The Preacher Says....  
  Fact of the Resurrection  
     
  Welcome Happy Morning, age to age shall say.. . . this hymn is sung all over the land on Easter Sunday. It is a happy morningĖhappy because something cataclysmic happened 2,000 years ago. Matthew describes a great earthquake occurring, and an angel of the Lord rolling away the stone, causing great fear among the keepers. They said that Jesus was not there, but was risen from the dead (Matt 28. 1 - 7). When we think of that hymn now, do we see a grand choir singing, or does the vision become dim lacking heart and conviction?

Definitely yes. There are a couple of reasons for this, and we donít have to look very far for one of them. Listen to the next three lines: Hell today is vanquished, heaven is won today; Lo, the dead is living, God forevermore; Him their true Creator, all His works adore. With this testament to immortality and heavenly reward, there is no need for a resurrection of the body. If Jesus is God, whereís the miracle? We donít intend to dwell on this, but rather on the growing enemy of truth. The reason happy voices are few in number, and more uncertain is because many just donít believe in the resurrection of the dead. There are some alleged miracles in which we might reasonably doubt, but itís important to convince ourselves that this particular miracle really did happen. Without it Christianity itself collapses. One thing is certain, if it didnít happen, we are wasting our time meeting here, because our faith is in vain. The only way we can rise is if Christ rose. If it did happen, and we donít believe it, we are also wasting our time, and we should look for meaning elsewhere. This miracle canít be compared to the Greek myths , the legends of King Arthur, or other conjectures of mans invention. Itís just another way of asking, Ďhow can we believe in the Bible?í

It is not my purpose to dwell on the general subject of Bible truths like prophecy fulfillment, or tracing the wanderings of the unwilling witnesses, the consistency of authorship, its great moral teachings, or the extraordinary care taken in its preservation. I want now to consider specific ways of proving to our own satisfaction the fact of the resurrection. Many scoffers might be convinced if the fact was provable by pagan writers. This is almost impossible. If they saw it and believed it, their writings would be in the Bible. And whatís wrong with proving the resurrection by the Bible itself? Donít let your friends turn up their noses at this. First, forget about the Bible being a religious work. Think of it as a history book. And it is not just one history book, but many history books, all put together in one book at a later date. If we had a dozen books written about the time of the Civil War that said ĎGrant took Richmondí, nobody would doubt it. Thus, if we had only one religious book and one pagan source, it would be hard to argue. But weíve got more than a dozen books that say that Jesus was raised from the dead. In some of these books the authors claim to have seen the dead Christ and the risen Christ We have Peter declaring in Acts 10.41 that he himself ate and drank with Christ after he rose from the dead. He attests to this in his own letter that he was a witness of the glory that followed Christís death (1Pet.1.20,21). Paul writes that while he did not witness the resurrection, that Christ appeared to him in a vision on the road to Damascus. To these, add the names of Matthew and John, Luke who was Paulís friend, and Timothy, his spiritual son.

What of these men? An examination of their lives and behavior is proof positive of the miracle. Peter and John, Matthew the Publican, though followers of Christ were also confused and fearful men. They were hard put to know what was going on, to see the whole picture. "Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? They didnít understand that the time was not yet ripe. When Christ was arrested the disciples fled. They didnít anticipate the resurrection or even believe it themselves. (Lk 24.36 - 48; Mark 16. 11 - 14) They bickered, they doubted. Peter became the bravest. Paul on the other hand was a zealous Jew. He was Ďgoing placesíĖhad studied at the feet of Gamaliel and was a member of the Sanhedrin. He hated, even loathed, Christians. Then something happened. Did he go mad? But how could a madman write so logically, so morally, and live so unswervingly? How could cringing Peter say what he did in Acts 4. 18 - 20, that no matter what the Elders of Israel commanded, he would not refrain from speaking of the things they had seen and heard. What made Paul toss away everything in his former life to suffer abuse of Jew and Christian alike? He never wavered. Consider Thomas, described in Hastingís Bible Dictionary as a gloomy sort who always looked on the dark side. It was eight full days after the resurrection that Jesus ordered doubting Thomas to touch his hands and his side, giving him the evidence he craved. As recorded in John 20. 29, Jesus said, because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

For those convinced of the miracle, how could so many as witnessed by Bible and tradition die a martyrís death? If it was a fraud they were testifying to why it was not discovered. They testified in Jerusalem almost immediately after the event. Why did they not contradict one another in this fraud? Because Jesus had said to them in person, as he said to John," I am he that lives and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore and have the keys of the grave and of death". What changed these men? We know what it is to lose a leader and make resolutions. They were taught by Christ, and, by Godís grace were imbued with the Holy Spirit. To paraphrase Paul (Acts 26. 22,23),who said that he continued to this day to witness to everyone the things prophesied by Moses and the prophets, that Christ would suffer, rise from the dead , and become the firstfruits of them that sleep. And above all, to shine as a lightĖas a light to us and to the Gentiles.