PROOF OF THE RESURRECTION
[Excerpts from Dr. John Danish, Pastor/Teacher Berean Memorial Church, Irving, Tx, Sunday April 20, 2003]:
"The only way that Christianity can be refuted is to disprove its foundational claim. And that is what this day [Resurrection Day] is all about. The foundational claim of Christianity is that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. He's alive.
The prophet Mohammad is not alive. The prophet Joseph Smith is not alive. Buddha is not alive. Confucius is not alive. All of the cultic leaders throughout history are dead. Only He lives. And that is the proof of [our Lord's] claim to be the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of all mankind.
[1 Cor 15:12-22]:
(v. 12) "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
(v. 13) If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
(v. 14) And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
(v. 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.
(v. 16) For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.
(v. 17) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
(v. 18) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
(v. 19) If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
(v. 20) But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
(v. 21) For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
(v. 22) For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."
"So the Word of God makes it very clear. Christianity is true or false upon the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Lord Himself predicted that He would be in the tomb the same length of time as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish = 3 days, 3 nights, 72 hours, and I mean 72 hours exactly. So failure for Him to be in that tomb for that period of time and then to come back to life would have established the fact that He was a fraud, i.e., He was not Who He claimed to be.
"From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."
This is very explicit.
(v. 19) '''Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.
(v. 20) The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?"
(v. 21) But the temple he had spoken of was his body.'''
All other founders of their religions in humanity are frauds. They are dead, but Christ is alive.
A view of liberal theology has been varied about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One view is that while Jesus was wounded on the cross, He did not really die. He was taken down unconscious and then in the cool of the tomb, He revived and He survived to appear as if He had been resurrected.
But the historical record of the bible, and remember that the bible has never been proved false... that's why when it speaks it is the Word of God, ....[stipulates that] soldiers made sure that He was dead. Their very lives depended upon that. And so the thrust into the side with the spear confirmed He was dead.
Another view of the liberals is that Jesus was put to death but His body was really stolen from the tomb to make it appear that He had been resurrected, though He still remained dead. And this is the story which is propagated by Jewish Rabbis to this very day: they stole His body.
However again, the Word of God records for us many times when He was seen alive, one time, five hundred people at once. There was no illusion, they knew Him. They had seen Him die, and He was now alive.
In either case, the liberals reject an actual physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Islam teaches that Jesus Christ never got put on the cross at all; but a look alike - someone who looked very much like Him, Mohammed said, was placed on the cross. And He was the One Who died [4:157-58; 5:116-20].
So the world has been trying to roll the stone back on that empty tomb, ever since that first Resurrection Day Sunday morning. People of the ancient world found resurrection a preposterous idea.
[Paul is in Athens, a city filled with idols and he sees one to the unknown god. He says, 'I want to tell you about this unknown God.']
(v. 16) '''While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.
(v. 17) So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.
(v. 18) A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.
(v. 19) Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?
(v. 20) You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean."
(v. 21) (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
(v. 22) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.
(v. 23) For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
(v. 24) "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.
(v. 25) And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.
(v. 26) From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
(v. 27) God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
(v. 28) 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, `We are his offspring.'
[And he proceeds to describe the nature of God and we who have been made in the image of God and that one of the qualities of this God is that He gives life. And so, as he spoke to these very intelligent stoic and epicurean philosophers, he came to the point where he said]:
(v. 29) "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill.
[Which idea was all over the city of Athens. Everywhere you looked, everywhere you went there was a god to this and a god to that. It was an idol. And just to be sure they hadn't missed anybody, they had this altar to the unknown god. And this was the one that Paul was speaking about.]
(v. 30) In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.
(v. 31) For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead."
[And when Paul said that, these intelligent philosophers, said...]
(v. 32) When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject." '''
[And they walked away from him as people walk away from the gospel today. And what did Paul do? Same thing we do and should do when people are negative to the Word of God, whether salvation or Christian grace age living, whether he's a church member, or just a family member or an outsider who's a Christian...- when they rejected God's way, Paul went out of their midst]:
(v. 33) "At that, Paul left the Council."
