Monday, April 2, 2018


I don’t usually begin on a sad note like this, but sometimes we need to pause and remember what it’s is all about. Larry LaPrise, the Detroit native who wrote the song "The Hokey Pokey", died at age 93. I’m told he died peacefully and that he led a full and happy life. Still it was a difficult time for the family. It was especially difficult for the funeral home to get him in the casket. They put his left leg in he put his left leg out...

Two thousand years ago they had a similar problem in Jerusalem. They thought they could put truth in a grave, but it wouldn’t stay there. They thought they could nail it to a cross, wrap it up in winding sheets and shut it up in a tomb, but it was coming out. The grave couldn’t keep Him. Death couldn’t hold Him. The stone couldn’t stay put. Jesus was coming back alive!

The problem was, He had told them He would rise again and that made the Chief Priests and Pharisees nervous. Here’s there story: [p. 993] Matt 27:62-64 Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.' Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception will be worse than the first."

To justify their opposition they called Jesus a deceiver. In their minds He was a sorcerer who had tricked the people by what He claimed and what He did. The last deception would be the resurrection. They had to oppose it because they knew the resurrection would prove that everything about Jesus was true.

Matt 27:65-66 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how." And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.
Seal – melted wax that was placed on the outer wall and the stone with rope between them so that if the stone was moved the rope would pull out of the wax leaving evidence somebody got in.
Let’s see what happened: Matt 28:1-10 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you." And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me."

Usually our focus is on the women. What about the guards? Matt 28:11-15 Now, while they [the women] were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.' And if this should come to the governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble [death]." And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

And thus started the debate—did the resurrection really happen?

Lee Strobel was a journalist/lawyer who wrote for the Chicago Tribune. He was also a devout atheist. When his wife became a Christian, he spent two years researching to prove the resurrection never happened. He couldn’t and instead became a believer.

Josh McDowell, a man who went through Lee Strobel’s discovery about a decade before puts it this way: “After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, and thoroughly investigating its foundation, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the ‘most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever pressed upon the minds of men, or it is the most fantastic fact of history.’” 

Josephus, first century Jewish historian wrote: Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, [if it be lawful to call him a man;] for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher [of such men as receive the truth with pleasure,] He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. [He was the Christ.And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; [for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.] And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

So what was the big deal if Jesus came back or not?

Act 5:34-39 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."

The matter of the resurrection to those of the first century was: if the resurrection happened, then everything Jesus said was true. And if all of that was true, God demanded an answer from them as to what they chose to do about it.

They could ignore a dead teacher but not a living Lord. Which turns into our question: do we, like them, see Jesus still hanging on a cross or is He fully alive?

Michelangelo turned to his fellow artists and said in frustration, "Why do you keep filling gallery after gallery with endless pictures on the one theme of Christ in weakness, Christ on the cross, and most of all, Christ hanging dead?" he asked. "Why do you concentrate on the passing episode as if it were the last work, as if the curtain dropped down there on disaster and defeat? That dreadful scene lasted only a few hours. But to the unending eternity Christ is alive; Christ rules and reigns and triumphs!"

That’s what the men in Jerusalem were forced to acknowledge.

They could call Him a deceiver, delusional, demon-possessed. But as Josh McDowell wrote: Jesus is either a lunatic, a liar or Lord! No middle ground. No patronizing statements like: He was a good teacher. He was a good man. There are countless good men and good teachers. But only one Lord!
Because of the resurrection, the Jewish Leaders knew He had been validated, but couldn’t embrace the truth about who He was. You might call it the first inconvenient truth.

Jesus had tried to help them find a way to believe in Him: John 10:37-38 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father."

Joh 14:10-11 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.

Now, add to all Jesus had said and done, the resurrection. And yet they still refused to believe. Why? Something meant more to them than the truth.

Joh 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

Their search wasn’t to find answers for life or to help them know more about God’s intentions but to affirm their religion – to maintain their status.

What’s behind most of the decisions in politics? Not what’s best or right but will this help get me re-elected?

We’re pretty much like that: What’s the least I can do to get into Heaven? Amazing how many people want the advantage of Jesus but don’t want the relationship with Him! They want to be a new person but don’t want to be changed.

Nothing would convince the Chief Priests and Pharisees. Jesus had told a story about a rich man and Lazarus who both died: Luke 16:29-31 But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'"

Well, One did rise from the dead, and they still weren’t persuaded. Look at what they missed: 2Pet 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
·         If death couldn’t stop Him, there is always hope.
·         If He is seated at the right hand of the Father, there is always help.
·         If His glory has been restored, there is always a purpose and a plan.
·         If He is free from any restraints, there is always a way.
·         If He lives in our hearts, there is always a life worth living.

Receiving makes us Children of God. One man said: Do not abandon yourselves to despair: We are the Resurrection people, and Hallelujah is our song.

What’s it take to become a resurrection person? Believing it happened and then receiving what it provides.

At the Garden Tomb with our guide. He had been a life-long believer. But failed to understand belief wasn’t enough by itself. It required acting on that belief—faith to receive Jesus…to call out to Him for the gift of life.

John 1:11-12 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

1.       The Resurrection proves the Bible is true.
2.      The Resurrection proves what the Bible Says about Jesus is true.
3.      The Resurrection proves what the Bible says about us is true.
4.      The Resurrection proves that who we are isn’t who we can be.
5.      Who we can be is fully empowered Children of God having received the gift of eternal life made available through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

To them, Friday was a good day and Sunday a bad day. For us both days are good days. Oh, Happy Days.

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