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Catechism Class: LD17B, Q45 Resurrection Proofs

21/02/2022

Catechism Class. Lord’s Day 17B, Q.45. 

The Proofs of the Resurrection

Let’s see what Luke means in Acts 1:3, when he wrote,  to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs

The Proof!

Firstly, let’s remind ourselves that the proofs for the resurrection are OBJECTIVE.  Sometimes people may think that the grounds for this Christian belief is the saving, certain effect that it has upon the heart of the believer.  The problem with that of course is that it is entirely subjective.  I know he lives because I ‘feel’ it in my heart. Now, quite frankly, if that is the only proof of the resurrection that we have – personal experience, then that won’t convince anyone but oneself.  Let’s see the objective, scientific, provable facts of the resurrection of Jesus.

1 The Proof of Changed Lives.

There must have been some dramatic event that turned cowering disciples into mighty apostles, powerful preachers, passionate evangelists and dynamic leaders.  In the earlier parts of the Gospel records, we see them as weak sinners, letting the Lord down continually.  READ: Matthew 16:23 Mark 10:35-37 To say that they had moments of disappointment would be an understatement. Yet in Acts, they are reinvigorated, changed, dynamic.  Acts 3:6.  Men who, like Stephen, literally a matter of months after the death and resurrection of Jesus – around AD34, would willingly give his own life rather than deny the risen Christ.  Is this in any way consistent with men who are living out a lie?  Acts 7:56  There were many more martyrs to die for Christ in the following years.     

2 The Proof of the Missing Body.

Historically, three main objections to the resurrection have been raised by unbelievers, both outside and within the visible church.  READ: Matthew 27:62-64  Now, keep those verses in mind as we look at these objections:-

  • The disciples must have removed it.  This is what the priests were anticipating might happen in Matthew 27:64, so their request to Pilate therefore was that the tomb was guarded by a detachment of Roman legionnaires.   Pilate agreed to their demand. Matthew 27:65  If the disciples could have gathered themselves together – even if they could have somehow plucked up the courage to attack the guard and steal the body, why then, in such a short time would they have been prepared to lay down their own lives in defence of a blatant lie that they themselves had perpetrated?  
  • The Romans must have removed it. What if Pilate himself had ordered the secret removal of the body?  But just shortly afterwards, when the peace was being disturbed in Jerusalem, why would the Romans not simply have said that they had the remains of Jesus?   They didn’t – because the Romans hadn’t removed the body.  But then…
  • The Jews must have removed it.  Yet how many times in Acts, and all throughout the life of the primitive church, did church leaders clash with the Jewish leaders, both in Jerusalem and in the diaspora?  Why did Paul, when confronted with the risen Christ on the Damascus Road, not simply say to whoever stood in front of him, “You can’t be Jesus, because we took his body…” The simple reason was that the Jews had not taken the body of Jesus, and they did not have possession of it.

There can only be one conclusion.  When the body of Jesus was removed from that tomb, on that Sunday morning, it was not any human agency that removed it.  Not the disciples, not the Romans and not the Jews.  

3 The Proof of the Undisturbed Grave clothes.

Read John 20:3-9  The verse to look closely at is verse 7.  Read the detail in the verse carefully.  7 and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.  Something John SAW was totally convincing.  V What was it?  Firstly, two facts:-

  1. Ancient near east burial customs. John 19:38-42 Joseph took the body of Jesus down from the cross and wound it in linen cloths, sprinkling spices into the folds, as was ‘the manner of the Jews,’ The head was dealt with separately- wound in a linen turban which ended in a cloth, down the neck.  The face and the front of the neck were left bare, except for a strip of linen which was positioned in such a way as it supported the chin, and held the mouth closed.    
  2. Jesus resurrection was NOT a resuscitation.  There was no doubt that Jesus was dead when the two man removed him from the site of execution, and he did not get up and walk away out of that tomb.  His resurrected, physical body, was changed.  

Jesus was changed, not resuscitated, but changed, as we will also be changed at his return!  1 Corinthians 15:42-44 So, what happened that startled John into belief?  Where the body of Jesus had been laid, the grave clothes were lying, in the shape of the body, totally undisturbed, – but with no body in them.  Between the shroud and the napkin was a gap, where the neck would have been.  The head-cloth was still all wrapped together, totally undisturbed – but with no head inside it!  The stone has been rolled away, the body is missing, but the grave clothes are lying on the slab, undisturbed, still wrapped, only now wrapped around nothing at all. Is it any wonder that John believed!   

4 The Proof of the Witnesses.

Jesus made at least ten separate post-resurrection appearances.  So there were witnesses.  Now, why would all these witnesses tell tall stories?  Had the trauma of the crucifixion left the disciples under such severe mental stress that they were succumbing to wishful thinking?   Thomas was anything BUT deluded!  There’s no wishful thinking there, in fact he was highly sceptical.  John 20:2525  These people were totally rational.   

We have looked at some of the empirical evidence for the literal, physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus.  Anyone considering the evidence with an open mind, receptive to the truth MUST agree, that without doubt, Jesus is risen from the dead.  It’s a provable fact.  So, now that we have established that fact, we can then, and only then add the subjective evidence, that we know he lives, because we have met him personally.  Colossians 1:27  

© Bob McEvoy February 2022

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