[You walk away. There's someone else who is ready to say, 'I'm on board.' These philosophers who thought they were so smart are now in Hades, in agony, awaiting their transfer for ever into the Lake of Fire. But...]
(v. 34) "A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others."
[The simple folk, the folk without the status, without the esteem - they listened and their eyes were opened by the Holy Spirit and they said, 'This is the truth,' and they believed. So the people who were important in the ancient world knew that no dead body is ever brought to life. So the concept of Christ being raised was nonsense.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an historical question which has to be decided on the basis of evidence. It is an event which took place in time and space.
As one Christian philosopher said, 'You could have walked up to an actual cross, it was made of wood, and you could have rubbed your hand on it and gotten a sliver. It was for real.'
Now you cannot prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ scientifically, because it cannot be reproduced in the laboratory. It is a supernatural event in time. The evidence for the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ is in the Scriptures - the New Testament Scriptures written by multiple eye witnesses - all who speak of the same event without contradiction. And the Bible is demonstrated that it never recorded anything which is not true.
[2 Pet 1:16]:
"We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty."
[What Peter is referring to there is that on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus Who walked around ... only in His humanity ... suddenly permitted His diety to shine through. His majesty was there. So He was a GodMan. And the Rabbis were wrong.
Mrs. Danish and I visited the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. As we walked away from the grotto back through the church, our guide whose name was Katzi, a very knowledgeable fellow, and I fell in step together. I said to Katzi, 'You're a good student of the Word of God, I can tell. What would you say if the Rabbis were wrong about Jesus Christ and what we've just seen.' He snapped right back at me, 'They weren't wrong! They weren't wrong!' It wasn't even to be considered. Jesus was a fraud. Well, he was like the smart philosophers and he would join them if he doesn't change his mind. He would join them in Hades and eventually in the Lake of Fire.
So this has to be proven on the basis of what the Bible records by multiple eye witnesses who were consistent with one another.
The two Marys received the first information about the resurrection of Jesus from the angel in the tomb. But that was hearsay. They were told this by the angel. They didn't see the Lord alive.
(v. 1) '''After the Sabbath, [lit. Sabbaths, plural] at dawn on the first day of the week, [Sunday] Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
(v. 2) There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
[This stone was round and weighed one and a half to two tons. It would take a lot of effort and strength - and he had to roll it back up hill to get it away from the tomb entrance. And when I stood at the garden tomb, I could see the very groove, the slot, in which this stone would roll as it came down and covered that opening.
They had seen it put there. Now they came, wondering how they were going to remove it. And they get there, and lo and behold, it's put back up out of place. The angel did it]:
(v. 3) His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
[This was a holy angel]
(v. 4) The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
[They fainted. Very, very embarassing for troops of the Roman army to faint in the presence of such a dramatic event.]
(v. 5) The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
(v. 6) He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
(v. 7) Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." '''
[This is hearsay. But they did report back to the disciples.]
Later on Jesus appeared alive to the two women and thus they became legally qualified eyewitnesses:
(v. 9) ''' "Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.
(v. 10) Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." '''
[Now this made them eyewitnesses and their testimony considerably more significant. And they worshipped Him.
That afternoon, two men on the way to Emmaus discounted the hearsay testimony of the women from the angel, although they did believe the eyewitness report of the women that the tomb was empty. But where Christ was, that they didn't know.
[Lk 24:13-24, 30-31]:
(v. 13) '''Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.
(v. 14) They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.
(v. 15) As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;
(v. 16) but they were kept from recognizing him.
(v. 17) He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast.
(v. 18) One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"
(v. 19) "What things?" he asked. "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.
(v. 20) The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;
(v. 21) but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.
(v. 22) "In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning
(v. 23) but didn't find His body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive.
(v. 24) Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.
(v. 30) When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.
(v. 31) Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight.
(v. 32) They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" '''
[Dr. Danish, cont.]:
"Now they became eye witnesses that Christ was alive. There are people to this day, in the theological realms that say that the body of Jesus is rotting somewhere in some Syrian grave in Samaria of the old world, that He never rose.
