The boast, and glory of Christianity is more than a cross…
Luke 23 & 24
March 27, 2016 AM Resurrection Sunday
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (1Corinthians 15:13-19)
A. Christianity is the only religion with a still living Founder.
1. Buddha is dead.
2. Brahma is dead.
3. Confucius is dead.
4. Mohammed is dead.
5. Karl Marx is dead.
6. There isn't anybody on earth who founded a religion (and by the way, Communism is a religion) who is not dead and buried and their tomb can be located and people can produce their bones.
7. That isn't all!
8. If you had the bones of Karl Marx, you could still be a good Communist.
9. If you had the bones of Mohammed, you still could be a good Mohammedan / Muslim.
10. If you had the bones of Brahma, you could still be a good Hindu.
11. If you had the bones of Buddha, you could still be a good Buddhist.
12. But if you had one finger bone of Jesus Christ, you could not be a good Christian. "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1Cor 15:13-17).
B. The boast, and glory of Christianity is more than a cross… it is an empty tomb.
1. Jesus died. That’s a fact. People accept that fact. Wear crosses around their necks, tattooed on their bodies. Put crosses up in their churches.
2. But more importantly, Jesus is risen. Not everybody accepts that fact!
3. If Jesus did not rise from the grave
a. Paul said, "...we are of all men most miserable" (1 Cor 15:19). We are yet in our sin. We are lost. We are liars and false witnesses of God, saying that God raised Christ from the dead. This would make us liars if He didn't raise Him from the dead.
b. WITHOUT the resurrection, your faith is vain, and you are yet in your sins, and all this is a joke!
4. But oh, WITH the resurrection, there is life-changing power, soul-saving power, sin-defeating power available to anyone who would believe!
5. If the resurrection is true
a. Then Jesus is indeed the Son of God.
b. This, then, is the miracle upon which all the other miracles stand or fall. If this, the greatest of miracles is true, then it is very easy to believe all the rest of the Bible.
c. Those of us who have met Jesus Christ in our hearts, and have confessed Him as our personal Saviour have no problem believing in the resurrection at all.
d. To us, it is amazing! It is the power BEYOND all powers. It is the miracle of ALL miracles.
e. You don’t believe in miracles? I do. Not the TV ones that are just magic tricks. But the dead ones, brought back to life!
6. The best news this world ever heard it got from a graveyard when the angel said, "He is not here, but is risen... " (Luke 24:6).
A. God Gave Us the Promise of the Resurrection (Matthew 12:38-40; 16:21; 17:22,23; 20:18,19)
1. What good is a story if everyone dies in the end? That’s not a great deal!
a. Yet every atheist, every Unitarian, every Darwinian, and every humanist believes that THIS is all there is – that there is NO LIFE after death. That worms wins in the end!
b. No wonder everyone is escaping to the video games, and Facebook, and endless hours in front of make believe TV serials
c. No wonder THIS generation is the most drugged up, doped up, drunk, and addicted generation – THEY HAVE NOTHING BUT A HOLE IN THE GROUND to look forward to!
2. But the resurrection - life back from the dead - is a promise God made, and a promise He will keep!
3. Promised in the Old Testament
a. Job 19:23-27
b. Isa 26:19, Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
c. Hos 13:14, I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
d. 1Co 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
4. Prophesied by Jesus Himself over and over and over again!
a. Mt 12:38-40
b. Mt 16:21
c. Mt 17:22,23
d. Mt 20:18,19
5. Performed by Jesus Himself
a. It’s one thing to talk about it
b. It is another to actually give life back to someone who has thoroughly died
c. Like Lazarus (John 11:11, 14, 43,44)
d. And the widow’s son (Luke 7:12-15)
e. And Jarius’ daughter (Mt 9:25)
6. Nobody really believed it would happen to Jesus, but it was clearly promised as a fact!
B. Most People Do Not Believe in the Resurrection (Luke 23:50-56)
1. People really just expect to die – that’s why they are so afraid of death!
2. Same back then
a. Yes, they all heard Jesus speak of His resurrection
b. But no one wanted to wait around and see if it would take place
3. Instead, they worried about:
a. Getting the body off the cross before the beginning of the Sabbath
b. They worried about preparing it for BURIAL, not a resurrection
c. Some worried about the body being stolen – so Pilate had the tomb guarded and sealed
d. The disciples worried about the government, about the religious persecution that was rampant (John 20:19)
4. NOBODY actually believed He would rise again
a. So they HID in the upper room for 3 days and nights! Worrying, fretting, anxious, burned out
b. We spend far too much time worrying about things that God has great control of!
c. You need to start knowing that all the promises of God are YAY! YES! Affirmative! For Sure! Count on it!
