Easter Sunday 2021 (Evening)

Pastor Matt Davis
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Examining the Evidence of the Resurrection

Pastor Matt Davis – Resurrection Sunday 21 – Luke 24:1-19 Introduction Today we celebrate one of my two favorite holidays, which are, Christmas and Easter. Christmas morning, celebrated only a few short months ago, we celebrated our Lord entering into the world He created. Today, a wonderful morning, we celebrate our Lord who victoriously rose from the grave. Today comes the greatest and most important day in the history of the Earth, the day the victory itself was secured. The Bible begins, “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth,” and the end of that first chapter, we are told, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.1” All was perfect and well with the world until a slippery serpent, the devil, entered the garden and tempted Eve. Since this time, all men born of women have inherited the curse of sin and death from our first ancestors. In the same story of the great fall of mankind, there was the first prophecy of God’s plan of redemption. Genesis 3:15, God says, “15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.2” Foretelling of the cross, the entirety of the Old Testament points to the God who would come and give His life for His creation. The story of God’s perfect love and redemption of mankind reaches its climax in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Three days ago (in the Biblical period of the event), a wicked world and generation gathers together beneath pilate, who, desiring to release of Jesus, hears from the crowd, “ And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us 1 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ge 1:31). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. 2 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ge 3:15). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. Barabbas: 19 (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) 20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. 21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. 22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. 23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. 24 And Pilate fgave sentence that it should be as they required. 25 And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.3” “33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.4” From here, we are led into the Easter story, the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the miracle that guaranteed access to salvation for all who would trust in Christ and declare Him Lord over their lives. Beginning in Luke twenty-four, verses one through seven, lets read. Christ Is Not Here VV.1-7 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 5 3 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Lk 23:18–25). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. 4 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Lk 23:33). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. 5 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Lk 24:1–8). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. Upon the first day of the week, Sunday morning, by the way, this is why we worship on Sunday and not Saturday, the women go down to the tomb before the dawn breaks. It is hard to imagine the thoughts in their heads. We have hindsight and the foreknowledge each Easter what has happened and why. They did not. Though His death and resurrection had been foretold to them, they understood not what it meant. Here they are, three days after the death of Jesus, the Messiah, the person they understood was to change the world. Their friend, their companion, their teacher, and their Lord. I find it hard to contemplate the thoughts of these women at this time, as they enter to prepare the body of Christ for the last time. Now as if things could not progress any worse, they women enter the site to find the stone rolled away and the body missing. The scriptures, in verse four, describes them as perplexed. We can imagine the questions going through their minds… “Why? What? How? Who?” This is the first of many great events that happen upon this great day in history. Great is that discovery, the stone rolled away, for not even the grave could hold the Lord in. I want to cry tears of joy just thinking about it, walking up to the tomb, and discovering the empty grave. He did it, just as He said He would. But the women knew not what had happened. They’ve forgotten what Christ had taught. In fairness, think of what they just endured, it is easy to imagine how they could forget. And in their confusion, for the first time, the good news has been preached. Two angels, shining brightly, appear unto the women, and ask simply, “why do you look for Jesus?” Image that! He died, you waited the Sabbath and appear to prepare the body, which is gone, and then your asked, “why do you look for Him?” They continue, “He is not here, He is risen as He said.” Church, let us talk of the surety of the resurrection. Christianity depends upon this fact, if the resurrection did not happen, there is no promise. If the resurrection did happen, then Christ is exactly who He claimed to be and there is promise to those found in Christ. I testify to you today of the surety of the resurrection, which did, for a fact, happen. This is not conjecture, or fairytale, but the reality of what took place this day. At some point, every Christian must ask the question for themselves, and come to the answer, “Did the resurrection happen?” There is no debate among scholars, atheist and Christian, as to the historical Jesus. He did live, that is a fact. There is no debate surrounding the region He came from. There is no debate about the various things we know. However, at some point, you must come to know and believe this fact for yourself. Not because your parents told you. Not because the Bible says it, so it must be. But because you know. How can we know, after all, this is two-thousand years later? We determine this by going back to the starting points, back to the accounts of the Bible. Since we know Jesus existed, we must start there. What do we know of His death, burial and resurrection? Some people claim that Jesus never died, was merely exhausted and fell asleep on the cross, to waken in the tomb and escape. We can easily dispel