That evening, eleven of the disciples became eyewitnesses as well:
(v. 24) '''Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
(v. 25) So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
[Thomas said, 'It's got to be a real body. I have to feel it. I have to know that this actually happened. I'm not going to be deceived. See these people were not ready to fool themselves. They were not ready to lie to themselves. They wanted to know for sure.]
(v. 26) A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
(v. 27) Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
(v. 28) Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
(v. 29) Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."'''
["Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" = Jesus had given His word that He would rise again, that is the word of God. And those [believers] who will not believe God by faith in His Word are doomed to a very restricted Christian experience. You believe Him because the Word of God says it's so.
An eyewitness report is reliable if it is reported when it is fresh in the eye of the observer. The longer you are from that event, the hazier things become. The New Testament was recorded in the first century when many who were alive who had knowledge of these events concerning Jesus. So it wasn't that the New Testament was written a long time after the eyewitnesses were off the scene.
[1 Cor 15:3-8]:
(v. 3) '''For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
(v. 4 ) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
(v. 5) and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.
(v. 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.
(v. 7) Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,
(v. 8) and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.'''
[Paul too saw Jesus alive on the Damascus road and saw Him in heaven alive. So any inaccuracies would be easily challenged, especially by the Jewish leaders who would not have hesitated to discredit an eyewitness report if possible. The New Testament writers were not men of deceit, such as many cult leaders are today. The records that they have left for us in every respect when checked out by whatever means have always proven to be true. The established inerrancy of the New Testament in terms of places that it reports relative to the resurrection is beyond question. Archeological findings have all confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament records. They have established that these records came from the first century. You'll want to remember that we have 24,000 manuscript copies of the New Testament of one kind or another, so that we undoubtedly possess the original manuscripts in all practical effect. We only have about one-half page of insignficant words that are in question. But when you have 24,000 manuscripts to match one against the other and scholars that are equipped to do that, then we have been able to come down with the text as it originally was. In theancient world, the best of the number of manuscripts is 643 copies of Homer's Ilyiad - and that's the best. From then on many of ancient writings have maybe 6 copies and people accept that readily. You deal with the New Testament, you have 24,000 fragments and full copies. No secular writing has so many consistent copies. And no secular writing is challenged like the New Testament is for accuracy of content. It is the prejudice of liberal theologians against the supernatural that causes them to take the Bible, the New Testament, that is so well documented, and challenge it.
There is no contradiction in New Testament records. It is in every respect confirmed to be true including the record of the resurrection. The New Testament claims, you see, not to be merely human production, but also it is the product of the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit.
[2 Tim 3:16-17]:
(v. 16) '''All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
(v. 17) so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.'''
[2 Pet 1:20-21]:
(v. 20) '''Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation.
(v. 21) For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
These passages tell us that the contents of the Bible came from the Holy Spirit.... and it also says that the recording was under the supervision of the Holy Spirit. And thus you have a literal, verbal, plenary inspiration - the totality of Scripture and the words of Scripture.
Many legal experts have testified that the bible records would stand up very well in a court of law.
So Christianity is built, not on imagination - a figment of the imagination of the disciples, but on a time, space event in history which can be verified. So it is a rational faith because it is based on evidence.
[2 Pet 3:15]:
"Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him."
What Paul wrote is the wisdom of God, the truth of the Almighty.
[1 Pet 3:15-16]:
(v. 15) '''But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
(v. 16) keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.'''
We Christians can make a defense of what we believe. Not on what we think, but on the basis of what Scripture says.
So our Lord had to die. He had to be put in the tomb and He had to come back to life. Otherwise Christianity is a fraud. Celebrating Resurrection Day under those conditions is pointless.
But here is the evidence for His death.
He underwent three Jewish and three Roman trials.
The three Jewish trials were all held at night as soon as they picked Jesus up in the Garden of Gethsemane. This was completely illegal under Jewish law.
1) Caiaphas under Annas, the former High Priest.
2) Caiaphas, the current High Priest
3) The Sanhedrin
Then He underwent three Roman trials.
