As Pentecost Sunday approaches, Pastor Joan Keeling asks questions about the resurrection and finds proofs in the bible.
As children of God, we have just recently celebrated the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! And we are heading quickly towards Pentecost Sunday — which happens on Sunday June 4 2017.
For this reason, I would like to ask you a few questions.
A few questions
My question to you today is: What if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?
What if it were just a scam — a wonderful story, made up by someone?
What if someone could prove to you that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?
What if He weren’t dead, at all?
What if you found out that He were a conman?
How would you feel?
What would you do? Would life carry on as usual for you?
Would you continue to gather with the church every Sunday morning?
Would you still follow His teachings and trust in Him as a good man, a prophet and teacher?
But Jesus has risen from the dead
But now — as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:3-20 — Jesus has ‘risen’ from the dead!
And I believe that we can prove it! This is vitally important to our Christianity.
You see, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, is the very foundation of our faith!
Jesus told His disciples that He would rise from the dead.
Who is this Man that He should make such a claim?
Claim to be God
Well, He claimed to be God — in John 8:58 He said, Before Abraham was born, I am!
The people said how could you have known Abraham, you are not yet 50 years old? He said, Before Abraham was born, I am.
In Greek this is: Ego Eimi – I am that I am. This is the Name that God called Himself, when Moses asked, who shall I say sent me. God said: ‘Say that I am that I am has sent you.’
The people understood Jesus’ claim and called it blasphemy. He escaped their stone throwing.
And in John 14:6, Jesus claimed that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life — the Only Way to the Father. And later, He said to Philip: ‘If you have seen me you have seen the Father’.
You see, Jesus didn’t claim to just be a good man, a teacher or a prophet, Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh!
The disciples missed it
It is reported in Matthew 17:22-23, that while they were in Galilee, He told the disciples very clearly that He was going to die and be raised again on the third day.
Why didn’t they ask Him more questions — they seemed somehow to miss it.
They became very sorrowful, as if they understood that He was going to die, but they seemed to not comprehend that He was claiming that on the third day, after His death, He would rise from the dead.
Is that why the disciples weren’t at the tomb on the third day, eagerly awaiting this promised resurrection?
They didn’t understand, therefore they didn’t believe!
Argument 1: Why leave the grave clothes behind?
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemas took Jesus down from the Cross; wrapped Him in linen cloths laden with 100 pounds of spices — of myrrh and aloe. And as Matthew relates in Matthew 27:62-66, they left Him in the secured tomb, strongly guarded by the Jewish guards.
When Jesus’ body disappeared from the tomb on the Sunday morning, which was the third day, the rumour was spread that His body was stolen!
Matthew 28:1-4 tells us that there was an earthquake, as the sealing-stone was rolled away by an angel. This was the second earthquake in three days. There was one at Jesus’ death on the Friday — according to Matthew 27 — and now one on the Sunday morning. The guards were terrified!
Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and finds the body missing.
It is still dark — she runs to call the men. Peter and John race to the tomb.
Peter goes into the tomb and what does he find? That the grave clothes were left behind and the handkerchief that had covered the face neatly folded and put to one side.
The left-behind grave clothes must have looked rather like a plaster of paris cocoon. They had been filled with 100 pounds of spices.
I want to ask you a question, if someone stole the body — as was rumoured — why leave the grave clothes behind?
Argument 2: Appearances after His resurrection
As was reported in Acts 1:3, Jesus made many appearances after His resurrection — and so, by many infallible proofs revealed His resurrection from the dead.
The most significant was to the disciples on Resurrection Sunday. When they thought that they were seeing a spirit, He said, it is I, handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have, I am flesh and bones. — Luke 24:39.
And then He appeared to Thomas, the following Sunday. The Thomas, who wouldn’t believe until he had put his finger into the nail prints in His Hands and his hand into Jesus’ side.
When He did, he cried out: ‘My Lord and my God!’
Afterwards, He appeared to His own unbelieving brother, James — a very practical man — who only believed that His brother was the Messiah, after His resurrection. Then over 500 people, at one time, saw the resurrected Christ.
The resurrection transformed these believers’ lives. They believed in it so strongly that they were prepared to die for the sake of the ‘Gospel’.
Argument 3: How could a dead man send the Holy Spirit?
My third argument, in favour of the resurrection of Christ is this: the Day of Pentecost.
Pentecost is the day that the Jews celebrate the time when God gave them the Law on Mt Sinai, 50 days after leaving Egypt and passing successfully through the Red Sea on dry ground. At this stage, this had happened approximately 1 500 years before.
Many Jews from around the known world at that time were in Jerusalem celebrating this festival – Pentecost.
Jesus had told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until God sent His Holy Spirit.
On this very special day of Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus had risen from the dead and 10 days after His ascension, 120 believers were in the upper room waiting for what Jesus had promised — the Holy Spirit — and suddenly there came a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire sat on each one of them and they began to speak in other tongues as the Lord gave them utterance.
The Holy Spirit had come. How could a hidden, dead man send the Holy Spirit?
Another lie was: Jesus hadn’t died at all, that He had gone into a faint and that He was in hiding.
The unbelieving Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves on either side of Jesus to cause the death, but didn’t break Jesus’ legs, because they said that He was dead already.
How could an ordinary man send the Holy Spirit?
To push this a little further, the question remains, how could an ordinary man — living or dead — send the Holy Spirit?
The fearful Peter was dramatically and instantly changed, by the arrival of the Holy Spirit. After his infilling, he stood and preached and 3 000 people came to Salvation.
I asked you earlier, ‘What if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? How would it affect your life?’
I ask you now, what if Jesus did rise from the dead?
I believe that He did! I think that in this simple way, we have proved it.
What if Jesus did rise from the dead? How is it going affect your life from now on?