Do you believe in the Resurrection of Jesus

Do you believe in the Resurrection of Jesus?

On March 4, 2007, the Discovery Channel premiered a documentary titled The Lost Tomb of Jesus. Produced by Academy Award winner James Cameron and directed by Simcha Jacobovici, the hard-hitting program argues that several ossuaries (limestone “bone boxes”) found in a tomb that was excavated in 1980 in the Talpiot suburb of Jerusalem may have contained the bones of Jesus of Nazareth and His family. The film drew the largest viewing audience of the previous six months.

  • In 1980, ten ossuaries were found that dated back to the first century A.D.
  • The ossuaries appear to have been the tomb of a middle-class family.
  • Six of these ossuaries had inscriptions with names similar to those of Jesus and His relatives: Yeshua (Jesus), son of Joseph, Mary, Mariamene e Mara, Matthew, Jofa, and Judah, son of Yeshua.
  • DNA analysis of organic matter in ossuaries belonging to Jesus and Mariamene e Mara were found to be from different individuals, which allows for the possibility that its occupants might have been married and produced a son.

The Discovery Channel documentary suggested that the name “Mariamene e Mara” refers to Mary Magdalene, and that she and Jesus had a son named Judah. But this conclusion has absolutely no basis in either the Bible or history. And it certainly does not prove—or even suggest—that archaeologists have found the remains of Jesus of Nazareth.

The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth has been under scrutiny for many, many years. There have been a number of theories that have sought to explain what really happened.

The Swoon Theory or Resuscitation Theory

Jesus did not really die, He only swooned, therefore the disciples saw only a revived or resuscitated Christ. Christ was nailed to a cross and suffered from shock, pain and loss of blood. But instead of actually dying, He only fainted (swooned) from exhaustion. When He was placed in the tomb, He was still alive and the disciples, mistaking Him for dead, buried Him alive. After several hours, He revived in the coolness of the tomb, arose, and departed.

The Hallucination Theory

This theory says all of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances were really only supposed appearances because actually the people only had hallucinations. In this way, all the post-resurrection appearances can be dismissed.

The Impersonation Theory

This is the view that the appearances were not really Christ at all, but someone impersonating Him. This, the opponents say, is evident because in some cases they did not recognize Him at first (or at all).

The Spiritual Resurrection Theory

This is the view that Christ’s resurrection was not a real physical resurrection. Proponents of this theory assert that Christ’s body remained in the grave and His real resurrection was spiritual in nature. It was only told this way to illustrate the truth of spiritual resurrection.

The Theft Theory

The disciples stole the body and claimed that He rose from the dead.

The Unknown Tomb Theory

One of the earliest theories present to explain everything away is that the disciples did not know where the tomb was located and could not have found the empty grave. This theory depends on the belief that those who were crucified were tossed into a common pit and were not allowed to be buried.

The resurrection of the dead is fundamental to the Christian faith. So what was the problem about believing it in Corinth?

First, some of them are Jewish, and Judaism was divided regarding the issue of resurrection. The Old Testament speaks of Sheol as the abode of the dead—a place where those who have died are separated from the living and from God. In their early history, Jewish people tended to think of Sheol only as the grave. As time progressed, their belief system progressed in the direction of resurrection. While the Old Testament doesn’t use the word resurrection, it does include several allusions to resurrection:

• “I kill, and I make alive” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

• “Yahweh kills, and makes alive. He brings down to Sheol, and brings up” (1 Samuel 2:6).

• “After two days he will revive us. On the third day he will raise us up, and we will live before him” (Hosea 6:2).

By New Testament times, some Jews (such as the Sadducees) denied any possibility of resurrection or life after death, while other Jews (such as the Pharisees) did believe in the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18).

Second, Corinth is a Greek city, and Greeks have been heavily influenced by Platonic dualism. Dualism divides things into two parts, such as good and evil or matter and non-matter. Many dualists considered matter (such as our bodies) as unimportant and/or evil and non-matter (such as our souls) as good. Plato taught that our physical bodies are imperfect copies of ideal Forms that exist in a spiritual realm.

He taught that our bodies are mortal but our souls existed prior to our life on earth—and will continue to exist beyond this life. The Greeks (including these Corinthian Christians), raised in a dualistic environment, found it difficult to believe in the resurrection of the body. For them, the body was something to leave behind gladly—good riddance. Their focus was the preservation of the soul.

Judaism, however, emphasized the wholeness of the person—body and soul. That emphasis continued in the Christian church. Paul wants the Corinthian Christians to know that belief in the resurrection—both Christ’s resurrection and the general resurrection of believers in the last days—is foundational to the Christian faith.

So why is the resurrection of the dead vital for Paul.

“how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?“ (v. 12b). These Corinthian Christians have found it difficult to believe in the possibility (or even the desirability) of their own resurrection from the dead. As noted above, the dualistic environment in which they lived emphasized the soul as good and the body as bad, and that has a great deal to do with their doubts.