1) Pontius Pilate
3) Pontius Pilate
Jesus claimed to be King of the Jews, so there was a claim on political grounds that He was to be put on trial for execution.
The Jewish leaders were held responsible by Rome for any rebellion by Jews against the Roman government. So they were very happy to inform on any dissenters and especially on Jesus. And they did so, misrepresenting His claim to be King of the Jews as having no spiritual factor in it which was speaking of a millennial kingdom.
Pilate himself was not eager to place himself in disrepute with Rome by ignoring the Jews' warning against a potential trouble maker in Jesus. So Pilate, who was known for extreme cruelty, was not reluctant to order a crucifixion to safeguard himself. The Jewish leaders condemend the teaching of Jesus, Who had a large following. So they were eager to silence Him. They did not want their power challenged. So the precaution taken for proper Jewish and Roman trials necessary to order an execution were followed. They wanted Jesus dead, in spite of all the evidence that He gave of fulfilling the requirements of Scripture to identify Himself as the true Messiah.
So first of all there were the trials. He was condemned by a legal process - to death. Then there was the execution. He was killed on the hill called Golgotha.
(v. 16) "Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.
(v. 17) Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
(v. 18) Here they crucified him, and with him two others--one on each side and Jesus in the middle."
Now death by crucifixion was a cruel and humiliating and tortuous event; but it was totally efficient. It was never used on Roman citizens; they were executed by beheading. The victim, normally was whipped so that his body was shreaded, then he was ridiculed to his crime, to abuse him psychologically to add to his agony of his final moments. Here's what they did to Jesus:
(v. 27) '''Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him.
(v. 28) They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,
(v. 29) and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said.
(v. 30) They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.
(v. 31) After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.'''
So Jesus was ridiculed for what He was, the Son of God, fulfilling the Davidic Covenant to become the King of the Jews. He was further blindfolded, struck. Those that struck Him said, "Tell us who struck you, since You are God." The victim had to carry his own crossbar to the crucifixion site. It weighed about 110 lbs. But Jesus no longer had the strength to do this. Remember Jesus was a very muscular, virile man. He was not like the paintings that artists portray of a man who had feminine characteristics like long hair; but He was so badly beaten and had lost so much blood in the beating and shreading of His body. (The end of the whips had metal so that they shreaded as well as wounded as they struck His body.) At the crucifixion site at Golgotha, they stripped Him and laid Him out on the cross nude. They drove the nails through the wrists, not through the hands which the nails would have broken out of, and into the feet.
And then He was lifted up and placed the cross into the hole that had been dug. Every time He had to breathe, He had to push Himself up in that position. Later on when they wanted to hasten death, they would then break the legs of the victim just below the knees. That made it impossible in the case of the two thieves, for them to push themselves up to get another breath, and so they suffocated to death. But Jesus Himself died at His point of choosing, probably from shock from the loss of blood. He did not die by suffocation.
(v. 17) "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again.
(v. 18) No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
The Lord Jesu Christ chose to go through this suffering to pay the price of death so that you and I would not suffer in the Lake of Fire and that we would be free in the glories of heaven for all eternity.
When they put the spear into His side, just before they were going to break His legs, which the Old Testament said they would not do:
"He protects all His bones, not one of them will be broken."
they struck an area of fluid, perhaps the pericardial sac around the heart and out came blood and water. That confirmed that He was dead. The two thieves died by suffocation after their legs were broken. Pilate was not going to take any chances with this man, so he required certification that He was dead before he would permit the Lord Jesus Christ to be taken off the cross.
(v. 43) "Joseph of Arimathea...
[This was a man who had been converted by listening to Jesus and had accepted Him for the claim that He made to be the Messiah of Israel and of one fulfilling the Davidic Covenant and the promise to Abraham to send a Savior to all nations]
...Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body
[It took some courage to ask for the body because that identified you as a sympathizer of Christ.]
(v. 44) Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead.
[Pilate was amazed that He had died so quickly. Sometimes in crucifixion the victim could last a couple, three days, increasing agony.]
Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.
(v. 45) When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.
