Delivered By
C.C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
April 16, 2017
Central Passage
Matthew 28:11-15
Description

 

The first day of the week was dawning when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb of Jesus. A severe earthquake had preceded them. After that earthquake an angel of the Lord had descended from heaven…rolled away the stone from the tomb and sat upon it. Scripture tells us the angel’s appearance was like lightning…and that his clothing was as white as snow.

Scripture also tells us that those guarding the tomb shook in fear of him and became like dead men. But the angel assured the women, saying to them, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where he was lying.”

The angel then told the women to go and tell the disciples that Jesus had risen…that He was going to Galilee…and that they should meet Him there. The women left the tomb to do just what the angel had told them…but met Jesus along the way.

And He told them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

While this was taking place, Matthew 28:11-15 tells us, “…some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, ‘You are to say His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep. And if should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.’ And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day” (Matthew 28:11-15).

 

These soldiers who were guarding the tomb were paid to spread fake news…something we hear a lot about today…but as you can readily see it’s not something new. And today’s fake news isn’t just about politics and politicians. Christianity is also in its crosshairs. In today’s world Christianity is a whipping boy for fake news by academics, media, politicians and political ideologies going under the guise of religion.

 

It was religion that paid to spread fake news about the resurrection of Jesus. And it’s a political ideology going under the guise of being a great religion that today murders Christians…has the support of liberal media…and dissuades multitudes of people from believing in the resurrection of Christ. That shouldn’t surprise us…because Satan was, in fact, the first purveyor of fake news…which is nothing more than lying. And he now has a huge army of people who make their living lying for him.

 

In our country…Washington D.C. is now epicenter for lying. But every nook and cranny of the world has its share of liars. For the majority of people in the world…a lie is much easier to swallow than the truth. In fact, finding truth in this world is getting more difficult to find than a lone, mobile chigger seeking to take up residence somewhere on a person’s body.

 

I’ve read that every day more and more people are taking a look…some for a second and third time…at the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth. I’m sure that’s true…just as I’m sure it’s true that we live in an age when apostasy is rampant. Apostasy is just another word for fake news or lying.

 

Apostasy is easy to spot. It’s evident in the lies told by people who say they believe in Jesus and love God…but who don’t think it important to attend and support Christ’s church. Ephesians 5:25 tells us that Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…so if someone says they love God but don’t want to be a part of the bride of Christ…His church…they’re lying about that love to themselves and to others.

 

There’s a lot of misinformation about Jesus…and also about the only way in which God says a person can be saved. Many people want to believe the fake news that there’s more than one way to heaven. These are the same people who think everyone should get a trophy.

God has…through His holy word…made it very clear what’s required to be saved. So people can believe what God says…or they can believe what a prosperity preacher, a politician or a political correctness guru says…which means they’re actually believing in what Satan says.

 

The real news is that Jesus died on a cross as payment for our sins…and that He conquered death for us all with His resurrection. The Resurrection is a celebration of eternal life…about a heavenly life for all who believe in Jesus…which is more than simply accepting that He was a historical figure.

 

Everything about Jesus is unique…and not of this world. I don’t speak about Him in the past tense…but in the present and future tense. He is now and forevermore. His uniqueness and other worldliness is found in the prophecies about His coming. Then there’s His birth…the way He lived His earthly life…His teachings…His miracles…and His death. And especially His resurrection.

 

His resurrection is the most significant event in earth’s history. And it has been…and is…the basis for a lot of fake news. The validity of Jesus' claims about Himself rests on the Resurrection…whether He rose from the dead or stayed in the grave. Many skeptics say that to believe in a risen Christ is nothing more than a blind leap of faith with little or no basis in truth.

 

However, ask them to prove otherwise. When confronted with the facts…those who are intellectually honest have been forced to admit that the Resurrection is an historical event based on irrefutable proofs. Unfortunately, for some people the facts don’t make a bit of difference. They’re going to believe what they want to believe even if they’re smacked right in the face with absolute truth.

 

The atheist and agnostic generally don’t care how much irrefutable truth you present…they think of themselves as too smart to believe in a risen Christ…whereas by faith I believe myself to be too intelligent to believe in anyone…or anything…other than a risen Christ. I cling to a firm conviction that a bodily resurrection is the only explanation for Christ's empty tomb. And there are several evidences that helped me reach this conclusion.

