Easter 2024 MDWK Lesson: The Historicity of the Resurrection

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What you believe is based on what you think is true.
Matthew 28:1 NLT
1 Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.
These were both followers of Jesus.
They were going to anoint Jesus body, which is something that they would do back then.
But little did they know that when they got to the tomb, they would discover the truth that would change human history: the empty tomb
Matthew 28:2–4 NLT
2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. 3 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
This is some pretty scary sounding stuff that is going on!
We’ve got scared Mary’s and scared guards
And an angel is there hanging out.
And what does he say?
Let’s check it out:
Matthew 28:5–7 NLT
5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. 7 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
Here, Mary and Mary are the first to hear it; Jesus has risen from the dead
And the Angels tell them to tell the other disciples, and that Jesus Himself will meet up with them soon.
And the Mary’s see Jesus even sooner than they expected!
Matthew 28:8–10 NLT
8 The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. 9 And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
You can only imagine how they must have felt to meet Jesus there!
We know from other Gospel accounts that they got to the other disciples, told them, and then Peter and John ran to the tomb to confirm the story
And there is one last element of this passage that we will read before dissecting all of it.
Matthew 28:11–15 NLT
11 As the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. 12 A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. 13 They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ 14 If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” 15 So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.
The scribes came up with a lie, and they paid the soldiers to spread it
The scripture says that it was being shared back then, and this lie is being told today as well.
And now that we have looked at this passage as a whole, there are a couple of things worth mentioning.
First, it is significant that the first witnesses to the resurrection were women.
Why is that?
Well, unfortunately, back then, the testimonies of women weren’t highly valued.
This is what we call SEXISM, and it is bad.
But it does help us see something very important.
Let’s say that the resurrection story was made up.
… Why would they choose two women to be the witnesses?
It would have been seen as more credible if it were men
So it is strange that they just “unlikely witnesses” in this case.
Second, don’t miss that in verses 11-15 the guards don’t deny that Jesus body was missing from the tomb.
If Jesus’ followers were just making up that Jesus rose from the dead, they could have just presented the body and put an end to that.
But that is not what they do.
And all of this leads us to answering the ultimate question: Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
The truth is, if He didn’t, then we are wasting our time.
So did He?
Let’s start with what is most obvious first.
Namely, it is undoubtable, even among most non-Christian scholars, that around 2,000 years ago, Christianity was formed nearly overnight.
And all of the sudden, you have hundreds of people starting to say that Jesus rose from the dead, even though they knew that they could die for saying that.
And now, the result of all of that is that 1/3 of the world’s population that belies that Jesus rose from the dead.
How do you explain this apart from the empty tomb?
So, with this in mind, we are going to look at some other explanations, while asking ourselves, “which is the most plausible?”
Possible Explanations:
Jesus didn’t die on the cross.
Some people say that Jesus never got on the cross to begin with
And others say that Jesus was put on the cross, but they mistakenly thought that he died and buried Him.
But this assumes that, somehow, Jesus survived...
Six trials
No sleep
A brutal scourging
Thorns thrust into his head
Nails thrust into His hands and feet
Being on a cross for hours
Having a spear thrust into his side
Being wrapped in grave clothes and put in a tomb with a large stone at the entrance, guarded by Roman soldiers
I think that, in a lot of ways, it takes more faith to believe that Jesus didn’t die on the cross than to believe that He did.
So this view can be tossed out
And, in fact, most non-Christian scholars completely agree with the fact that Jesus died on the cross
So we can move on.
Possible Explanations:
Jesus didn’t die on the cross.
Jesus’ tomb was not empty
This is sometimes called the “wrong tomb theory.”
And yeah, the general idea is that the Mary’s went to the wrong tomb by accident.
But then, when Peter and John run to the tomb to confirm it, then we have to believe that they went to the wrong tomb, too.
And what about the guards?
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