such a conspiracy by looking to the evidence. In Rome, most people were either beaten, or crucified, but one would not receive of both. The beating Christ took was usually considered punishment of it’s own, and in the majority of cases, would often kill it’s victim anyways. In addition to the beating, the Romans were expert killers and had greatly mastered the skill of death by crucifixion. Roman law demanded that one who took down a man, still alive, could be put to death himself. They were very good at what they did, and a man who already suffered a beating such as Christ certainly would not have survived the cross. In John 19, verses twenty-eight to thirty-seven, the process of Jesus death is explained in detail. The coming of the Sabbath meant those hanging must die before sundown. To speed up the death of the victims, they went forth to break the legs, as to make it impossible to lift oneself for a breath, and suffocate the person. But when they came to Jesus, He was already dead and they put a spear through His rib. Now we know something medically today that they did not know then – When one died, the blood and water in the bodies begin to separate. When they stabbed Jesus in the rib, it is described in the Bible as blood and water pouring forth from the wound. Jesus was most certainly dead. Another common conspiracy put forth to disprove the account is that the Romans stole the body. While they definitely would have had the means, for what motive would they have? They were, after all, the ones who killed Him. In addition, Pilate had ordered the official Roman seal to be placed on the tomb, which brings to the one who breaks it unlawfully, the penalty of death. Some have conspired that perhaps the Jews stole the body. They definitely had the motive. When the disciples came and found the empty grave, they could proclaim the risen Lord and the Jews could then present the body disproving the claim. But two problems with this theory. First, they did not have the means to steal the body, not with several guards posted. And second, why did they never present the body to disprove the resurrection if they did steal the body? These holes in the theory make it unreliable. So if the Romans didn’t do it, and the Jews didn’t do it, that only leaves one other suspect who could have stolen the body. The disciples themselves. But again, they neither had the means, and they did not really have motive. All religious hoaxes have one thing in common. They gain for those behind the hoax money, power, luxury. We see it all the time today in several false churches that prescribe to be teaching sound doctrine. But the disciples had none of that. They didn’t get money for it, in fact, we know them to have lived poorly. If they were given money, they frequently gave it away. They lived without the power of man, without luxury. They were constantly persecuted, and all but John were murdered for this cause. They taught to live without the things of this world because our home is in Heaven. Why would they have gone through all that effort if they knew it was a hoax and they received zero gain from it? We can effectively eliminate the disciples as a suspect, as the evidence does not point to them. While we have discussed all the possible suspects who could steal the body, we left out one important detail. The folded cloth. Robberies are done quickly, get in, get what you came for, get out. The longer you stay, the more chance of something going wrong or getting caught. A robber would not have thought to take time and fold the cloth. This leave left one option, and that option is the resurrection actually took place. Though we were not there, two-thousand years ago, we can still examine the evidence left behind and determine whether the resurrection was likely to happen or not. In addition to the missing body, there were five hundred people who’d seen and talked with Christ, felt His hands and side, and seen Him resurrected. One or two people may have a hallucination, but there is no evidence that five hundred people could all hallucinate the same thing. Immediately after proclaiming the good news, “He is risen,” the angels remind the women of the words of Christ, “The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” The Good News Spreads VV.8-12 8 And they remembered his words, 9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.6 Immediately after, the good news begins to spread. What started as a mournful day, a day to weep and a discover of the missing body had turned into a day of hope, a day of blessings, a day of joy. I love how this passage describes the events, “their words were as idle tales, and they believed them not.” Although Christ had, on many occasions, foretold of His death and resurrection, they were slow to believe and had forgotten the lessons. How easily we forget in what we do not believe. Peter then, ran to the sepulcher. He ran, church. He went with much curiosity and emotion, for he had to see of himself if the Lord be risen or not. Imagine for a moment, if you were in Peter’s shoes, and you entered into the empty tomb and seen the folded cloth. Would that make you reconsider what you’d thought to be true? Well sure, it is easy to ask that question, considering that we cannot enter the tomb to discover the empty grave, but think about that. Peter previously denied Christ three times, and stood confronted with the truth – There was no body. We cannot be there for ourselves, but certainly, we can examine the events and come to a knowledge the same as we do any other event in history we were not around for. As the first to know the Lord is risen indeed went and spread word of the news, we too, who have come to know of the knowledge of the resurrection, are tasked with spreading word. As the women were believed not of the very disciples that walked with Christ, we too must be willing to accept there shall be those who will reject our message as idle tales, as fairytales. But we stand strong, as the first century church did, that our Lord is indeed, risen. 6 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Lk 24:8–12). