The resurrection of Jesus - Part 2

SERMON TOPIC: The resurrection of Jesus - Part 2

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 24 April 2023

Topic Groups: RESURRECTION, APOLOGETICS, EASTER

Sermon synopsis: The resurrection is one of the most attacked doctrines in the Christian faith, particularly by cults and false religions.
- Historicity of Jesus
- Stolen body theory
- Wrong Tomb theory


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THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS – PART 2

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the belief that Jesus returned to life on a Sunday three days after he was crucified.

A central tenet of Christian faith, it forms part of the early Nicene Creed:

“On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures”.

THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS – PART 2

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the belief that Jesus returned to life on a Sunday three days after he was crucified. A central tenet of Christian faith, it forms part of the early Nicene Creed: “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures”.

In 1 Corinthians 15 (a chapter dedicated to the resurrection) Paul shows that the resurrection of Jesus is one of the three key components of the gospel.

1 Cor 15:2-3 (NIV) By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:

that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

that he was buried,

that he was raised on the third day

Why is the resurrection of Jesus so important?

Required for our salvation

Approval of God on Jesus’ sacrifice

Indicates Messianic credentials

Sign for a wicked generation

Expectancy of our own resurrection

Differentiates Jesus and Christianity

Differentiates Jesus and Christianity

The resurrection is what differentiates Jesus from other founders of religious movements. They have tombs people visit to pay homage to their remains - but Jesus has an empty tomb.

Unlike the Communists, we don’t follow a dead hero (if one can term mass-murdering dictators as heroes) – we serve a living Saviour.

If you needed directions to get to the railway station and you meet two people in the street…

?

One is alive…

The other is dead…

Which one would you ask for directions?

A LIVING HOPE

False religions and cults follow people who are dead, or who will be dead one day. Communists revere and follow dead dictators who murdered millions when they were alive. Animists pray to their dead ancestors for guidance. Those who are involved in the occult ask mediums to consult dead relatives on their behalf to give them guidance.

But because of the resurrection, we serve a living Saviour and thus have a “living hope”.

1 Pet 1:3-4 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

The resurrection of Jesus is a pivotal teaching of Christianity (1 Cor 15:14).

If Jesus had not been resurrected, he would have been just another failed Messiah. Christianity would be no different from other false religions and cults who venerate their dead prophets.

As such, the resurrection is one of the most attacked doctrines in the Christian faith, particularly by cults and false religions.

DENYING THE RESURRECTION

Historicity of Jesus

Stolen body theory

Wrong Tomb theory

Hallucination theory

Swoon theory

Spiritual resurrection theory

DENYING THE RESURRECTION

Historicity of Jesus

Historicity of Jesus

Stolen body theory

Wrong Tomb theory

Hallucination theory

Swoon theory

Spiritual resurrection theory

Historicity of Jesus

The most childish attacks we have on the gospel are those from people who try and question whether Jesus was an actual historical figure.

This is a claim that would not be taken seriously by any credible secular historian, about a figure whose very birth year is the basis of our Western Gregorian calendar. We number the years before his birth as B.C. (Before Christ) and those after his birth as A.D. (“Anno Domini” – Latin for the “year of our Lord”).

HISTORICITY OF JESUS

In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (a secular agnostic) wrote of Jesus: “He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees”. (Ehrman 2011, p. 285). 1

Richard A. Burridge states: “There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more” (Burridge & Gould 2004, p. 34). 1

Robert M. Price (an atheist) agrees that this perspective runs against the views of the majority of scholars (Price 2009, p. 61). 1

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus

HISTORICITY OF JESUS

James D. G. Dunn states that the theories of non-existence of Jesus are “a thoroughly dead thesis” (Sykes 2007, pp. 35–36). 1

Michael Grant (a classicist) states that “In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary” (Grant 1977, p. 200). 1

Robert E. Van Voorst states that biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of non-existence of Jesus as effectively refuted (Van Voorst 2000, p. 16). 1

1 Ibid

EINSTEIN

“To what extent are you influenced by Christianity?” Einstein was asked.

“As a child, I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.”

“Have you read Emil Ludwig’s book on Jesus?”

“Emil Ludwig's Jesus,” replied Einstein, “is shallow. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot [a clever remark].” *

“You accept the historical existence of Jesus?”

“Unquestionably. No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. How different, for instance, is the impression which we receive from an account of legendary heroes of antiquity like Theseus. Theseus and other heroes of his type lack the authentic vitality of Jesus.”

“Ludwig Lewisohn, in one of his recent books, claims that many of the sayings of Jesus paraphrase the sayings of other prophets.”

“No man,” Einstein replied, “can deny the fact that Jesus existed, nor that his sayings are beautiful. Even if some them have been said before, no one has expressed them so divinely as he.” *

* https:// einsteinandreligion.com/ einsteinonjesus.html

THE HISTORICITY OF JESUS’ RESURRECTION

1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) was a Pharisee who refers to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection:

“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. 

THE HISTORICITY OF JESUS’ RESURRECTION

 “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 amongst 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.” *

* Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, 3

EYEWITNESSES

While preaching at the house of Cornelius, Peter tells them that he was one of the eyewitnesses of the resurrection.