(v. 46) So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
[We had a chance to travel to Israel visit the garden tomb - to walk through that lovely garden grove - from the hill of Golgotha, at the foot of which now is a bus station. When you look at Golgotha, it does have the appearance of a skull. It has caves in certain places, and it is really errie to look at it.
So Joseph took the Lord Jesus to his own tomb that he had cut out of the rock and had prepared for himself. It had never been used.
(v. 57) "As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.
(v. 58) Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.
(v. 59) Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth."
This little tomb has a court area right in front of it. You can sit down on the bench there. And there you can see laid out, the full length of where the body of Jesus lay. There is a little stone, pillow like structure for the head that Joseph of Arimathea had prepared for himself. That's the very spot you can sit at and realize that here is where is all happened. He was really dead. The central theme and claim of Christianity was true. No question about it.
And so the dead body was wrapped in the linen cloth. The head was wrapped separately. It was placed in this burial chamber. And the groove guided the round stone as it was rolled down to seal the entrance. These precautions were taken so that Jesus was put in an inescapable room.
Now the burial procedure for Jews was that they would not allow a body to remain on the cross overnight. It had to be buried the same day. The body of Jesus was covered with a sheet and put in the garden tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. He was helped by Nicodemus in this. The corpse was laid on the slab in the chamber and washed with warm water. Then about a hundred pounds of aromatic wood spices which had been pounded into powder were mixed with a gummy myrrh and applied to the body between layers of linen cloth that were wrapped around the person. This was not just a sheet that you could throw off. The head of the corpse was completely wrapped in a separate cloth. The body of Jesus was thus completely enshrouded in grave clothes, indicating no doubt in the mind of these two men that He was dead.
The tomb was then covered by the stone which was rolled in place.
"And placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away."
The stone would require several men now to roll it back up hill from the tomb and to chuck it to keep it from rolling back down.
In order to insure that there was no deceit, the Jewish leaders said to Pilate:
"His disciples and He has said that He was going to rise from the dead. His disciples could come and steal His body. We want you to have a guard on this tomb for the next three days; and we want you to seal it - with the death penalty for anybody who removes that stone and breaks the seal.
Both the Jewish and Roman authorities wanted to make sure that Jesus was put away for good and His influence was terminated. They were in for a very big surprise. Thousands of people by now had been impressed with His teachings, His life, His messianic credentials, and the miracles; so they were inclined to believe Him and many did.
The Jewish leaders were aware of the claim that Jesus made that He would be killed and then would rise again the third day.
(v. 62) '''The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.
(v. 63) "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' '''
"That deceiver" = Speak to a Jewish Rabbi and he will end up telling you that Jesus Christ was a deceiver.
So they asked for the Roman guard so that Jesus' disciples could not come and steal the body.
"So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."
So Pilate did this. The Roman guard on this occasion consisted of sixteen men. Four of them stood guard, awake, while the other twelve slept in a semi-circle with heads toward the entrance of the tomb. The four soldiers who were awake would rotate every four hours with four others. Anyone seeking to steal Jesus' body would have to penetrate a formidable defense perimeter. It would be insane for the disciples who were scared stiff now to even try this, let alone have the fortitude to attempt it. Any raiding party would have been impossible. These Roman soldiers knew that they were responsible with their very lives for the security of Christ's body.
An official Roman seal was also place upon the stone in such a way that if it was moved the seal would be broken.
"So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard."
So it is very clear, that whatever else is true about Jesus of Nazareth, He was placed on the cross. This was witnessed by many people who knew Him well. They saw Him die. They saw Him put into a tomb. And the people who handled that, knew He was completely dead. There's no question about that.
(v. 2) '''There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
(v. 3) His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
(v. 4)The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men."
[Then the two Mary's came to the tomb]:
(v. 5) The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
(v. 6) He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay."
[The stone had not been rolled away by the soldiers. Certainly it had not been rolled away by the disciples. And it could not have been rolled away by these women. But when they arrived, it was rolled away and they soon realized that there was a supernatural creature, an angel, who had done this.
