Did Jesus Actually Raise From the Dead?

Many in our day reject the reality of the resurrection of the dead.  “We live in the 21st century” they argue “and we all know the people do not raise from the dead.”  The Bible tells a different story.  All of Jesus’s disciples (except Judas who hung himself before he could see the resurrection) claimed even unto death that Jesus rose from the dead.  There are many ideas that people put out to disprove Jesus resurrection.

  1. The Disciples stole Jesus’s body. This faulty claim goes all the way back to the 1st century but ignores the fact that people will not die over a made up story.  Almost all of the disciples who are accused of lying about the resurrection, were killed for preaching Jesus as raised from the dead and none of them changed their story even when given the opportunity to avoid death. The disciples were clearly not lying.
  2. The Disciples were mistaken. This argument makes sense at first since it is clear they were not lying.  The problem is that Jesus did not just appear to the 12 disciples but he even appeared to 500 people at one time (1 Cor. 15:6)! Your telling me that 500 people + the 12 were hallucinating?  Not only this but the gospel records that the disciples did not just see Jesus, they met with Jesus and touched Jesus over the many days before he went up to heaven. The disciples were not mistaken.
  3. Jesus was not really dead; he was buried alive. The problems with this are extensive. 1. Crucifixion is not lived through. 2. Jesus was stabbed in the side after he was declared dead and blood and water flowed out of his side(John 19:34). 3. The stone had to be unsealed and rolled away, something that not even several healthy men could not let alone a crucified man. 4. The guards at the tomb had to have been fought by this almost dead Jesus… You get the point.  Jesus was truly dead.
  4. Jesus never existed. This is a claim that really comes out of desperation due to the impossibility of the above arguments. Even secular historians do not buy this idea.  The first reason is from #1 above.  People do not die over something they lied about, let alone for a person that never existed.  Not to mention the fact that we have four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) written by separate people and they all agree with each other.

Clearly we know that Jesus is real, he did die on the cross, he was risen from the dead, he did ascend into heaven, and he is coming soon.  It is time for us to follow him and make his name know among all people before he comes back to gather his people and bring judgment on those who do not obey the gospel.

 

The Resurrected Jesus Changes Everything.

In this morning’s sermon (Nov. 8, 2015), I preached from John 20 where the resurrected Jesus appears three different times and with each of these appearances, there are extremely important similarities that are helpful for us. Here is what the text says:

John 20:11–29 (ESV)

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

So that it is super easy for you to see the parallels between these three occasions, I have laid them out below:

People- Mary

(v. 11-18)

Disciples

(v. 19-23)

Thomas

(v. 24-29)

Emotion Before- Sorrow

(v. 11)

Fear

(v. 19)

Doubt (v.25)
Emotion After- Joy

(v. 16-17)

Gladness

(v. 20)

Worship

(v. 28)

Result- Profession of Faith Faith (Assumed) Profession of Faith
What Jesus did- Sent

(v. 17-18)

Sent

(v. 22-23)

Sent

(v. 29)

The resurrected Jesus changes people doesn’t he?  He shows up and for Mary, sorrow becomes joy.  For the disciples, fear becomes gladness.  For Thomas, doubt turns into worship.  This is what we should expect when it comes to the gospel converting sinners.  What we are looking for in those we share the gospel with is radical conversion that changes entire lives.

One more thing that I want to point out in this text is the way the resurrected Jesus brings joy.  Jesus is alive!  This reality is not something that is accepted with a straight face and a monotone profession.  Thomas cries out to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28). This is what we pray for people.  That Jesus would take those who are dead in sin and make them alive with gladness in his salvation.  As the psalmist said, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the people with equity and guide the nations upon the earth.  Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.”

Take care of your Family: The Mandate of the Bible & the Example of Jesus.

This morning (10/25/2015) I preached the glorification of Jesus on the cross in John 19:16-30.  While Jesus was suffering crucifixion, He arranges for His disciple John to take care of His mother in His absence.