 

First, Jesus predicted His resurrection. In Matthew 16:21 (NASB) the Bible records, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things ... and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.”

 

Even though His followers did not understand what He was telling them at the time…they remembered His words and recorded them.

 

Second, following His resurrection Jesus made numerous appearances to His followers. He comforted the mourners outside His tomb on that Sunday morning when He arose. And on the road to Emmaus He explained things about Himself from the Old Testament. Later, He ate in the presence of His disciples and invited them to touch Him. Scripture also records that Jesus was seen by more than 500 people at one time. Some may argue that a few people could have agreed to a deception, but how can one explain the collaboration of 500 people?

 

Third, the unrelenting faith of the disciples convinces me of the Resurrection. Those disciples…once so afraid that they deserted their Lord…after having seen the risen Christ then courageously proclaimed the good news of the Resurrection…risking their lives to preach the Gospel. Their bold and courageous behavior doesn’t make sense unless they knew with absolute certainty that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

 

Fourth, the growth of the Christian church confirms the Resurrection. Peter's first sermon…which dealt with Christ's resurrection…stirred people to receive Him as their living Lord and Savior. In Acts 2:41, Luke records the thrilling results: “That day there were added about three thousand souls.” And that group of believers multiplied until they reached around the world…which is why today there are billions of believers.

 

Finally, through the centuries the testimonies of hundreds of millions of transformed lives show the power of the Resurrection. Belief in Jesus and His resurrection has resulted in many millions of people being delivered from addictions of every kind. Destitute and despairing people have found eternal hope. Broken marriages and lives have been restored. The most conclusive proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that His Holy Spirit is living within believers today in all of His resurrected life and transforming power.

 

The Resurrection sets Christianity apart from every other so-called religion. No other religious leader other than Jesus has broken the power of death and conquered sin. So the significance of the Resurrection can’t be over-emphasized.

 

It confirms that Jesus is who He claimed to be…and it proves that He was…and is…divine. Jesus dying on the Cross doesn’t prove that He’s God. But fulfilling the prophecies in the Bible about His death…and His resurrection from the grave proves it. Romans 1:4 declares that “…by being raised from the dead [Christ] was proved to be the mighty Son of God, with the holy nature of God Himself.”

 

The Resurrection proved Christ's power to forgive sin. In 1 Corinthians 15:17 we’re told “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” The resurrection of Jesus from the dead proved His authority and power to break the bonds of sin…and to assure forgiveness and eternal life to all who accept His gift of salvation.

 

Obviously, the Resurrection revealed Christ's power over death. Romans 6:9 tells us that “Christ rose from the dead and will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.” And the Resurrection also secured our victory over death…because Ephesians 2:6 tells us that we were “…lifted up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms.”

 

The Resurrection defeated Satan. From the moment of his original rebellion until the day of the Cross…Satan fought viciously and cunningly to overthrow the kingdom of God. And with the Cross Satan may have thought he had dealt the final and decisive blow in his ageless war against God. But this was his most serious miscalculation. The Cross was heaven's triumph. And when Jesus Christ arose, the power of sin and death was forever shattered. Because of the Resurrection…Christians need never fear Satan or death again.

 

For 40 days after His death and resurrection…Christ appeared many times to His followers. On one occasion, He gathered His remaining 11 disciples on a mountain in Galilee and gave them His Great Commission…which in Matthew 28:19-20 reads: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always.”

 

Later, the Book of Acts records that…while on the Mount of Olives…He admonished His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with the Holy Spirit…and to then take His message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world (Acts 1:4,5,8).

 

Immediately after that admonishment He rose skyward and disappeared into the clouds…leaving the disciples staring after Him in amazed wonder. But the ascension of Christ was the final act in the drama of redemption. With His mission completed…Jesus Christ was exalted to His former glory.

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most revolutionary event in the history of the world. He shook the world while here…and He continues to shake it through the Holy Spirit. His life dramatically has shaped the course of all past history to this day…and it will shape future history.

 

The Resurrection is the final proof that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be. All the fake news in the world can’t change who Jesus is…or the fact that God is in control.

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