And when they looked in, the body of Jesus was not to be found. This fact was proclaimed in Jerusalem. This was not done at a distance. People could walk to the burial site. They could look into the empty tomb and discover that He was gone and that the stone was rolled away. There was no question in anybody's mind that the corpse was missing]:
(v. 7) Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
(v. 8) So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples."
[The guard detail by this time was in panic. When they came to after fainting, they realized that Jesus was gone]:
"While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened."
[This was the worst news the Jewish authorities could have possibly received: "The stone was rolled back. We were there all the time. We were on top of the situation. We were knocked out somehow. And the body is gone.
The chief priests then bribed the guards to say that the body was stolen while they'd all fallen asleep. Now immediately you know what the guards are going to think: "If we say that, we're dead." There's a death penalty to fall asleep on guard duty. But the religious leaders said that they had influence. They would handle it if there was a problem]:
(v. 12) When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money,
(v. 13) telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.'
(v. 14) If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble."
(v. 15) So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day."
[If you asked a Rabbi today what happened, "His disciples stole Him. They overcame the guards somehow. And they promised to protect the soldiers."
But none of this was in keeping with the discipline of the Roman soldier. This kind of dereliction of duty was fatal.
Furthermore, there was no way Christianity could have taken off at Pentecost if the dead corpse of Jesus Christ could have been paraded through the streets of Jerusalem. And that's what the religious leaders wanted to do. Gamaliel warned the Sanhedrin that they had better go easy and see what develops before they make a decision about punishing the disciples lest all this should be true. Gamaliel realized that there was no corpse to be found and thus no one could be accused of the crime of stealing the body. Nevertheless, the Jewish authorities sent agents all through the Mediterranean world with this explanation of what happened to the body of Jesus. And this story has been repeated since then.
But in the New Testament you have one unified voice. And that is, on that first Sunday morning, the stone was rolled away by the supernatural hand of God, and Jesus was gone. It wasn't rolled away to let Him out. It was rolled away to be able to look in and see that He was gone. When the women came on Sunday morning to anoint Him with spices and perfume, they discovered indeed that the stone was rolled away. They had been wondering how they were going to be able to handle that]:
(v. 2) Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb
(v. 3) and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
The stone had been rolled back. They were aware of where the grave was. They had watched where the body of Jesus was placed. Somehow the tomb was not open and Jesus was gone. And the guards had fled. Something had taken place.
When the women had reported this to the disciples they quickly came to the tomb to verify what was reported to them]:
(v. 9) When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.
(v. 10) It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
(v. 11) But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
(v. 12) Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened."
[Now Jesus was not unwrapped. All the wrappings round and round were on there on the slab. Where the head had been, the wrappings were lying there separately. Nobody unwrapped these wrapping. Jesus in His resurrection body - as you will be able to do too - walked right through the material wrappings]
(v. 1) '''Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
(v. 2) So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"
(v. 3) So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.
(v. 4) Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
(v. 5) He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
(v. 6) Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,
(v. 7) as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.
(v. 8) Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
(v. 9) (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)'''
So the truth came out. Consequently, throughout that day, this great event was confirmed again and again. All the explanations for this outside of the bible are without merit. All the explanations in the bible are exactly true. And the result is, Christianity is based upon the reality of the empty tomb.
The Jewish authorities could not produce the body of Jesus. They needed that. That's the only way they could have settled this matter in their favor. And all the nonsense of His being stolen under these conditions ultimately were as foolish as they are today. And the result was that the true explanation about the tomb of Jesus Christ is that He is risen.
[1 Cor 15:20-24]:
(v. 20) '''But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
(v. 21) For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
(v. 22) For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
(v. 23) But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to him [= who are Christ's at His coming in the Rapture].
(v. 24) Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.'''
This is all summed up for us:
[Compare Mt 28:18-20]:
(v. 18) '''Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
(v. 19) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
(v. 20) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. [Church Age doctrine]. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." '''
Because He lives so too shall we who have accepted the gift of salvation. We too will live in heaven with Him. Because He lives we will live.
(v. 19) '''Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live." '''
Don't forget this.
(v. 25) '''Jesus said to her [Martha, sister of Lazarus whom Jesus had just resurrected], "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
(v. 26) and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" '''