The Resurrection of Jesus



John Hoole – April 13, 2014





At my next birthday I will be 74 years old.  That means I have lived almost 38.921 million minutes.  With so great a number of “moments” in life, how many of them were genuinely pivotal in determining how I lived my life.  How many of those moments altered my course and set a new direction for my future.  The fact is, for all of us, only a small handful of incidents ultimately decide whether we will experience personal fulfillment or failure.


One moment in time can impact our future.  That is true not only of an individual, but also for collective groups of people.


•  One decision in times of war can alter the course of history for a nation as well as individuals.


•  The split second of a natural disaster or accident can alter a life or family forever.


•  A catastrophic moment happening to a child can influence the kind of adult he or she will become.


•  The course of your life and mine, as well as an entire country can be made by one moment of decision making.


I want to speak today about 3 moments in time that changed all of earth’s history.  Their importance is evidenced by the fact that everywhere on the planet, people acknowledge those three moments – whether they are people of faith or not.


Each moment has impacted all history on earth.


•  Everyone acknowledges Christmas (Birth of Christ)


Galatians 4:4 KJV


4       But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,


God stepped into the human arena in a single moment of time, and suddenly, in that moment of time, God impacts the planet and everyone observes it.


•  Everyone recognizes the Cross (Christ’s death).


The second moment that affected the whole earth is seen by the fact that everyone recognizes the Cross.  People all over the earth at least understand the cross to be a sign of mercy or rescue.  It is also a symbol in a cemetery of death.  Jesus, in a moment of time uttered one Greek word – TETELESTAI -  which, in English, means, “It is finished.”


John 19:30 NKJV


30     So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.


         In that moment of time, Christ provided the full requirement for every person’s sin. Only now could he give pardon for our sins.


Sin has always been something which creeps in and makes us less than what we know we ought to be.  Only by Christ’s shed blood can we be set free.  In a moment of time, God can remove all sinful offenses.  The sin that holds us can be finished and gone because one day He said, “It is finished.”


•  On Easter (Christ’s Resurrection).


Now, let's turn to the third event that impacted the world.  Each spring, people around the world acknowledge, in some fashion or another, that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead some twenty centuries ago.  Modern society calls it “Easter.”  Hundreds of millions of people around the planet gather to acknowledge this one moment in time.  It occurred at a time when an earthquake shook and a stone rolled away from the entrance to a burial cave.


Matthew 28:1-2 NKJV


1       Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

2       And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.


                   The moment in time I am talking about now is the Resurrection of Jesus.


Last week, we studied the trial and the crucifixion of Christ.  Today, we turn our attention to what the Bible says concerning the Resurrection of Christ.  No one ever walks away from crucifixion.  But Christ’s death on the cross was different from all the others who were executed in this manner.  It was NOT the end of His story.  It was only the beginning.


Allow me to make two statements that I believe will show how the death and resurrection must go together.


1.      The greatest demonstration of God’s love for mankind is seen at the cross (Romans 5:8).


2.      The greatest demonstration of God’s power is seen at Christ’s resurrection (Romans 1:4).


Something happened almost 2,000 years ago that changed the course of history.  All history is divided into the time before Christ (B.C.) and after Christ (A.D.).  That something was so dramatic it completely changed 11 men’s lives, so that all but one died a martyr’s death.  This happened, and has changed both earth’s history and earth’s future.


Christ’s resurrection makes Him totally unique and without comparison.  No other religion claims that their leader and founder arose from the dead except for Christianity.




Let’s again read Matthew 28:1 NKJV


1       Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.


                   The other Mary is probably Mary, the mother of James.



This was very early on Sunday.  John 20:1 says it was still dark.




The stone had been rolled away from the entrance.


Secondly, the Bible tells us that an angel rolled the very large stone from the entrance and sat on it (Matthew 28:2).




Let’s continue in Matthew 28.


Matthew 28:5-6 NKJV


5       But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

6       He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.


“He is not here” means that at this very early hour, the resurrection had already occurred.


