Do You Believe in the Resurrection?
Submitted by Pastor Rodney Hopper, First Christian Church, Rock Port, Mo.
As a believer, have you ever been asked, “How can you believe in the resurrection (Jesus rose from the dead)?”
Public Execution Assured His death. Nearly 2,000 years ago Governor Pontius Pilate ordered Roman soldiers to execute the one called “King of the Jews”. Jesus was beaten, whipped, and sentenced to a public execution. On a hill outside of Jerusalem called Calvary, He was crucified between two criminals. Brokenhearted friends and mocking enemies shared in His deathwatch. To ensure death came before the Sabbath, Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two criminals. But when they came to Jesus they did not break His legs, because from experience they knew He was already dead, but as a final precaution, they thrust a spear into His side
High Officials Secured The Gravesite. Religious leaders informed Governor Pilate that Jesus had predicted He would rise in 3 days. The Governor ordered the official seal of Rome to be attached to the tomb to put grave robbers or disciples on notice. To enforce the order, soldiers stood guard. The Roman guards had good reason for staying alert because the penalty for falling asleep while on watch was death.
In Spite Of Guards, The Grave Was Found Empty. On the morning after the Sabbath, some of Jesus’ followers went to the grave and found that the huge stone that sealed the entrance to His tomb had been rolled away and that Jesus’ body was gone, except for Jesus’ grave clothes that were found lying neatly in place. It was reported that the guards saw a supernatural being roll away the stone, and that officials paid the guards a bribe to claim that the disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept (they would intercede on their behalf if necessary with the Governor).
Many People Claimed To Have Seen Him Alive. The apostle Paul says the resurrected Christ had been seen by Peter, James the Lord’s brother, the other apostles, along with more than 500 believers (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Luke wrote that Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by [the apostles] during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
His Apostles Were Dramatically Changed. Jesus’ apostles, including His inner circle of Peter, James and John, ran for their lives. Peter insisted he was ready to die for Him, but he denied that he even knew Jesus just as Jesus predicted. But after the resurrection and standing face to face with their crucified leader, their spirit was like iron. Even after they were imprisoned, threatened, and forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus, the apostles said to the Jewish leaders, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Although It Was Unexpected, It Was Clearly Predicted. The disciples expected their Messiah to be a conquering king in the mold of King David that would destroy the Roman occupation and restore the kingdom to Israel. They still remembered how Judah Maccabee led a successful revolt against the Greek Seleucids in 166 B.C. Jesus Christ repeatedly told His followers it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem to die and be resurrected from the dead. Did they believe He was talking to them in symbolic language, in parables? It was clear that they didn’t expect what was predicted as in the scrolls of the Prophet Isaiah, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.” (Isaiah 53:10).
Did Christ Rise From The Dead? Are you still unconvinced? Did you know that Jesus promised God’s help to those who want to be right with God? He said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own” (John 7:17 NIV). The salvation Christ offers is not a reward for effort, but a gift to all who in light of the evidence put their trust in Him. Want to hear more?
Community Good Friday Service. You are invited to come and join the Rock Port Churches at the Community Good Friday Service at the United Methodist Church at noon, host Pastor Donna Clark Fuller, and guest speaker Pastor Rodney Hopper from the First Christian Church. A sack lunch will be provided following the service.
(This article is based on “10 Reasons To Believe Christ Rose From the Dead” and is used with permission from Radio Bible Class)