C. The Wonder of the Resurrection (Luke 24:1-10)
1. Here were some women
a. Mary Magdalene
c. Mary the mother of James and John
d. And other women
2. These women came to a grave… think about it
a. Before dawn
b. Creepy thing to do
3. They HAD to go back to the place they had last seen Jesus. They wanted to see where Joseph and Nicodemas had buried the Best Man they ever knew!
a. At least THEY were brave enough to go and be seen at Jesus’ tomb
b. The MEN (like Peter) were too embarrassed – too worried about being seen as still believing in their failed Messiah
c. Thank God some women love Jesus Christ enough to outdo what some spineless men won’t!
4. But the tomb was already empty
5. The stone was rolled back
6. Jesus wasn’t there
7. Crazy! Like if you buried your grandfather, and then a few days later you go back out of respect, and you see the grave opened up again, and empty now! Freak you out!
8. You have to admit – this had to be the most amazing thing to start to grasp and wonder if it could possibly be true!!!
a. It blew the soldiers away – passed out cold!
b. Angels spoke right to them – I bet they forgot to breathe
c. Told them He is alive!
d. Think about it! Jesus is alive again!
e. And they departed QUICKLY! There was nothing there now but an empty tomb! Oh how marvellous!
D. The Resurrection is Impossible (Luke 24:9-11)
1. Unbelievable – that Jesus would actually, be truly alive – the same guy!
2. It would take a lot of work to repair all the damage done on the cross!
a. His body, proven to be dead, would have to be living again – no ventilators, no IV drips, no adrenalin shots, no cosmetic surgery, no organ transplants
b. His ripped and torn body would have to be perfectly restored
c. His heart would have to beat again
d. His lungs would have to breath again
e. His lifeless body, would have to be able to walk again
3. Impossible THEN and NOW with all our “medical science and technology”
a. None of that was possible 2,000 years ago
b. By the way, 2,000 years later, it still is impossible after someone is dead 3 full days!
4. Yet, there He was, standing literally right in front of them, inviting them to place their hand in His side, and their fingers in His hands
5. All that is left are a few scars, kept by Jesus to remind US what of what he had gone through to save us!
E. The Proofs of the Resurrection (Luke 24:12)
1. Jesus is proved to be alive "by many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3)
2. First of all, the empty tomb is a witness
a. Everybody in Jerusalem that was interested came and viewed the empty tomb!
b. Peter and John ran to go and see the proof
c. And there were many proofs right in front of them
d. The angel invited everyone in Matthew 28:6, "...Come, see the place where the Lord lay."
e. "And they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus," (Luke 24:3).
f. In Luke 24:5-6 we read, "...Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen"
g. Look at the evidences
1) Massive sealed tombstone rolled back
2) All the bandages rolled up and laid to the side
3) The face napkin folded and placed to the side
4) WHO WOULD TAKE THE BLOODY BANDAGES OFF OF A DEAD BODY?
5) Only someone who no longer was dead!
h. No one can point to a dead Jesus - But we can all point to an empty tomb!
3. Secondly, we have the people who talked with Him after the resurrection: Peter, Mary, Cleopas and Thomas.
a. Their testimony counts!
b. Jesus ate, drank and showed His wounds to friends after the resurrection (Luke 24) and He was seen by 500 who saw Him at once, according to 1 Corinthians 15:6.
c. He appeared to Stephen at his martyrdom (Acts 7:56).
d. He appeared to Paul on the Damascus road (Acts 9:5), and Paul said, "Who art thou, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. " “I am alive!”