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. Christ The Stranger VV.13-24 13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.7 The passage is both humorous and serious and the same time. I love the humor of Christ. He has been dead three days, risen today and the masses are still mourning the loss. But Christ appears and walks up to the two men walking, who asks of Jesus, “have you not heard the news?” I love His reply, “what news?” Surely He knew exactly what they were talking about, but I love to find God’s humor that shows He has a personality as any other has. The men, walking, are puzzled over the news they received from the women earlier that day. You can tell from their conversation and the rebuttal in the next passage they had neither believed the resurrection, but they had expected that Jesus was He which should have redeemed Israel. In this is an important two fold revelation – The Jews crucified Christ because they missed what the prophets foretold of His ministry. He was not what they expected Him 7 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Lk 24:13–24). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. to be. Their own expectations, derived from missing the message of the prophets, led them to slay an innocent and Holy person. The men discuss here, “we had trusted Him as the one,” as if He had let them down, not realizing they were, first, talking to the very person, and second, that He was exactly as the prophets of old declared. He came to redeem Israel and the world, but first, from sin. The second part of the revelation is people today, who often refuse to follow God because He does not fit the description they think He should be. The incredible thing about following God is trusting that His ways are the correct ways, even when they don’t align with our thoughts or perception of how it ought to be. We cast our ways aside and follow God. They explain to Christ all the events that He endured, calling Him a stranger. Do you find it interesting that they recognized Him not? For even Mary did not recognize Christ at first, not until He spoke to her. The disciples on the shoreline did not recognize Christ at first, and John, in Revelation, did not recognize Christ. Christ is now Christ glorified, in a glorified body and presence. I love what Pastor James Smith says on this, “No scientists were ever more interested in any discovery than these two men were in the report that “Jesus is risen.” How could it be otherwise, when, so to speak, the whole of their capital for time and eternity was sunk in this business.8” OT Foretold VV.25-29 25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they 8 Smith, J., & Lee, R. (1971). Handfuls on Purpose for Christian Workers and Bible Students, Series I–XIII (five-volume edition, Vol. 5, p. 225). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 9 Jesus then rebuked them for being slow to believe and instructs them in the prophets, beginning with Moses. What is cool, and we won’t do it today, but if you go through the Old Testament, it is full of prophecies regarding the death and resurrection of Christ. In Genesis alone, there is the prophecy in chapter three, all of chapter five, the genealogy that no one likes to read is a prophecy, and the great flood account, the bow in the sky pointing towards God, is yet another prophecy. That is three in just the first eleven chapters of the Bible. Later in Genesis there is yet a foreshadow of the cross when Abraham is commanded to sacrifice His son Isaac, and is blessed when God withholds him. Throughout every book in the Old Testament, you can find Christ, a prophecy of Christ, or a foreshadow of what is to happen. It was missed by the early church until it was explained to them, but we are the luxury of looking back on the completed works. Conclusion Today is a great day in history. A day that started out as weeping and mourning, turned to miracle and resurrection. Christ died for the ones He came to save, was buried, and rose again to life on the third day. This day, two-thousand years ago, the good news was finally proclaimed, “He is not here, He is risen!” What words of joy that remain until this very day. Though this is nearly two-thousand years later, we can still examine the evidence and we can accept the evidence on it’s own merits. While the resurrection is a miracle indeed, it cannot be denied. Those who refuse to accept the evidence on the merits of the evidence usually do so because it means they must change the way they live. They will try to deflect the situation, “if it is true, why are there so many churches, or why is the world still a bad place?” But this is literally deflection, the reality is, they don’t want the supernatural or a God to exist, because it means changing their life. 9 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Lk 24:25–29). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. Application In our application portion of todays message, I want to focus on the implications of the resurrection, what this means. 1. If Christ truly rose from the grave, then He is exactly who He claimed to be. Christ claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed to be the Messiah. He claimed to be divine. Because Christ rose from the grave and is exactly who He says, it also means that He is trustworthy, and that His ways are greater than our ways, that we should follow Him even when contradicts our own perceptions. Peter argued the same in Acts 4:19, “19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.10” This occurs when the “theologians” and experts of the law were commanded the disciples to not speak in the name of Jesus. They were the experts, they knew why Christ couldn’t be the Messiah for any various reasons. However, as Peter puts it, we have seen Him resurrected, so regardless of what you say, we know He is the Messiah. So be it right to listen to you, or to God? And here we come back to the same crossroads, where many refuse to examine the evidence on its merits, because of this reality. If Christ rose from the grave, then He is who He claims to be. That means everything I like doing that Christ says is wrong, is indeed, wrong. 2. The second implication of the resurrection is the past no longer defines who we are. Those in Christ are defined by their new birth and their identity in Him. While our past may have condemned us, the death and resurrection of Christ saves us. I love what Paul once said of our new identities, in 1 Cor 6:9-11, “9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither nfornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor pabusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor 10 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ac 4:19). