Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

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Why does the resurrection matter?

John 20:1-30

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is by far the most important event in the history of mankind. That’s a pretty bold statement. Here in John we are talking about resurrection, not resuscitation. Jesus resuscitated Lazarus, but Jesus Himself was raised. There is a huge difference because Lazarus had to face physical death again—Jesus never will. The resurrection is the central point on which Christianity turns. And so on Resurrection Sunday it’s fitting that we should look at three important points about the resurrection: Did it really happen, if so, what does resurrection look like, and most of importantly of all—why does resurrection matter to me?

  1. 1.Was it real?

 

Simply put: if there is no resurrection, then Christianity is a hoax and a lie.

1 Corinthians 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith. 15 In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ—whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

Why would this be? Without the resurrection there is literally nothing to hope for beyond this life. We just cease to exist. Or if there is reincarnation then we just cycle through various types of physical life here on this planet. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is central not only to Christianity but to humanity.

By the way, according to the Bible, everyone gets resurrected—into bodies that are indestructible. But there are two destinies available, and only two—one is filled with light and good and joy and peace and healing; the other (which is called “the second death”) is filled with the opposite of those things. What’s determines your destiny is who owns you.

So how do we know that Jesus was physically resurrected?

Let’s look at the facts:

Historians can use various means to ascertain whether something happened. There is archeological evidence, and then there is eyewitness testimony that gets written down and passed on to eventually us. Having witnesses from more than one source helps. Having witnesses that are closer to the time of the event is also good. For the existence and recording of the crucifixion we have important eyewitness testimony:

  • Letters in the Bible, plus independent historians agree that the Romans crucified Jesus (Josephus[1], Tacitus[2], Paul the Apostle[3], James the Lord’s brother[4], 500 disciples[5]).
  • The tomb was empty. The disciples started proclaiming Jesus was alive in Jerusalem, where the crucifixion took place. What better way to quash the claim of resurrection that if you could present Jesus’ body.
  • But, you say, couldn’t Jesus have come alive and escaped or couldn’t His disciples have come and taken Him away? The best evidence we have, a Roman executioner who crucified people for a living, said Jesus was dead as evidenced by the fact that he did not order Legs broken. Besides, Jesus was at best severely beaten and weak and could never have rolled a several ton stone uphill. His disciples would have had to fight past a Roman guard—fishermen against Roman soldiers, right.
  1. 2.If it was real, what does it look like?

 

  • It’s a real physical body (Mary clung to Him, He invited Thomas to put his hand into His side, and He asked the disciples for something to eat (Luke 24:41).
  • It’s is indestructible. (John 8:52 ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste death—ever!’)
  • It might a bit different (the guys on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognize Him until He broke bread – but in that case “they were prevented from recognizing Him” Luke 24:16. Mary didn’t recognize Him at the tomb – though she might have had her back to Him and it was early, and she had been crying, but when He spoke her name—then she recognized Him). Most likely He just looked too good to be true (remember, at the crucifixion He was physically marred by beatings).
  • It does not have to obey the laws of this age because it doesn’t belong to this age (He could pass through walls and appear wherever and whenever He wanted - Luke 24:36).
  • It was the same body that died (same nail prints)
  1. 3.So what does the resurrection really mean to me then?

Jesus’ resurrection means the atoning death and sacrifice of His life in place of yours was accepted by the Father and sufficient to pay for your sins. Remember back to what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 – if there is no resurrection then “you are still in your sins”? The reason Jesus came was that we humans rebelled against our creator and that rebellious attitude (called “sin”) infects every one of us. Simply put, God is so purely good that anyone with anything in their character that is not like Him would be destroyed in His presence. Even one lie is enough to doom us. The only way to deal with that sin, which disconnected us from a relationship with God, was to have a perfect human come and stand in our place—and “atone” for our sins. The only perfect human who ever lived was Jesus. When He rose, it shows God the Father accepted Jesus the Son’s sacrifice. This means Jesus paid a price for every bad thing you’ve ever done and restores your relationship with God forever.

It vindicates everything Jesus said and did

All the healings, the Sermon on the Mount, His warnings about hell (permanent separation from God as a result of our sin), the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, and the claim that eternal life is available only through Him.

It means death is defeated once and for all

1Cor. 15:54 When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory.

No more do we need to fear death. Death serves now as a door to a new body and eternal life through Jesus.

It is evidence of eternal life

1Cor. 15:20   But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.

Jesus was the beginning of a new creation, a new age. He reached out and grabbed that new age and brought it into this age so we live in the already, but not yet (like two circles, once separated, now intersect). He is proof that the new age and new life is real and available to us now.

It is a foretaste of what awaits the believer

As Jesus experienced the new human body, made from the old but much better—it is the same thing that we’ll experience when He comes back for us or when we fall asleep in this age.

1Cor. 15:37 And as for what you sow—you are not sowing the future body, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He wants, and to each of the seeds its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same flesh; there is one flesh for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones. 41 There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differs from another star in splendor. 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;

43 sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; 44 sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.

It tells us that Jesus will have the ultimate victory over evil

Rev. 19:11   Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. 13 He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God. 14 The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. 15 A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter.

Jesus the suffering savior came the first time—Jesus the warrior King comes the second—still in love, but not for evil.

It means everything He said was true: including the exclusiveness of His claims:

John 14:6   Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Acts 4:12   There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”

So what are we to make of all this?

  • There is ample evidence that Jesus was crucified and good eyewitness testimony that He was raised from the dead
  • If that’s the case then we can rejoice greatly if we belong to Him – it’s all going to turn out good in the end.
  • If you don’t belong to Him – why not? What’s stopping you? Are you afraid He’s going to be a divine bummer in your life and cramp your lifestyle? Are you worried your friends won’t hang out with you anymore? What if I told you that every good feeling you’ve ever had, every hope you have held onto, every relationship or activity that has brought you joy—all that goodness is actually only an echo of what you will have for all of eternity, just by placing your life into the hands of the Messiah? Isn’t it worth finding out?

Excellent article on whether the resurrection took place:

http://www.str.org/articles/did-jesus-really-rise-from-the-dead#.VRn27EYVvbU

 


[1]Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.”

Jewish Antiquities 18.3.3

[2]But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the Bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements Which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero From the infamy of being believed to have ordered the Conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he Falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were Hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was Put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign Of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time Broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief Originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things Hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their Center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first Made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an Immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of Firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.” Tacitus Annals 15.44

[3] Acts 9:5

[4] 1 Corinthians 15:7

[5] 1 Corinthians 15:8

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