4. Thirdly, we have testimony of millions upon millions of changed lives who have proven Jesus of Nazareth to be the Saviour who is quite alive!
a. Once upon a time two lawyers in England in the 1800’s who didn't believe that Christ had risen from the dead were asked to investigate these matters of the resurrection. A preacher challenged them to study, the record of the resurrection in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and, secondly, the conversion of Paul. These two lawyers, by the time they had studied for about three months, avoided each other on the street and finally when they met again they accused each other of having avoided the other. Then they confessed that both of them had gotten convicted in their studies and had received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and both of them were now Christians.
b. Two men of the recent past stand out:
1) Lee Strobel has a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School, was a journalist for The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers for 14 years. Formerly an avowed atheist, he began investigating the Biblical claims about Christ after his wife's conversion. Prompted by the results of his investigation, he became a Christian. Wrote a book detailing his study called A Case for Christ.
2) Josh McDowell wrote Evidence That Demands a Verdict. He was a law student who set out to examine the historical evidence of the Christian faith in order to disprove it. However, he converted to Christianity, after, as he says, he found evidence for it, not against it.
c. That is not to mention other men like Peter Hitchens, and countless others!
d. I am one of them too – an agnostic growing up, not worried about God or heaven or hell – not thinking God existed. Until someone shook me to the core with her testimony of being born again! She got me looking into the evidences for the Bible. Convinced ME!
e. The evidence of the resurrection will hold up in any court. If eyewitnesses have given a testimony and agreed in their testimony and that testimony has been reduced to writing and no incontrovertible evidence or no final evidence has been produced to overthrow the written testimony, the written testimony stands and cannot be disannulled or abrogated. There has never been any conclusive evidence produced since the resurrection of Christ that He did not rise from the dead; therefore, it stands in the legal courts that Christ rose from the dead.
F. The Power of the Resurrection
1. Look at such a rag-tag group of followers as Jesus’ disciples – who would have been easily and quickly silenced if not for the fact that Jesus rose from the grave
a. The resurrection motivated Peter to stand and preach with power on the day of Pentecost, and 3,000 repented and got born again
b. The resurrection of Jesus was good enough reason for Stephen to stand and preach and confront the Jews and compel them to believe it, even at the risk of his own life
c. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, the world was turned upside down from the back-woods of Judea, to the courts of Caesar!
2. How did Jesus rise from the dead?
a. He arose by the power of Himself (John 2:19; 10:17,18)
b. By the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3: 18)
c. And by the power of the Father (Acts 2:24)
3. But it was FOR a great work:
a. To remove the Curses of Genesis 3
b. To restore Life in the place of Death
c. To reveal the Deity of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:4)
d. To convince sceptics to believe (John 20:25-28)
e. To motivate Christians to preach the Gospel (Luke 24:38-45)
G. The Warnings of the Resurrection (Heb 9:27; Matthew 28:11-15; Daniel 12:2,3)
1. Most people will believe anything except that Jesus is alive (Mt 28:11-15)
2. Most Christians are disobeying our Lord’s greatest command to keep going! Keep winning our generation!
3. Because whether you believe it or not – whether you like it or not, death will NOT be your end!
a. You will live on
b. And your body will rise again
c. Either to life, or to everlasting damnation
4. Are YOU ready to get saved today? Saved from the judgment to come?
a. The longer you wait, the harder it gets – you get more and more comfortable between two worlds
b. The Resurrection carries a warning with it– don’t wait to believe it – before it is too late!
A. The best news this world ever heard it got from a graveyard when the angel said, "He is not here, but is risen... "
B. God gave us the Promise of the Resurrection
C. Most People Do Not Believe in the Resurrection – really just expect to die – that’s why they are so afraid of death!
D. The Wonder of the Resurrection – you’ll never get used to this greatest miracle of all
E. The Resurrection is Impossible!
F. You have been given Several Infallible Proofs of the Resurrection
G. Oh That You Would Seek to Experience The Power of the Resurrection
1. In your spirit – new birth – to be quickened!
2. In your life
3. In your home
H. The Warnings of the Resurrection – today is the day! Not tomorrow!