I. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of Christianity
A. If it is not true, then our religion is a hoax
B. I Cor. 15:12-19
C. Our faith stands or falls on whether not the resurrection actually occurred.
II. Objections to a resurrection
A. “It’s unscientific”
1. The Soviet Encyclopedia
The concept of a resurrection “is found to be the most decisive contradiction with scientific natural knowledge which confesses the inescapability of death as the destruction of individuality with its physical and psychical peculiarities”
2. Science cannot address the matter of a resurrection.
3. One time events are outside the scope of science
B. It is a matter of history
1. Either it took place or it didn’t
2. Proof must be in the historical evidence
III. The Bible affirms the ressurection
A. Old Testament evidence
1. Abraham believe God could raise Isaac from the dead - Heb. 11:17-19
a. Received him back in a figurative sense
b. The figure is a shadow of Christ’s resurrection
2. Jonah’s three days in the belly of the great fish
a. Jonah 1:17
b. Matt. 12:40
3. David’s prophecy - Ps. 16:10
a. He wasn’t talking about himself - Acts 2:29-31; 13:33
B. Christ’s predictions
1. John 2:19-21 - Early prediction of raising this temple
2. Luke 18:31-34 - Details given, but the disciples did not understand
3. Numerous other verses
4. Either he spoke the truth or he was a false prophet
C. The New Testament is filled with confident statements that Christ was raised from the dead.
1. Eph. 1:19-20
2. Phil. 3:10
3. Col. 1:18
4. Heb. 2:14-15
IV. The evidence
A. Jesus did live
1. He lived in first century Palestine
2. He was crucified
3. He was buried
4. Christian, Jewish, and pagan history all agree on these points.
B. So where is his body?
1. The disciples lost track of the tomb
2. It was removed by the Lord’s enemies
3. It was removed by the Lord’s friends
4. It was taken by grave robbers
5. Jesus just passed out on the cross and awoke three days later
6. It arose form the dead and he is now in heaven.
D. The tomb was lost
1. If true, why didn’t the authorities produce the tomb as evidence? Acts 5:28
2. The authorities could have easily distroyed the gospel “myth”
3. The authorities knew where the grave was: (Matt. 27:62-66)
a. They sealed the tomb
b. They assigned guards to the site
c. They had records
E. Enemies stoled the body
1. Why didn’t these same enemies produce the body?
2. The evidence would have destroyed Christianity at its birth!
F. Friends stoled the body
1. A tale fabricated by the priests - Matt. 28:13
a. How useful! Sleeping witnesses!
b. Spread widely among the Jews - Matt. 28:15
c. Frequently repeated in various documents throughout history
2. Why? Claim is disciples stoled the body to make it look like a resurrection.
3. Problem: The disciples didn’t expect a resurrection
a. Mark 16:11-13 - The eleven did not believe. (Lk. 24:9-11)
b. John 20:25 - Doubting Thomas
4. Problem: They didn’t gain anything from the “story”
a. They gained a life of persecution, torture, and death
b. Men may die believing a hoax (as happened at Jamestown)
c. But men do not willingly die knowing they created a hoax.
5. Problem: How did they get past experienced guards, who were looking for just this type of action?
G. Grave robbers
1. No monetary motive
2. Still have problem with the guards
H. Jesus fainted
1. Six hours on the cross and a side wound is significant damage
2. Death verified by executioners and Pilate before burial allowed
3. Removing the stone after significant wounds is hard to believe
4. Would have to have alluded the guards after removing the stone
I. The best conclusion is that Jesus was raised from the dead.
1. Doctor and historian of high caliber
2. Acts 1:3 - Jesus showed himself alive by many proofs
3. “Proofs” - strongest possible evidence
B. Those who saw Jesus alive:
1. Mary Magdelene at the tomb after Peter and John left - John 20:11-17, Mk 16:9-11
2. To a group of women who had visited the grave - Matt. 28:9-10
3. Peter on the afternoon of the resurrection - Lk. 24:13-35; I Cor. 15:5
4. Two disciples walking to Emmaus - Lk. 24:13-35; Mk 16:12
5. Eleven disciples on evening of resurrection - Mk 16:14; Lk. 24:36-43; Jn 20:19-23
6. To all twelve one week after the resurrection - Jn 20:26-29
7. To seven of the disciples by the sea of Tiberias, asking Peter three times if he loved him - Jn 21:1-23
8. To 500 brethern, most alive when Paul wrote I Cor. 15:6 (it could be verified!)
9. To James (I Cor. 15:6). If the Lord’s half-brother, then he was a non-believer (Jn. 7:3-5)
10. To eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee where the great commission was given (Matt. 28:16-20)
11. To the apostles on the Mount of Olives just prior to his ascension (Lk. 24:44-53, Acts 1:3-9)
12. To Stephen as he was being stoned - Acts 7:55-56
13. To Paul (then Saul) on the road to Damascus - Acts 9:3-6
14. To Paul while praying in the temple - Acts 22:17-21
15. To Paul while in prison in Caesarea - Acts 23:11
16. To John while in prison on Patmos - Rev. 1:12-20
C. Were the witnesses reliable?
1. Reasonably intelligent (not fools or given to wild hysteria)?
a. Simon Greenleaf, Royall Professor of Law at Harvard in An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice: it was “impossible that they [ the apostles] could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.” (Page 424)
b. Other legal historians agree
3. Were they hallucinating?
a. Hallucinations usually come to individuals, not large groups
b. There was no wishful thinking or strong desires on these people’s part. Many disbelieved at first and had to have it proven to them.
c. The appearances took place at odd times in odd circumstances.
d. There were physical evidences: The eating of fish and Thomas’ touching of his wounds.
4. The change in the witnesses character is significant
a. Most were timid, fearful men before the resurrection.
b. They had all abandoned the Lord at his death.
c. Some, such as Peter, had returned to their former jobs (Jn. 21:1-3)
d. The conversion of Paul is an outstanding witness
VI. The significance
A. Declared to be the Son of God with power - Rom. 1:4, Acts 2:26
B. Forgiveness of sins is available through Christ - I Cor. 15:17
C. The first fruits. The promise of a greater resurrection - Col. 1:18
D. Our personal identities last beyond the grave
E. The ultimate victory - I Cor. 15:25