Pitied or Pivotal: Why the Resurrection Matters
"If Christ was not raised, then ALL our preaching is useless,
and your trust in God is useless"
(1 Cor. 15:14)
The resurrection is of vital importance to the Christian faith for without it there would be no transition from death to life for anyone. It is the critical event upon which ALL of Christianity stands on. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then we are to be pitied. Pitied! That is a pretty strong word. The world should feel sorry for us, have sympathy for us believing such a foolish thing could happen. We should be shamed at our gullibility at such a teaching. Consequently, the resurrection becomes the pivotal teaching of Christianity and if it did not happen we are to be pitied.
I begin with Paul using the term “pitied” because if you do not believe that Jesus rose again from the dead, physically, then you probably think that those who do should be pitied. In the great it also denotes being miserable. Imagine that! If we believe in the resurrection and it did not actually occur we should be miserable. Why? Because we’ve believed a lie which means, as Paul says, we are still in our sins and therefore in quite the miserable condition before God.
We Christians do not blindly believing this truth but I believe it because there is ample support for the fact that God did not leave his son in the grave but for our salvation and our justification did indeed raise him up on the third day physically. Well, that said, we should not blindly believe because as we read the testimony of the Apostles, of Paul and even of Jesus’ enemies and those who did not believe him, in the Scriptures, we find that this was the critical event, the pivotal point upon which Christianity stands or falls. See, Christians have history and eyewitness testimonies on our side. We have, as Paul said, over 500 eyewitnesses that he told the Corinthians they could still talk to about them seeing the bodily risen Jesus. Paul’s own defense of the faith before Agrippa and Felix is where he reminds them that the resurrection didn’t happen in a corner. It was actually something they all knew about and none had refuted it by producing a body or proving the disciples stole it. No, Paul says they know about this and they don’t disagree.
Theories of the Sceptics
What are some other ideas of the resurrection:
1. Back door in the tomb
2. Jesus was just in a coma
3. Jesus’ resurrection is a myth created by the Apostles
4. Disciples stole the body while Roman guards slept
5. Jesus was an Alien and took off in a space ship
6. Judas was switched for Jesus on the cross so Jesus didn’t ever die
7. Jesus only appeared to have died on the cross - Swoon Theory
The swoon theory is the theory that Jesus never really died on the cross but that He was crucified and came very close to death. It further states that after He was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb, after three days the coolness of the tomb revived Him and He managed to, roll away the stone, out of the tomb and appear to the disciples making them think He'd risen from the dead. The swoon theory has been thoroughly refuted by many people and very few continue to bring it up as a possibility. Nevertheless, in your handouts are the reasons the swoon theory will not work.
8. The Resurrection wasn’t a physical one but rather a resurrection of hope in the hearts and minds of the disciples
Let’s take a few of these tonight:
1) Do you have any evidence that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, but either swooned, or was in a coma, or passed out?
a. The Biblical record makes it clear again and again that Jesus was dead (Matthew 15:44-45).
2) For those who think it was a myth developed by the Apostles, you would to support your view with conclusive evidence and all the biblical evidence we have about the Disciples at the time of Jesus’ death showed them to be weak, frightened, defeated and hardly ready to stir up more trouble with a story of a resurrection that could be easily proved by the roman guards producing the body or the Sanhedrin ordering the tomb to be opened for everyone to see and smell Jesus’ decaying body.
3) The same goes for every other substitution theory with regards to the resurrection. You are asking us to believe your position without proof. We are asking you to believe the resurrection with proof.
By creating substitute theories, men and women alike admit that there is an empty tomb which must be explained.
The Apostle Paul wrote
"If Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless" (1 Cor. 15:14)
Paul, in speaking to the Athenians on Mars Hill, said this:
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, "We will hear you again about this." (Acts 17:30-32)
The resurrection is not some oddity within human history, rather it is the fulfillment of God’s promise of forgiveness for those who trust in That Man, Jesus Christ, whom God appointed, as Savior and Lord.
Now, I have been asked to present to you the reasons or evidence for the resurrection. However, apart from understanding the moral implications of what was done on the cross, it is simply an interesting topic to be debated. I am not here to debate today, rather I am here to present to you the fact that God has raised Jesus from the dead He therefore, requires of that fact: Repentance.
Jesus had to be crucified, die and be resurrected so that forgiveness in His Name can be offered to all. There is no separating what occurred both physically from spiritually on the Cross. Jesus died in complete fulfillment with the promises made to the Prophets of old and Moses and in the Psalms.
For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead. (Acts 13:27-38)
Luke’s account of the resurrection emphasizes that both the death and the resurrection are grounded in the promises of God from the beginning of human history to the culmination, when the Living Christ, the Firstborn among the dead will return in power and glory.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?"And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:13-48)
The subject of the historical Jesus is of great interest today.
1. History Channel,
3. National Geographic channels and you’ll see something about Jesus, his life, death and resurrection on it.