Paul’s question is quite logical. If these Corinthian Christians believe in Christ’s bodily resurrection, then they cannot say that there is no resurrection of the dead. The Gospels go to great lengths to show that Jesus had a normal body. He was born (Luke 2). He ate and drank. He wept (Luke 19:41). At his crucifixion, when his side was pierced with a spear, blood and water came out (John 19:34). Following his crucifixion, his body was buried in a tomb.

After his resurrection, hundreds of people witnessed his resurrected body (vv. 5-8). He invited his disciples to touch his body, and ate food in their presence (Luke 24:39-42).

“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised“ (v. 13). In verse 12, Paul established that, if Christ was resurrected, there is such a thing as resurrection from the dead. Now, in verse 13, he approaches that from the other end. If there is no resurrection, then Christ was not resurrected. He will begin to explain the implications of that in the next verse.

1. “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain“ (v. 14). This is a point that today’s church needs desperately to hear. If Christ was not raised from the dead, the Christian faith is based on a lie. If Christ was not raised from the dead, all the preaching and evangelistic work of the church through the centuries has been for nothing. If Christ was not raised from the dead, we have no hope of life beyond the grave. If Christ was not raised from the dead, most of what we do in the church today is little better than the activities of a social club. If Christ was not raised from the dead, it would make more sense to spend our Sundays and our efforts and our money in other ways.

If Christ was not raised from the dead, then Paul and the other Christians who claim to have seen the risen Christ have been lying. They were not only lying about having seen the risen Christ, but have testified falsely to the nature of God’s action in the world. That would be a serious sin, because they would have caused people to believe in a lie rather than in the truth. People who believe in a lie almost invariably end up the worse for it.

But there are many in the church today who doubt or deny the resurrection of Christ. Why do they remain in the church? Perhaps it is the music—or the fellowship—or the smells and bells. Perhaps they believe that the church does good work. Perhaps it is just habit. I can’t really say. I can say only that if I didn’t believe in the resurrection of Christ, I would pack my bags and go elsewhere—because the resurrection of Christ is the foundation on which the church is built. If Christ was not resurrected from the dead, there is no reason to believe any of the rest of what the church teaches.

2. If there is no resurrection then “your faith is vain (mataia—worthless, in vain); you are still in your sins“ (v. 17b). The next problem is that faith is futile and there is no forgiveness of sin. Without forgiveness of sin, we have no hope of a proper relationship with God. This means that sin will continue to reign in our mortal bodies where we will be controlled by sin’s passions and emotions and life would become hell!

Just observe those people who live with sin in their lives and the impact that sin has on them.  Their lives are a mess and there is little hope for an about face and a new life.

The tragic tale of Cassie being caught with drugs in Columbia highlights what can happen and how things can escalate. There is a fight within her family and with TV programs for the rights of her story. Now it appears that she has confessed to being a drug mule in a TV interview and now has had to change her plea.

Sin whatever it is will hijack your life and in the end will destroy you not only in this life but also in the life to come if you do not seek the forgiveness of God won for you by the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

3. If there is no resurrection of the dead, “Then they also who are fallen asleep (koimenthentes—fallen asleep) in Christ have perished“ (v. 18). The Greek word koimenthentes means “fallen asleep,” and is a euphemism for death. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, the third problem is that all dead saints have perished. This would fly in the face of the Corinthian Christians’ belief that, in Christ, there is the assurance of salvation for those who die. Later in this chapter, Paul will talk about “they (those people) who are baptized for the dead.” He will ask, ” If the dead aren’t raised at all, why then are they baptized for the dead?” (v. 29).

Paul is not saying that those who have died have no hope of salvation—quite the contrary. Neither is he saying that the Corinthian Christians do not believe in Christ’s resurrection. He is stringing together a logical series that starts with the assumption that Christ has been raised from the dead. If that is true, then it is illogical to say that there is no resurrection of the dead (v. 12).

If there is no resurrection of the dead then there is no heaven and no eternity to look forward to..

4. Finally if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christians are “most pitiable,” because they have staked their lives on a lie. Paul states the obvious:

Why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work? Do you think I want to be a hero when I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus?. I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I keep doing this if I wasn’t convinced of the resurrection of you and me guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus?

Being a Christian is a costly enterprise. Christians can expect to be persecuted for their faith (Matthew 10:16-25). Christ expects Christians to take up their cross and follow him (Matthew 10:38; 16:24). He expects them to leave behind things that they treasure to follow him (Matthew 8:22; 19:21). If we have made all these sacrifices in behalf of a lie, then we are “most pitiable” because we have staked our lives on something that has little value—or, at the least, much less value than we had anticipated.

Then what is the point of being a Christian. I can think of a dozen things to do on a Sunday morning that would be far better than this.  I could do much more each week if I did not have to prepare a sermon or listen to people’s troubles.

In fact life would be far better if Christ had not been raised? But you see that also is the lie: the lie that says that there is no God, there is no Jesus, there is no resurrection, there is no eternal life, there is not eternity.

It is all a lie! But it is not a lie. You and I are here because Jesus died and rose again. You and I have transformed lives because of the power of the resurrection of Jesus inside us.

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!.

We believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Amen

 

 

 

 

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