The year was 1969. I was a six year old kid in Brooklyn. I didn’t understand much about baseball, but I knew that everyone excited – the Mets won the Pennant and were in the World Series.
They were playing the Baltimore Orieloes – the best team in baseball. 1969 was the Met’s eighth year as a new expansion team. They had a losing record for all of the first seven years they were a club. They were the ultimate underdog team.
The Orieloes were supposed to win the series easily. After Tom Seaver lost the opening game of the series, even stalwart Mets fans were having a hard time keeping up their team slogan, “You Gotta Believe!”
The Mets came alive in game 2, with diving catches, awesome pitching and powerful hitting. In the next three games, the Mets constantly came up with spectacular plays and even won several controversial calls.
They were called “The Miracle Mets.”
The 69 Mets were an Amazing team. But other baseball teams won games by coming from behind and getting controversial calls. It wasn’t really a miracle.
But what about the miracle of the Resurrection? That is indeed a miracle!
Skeptics deny the possibility of miracles, including the Resurrection of Jesus. No one living today witnessed the resurrection. There were no video cameras. Are we foolish for believing that Jesus rose again?
This sermon is part of the series, Real Answers to the Big Questions.
TODAY we are Answering Questions about Christ’s RESURRECTION. Our text is not usually thought of as a passage dealing with the resurrection, but if you notice carefully, the reality of Christ’s resurrection is the very foundation of the book of Acts and the witness of the Apostles and early church.
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:1–3, NIV84)
The term, “Convincing proofs” is the Gree word τεκμηρίοις (tekmēriois), a technical term from logic that refers to that which causes something “to be known in a convincing and decisive manner, proof” John B. Polhill, Acts: The New American Commentary, vol. 26 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 81.
Miracles are Impossible to the Skeptic. Their world view requires a naturalistic explanation for everything in the universe. There is no room for God, therefore there is no room for miracles. Richard Dawkins wrote, The ninetenth century is the last time when it was possible for an educated person to admit to believing in miracles like the virgin birth without embarrassment. Richard Dawkins, quoted by Sean McDowell Is God Just a Human Invention?, 44
There is nothing beyond the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking behind the observable universe, no soul that outlasts the body and no miracles – except in the sense of natural phenomena that we don’t understand yet.” (Dawkins, 45)
And so, the Virgin birth must be described as a myth.
Walking on water, feeding 5,000 – those are myths
The healings Jesus performed must have been his personality influencing those afflicted with psychosomatic illnesses. This is the view of the Jesus Seminar.
And most certainly, the resurrection must also be a myth because it is the greatest miracle of them all, one that defies the laws of nature and requires belief in God.
This debate is GOOD, because MIRACLES are FOUNDATIONAL to the Christian Faith!
Other religions claim miracles
Christianity is BASED on miracles!
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14, NIV84)
The SKEPTIC believes that he or she can FINALLY REFUTE Christianity by proving that Miracles are impossible. Garyy Habermas: If miracles are not possible, then Christianity cannot be true. Christianity crumbles if miracles are impossible. (Gary Habermas, 45)
But by the same token, the SKEPTIC is REFUTED if the evidence supports the Bible really occurred.
Rather than COWERING in FEAR, we should REJOICE at the opportunity to discuss the miraculous
The EVIDENCE and the ARGUMENTS are on our side!
Four Irrefutable Evidences for the Resurrection
The Gospel emphasizes WITNESSES.
Apostles had to be WITNESSES
“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.” (2 Peter 1:16, NIV84)
There are at least ten appearances of Jesus to his followers after the resurrection. These appearances are the proof that his followers needed to believe that it was true – Jesus was alive and had risen. It wasn’t just something they heard from someone else and passed on. They had seen it themselves.
1. Mary Magdalene (John 20:11–18)
2. The other Mary, Salome, Joanna, and at least one other woman (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10)
3. Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
4. Cleopas and another disciple on road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35)
5. The eleven disciples minus Thomas (Luke 24:36–43; John 20:19–25)
6. The eleven disciples (John 20:26–29)
7. Seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1–23)
8. Disciples at a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16–17)
9. James (1 Corinthians 15:7)
10. The disciples, possibly in Jerusalem before He led them to the Mt. of Olives, gave the Great Commission, and ascended into heaven (Luke 24:49–53; Acts 1:3–11)
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 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. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–8, NIV84)
The Interesting thing about this account in 1 Corinthians is that it was written about 55 AD, 20 years after Resurrection. Myths develop over long periods of time, and are easily refuted if they are found out to not be true. The six year old who sees dad putting the presents under the Christmas tree and eating “Santa’s cookies” has proof that the whole “Santa thing” is just a myth. Eyewitness encounters are a powerful thing.