What if I were to tell you there were absolutely no eyewitnesses of the Resurrection?  I have read most of the books written by C.S. Lewis.  In one of them, he makes a comment that brought me up short.  He said, “The New Testament says nothing about the Resurrection of Christ.”  I looked at that again, wondering if there was a typographical error in the book.


Then I realized what he was saying.  Nobody was sitting inside the tomb and saw the body start to move, stand up, take the linen off, fold them, and leave.  It doesn’t appear that Jesus needed the stone to be rolled away to leave the tomb.  I believe the angel rolled away the stone for our benefit, not his.


In each of the gospel accounts relating the early hours of the Resurrection Sunday morning we are told that women came to the tomb and found the stone rolled away.  And an angel speaks to them saying, “He is not here, for He is risen.”  I am so glad the angel did not just say, “He is not here.”


I remember when 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins, one of four girls who in 1963 were murdered.  It occurred in Birmingham, Alabama.  For years family members kept returning to the grave to pray and leave flowers.  35 years later, in 1998 they made the decision to disinter the deceased for reburial at another cemetery.  When workers were sent to dig up the body, however, they returned with a shocking discovery.  The grave was empty.


Understandably, family members were terribly distraught.  Hampered by poorly kept records, cemetery officials scrambled to figure out what had happened.  Several possibilities were raised, the primary one being that her tombstone had been erected in the wrong place.


In the midst of determining what had happened, one explanation was never proposed.  Nobody suggested that young Addie Mae had been resurrected to walk the earth again.  Why?  Because by itself an empty grave does not a resurrection make.


The angel did not just say, “He is not here.”  He added, “He is risen!”  A missing body is not absolute proof of a resurrection.  But if He is really alive again, there would possibly be eye-witnesses who saw him alive.


Did the resurrection actually happen?  Was the tomb of Jesus really empty?  The controversy over these questions has continued from then until now.  Critics of Christianity and even some Christians do not realize the immensity of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There is an enormous amount of historical, literary and even legal testimony supporting its validity.


The historical fact of the resurrection is the very basis for the truth of Christianity.  To put it simply, Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  One cannot be true without the other.


When Buddha, Confucius or Mohammed died, it changed nothing of their religions.  That’s because their religions are based solely on what their founders taught.  But for Christianity, what Christ taught is so much tied to who He is and whether He is who He said He was.


The importance of the Resurrection to Christianity is identified in 1 Corinthians 15:13-17 NIV


13     If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.

14     And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

15     More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.

16     For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.

17     And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.


I mentioned a moment ago that there is an immense amount of evidence to support the Resurrection.  The resurrection is in many ways the most basic and most substantiated of all Bible miracles.  I want to talk briefly about three small portions of evidence that are available.


1.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached in the very city where the resurrection occurred.


This fact is very important in any discussion about the actuality of the Resurrection.  The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach Christ raised from the dead.  They went right back to the city of Jerusalem where, if what they were teaching was false, their message would have been disproved.  A 15-minute walk from the center of Jerusalem to the tomb would have confirmed or disproved the allegations of the apostles.


One reason for attesting the historical reliability of the resurrection is that the accounts of the resurrection were circulated and preached in the very city (Jerusalem) where they could easily have been confronted with contrary evidence, if it existed.


         In 1 Corinthians 15:6, the Apostle Paul states that most of those who had seen the resurrected Jesus were still alive, and could be questioned as to the accuracy of what the disciples were preaching.


Tom Anderson, former president of the California Trial Lawyers Association and co-author of the Basic Advocacy Manual of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, says:


“Let’s assume that Christ did not rise from the dead.  Let’s assume that the written account of His appearances to hundreds of people are false.  I want to pose a question.  With an event so well publicized, don’t you think  that it’s reasonable that one historian, one eyewitness, one antagonist would record for all times that he had seen Christ’s body [and say], ‘Listen, I saw that tomb – it was not empty!  Look, I was there, Christ did not rise from the dead.  As a matter of fact, I saw Christ’s body.’  The silence of history is deafening when it comes to testimony against the resurrection.”.


