Although you hear the Word of God at church, read it on your own, or listen to an Easter message about Jesus rising from the dead, how much do you actually put aside in disbelief?
If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then the Bible is a waste of time, Jesus is a fraud, and Christianity is garbage. But if it's true and He really did rise, then that means there is only one God worthy of following.
Jesus was a historical person who ministered for three years, healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, casting out demons, and raising the dead. He was killed in public and laid in a tomb sealed with a stone and guarded by highly trained soldiers so that no one would be able to steal the body and claim that He had risen as He claimed he would.
So what's so important about Jesus rising from the dead? Why do we celebrate and make such a big deal about Easter? If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then the Bible is a waste of time, Jesus is a fraud, and Christianity is garbage. But if it's true and He really did rise, then that means there is only one God worthy of following. We would need to heed Jesus' words that there is only one way to the Father. For how can we put our faith in a person to move us beyond death when that person did not defeat death himself?
Chapter 24:1-12 of the Book of Luke recounts the discovery of Jesus' empty tomb:
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning,
they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found
the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly
perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and
bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is
risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered
into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”
And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
We are all sinners who will one day die and stand before God, who will ask us what we believe about Jesus’ death for our sins. The only way that we can go to heaven is by asking Christ to forgive us of our sins and for Him to be our Savior.
You may not believe that statement, but that doesn’t make it untrue! Pastor Miles painted this parallel:
If you drive 100 mph on the freeway, when the police pull you over, you can tell them that you didn’t believe the speed limit signs, but that won’t prevent you from receiving a ticket.
Today Pastor Miles presented eight proofs, or pieces of evidence, as to why the resurrection story is true. This is crucial to understand, because if Jesus is a fraud and there is no God, then we will all die without hope of eternity, but if He is God and He did rise from the dead, then He is worthy of our following, our worship, and the surrender of our very lives to Him.
Proof 1: The empty tomb - Luke 24:12
There was no mystery about where Jesus was buried. Everyone knew where it was and it was even guarded by highly trained soldiers, yet it was still empty. Do you know that people have been searching for the body of Jesus for 2000 years? It will never be found; He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
Proof 2: The testimony of women - Luke 24:10
In Jesus’ day, the testimony of a woman was not even admissible in court. Women were thought of as second class and even property, so if a group of people in Jesus’ day were going to make up a story about meeting angels and finding an empty tomb, they would have to have chosen men to recount the tale, otherwise no one would have believed. So why would women be the chosen messengers unless the story was true?
Proof 3: Boldness and power of the apostles - Acts
Why did the apostles, who were dismayed, afraid, and in hiding after Jesus' death, suddenly gain incredible boldness? Why did they passionately teach to the masses and put their lives on the line in the name of Jesus?
The reason is because they had a live encounter with the risen Savior! Seeing Jesus alive and victorious over death with their own eyes moved them beyond anything they had seen or witnessed before. Suddenly, their own safety, their reputations, and the consequences and opinions of society meant nothing to them in light of the miracle of their risen Lord.
Proof 4: Changed lives of James and others - Mark 6:3, John 7:5, James 1:1
Surely you have met people whose lives have been changed by Jesus. Don’t you know anyone whose life was a mess, full of sin, sorrow, error, devastation, etc. who are now different, convicted, dedicated, and changed from the inside out? This kind of change doesn’t take place as an intellectual decision, but as a result of an encounter with the living God.
Proof 5: Large crowd of eyewitnesses - 1 Corinthians 15:6
Jesus appeared to many people in His resurrected body before He ascended into heaven, as many as 500 at one time. Those people were alive for a long time to recount what they had seen and confirm the risen Lord.
Proof 6: Conversion of Paul - Acts 9
Why did Paul, who was on a dedicated mission to destroy and persecute Christians, suddenly in one day change his mind and follow Jesus with such dedication that he gave up everything, even his freedom and eventually his life, to preach the gospel? It was because he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, one single event that completely changed the course of his life.
Proof 7: People died for Jesus
Think about the weight of this statement: every single one of the apostles died for their faith (except John, who was boiled in oil and then exiled to an island). How could they have been so certain of the resurrected Jesus that they would allow themselves to be killed rather than renounce Him? It is because they were convinced in the seeing of the resurrected body of Jesus right in front of them, flesh and bone, and received a commission from Him to spread the good news. Nothing could convince them that Jesus was not really the Son of God after their own personal experience with the resurrected Lord.
Proof 8: Your hunger for God
Every one of us has a hunger in our hearts for more. Even if you are experiencing success by cultural standards, you know deep inside that there is more to this life than status, money, or even our earthly relationships. There is a place in all of our hearts that is designed for Christ to dwell and nothing else can fill it.
God made us in his image to have a relationship with Him. We are eternal beings, whose souls cry out to be one with the Father. We need that eternal fulfillment, the living water that He promises will give us new life.
Today is the day. No one can force you to accept the proofs laid out in this message – you will have to decide for yourself. Jesus awaits, and He longs to have a relationship with you and give you the fulfillment that you seek in life!