomb is empty!!! Doubt if you will, but the tomb is still empty because he is not there. He is risen, just as he said.”
In the early church Christians greeted each other this way: One would say, “He is risen.” Another would answer, “He is risen indeed.”
It is true … and we have staked our lives upon it!
Then John said, “These things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
No one can remain neutral forever You can bring your doubts to the empty tomb … but you have to make a choice! You can’t stay on the fence forever.Doubting is no sin, but at some point you’ve got to stop doubting and start believing. “Do you believe this?” ‘ 5In the end truth must always become personal. Here are six vital questions:
- Do you believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came from heaven to live on this earth 2000 years ago?
2. Do you believe that when he died on the Cross, he died in your place, bearing your punishment, and paying for your sins?
3. Do you believe than on Easter Sunday morning, he literally, physically, bodily rose from the dead never to die again?
4. Do you believe that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God the Father?
5. Do you believe that Jesus is truly the resurrection and the life and that he is able to remove the terror of death for those who trust him?
6. Are you willing to stake your life on your answers to the first five
Either you believe or you don’t!
You know that Jesus died … there is no doubt about that. You know that he died for you. You know that he rose from the dead.
Jesus said, “Stop doubting and believe.”