The following is the text of the Easter Sunday Morning Service Sermon.
This is holy week, when we walk with Jesus through the events of the last week before his crucifixion and resurrection.
I was reading a theologians’ blog recently about the resurrection and people were able to leave their comments. I couldn’t believe the casual confidence with which some credulous people made the claim that the resurrection is a lie. So ladies and gentlemen of the jury, lets examine the evidence and see if we can reach a verdict that is beyond all reasonable doubt.
The first theory put forward by those who disbelieve the resurrection is that Jesus died on the cross that he stayed dead, but the disciples stole the body.
He died on the cross and the disciples stole the body, it simply beggars belief!
Matthew even records in his gospel the rumour that was put around at the time that Jesus disciples came and stole way the body of Jesus from the tomb.
11While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
The soldiers were guarding Jesus body, they were trained, disciplined, heavily armed Roman troops. Can you really believe that we are asked to believe that the broken, frightened, disciples, who had deserted Jesus in his hour of need, knowing that Jesus was dead, underwent a dramatic transformation and gained the courage to fight the guards and overcome them. That having done this they took away and hid Jesus body. That simply beggars belief! In their hearts they would have still been devastated and defeated by Jesus death.
The first problem is physical impossibility. A small group of civilians could not take on a trained professional, heavily armed Roman Guard and defeat them.
The second problem is psychological impossibility. If the disciples stole and hid the body – they would know that the resurrection from the dead was a lie.
When they were on trial for their lives as all but one of the disciples were later in their lives – why if they knew that the resurrection from the dead was a fabrication, a lie without foundation or truth, would they not simply renounce their faith and live peacefully for the remainder of their days rather than be executed for a hope they knew was not true?
That is psychologically improbable, even impossible. It seems to me that the atheists who argue this have more blind faith than we Christians do, we at least have not abandoned reason.
He did not die on the cross – I don’t have that much blind faith!
The second theory is that Jesus did not die on the cross, he simply went into a coma from which he later recovered in the tomb.
The first problem is that there is irrefutable medical evidence that Jesus was dead.
Cf Jn. 19:33
33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.
The white blood cells and red cells had separated – we know that this only happens after death when the heart has ruptured.
The soldiers were professional executioners – experienced in judging when a prisoner was dead, they didn’t make mistakes.
The medical evidence is recorded by the gospel writer yet the significance was unknown to them. But we know that when the heart is ruptured and the white and red blood cells separate death has already occurred. This proves proves that Jesus was dead, very dead, completely dead, clinically dead, utterly DEAD.
The theory that Jesus went into a coma and then revived in the tomb doesn’t just beggar belief, it’s quite simply impossible!
But don’t let’s let a little thing like impossibility put us off, after all the atheists don’t, so let’s carry on examining this theory.
The second problem is the impossibility of a living body surviving being embalmed.
The grave clothes.
38Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy–five pounds. £ 40Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.
Seventy-five pounds = 34 kgs of spices herbs aloes and Myrr all over Jesus body.
The aloes were a plant extract that was a sticky mixture. If you put it onto living skin it would burn you. The myrrh was a very pungent perfume that was mixed together with the aloes and this made up a sticky paste that was placed between the strips of linen. It’s like a kind of paper Mache mixture only stronger, harder, heavier a it lke concrete.
75 pounds, That’s the weight of myrrh and aloes that was to be put onto Jesus body, wrapped together with about seventy meters of lined strips in which he was wrapped. There wouldn’t even have been suffient space for shalllow breathing to take place!
And yet, we are asked to believe that Jesus was in a coma, so nearly dead that professional executioners had believed him dead, and that having wrapped in this huge weight of stuff he was able to undo the grave clothes and fight his way out of them from within.
I don’t know about you but I don’t have enough faith to believe that story – I believe that Jesus died on the cross, that his body was wrapped, trapped, concreted into the graves clothes according to Jewish custom.
But lets not let two impossibilities deter us, after all, those who have blind faith in atheism don’t, lets examine a third.
He rolled away the stone in front of the tomb from the inside.
The third problem – the impossibility of moving the stone from within the tomb.
The stone needed 15 – twenty men to move it, it weighed two ½ tones, (two whole cars).
Then they put a little stone on each side so you couldn’t move it. There was a grove cut into which the large stone was rolled, this meant that it couldn’t be pushed from inside or outside, it couldn’t be rolled aside because of the smaller stones.
In order for this third impossibility to be considered
Firstly: we have to believe that contrary to the medical evidence – Jesus was not dead.
Secondly we have to believe: He revived in the tomb and unwrapped the grave clothes 75 pounds of herbs and spices concreting 70 meters of linen strips wound into a paper Mache kind of wrapping.
Thirdly: we have to believe that he moved a two-ton stone, sealed with clay, with two smaller stones holding it in place, trapped in a grove in the ground. When he was very nearly dead.
In order to believe this theory – he rolled away the stone from inside the tomb we have to discount the supernatural, because the assumption behind the spurious claim that Jesus did not rise from the dead because the supernatural does not happen, does not exist.
Well I don’t know about you but I don’t have enough faith to believe this claim that the resurrection did not happen. this is quite simply the outlandish, superstitious nonsense I’ve ever heard.
So then: There is then only one possible explanation:
The resurrection of Jesus is true, when we impartially examine the evidence,
it’s impossible NOT to believe it!
I believe that Jesus died on the cross. That he was dead as dead can be. That he was, buried in the tomb, wrapped, concreted into the grave wrapping, and that by the power of the living God who alone can give life, he was supernaturally raised from the dead, that by the power of the living God he was freed from the grave wrappings, that by the power of the living God, the stone was moved so Jesus could walk and talk and be seen by over 500 witnesses before he ascended into heaven.
If that is the only possible conclusion, then there is only one possible response, if he gave his life for us, then how can we not give our lives in serving him. If his claims are true, then we must surrender to his sovereignty and let him rule our lives. In a few moments as Dale comes to be Baptised he will be making that response. I a few weeks we are having another Baptismal service, when Joel will be Baptised if you have not made your response to Jesus who died that we might have eternal life, this is the time to do so, so come and see me if you would like to be baptised too.