Easter Sunday Sermon 4.3.21
There are many instances when believers must trust and have faith- you know, that tangible substance of something unseen.
But the resurrection of Jesus is not one of those instances; for we have more details, and historical evidence regarding the few days before and after Jesus’ death and resurrection than any other figure in ancient history.
“On this, the greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith alone, for there exists overwhelming evidence, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring a verdict that the resurrection story is true.” Former Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling.
Jesus death and resurrection stands with historical factuality, not faith alone.
Luke, one of the disciples wrote of these facts and evidence –
” Dear friend, I am writing for you, … an orderly account of what Jesus, the Anointed One accomplished and fulfilled among us. Several eyewitness biographies have already been written, using as their source material the good news preached among us by his early disciples, who became loving servants of the Living Expression (Jesus).
But now I am passing on to you this accurate compilation of my own meticulous investigation based on numerous interviews and thorough research of the story of his life. It is appropriate for me to write this, for he also appeared to me so that I would assure you beyond any shadow of a doubt the reliability of all you have been taught of him.”Luke, the Physician, disciple of Jesus, chapter 1, verses 1-4
The NIV translation puts that last phrase this way – “so that you may know the certainty of the things that you have been taught.”
Luke, the doctor in Jesus discipleship group, was a detailed historian who documented the events of Jesus’ life and left them for us in the gospel that bears his name.
Additionally, he documented the events of Jesus resurrection, ascension and the day of Pentecost when the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit and Jerusalem was rocked by that power. We find those complete details in The Acts of the Apostles, yet another book that he wrote.
As he states, his writing is based on his own first hand, eyewitness experiences, his interviews with other eyewitnesses, and his own thorough research and investigation of primary sources. The man was there and interviewed others who were also there. They are primary sources.
Luke is telling us that we can be absolutely certain, beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jesus’ death and resurrection really happened!
“After His suffering he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.”Acts 1:3
It is important to note that in this text, Luke is using a legal term (in the Greek), that is the strongest type of legal evidence; he is making a legal declaration of convincing proofs for the resurrection of Jesus Christ; implying the weight of evidence in a trail to prove a case.
But we need not take only his word as convincing evidence, please consider these documented, primary sources, who were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection:
- Mary Jn. 20:16, 18
- other women Jn. 20:9-10
- Disciples Jn. 20:19
- Thomas Jn. 20:24
- 2 men on the road Mk. 16:12-13
- Peter Lk. 24:34
- 7 fishermen Jn. 21:1-23
- 500 eyewitnesses 1 Cor. 15:6
- James 1 Cor. 15:7
- Stephen Acts 7:55
- Paul Acts 9:5
- John Rev. 1:10
Again, not just the empty tomb, but the actual, physical body of Jesus was seen by hundreds of people in the days following his resurrection. Firsthand, eyewitness accounts, people who spoke with him, ate with him, and watched him ascend that invisible escalator into heaven. They were staring at him, wide mouthed and in awe when the angels said to them,
“Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way.”Acts 1:11
On this Easter, 2021, know for certain that Jesus really, actually did die and come to life after three days – JUST AS HE SAID HE WOULD. You can be certain, beyond any doubt.
The importance of the physical resurrection of Jesus is paramount to Christianity. Jesus pointed in advance to his bodily resurrection, he foretold it would happen. John 2:19 – “Destroy this temple (his body) and in three days I will raise it up.”
Dr. Norman Geisler says, ” if Christ did not raise in the same physical body, then the resurrection loses its value as evidence of proof of his claim to be God.” Jn. 8:58; 10:30
If Jesus resurrection is not historic fact then the power over death remains unbroken, sin is not atoned for and we are without hope.
But because the resurrection is an event in history, we have new life and hope in this life and the one yet to come. Consider these factual and historic events:
- Jesus was an actual man that lived with family and friends for over 30 years
- Pontius Pilate literally sentenced Jesus to death
- Jesus was killed by crucifixion
- Jesus was placed in Joseph’s literal tomb and wrapped in grave clothes
- his followers were dejected
- a stone, large enough to be rolled by 20 men was placed in front of the entrance
- the seal on the tomb was the imperial seal of the Roman government and was witnessed and affixed by the guards
- the guards themselves (10-30 of them) were trained in military discipline and punishment for quitting a post was death
- the disciples went their way
- the tomb was found empty
- the grave clothes were folded and left in the tomb
- the seal had been broken
- the guards were dishonored
- the disciples were elated
- post resurrection appearances to hundreds as listed above
- transformed lives through over 2,000 years
- establishment of the Christian church
- establishment of Sunday services
- establishments of sacraments like, Communion, and baptism
- the martyrdom of most of the disciples (why if Jesus hadn’t been raised?)
- the martyrdom of thousands of Christians through the ages
Each of these are actual, and real historical events. Each speaks to the tangible evidence of Jesus resurrection. Each provide for us convincing truths and undeniable evidence that what Jesus promised came to pass and if that be the case for his resurrection, He can and should be believed in all other matters.
Interestingly, Christianity as one of the four major religions based on personalities rather than philosophies, is the only one that claims an empty tomb for its founder.
Judiasm – Abraham has no resurrection claims
Buddhism – the Mahaparinibbana Sutta tells of Buddha’s death with utter finality
Mohammad – the Pali tells us that he died June 8, 632 AD at the age of 61 at Medina
Christianity – Jesus tomb is empty
It is safe to declare that without Jesus’ bodily resurrection there would be no Christianity. Christianity in fact hinges on the belief in Jesus resurrection. This fact, this hinge is solid and completely supported by evidence that would stand in a court of law. Your belief in Jesus’ resurrection need not be in faith and trust alone.
In fact, (without all the detail that excites me), we can say to those who doubt the historical accuracy and dependability of the New Testament as our source that they are totally misinformed! Here are the facts:
- ancient literature’s authenticity is tested by 3 basic principles, 3 criteria
- bibliographical test – how many and how reliable are the manuscript copies
- internal evidence test – does the document support itself from within
- external evidence test – does external evidence support the document
- the bible when tested by these same criteria stands head and shoulders above every other ancient work, including Homer’s Iliad
- Iliad has 643 manuscript copies with a 400 year gap between the original and the first copies
- The New Testament has 5,366 copies with a 225 year time gap between the original and its first copies
Plato’s writings have only 7 copies over a 1,300 year gap, and Pliny the Younger 7 copies with over 750 years as the time gap.
What does this tell us?
Scholars accept the trustworthiness of these ancient classics that were copied long after the original, therefore it is clear that the New Testament’s reliability is overwhelmingly sufficient and can be rendered authentic. The sheer volume of manuscripts alone would be enough to provide convincing proof but that coupled with the short gap between author and copies is a total “drop the mic” statement.
You can stand confidently, without any doubt that your New Testament is reliable, historical and factually accurate. The evidence presented by the circumstances and the primary sources, the manuscripts, and the criteria for testing ancient documents all point to CONVINCING PROOFS of Jesus death, burial and resurrection.
You can be certain of the things that you have been taught.
We have presented you with many convincing proofs so you can celebrate His resurrection with renewed assurance, enthusiasm and conviction.
He is Risen indeed! Happy Easter.
Go with God.