Acts 10:37-43 (NIV) You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 

 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 

 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Albert Henry Ross (1881–1950), was an English freelance writer who was sceptical regarding the resurrection of Jesus, and set out to analyse the sources and to write a short paper to demonstrate the apparent myth. *

However, in compiling his notes, he came to be convinced of the truth of the resurrection, and set out his reasoning in the subsequent book he wrote using the pseudonym Frank Morison. *

* https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Albert_Henry_Ross

The resultant book titled “Who Moved the Stone?” analyses the events related to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Ross writes in the Preface, “This study is in some ways so unusual and provocative that the writer thinks it desirable to state here very briefly how the book came to take its present form. 

WHO MOVED THE STONE?

WHO MOVED THE STONE?

 In one sense it could have taken no other, for it is essentially a confession, the inner story of a man who originally set out to write one kind of book and found himself compelled by the sheer force of circumstances to write another.

It is not that the facts themselves altered, for they are recorded imperishably in the monuments and in the pages of human history. But the interpretation to be put upon the facts underwent a change. Somehow the perspective shifted --not suddenly, as in a flash of insight or inspiration, but slowly, almost imperceptibly, by the very stubbornness of the facts themselves.”

LAW OF EVIDENCE

Simon Greenleaf (1783 – 1853) was an early professor (1833-1848) of the Harvard Law School who contributed extensively to its development. *

He wrote the 3-volume legal masterpiece A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which is considered a classic of American philosophy of law. It remained a standard textbook in American law throughout the 19th century. *

* https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Simon_Greenleaf

Greenleaf is an important figure in the development of that Christian school of thought known as legal or juridical apologetics. This school of thought is typified by legally trained scholars applying the canons of legal proof and judicial argument to the defence of Christian belief. *

He is distinguished as one who applied the canons of the ancient document rule to establish the authenticity of the gospel accounts, as well as cross-examination principles in assessing the testimony of those who bore witness to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. *

* Ibid.

His classic Treatise on the Law of Evidence forms the basis for his study of the Gospels. Greenleaf came to the conclusion that the New Testament evangelists were reliable witnesses, and that the resurrection of Jesus occurred. He detailed this in his book Testimony of the Evangelists (1846), which set the model for many subsequent works by legal apologists. *

* Ibid., https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Testimony_of_the_Evangelists

DENYING THE RESURRECTION

Stolen body theory

Historicity of Jesus

Stolen body theory

Wrong Tomb theory

Hallucination theory

Swoon theory

Spiritual resurrection theory

Stolen body theory

THE SADDUCEES

The Sadducees were identified by Josephus as the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. * He wrote, “The Sadducees have their support only among the rich, and the people do not follow them, while the Pharisees have the people for their ally.”

Unlike the more popular Pharisee group, the Sadducees of Jesus’ day did not believe in any resurrection. According to Josephus, the Sadducees believed that the soul is not immortal; there is no afterlife, and there are no rewards or penalties after death. **

This confirms what we read in the New Testament.

Matt 22:23 (NIV) … the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question.

* Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 13.298 ** http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Sadducees

Paul used this to his advantage before the Sanhedrin.

Acts 23:6-9 (NIV) Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” 

 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.) There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”

And so the Sadducees were the first early opponents of the doctrine regarding the resurrection of Jesus.

Acts 4:1-2 (NIV) The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

The chief priests were predominantly Sadducees * and they, together with the Pharisees, had taken precautions after Jesus’ death, because he had claimed that he would rise again.

Matt 27:62-65 (NIV) The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 

* Acts 5:17 (NIV) Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.

Sir, we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day.

Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.

Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.

Matt 27:66 (NIV) So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Matt 28:1-8 (NIV) After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 

 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 

 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 

The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 

 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 

Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.

 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Matt 28:11-15 (NIV) While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 

 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

As many of the chief priests and elders were Sadducees, it’s not surprising that at the very outset they tried to suppress the spread of Jesus’ resurrection story, by sponsoring a false counter story.

So the STOLEN BODY THEORY was the first attempt to dismiss the eyewitness claims of the resurrection.

But there are some problems with the story.

STOLEN BODY THEORY

a) A sleeping eye-witness?

If the soldiers were sleeping, how did they know that it was the disciples who stole the body? Try giving eye witness evidence in court about events which happened while you were unconscious. This story would be immediately dismissed in a modern court.

b) Sleeping on duty?

The penalty for a Roman guard who fell asleep on watch was death.

Discipline was harsh; centurions carried a vitis or vine cane that was used for beatings, even for minor infractions. In certain situations, the death penalty was authorized if a soldier was found guilty by a military court of tribunes. Eligible offenses included sleeping while on guard duty … If he was found guilty, the legionary could be crucified or even thrown to wild beasts. There were no appeals. *

The Annals of Roman Military Disciplines record 390 hurling of soldiers off the Tarpeian Rock ** for falling asleep on duty.

* https:// worldhistory.org/ Roman_Legionary ** A steep cliff on the south side of the Capitoline Hill, used in Ancient Rome as a site of execution.