When those who wrote the New Testament argued their case for the gospel, they appealed to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection.  Had there been any tendency to depart from the actual facts in any material respect, there were plenty of hostile witnesses in the audience that would have corrected them.


2.  Jewish Converts to Christ in Jerusalem


The second piece of important evidence answers the question, Who made up most of the early coverts to Christianity?  The 3000 converts on the Day of Pentecost, and the thousands later in Acts 4, were almost all Jews.  They were either residents of, or visitors to, Jerusalem.  And the heart, the very core, of the message of this new way of life was the resurrection of Jesus.




Not easily at all.  They tenaciously hang on to their rituals and practices and beliefs.  For these early Jewish converts, the evidence for the resurrection must have been extremely strong to convince so many thousands of Jews to a way of life that was so foreign to what their religious leaders had taught them all their lives.  People do not give up their inbred religious customs very easily.


The Jewish leaders knew they were losing thousands of followers to this new sect all because of a claim that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.  Each one of those early Jewish converts was a testimony of the proof of the empty tomb, for the simple reason that they would never have become disciples of Christ if that tomb still contained the body of Jesus.


No, something happened almost 2000 years ago that literally changed the course of history.  That something was an empty tomb!


3.  The evidence of eye-witnesses to Christ being alive


We come to the third piece of evidence.  One of the greatest evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fact that there were so many people who personally saw Him alive.


Professor Merrill C. Tenney of Wheaton College writes that:


“It is noteworthy that these appearances are not stereotyped.  No two of them are exactly alike.  The appearances to Mary Magdalene occurred in early morning; that to the travelers to Emmaus in the afternoon; and to the apostles in the evening, probably after dark.  He appeared to Mary in the open air.  Mary was alone when she saw Him; the disciples were together in a group, and Paul records that on one occasion He appeared to more that 500 at one time.


The reactions also were varied.  Mary was overwhelmed with emotion; the disciples were frightened; Thomas was obstinately incredulous when told of the Lord’s resurrection, but worshipped Him when He manifested Himself.  Each occasion had its own peculiar atmosphere and characteristics, and revealed some different quality of the risen Lord.”  (McDowell; Page 72, ibid)


Another factor is that not all who saw Jesus alive after His crucifixion were friendly to His teachings.  They may have even been hostile towards Him.  Consider James, the brother of Jesus, who, until he personally saw the risen Christ, was not a follower of Christ. Paul, who was certainly an opponent of Christianity, saw Christ alive on at least three occasions.


1 Corinthians 9:1 NKJV


1       Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?


And then we have Paul saying in 1 Corinthians 15:8, “last of all he appeared to me also.”


Let’s read the verses preceding this one.  Do you remember what 1 Corinthians 15 is called?  It is called the resurrection chapter of the Bible.  And it speaks not only of Christ’s resurrection, but also ours.


1 Corinthians 15:1-8 NIV


1       Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.

2       By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3       For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

4       that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

5       and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

6       After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

7       Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,

8       and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.


This is an incredible testimony of Jesus being alive.  We are presented with the names of some of those who saw Christ alive.  In many of these appearance, there were multiple people who could corroborate the fact of a risen Christ.  And Paul says in verse 6 that most of those who had seen Christ after his death were still alive, and could be questioned.


Notice that James is mentioned among this list of eye-witnesses.  This is James, the half-brother of Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph.  Prior to the resurrection, James had not been a believer of Christ being the Jewish Messiah.  You can read that in John 5:7.  What changed him to a believer?  He became an eye-witness of the risen Lord.  He would later write the book of James, and would become the leader of the church in Jerusalem.


I have shown you thus far three evidences that corroborate the Resurrection of Christ.  But there is so much more evidence for this event that happened nearly 2,000 years ago.


Having mentioned just a few powerful evidences of the veracity of the Resurrection, someone might ask, “what difference does that make for me personally?”  What is the significance of this event for believers like you and me?  I want to give you eight thoughts that reveal the importance of believing in the Resurrection.


1.  In the Resurrection of Jesus Christ we see the clear demonstration of the power of the true God.


Ephesians 1:19-21 tells us that it is the power of our heavenly Father that raised Jesus Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand.


