The Preacher Says....  
  Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ  
  Matt 27. 27 – 50; Mark 16. 1 – 6

Historical evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is reliable—better than most recordings of long ago events. First century historians Tacitus and Josephus wrote of him. The four gospel writers and some of the apostles also recounted these events in his life. We also have evidence of the transformation of persons who interacted with him. Cowards became heroes, and a strong belief in the resurrection united them to live (for a while anyway), having all things in common. His followers were in ecstasy in dangerous surroundings, and there were instantaneous conversions in those days.

Why is the resurrection of the dead so hard to believe today? Truth to tell, nobody’s ever seen a resurrection, making it hard to summon up. It’s a stretch to compare it with the spring of the year, when the cycle of nature comes round once again. This is not an apt comparison, but only symbol at best. The pervasive and overweening belief in the doctrine of the immortality of the soul has contributed greatly to less dependence by man toward God and His judgments. When you already believe you have an immortal soul with a heavenly reward, what purpose does the miracle serve? The answer lies in the purpose of God. As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord ,(Num 14. 21). The Psalmist David wrote, Those that wait upon the Lord shall inherit the earth. (Ps 37. 9) We can perceive in His purpose, expressed in these and other scriptures, that a connection can be made to its fulfillment in the miracle of the resurrection. Some people are disinclined to believe in the resurrection because the trappings of secular Christianity may put them off—the electronic ministry—where the ‘me too’, egocentric religion abounds. Maybe the biggest problem we have in accepting the phenomenon is when you say to yourself, ‘what does a man in sandals on a dusty road, blood spattering on a rocky soil, have to do with me? I’ve got a TV, family cars, place at the beach, place in the mountains, fancy grill, capped teeth, plastic surgery, time sharing, a VCR, etc. I’m rich. How can the kingdom that God has promised be better than this? ‘ It might be well to pause here and recall Christ’s comments on wealth and riches-- It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, (Mat 19. 24), and, No man can serve two masters; either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Mat. 6. 24).

How do we make our belief in the resurrection relevant in our lives? Take a look in the mirror. You will see signs of mortality—crow’s feet, faded beauty, halting step. As you age you will lose loved ones from your lives; maybe harbor regrets for your imperfect relationships. If you’ve avoided facing the question before, today might be the time to start thinking about what you are and what you want to be. Take some time to think about your aims and goals in life. At the same time think about Christ and his aims and goals in life. Does he have anything to offer you? Turn your attention to the last week of his life and decide if what happened to him has meaning for you.

He is coming into Jerusalem for the last time, steeling himself for the event which was to come. The agony in the garden—Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denials. He prays, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, Thy will be done. (Mat 26. 42). Christ was essentially alone, companions around him unknowing, unrealistic, straying--like children. Seized by murderous and jealous Jews for the mock trial before the Sanhedrin and sentence of death. The spectacle before Pilate and final scourging with lead-tipped lashes, --blood spattering on a rocky soil—the cross--death.

It didn’t have to happen. Why did he let it happen? Put aside all the big, fancy words that describe the reasons behind the crucifixion: a substitutional death, atonement, justification, propitiation—words all applied to this tragic event in an attempt to explain it. Put in the simplest terms, God, by His grace, sent Jesus, a natural man—His special creation-- to help us and save us, if he would. Christ obeyed. It didn’t have to happen; God left the decision to Jesus. It was his choice. And the help he gave us was to cover all our deficiencies: failing body, natural tendencies, old age, sin and death--all those things we can’t cure. He cured them for us. The evidence for that cure is the resurrection—his escape from his own mortality (death), and also the possibility of our escape. In prospect he made us perfect. And in prospect, you won’t die. but will live forever in the kingdom of God to come.

So for us, isn’t self sacrifice a fitting response? We learn from Jesus that everything worthwhile in life involves service to our fellowman. Christ opened the way for us to help victims in the worlds misfortunes. Jesus took upon himself the responsibility for the eternal salvation of mankind, obtaining release from God’s pronouncement of sin and death. He paved the way to life eternal for all who believed in him. To prove our great thanks for his sacrifice, can we bear one another’s burdens and fulfill his law? In God’s final written word to man Jesus said of himself:

I am he that lives and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore; I have the keys of the grave and of death (Rev 1. 18)