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.11” And such, WERE, some of you. We are not defined by our past! We are defined by our identity in Christ. That is what is so great about the resurrection, our hope is not in what we can hope to do or obtain, but is found in Christ alone, based on what He has already accomplished! Here is the difference between the “I hope” salvation and the “I know so” salvation. Those who don’t know Christ can only hope to have salvation. They only hope to enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who know Christ know they have salvation. They know they have citizenship in the Kingdom of God. 3. The last implication of the resurrection is that our future is secure. Christ rose from the dead, for not even the grave could hold Him down. If He rose from the grave, that is evidence thereof that His payment for our sins was acceptable in the eyes of God. I have a story from Pastor J.D. Greear, that he gave regarding the surety of the resurrection, “● One night her fairy godmother shows up and gives her a dress and a pumpkin carriage and she goes to the ball where she experiences the love of the Prince. And it all seems to be how it should be, but then the clock strikes midnight, and she is swept back into her old situation. ● And all that is left of the night are the glass slippers—she has one, and the Prince has one. ● The best part of the story is that the Prince never forgets her, and he won’t rest until he’s found her and brought her back to the palace. So he goes house to house looking for her until he finds her. And I’m watching that, and I think, the Resurrection is like that glass slipper. (I’m in a theatre with about 150 8–10 year old girls; the only way I can keep my sanity is to 11 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 1 Co 6:9–11). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. theologize)—we live in a world under the influence of a wicked stepmother, the devil; we’re oppressed by her two wicked daughters, the world and our flesh, who constantly beat us up and tell us we are worthless. But in the gospel we meet the Prince. And now we have the shoe—the Resurrection that is God’s promise of what he is making us into and that he will return for us! What do you when the stepmothers or stepsisters treat you poorly, or make you feel worthless? You defy their lies with that glass slipper. You tell yourself in the Resurrection that this dirty dungeon is not your home; this wicked stepmother and her sisters are not your family; this drab existence is not your future. You are loved by the Prince; cherished by him; and he is coming back for you.12” One last comment, from Wayne-A Lamb on the security of our future, “In 100 Meditations on Hope Wayne-A. Lamb writes: In the midst of a storm, a little bird was clinging to the limb of a tree, seemingly calm and unafraid. As the wind tore at the limbs of the tree, the bird continued to look the storm in the face, as if to say, “Shake me off; I still have wings.” Because of Christ’s resurrection, each Christian can look the experience of death in the face and confidently say, “Shake me off; I still have wings. I’ll live anyway.”13” Invitation When Jesus died on the cross, His final words were, “It is finished,” literally, in the Greek, “teleo,” which literally means, “It is paid,” or “the debt is discharged.” So what is paid? Our sin debt has been paid and the resurrection of Christ is the recite by which we know it has been paid. His dying words were, it is finished, I have settled the debt. John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world, He loved us, that He gave His only begotten Son, which means, gave Him to the death, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish, but receive everlasting life. 12 Greear, J. D. (2017). Easter at the Summit. In J. D. Greear Sermon Archive. Durham, NC: The Summit Church. 13 Larson, C. B. (2002). 750 engaging illustrations for preachers, teachers & writers (p. 457). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. Paul tells us that to be saved, you must confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. So I challenge you today, I encourage you, to examine the evidence of the cross, and the empty grave, the resurrection, based on their merits. Faith says I don’t have all the answers, but you do. I will encourage you today, if you have doubts, to doubt your doubts. Because let me tell you something, God loves you. Yes, I mean you – I don’t care what you have done, who you think you are, how filthy, how sinful, how messed up your life has been, God loves you. He loved you enough to die for you. So before you walk away doubtful, consider the evidence. You will either reject the evidence or you will accept it, but doubt your doubts. If you can accept the resurrection as a fact, an event that really happened, and allow Christ into your heart, you would be saved. Your past would no longer define you and you would have a hope, a future, a promise of life in the Kingdom of God. Does it mean change? Yes, it means you will have to change, but God will help you with that. You don’t have to overcome everything now, He died for you, who was a sinner. So give yourself over to God, He gave Himself for you. It begins with the admission that you are a sinner and connect save yourself. That your ways are wrong and His are right. A believe that He really is God, who took on flesh, died on the cross, and rose the third day, today, nearly two-thousand years ago. And then the confession. Christ says if you confess Him before man, He will confess you before the Father. So if you are ready, if you want to belong to Jesus this Easter, it begins with a prayer where you will accept Jesus into your heart. You will admit your sins to Him, and you will ask Him to forgive you and change you from the inside out. You will then confess Him as your Lord and Savior before men and will experience the greatest thing you have ever experienced. If you are ready for this, please repeat with me the first half of our closing prayer. We love, can’t wait to welcome you into this awesome family of God, and happy Easter, happy resurrection Sunday Everyone. ***Prayer***
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