Not only was 1 Corinthians 15 written 20 years after Christ’s resurrection appearances, but we have copies of the entire NT dating to about 100 AD. That is 65 years after Resurrection, within the lifetime of some of the eyewitnesses. In other words, there is no doubt that 1 Corinthians 15 was written in 55 AD, but even if you argue that point, you cannot argue for a writing of 1 Corinthians later than 120 AD because we have copies of 1 Corinthians existent today that are dated at that about time.
As an illustration of this, CONSIDER that although there are “Holocaust deniers today, their denials fall instantly flat because there are people alive today who lived through the Holocaust! These SURVIVORS are here to tell their story! One of them, a woman named Esther Raab was a Vineland resident who frequently told her story to school children and community groups right here in our community! HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY last years was May 8, 2016. I personally attended the memorial at Beth Israel congregation and heard testimony from several Holocaust survivors. Their testimony is riveting, powerful and undeniable!
Why is that significant? Because the Holocaust ended in 1945. From 1945 to 2016. Is 71 years. The gap between the resurrection of Jesus and the writing of 1 Corinthians 15 is only 20 years, and the gap between the resurrection of Jesus and the earliest available copies of 1 Corinthians 15 is only about 65 years. The gospel would never have taken root if the resurrection were not true, because the emphasis on Christ’s resurrection would have been quickly refuted by the eyewitnesses.
The second “P” stands for PLACE. The gospel begins in Jerusalem, not some far away place. If you want to start a conspiracy, you have to go to a place where people do not know the facts. But the Apostles begin their preaching in Jerusalem, among the people who were the eyewitnesses to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”” (Acts 1:8, NIV84)
Where do you go if you want to pull off a scam? To people who don’t yet know about the scam!
The Apostles STARTED in Jerusalem, where it would have been VERY EASY to prove that Jesus was not raised!!!
Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration, emphasized the significance of the fact that the gospel begins in Jerusalem. He forgave the crime of murder on His cross; and after His resurrection, He commanded His disciples to preach the gospel of forgiveness, first at Jerusalem, where He well knew His murderers still resided. These striking facts are recorded for our imitation and seem intended to show that the Son of God died, not only to reconcile God to man but to reconcile men to each other.
The result? The GOSPEL took hold and thousands of JEWISH EYEWITNESSES became followers of JESUS
Even in the face of persecution, they held FIRM
The Third “P” is for PERSECUTION. The Apostles and early Christians were persecuted for their faith. They would not have suffered for something they knew was a lie.
11 of the 12 died for Christ
Would they die for a lie?
SOMEONE would have CRACKED!
Most scholars admit that the Apostles must have at least BELIEVED that he rose again.
Michael Green, principal of St. John’s College, Nottingham, observed that “the resurrection was the belief that turned heart-broken followers of a crucified rabbi into courageous witnesses and martyrs of the early church. . . You could imprison them, flog them, kill them, but you could not make them deny their conviction that „on the third day he rose again.‟”
Notice also Paul’s emphasis in the Resurrection chapter on the things he suffered for the sake of the gospel
1 Corinthians 15:30–32 “And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.””
Do you hear what Paul is saying? He states the obvious – if Christ’s resurrection is not true, they we should just simply live our lives for whatever pleasure we can find. Suffering from a lie is just plain stupid.
The final “P” is for POWER. This is the power of the resurrection that is at work in the life of everyone who believes in Christ.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us POWER.
Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,”
Ephesians 1:19–20 “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,”
George Whitfield, preached on Philippians 3:10 in a sermon titled, The Power of Christ’s Resurrection
“We might think ourselves happy, if we had seen the Holy Jesus after He was risen from the dead, and our hands had handled that Lord of life. But more happy are they who have not seen him, and yet having felt the power of his resurrection, therefore believe in him. … [when we fully feel the] power of his resurrection, [we] will ….say with the Samaritans, “Now we believe not because of thy saying,” for we ourselves have experienced it in our hearts.”
The evidence outweighs the doubts, but you must BELIEVE and surrender your life to Christ.
There were MANY in Jerusalem who SAW but did not believe.
You have not SEEN, but you can now believe.