2.  The resurrection proves that Jesus is God.


Romans 1:4  (NIV)


4       and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God [how?] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Jews crucified Jesus Christ because, to them, he was blaspheming, when he said that he was the Son of God, equal to the Father.  The Resurrection demonstrates the truth that He is who He said He was.


3.  Our salvation depends of our faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


And Romans 10:9 says that one cannot be a Christian without believing the resurrection of Christ.


9       That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.


4.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates to us that all the teachings of Jesus Christ are true.


It demonstrates everything Jesus said was true.  This includes His promises, such as found in John 6:40.


John 6:40 NKJV


40     And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."


                   The teaching of Jesus concerning His person, His work, heaven, hell and the future are all true.


5.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ secured our justification.


The resurrection proves God the Father has accepted Christ’s sacrifice in our place on the cross.  Jesus gave His life as a ransom for all of us.  As a sinless substitute, His death paid in full the debt of our sins.


Romans 4:25 NIV


25     He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.


6.  Our own resurrection depends completely on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


1 Thessalonians 4:14 NKJV


14     For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.


John 14:19 tells us: “Because I live, you will live also.”


          There are so many more passages that teach the same, such as in 2 Corinthians 4.


John 6:40, 44 NKJV


40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Rejected by His Own


44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.


7.  The power for our Christian life today is the power of His resurrection.


Romans 6:4 NKJV


4       Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.


How can we live this Christian life?  We can live it by the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.


8.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates that this Jesus Christ is going to be appointed judge of all the wicked people in the world.


Acts 17:31 NKJV


31     because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."


All who have rejected the claims of Christ will one day be raised up from the dead by Christ Himself.  And He will be their Judge.


Thus far we have shown the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We have also shown the importance of believing in the resurrection.


In the oldest book of the Bible, the book of Job, this patriarch asked the question “If a man die, will he live again?”  (Job 14:14). This is where the importance of Christ’s resurrection becomes so apparent.


The apostle Paul states, in 2 Corinthians 4:14:


14   …we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.


In Paul’s first letter to this same church we read, in 1 Corinthians 6:14,  “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.”


All of this indicates that death is not the end of it all.  A person does not cease to exist when their body dies.  So many people think we are in the land of the living, on our way to the land of the dying.  But the reality is that we who belong to Christ are currently in the land of the dying on our way to the land of the living.


Mary Magdalene returns to the garden and stands weeping outside the tomb.  Suddenly, Jesus appears and speaks to her (John 20:15).  In the darkness, she does not recognize Him.  Something happens next that Mary never could have expected!  He calls her by name …“Mary.”  She immediately knows it’s Him when she hears His voice.  She had witnessed His violent death on the cross.  She watched as His body, which had been beaten beyond recognition, was laid in the tomb.  Now, she sees the risen Lord in all His glory, and He has chosen to make His first resurrection appearance to her.  She had come looking for a body, but she has found a living, risen Savior.


Jesus knows the names of all of us.  And He has called everyone by name to Himself.  The call is to say, “Yes!” to Him and to put our faith in Him as Savior.  Listen carefully, and you will hear His voice calling you by name, even now.


If you have not accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, today is the day to do it.  I mentioned at the beginning of this lesson that I have lived nearly 39 million minutes.  I also mentioned that only a few of them changed the course of my life.  One of those moments was when I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord.  When you accept Him as your Savior, that will be a moment that will immediately change the course of your life, as well as change your eternal destiny.


The Word of God makes it clear that in order to receive salvation, we must believe in Christ’s resurrection from the grave.


Romans 10:9 NKJV


9       That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.


If you sense God calling you by name, in the same way He called Mary by name at the tomb, you can respond to Him in a prayer something like this:


         “Dear God, I believe Christ’s death on the cross was for my sins.  I believe You raised Him from the dead to give me hope.  I confess my sins, and ask for your forgiveness.  Come into my life and be my Savior.  In Your Name, Amen.”



Let’s always remember the words of this old hymn:]


         Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes;

                   He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign.

                            He arose!  He arose!  Hallelujah!  Christ arose!