Do you really believe the resurrection podcast notes

Easter Stats as reported by CNN

About three in four — Americans who identify themselves as Christian, as reported by Gallup in December 2014.

50.8 — Percent of Americans who plan to attend church on Easter Sunday this year.

April 3, 33 A.D. — Possible date of Jesus’ crucifixion, according to the Bible and earthquake research reported in the International Geology Review in 2012.

165 lbs — Weight of Jesus’s cross

$140.62 — Estimated amount that will be spent this year by each American celebrating Easter.

13th century — About the time people are first thought to have decorated eggs for Easter.

1700s — Era in which German immigrants bring stories about “Osterhase,” an early Easter Bunny, to the United States.

180 million — Number of eggs Americans are “eggs-pected” to purchase for dyeing and decorating this year.

57 — Percent of Huffington Post readers who voted in 2013 for licorice as the worst flavor of Jelly Belly jelly beans.

89 — Percent of chocolate bunny eaters who go for the ears first, according to a 2014 survey by the National Confectioners Association.

CNN left out one fact about Easter. No mention of the resurrection.

Why is the resurrection so important to Christian people?

If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (1 Corinthians 15:14)

If Christ has not been raised from the grave, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all people. (1 Corinthians 15:19)

If someone were to ask you why you believe in the resurrection, what would you say?

Reasons to Believe that the Resurrection is real

No one follows a dead savior

There were 6 other savior candidates who lived within a century either way of Jesus’ time. They called people to deepen their practice of faith, and they believed that God would restore the kingdom. Every one of them ended up being killed by the Roman government or by some rival faction. Always, what this moment meant to that guy’s followers was, He wasn’t it. Must not be the Messiah. If the man you thought was Messiah were killed, you had two choices: you could give up and go home and quit waiting for the Kingdom, or you could keep going with another Messiah.

Jesus got His followers’ hopes up, and then one day He was killed…not just killed, but crucified by Rome. The message was very clear: He’s not the One. By their own accounts, His closest followers were devastated by this.

Nobody follows a dead Messiah. But then, in a very short time—and this is a matter of historical record—these same people re-gather. They recommit. They leave their occupations. They sell their possessions. They devote the rest of their lives to one specific message, and their message was not a kind of vague “God is Love,” although they did believe that God is love. Their message was not, “Jesus was a good teacher,” although He was.
Their message was that Jesus was the Messiah, that He died on a Cross, that He was buried in a tomb and then, on the third day, He returned to life and… “We saw Him. We heard Him. We ate with Him. We touched Him. He’s It.” That was the message.

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 500 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… (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

Paul wrote these words within twenty years or so of Jesus’ death. When he says “that which I received I also passed on to you,” that part of it was a Creed. Scholars think it was written between ten and eight years of when Jesus died

They spent the rest of their lives proclaiming this message. They received no pay-off for this. They didn’t get big TV ministries or nice homes. They went without food and without sleep. They were exposed to the elements. They were ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned and executed. So why did they do it?

Well, there’s only one explanation that makes sense. Whether or not you believe the Resurrection happened, they believed that. They believed it was true.

Imagine that you were a Martian looking down on the world in the first century. Who would you think was more likely to survive: Christianity or the Roman Empire? You would not bet on a ragtag group of a few hundred people claiming that some obscure carpenter had risen from the grave. Yet that movement was so successful that today we give our children names like “Peter,” “Paul,” or “Mary,” and we name our dogs “Caesar” and “Nero.” So how in the world did that happen?

Was the tomb really empty?

Some people have argued that the Tomb was not really empty, but the reason it seemed to be empty was that the women went to the wrong tomb. A most prominent advocate of this position was a writer about one hundred years ago named Kiersov Lake. He said that they were mixed up and just went to the wrong place.

One reason I think that’s not likely is: Which gender is it that, when lost, has too much pride and stubbornness to stop and ask for directions?

If there was any distinct controversy back in that day, somebody could have easily gone to the correct grave and said, “Here is the body.” But that did not happen. In the records that we have, even in that day there was dispute about why the tomb was empty. Nobody argued that the women had gone to the wrong tomb, because they could so easily have found the right one easily.

Some argued that Jesus didn’t die. He swooned

Some people have argued that on the Cross, Jesus did not actually die, that He temporarily lost consciousness, and that He was revived in the cool air of the cave. This is sometimes called the “Swoon Theory.”

Roman soldiers knew what death looked like. If a prisoner were to be executed, and if that prisoner escaped, guess who was executed in that prisoner’s place? The Roman soldier who was in charge of the execution. They had a very high level of motivation to make sure the crucified guy was a dead guy.

Here’s the biggest problem: Jesus, we know, was beaten repeatedly, deprived of sleep, carried a Cross until he could not walk anymore, hung on a Cross for hours, had a sword pierced through his side, had nails driven into his hands. His body is wrapped tightly in linens that contained, John tells us, 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes. He’s laid in the Tomb on Friday. He has no water or food in there. He’s there Friday night, Saturday and into Sunday morning.
So you’d have to imagine that somehow He survives. Sunday morning He gets up jumps to the cave door, because his body is still wrapped in all these linens. There’s a large stone shaped like a disc that is rolled down a trench to cover a cave that has a grave in it. It takes several men to roll it back up a trench. Jesus would have had to do that all by Himself from inside the cave, where all He could do was push on the side of that stone.

A swooned Jesus—beaten, bloodied, pale, bandaged—could never have inspired the conviction that He had conquered death.

Some argued that the disciples stole the body

Some people have argued that the disciples stole the body and then made up the story of the Resurrection. They would not try to fake a Resurrection, because the script they were looking for was not death and resurrection. No one was looking for that. They looked for victory over their enemies, the over-throw of the Romans and the coming in of a new Kingdom.

Another difficulty for the “stolen body theory” is the identity of the witnesses to the empty tomb. The witnesses to the empty tomb were women. A consistent report in all four of the Gospels was that the followers of Jesus, who were the first to discover that the Tomb was empty and to be told that Jesus had risen, were women. Now what is so remarkable about this and would not strike us in our day, but would have in the ancient world is that women were not considered credible witnesses. Women were not allowed to testify in Jewish courts of law.

Listen! Saying “Jesus rose from the dead” was just as controversial 2000 years ago as it is today. We can be a little arrogant about this sometimes. We are not the first generation of human beings to observe that dead people have a tendency to stay dead.

If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (1 Corinthians 15:14)

If Christ has not been raised from the grave, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all people. (1 Corinthians 15:19)

John Ortberg thought of a really interesting way of putting it. He created a Liturgy that we could do where I could come out and say,
If Christ be not raised from the dead, we’re hosed.
Then you could respond and say,
We are hosed indeed.

One more piece of evidence for the Resurrection: Jesus, this same Jesus, is still changing lives.

How have you seen this in your life and the lives of people around you?