He is Alive (2-20-15)
Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into 1 Corinthians 15
1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”
Jesus Christ died for sins (that was Friday) and was raised from the dead (on Sunday) all “in accordance with the Scriptures”! In other words, just as it was foretold it would be. In 1 Corinthians 15 after clarifying the Gospel of Jesus and testifying he has indeed risen from the dead, Paul argues that without the resurrection we have nothing!
1 Corinthians 15:12-19: “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep (dead) in Christ have perished. 19If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
These are incredibly strong words that highlight the centrality of the resurrection for the Gospel to be intact!
The Evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus
- THE GUARDS
Matthew 27:62-66: “The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.”
The Roman Guard was the elite SOLDIER of the day. Historians say, “For these elite soldiers, it was punishment by death for not fulfilling their duty” (They were stripped and burned alive). The Latin word used to describe the “The Roman Guard” in this text was koustodia. To us, this is translated as “Custodian” which in that day was a special “Fighting unit of Soldiers.”
In Acts 12:3-4 we see a more clear insight into what a Roman Guard looked like: “to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each.” So, at the tomb, they would sleep in shifts, staggered as they slept! So the protection of a Roman Guard was a serious and professional deal. So for Jesus’ body to be taken/stolen under such professional guard would have been impossible for man.
THE HUGE STONE
Mark 16:1-4: “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (They were surely very emotional and realized their lack of planning because they realized they would require others to roll the stone away.) It continues: “4And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back–it was very large.”
Years ago, Engineers from Georgia Tech were in Israel researching the type of stone that would have covered the typical 4-5 foot opening to a tomb. They concluded that the stone would have been in the neighborhood of 2-2½ tons. So when the girls observed the stone as very large.. they weren’t joking!
In Mark 16, the Greek word to describe how it was rolled was anakulio, which translates to: “to roll up a slope or incline.” This makes sense because many times, the way they got this massive stone to go into place was to have it wedged up a hill, then when the time came, they pulled the wedge and it would roll into place.
In John Chapter 20, a different Greek word, Airo, is used to describe the stone being moved. This word is translated to: “to pick something up and carry it away.” So, basically it is saying it appeared as if the stone had been picked up and moved.
So, from these observations we can see that for there to have been “funny business,” they would have had to move a two ton stone up an incline, possibly having picked it up and moved it, over and/or around the Roman elite, possibly numbering 16 men.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE DISCIPLES
Now, in my opinion, the greatest proof of the Resurrection is the eyewitness accounts. Eyewitness accounts have always been used to validate the accuracy of any published report; to prove the events at a crime scene; to prove a story true!
Go back to 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 with me. Paul says, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”
The biggest evidence we have that Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead is the account, the reaction and the changed lives of those who were most devoted to him!
Understand that Jesus did not appear to just a limited, hidden, controversial few, He appeared to more than 500 people, and on one occasion, 500 at one time! So, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is basically saying, “If you don’t believe me ask these people who are still around!”
If we gave each of those 500 eyewitnesses 6 minutes on the stand to give their account we would have 50 hours of what would be the most lopsided trial in history!
ADDITIONALY, The witnesses were not stereotyped in one similar way
Mary saw Jesus in the morning & the travelers to Emmaus in the afternoon & the apostles at night.
- Some saw him outside & some indoors.
- The reactions were varying in emotion as some were overwhelmed, frightened, questioning and some worshipped him.
If that is still not enough, the fact that Jesus’ resurrection transformed these eye witnesses and propelled them to live utterly different lives, should be.
Before the death and resurrection of Christ the Disciples were cowards; they were scared and timid. Peter went so far as to deny even knowing Jesus (3 different times) when the heat got turned up. Yet, after the resurrection Peter became a man of courage and he was empowered to dedicate his every day to the sharing of the Good News of Jesus. To the point that he was killed for his faith! The Disciples were transformed!
Now one might ask the question: Was there any personal gain for the disciples to live the radical lives they lives after Jesus’ resurrection? Let’s consider the two biggest things our flesh looks to for personal gain: 1. Money 2. Fame
Was there financial gain? NOPE, they lived in poverty and traveled with nothing.
- Was there fame? No, they were persecuted, stoned, jailed, cast out and most were murdered for their faith!
There was, and continues to be no motive apart from the truth that true followers of Christ continually without explanation pursue the good news of Jesus in the face of major turmoil and death and do not recant! Why? Because He lives! Because He is God!
THE TOMB WAS NOT ENSHRINED
This is a great circumstantial evidence. Man’s practice is to memorialize and remember someone when they die. This is what we do at a funeral service: we light candles, and sign songs, and tell stories to remember the one that has passed away! We get on planes and go to the grave to be as near to the body as we can. Understand: in the day of Jesus there were no less than 50 tombs of holy men that had been memorialized or enshrined.
But Jesus does not have this kind of place of memorial. There is no place to go see his tomb and remember Him. The greatest man who ever lived, the most influential figure in all of human history didn’t have a funeral. WHY? Because he was not there! There was not enough time to put together his wake.
If Jesus’ legacy ended with his burial, the people who once followed him passionately would have slowly and surely hung up their hat at his tomb. We still would today. It would have been marked to this day as one of the most important tombs where one of the greatest men that ever lived was buried. Why? Because that’s where it would have ended!
But it did not end there! There was no reason to go write a poem, sing a song, light a candle, or have an Elvis or Kurt Cobain style remembrance! They didn’t enshrine this great man at his tomb…because Jesus wasn’t there!!!! He was alive!
Hear me today in the deepest places of your heart.
Let it embolden you and propel you forward in courageous ministry as you Soldier for Him!
He is ALIVE. He is well. He is eternal. He is victorious.
His spirit has been poured out to all who repent and trust in him.
The resurrection is the FACT around which our faith and our hope is built! Too often the resurrection of Christ is a doctrine of secondary importance. I love how Mathew Barnett emphasizes the Resurrection: “It is neglected and forgotten until Easter comes around each year. The same disregard for the resurrection is seen in how we share the gospel. Christians tend to share the gospel as if Jesus died on the cross and that is the end of the story. We make a zip line from the crucifixion to ‘repent and believe,’ The cross is central to our salvation, but what God accomplished there is incomplete unless the tomb is empty on Sunday morning. Therefore, the resurrection of Christ is vital ‘for us and our salvation.’”
Why is the Resurrection of Jesus Good News?
It is good news because Christ secured our victory over sin and death. Which means we are risen from the enslavement of our sin to enjoy the greatest prize we could ever know: GOD, himself!
While we are still here on earth, suffering for his name’s sake, we are sorrowful but always rejoicing. Why? Because we have been reconciled to the risen King. This is what Jesus means when he says, in John 11:25: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.”
The resurrection is God’s “Amen!” to Jesus’ words, “It is finished.” The resurrection is the Church’s launching pad unto ministry and mission and worship to make much of his name! Because God rose Jesus from the dead, who can be against us? We are more than conquers in Christ!
Oh death where is your victory, Oh Death where is your sting! HE IS ALIVE!
By His grace and for His glory,
Joshua “Shepherd” Kirstine
Soldiers for Jesus MC