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Here in the text, Jesus sets an example for us as he fulfills the command of God to “Honor your father and mother” (Ex. 20:12).  The reason I did not focus on this in the sermon much is that this is not John’s main point or intention as he includes this in the passion narrative.  It seems that John’s main focus is not on Jesus as our example but rather Jesus as being obedient to the father in our place and displaying his love for his people in creating a new family called the church.  Nevertheless there is still a lesson that we see by Jesus’ example.  Even in his great agony and pain, Jesus has a concern for the well-being of His mother.  As He is bearing the sins of the world, His heart is full of compassion for His mother, seeing His need to provide for her.

This call for us to take care of our family is modeled for us in this passage and also commanded of us in the Bible.  I already mentioned Exodus 20:12.  We also have 1 Timothy 5:8 which says, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  This is a stern warning and a clear command.  A mark of a follower of Jesus is one who like Jesus has compassion on those in His own family, seeking even to their dying breath to preserve the well-being of the family, especially ones parents.  It is not the job of the government to take care of your parents (though I am thankful that they are often willing to help when there is need).  As long as you are still alive and able, it is also not the churches’ responsibility to provide for your parents (Read 1 Tim. 5:3-16).  It is your responsibility. Follow the example of Jesus and the mandate of the Bible: take care of your family, especially your parents.

What is the Content of Faithful Proclamation?

As we think about preaching and evangelism, we want to have a biblical perspective of the content of the proclamation.  Whether you are a Mega-Church Pastor preaching to 3,000 people or a mother telling your neighbors about Jesus at a playground, you need to know what the content of your “proclamation” must be so that the words you speak can be more fruitful for God’s kingdom.

When we survey what the bible says about proclamation, one particular thing sticks out more than anything else.  That is the word euangelizō which means to proclaim the gospel.  It’s like a special word created to describe a certain type of proclamation.   A proclamation who’s content is the good news of Jesus.  This word is used 54 times in the New Testament!  So when we talk about the content of preaching we need to remember that the heart of the New Testament authors was to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Whether it was the apostles preaching in the temple and from house to house in Acts 5:42 or Paul desiring to preach to the Roman Believers in Romans 1:15, the heart of the content was the good news of Jesus.  The Gospel is the content of proclamation in evangelistic encounters and the content of faithful preaching in the local church.  A pastor is not being faithful to his task if he teaches about how to make life easier or how to reduce conflict without relating it directly to what Jesus did on the cross.  A well meaning christian is not being faithful in his task if he is telling people to go to church or to trust that God is real, if he does not clearly explain that there is forgiveness of sins found in Jesus Christ when the lost turn from their sins and trust in Jesus.   The gospel is the primary content of faithful proclamation.

Now that we have it established that the primary content of biblical proclamation, We need to consider how the authors of scripture give us more detail. The content of preaching is identified as the gospel of the grace of God, the kingdom, he whole counsel of God (Acts 20:24-27), Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1–5), the word (2 Timothy 4:2), repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3), repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations (Luke 24:47), the Christ is Jesus (Acts 5:42), good news of peace through Jesus Christ (Acts 10:36), not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4:5), not man’s gospel (Galatians 1:11), the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8), the word of God (Colossians 1:25), Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David (2 Timothy 2:8).  Their are many other passages that speak about the content of preaching but I think this list is a good starting point.  What sticks out to you here?  What sticks out to me is the riches of the gospel of Jesus!  What an amazing task that we have been given by God!  May we be faithful in the content of our proclamation!

Let us go out and Proclaim the Gospel!  To our neighbors, our friends, our grocery store clerk, our coworkers, our spouse, our kids, and everyone else we come in contact with. Read these two passages to yourself out loud and may God help you see the mission that he has called you to do.

1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

Romans 10:13–15 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

This is blog two is a series on Biblical Proclamation.  Check part one: The All Day Sermon About the Law: The Example of Ezra for Preaching