The Roman watch consisted of 4 soldiers, changed every 4 hours. Yet all 4 allegedly fell asleep?

They could die if their prisoner escaped. Note how Herod executed the 4 soldiers who were guarding Peter, after he was freed by an angel. (Acts 12:19).

This is why the Philippian jailer tried to kill himself when he thought his prisoners had escaped (Acts 16:27).

If the guards did fall asleep, why were they not executed? And why were they so eager to tell others that they were guilty of sleeping on duty?

How could the disciples sneak past the sleeping soldiers move a two-ton stone up an incline, and then carry the body of man away without waking even one of the soldiers?

c) Moving a two-ton stone quietly

The tomb was secured with a Roman seal (Matt 27:66). Anyone who moved the stone would break the seal, an offense punishable by death.

The cowardice of the disciples who fled after Jesus’ arrest (Matt 26:50), makes it hard to believe that they would face a detachment of armed soldiers, risking the same fate as Jesus by breaking the seal.

d) The seal

The problem is that this theory faces limitations at the very outset, and it becomes apparent that this was the only story the first sceptics put forward because this was the only conceivable story available under very desperate and extreme circumstances. Christians had no political prestige until the 4th century, much less the Judeo-Christians of the first century pre-70 AD, and obviously had no way of knowing how politically pivotal Christianity would become in the subsequent centuries. There was essentially nothing for the first century Christian to achieve or protect in the way of prestige or political and financial gain other than persecution… *

* http:// seandharmon.webs.com/ bodysnatcherspartv.htm

e) What did the disciples have to gain?

f) What changed the disciples?

Peter denied to a servant girl that he even knew Jesus. A few weeks later he is boldly proclaiming the resurrection to over three thousand people! What changed Peter?

The disciples who were hiding in fear behind locked doors, were suddenly in the streets boldly preaching that Jesus is alive. What did they see that changed them?

The apostles repeatedly risked death by preaching the risen Christ to the very Sanhedrin court that sentenced Jesus to death.

Acts 5:29-33 (NIV) Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross … When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.

Not only were the apostles persecuted for their message about the resurrection of Jesus, they ultimately gave their lives for this message. All of the 12 apostles died as martyrs with the exception of John, who was exiled to an island labour camp.

g) Why die for a lie?

Now some may have died for beliefs which are untrue, but these were lies which they believed to be true. How many people die for what they know to be a fabrication?

If they stole the body of Jesus and the resurrection story was a hoax, why would all of them die for what they knew to be a lie? Why didn’t even one capitulate under the threat of death to admit that thy made it all up?

There is no plausible or reasonable explanation other than that they genuinely witnessed and encountered the resurrected Jesus.

DENYING THE RESURRECTION

Wrong Tomb theory

Historicity of Jesus

Stolen body theory

Wrong Tomb theory

Hallucination theory

Swoon theory

Spiritual resurrection theory

Wrong Tomb theory

Proponents of this … argument state that according to the Gospel accounts, the women visited the grave early in the morning while it was dark. Due to their emotional condition and the darkness, they visited the wrong tomb. Overjoyed to see that it was empty, they rushed back to tell the disciples Jesus had risen. The disciples in turn ran into Jerusalem to proclaim the Resurrection. *

* http:// www.bethinking.org/ resurrection-miracles/ intermediate/ the-resurrection-fact-or-fiction.htm

The tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea who was one of the early disciples. Did Joseph not know where his own tomb was?

Matt 27:59-60 (NIV) Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

Joseph was assisted in taking Jesus’ body to the tomb by Nicodemus, so he also knew where the tomb was.

John 19:38-39 (NIV) Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus… With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.

The women who witnessed the resurrection all saw the tomb where Jesus was laid. When Joseph rolled the stone in front of the tomb, we read that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.” (Matt 27:61)

Mark 15:47 (NIV) Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

Luke 23:55 (NIV) The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.

So in reality this theory would mean Joseph forgot where his own tomb was, as did Nicodemus who helped him lay the body of Jesus to rest. Both became devout followers of Jesus because of their memory problems.

It also means that the women went to the wrong tomb, even though they all saw where Jesus had been laid.

After the women tell the skeptical disciples about the resurrection, Peter and John also happen to run to the wrong tomb.

Peter would be executed and John exiled because of their memory problems.

The soldiers also went to the wrong tomb, because they reported the body of Jesus missing.

The Sadducees and Pharisees persecuted the early followers of Jesus and threatened to kill them if they didn’t stop proclaiming the resurrection. They should have rather just gone to the correct tomb, produced the body of Jesus for everyone and stopped Christianity right in its tracks.

Isn’t it more likely that the reason they couldn’t produce a body even though they would have loved to do so – was because there was no body to produce? The tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea was empty!

WRONG TOMB

THE RESURRECTION

Peter said to the High Priest, rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law:

“… It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12, NIV)

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of http:// sweetpublishing.com & http:// freebibleimages.org

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation; Used by permission. (http:// Lockman.org)

Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV: Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

AUTHOR: Gavin Paynter

For more sermon downloads: https://agfbrakpan.com

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COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of http:// sweetpublishing.com & http:// www.freebibleimages.org

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation; Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV: Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




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