Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel
preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid
to die? Does it speak to the broken
hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision
Is the church loved? Regular:2900
wordsCommunion: 2500 wordsVideo=75wpm
Throughout the years many skeptics have tried to disprove the claims of the
Bible, only to conclude that it is very real.
Professor Thomas Arnold, author of
the three-volume History of Rome, and
holder of the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the
value of evidence in determining historical facts. This great scholar said,
“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times,
and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and
I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and
fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than
the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the
Dr. Simon Greenleaf has been considered one of the great minds of law. His
famous three-volume work, A Treatise on
the Law of Evidence, is considered one of the greatest single authorities
on the subject of evidence in the entire literature of legal procedure.
When Greenleaf examined the historical evidence for the resurrection, He came
to the conclusion that according to the laws of legal evidence used in courts
of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of
Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.
A movie in the theaters right now, “The Case for Christ”, is the story of a
law journalist, Lee Strobel, and his attempt to discredit Christianity, only to
find that it was true.
In the fictional movie “God’s Not Dead 2”, a teacher is put on trial for
her faith.Even though the movie is
fictional, and the trial is fictional, the movie producers put real people on
the witness stand, including retired LAPD detective James Warner Wallace,
author of “Cold Case Christianity”.
Just like in court, we are going to rely on the testimony of the eye-witnesses
contained in the Bible.
We will use Paul’s writing to the Corinthians as an outline for our case:
15:3–6 NKJV) —3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received:
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He
was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He
was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of
whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
1. He died (1Cor. 15:3)
Some skeptics that say that Jesus didn’t really die.One of these theories is called the “Swoon
Theory”, where supposedly Jesus only fainted on the cross and was revived once
He was placed in the tomb.
What was involved in His death?
Matthew records that before Jesus was crucified, He was “scourged” or
NKJV) Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus,
he delivered Him to be crucified.
The Romans whipped their prisoners with a device called a “flagrum”.It was a handle with long leather straps of
various lengths attached.Imbedded in
the straps were jagged pieces of bone and lead.
You can get an idea to the damage a flagrum can do with this:
Video:The Passion – Scourging
Dr. C. Truman Davis, a medical doctor who has studied crucifixion from a
medical perspective, describes the effects of the Roman flagrum used in
The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across [a
persons] shoulders, back and legs. At first the heavy thongs cut through the
skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous
tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of
the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying
muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises, which are
broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in
long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding
tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is
near death, the beating is finally stopped.
Eusebius, a third-century
historian, confirms Dr. Davis's description when he writes: "The
sufferer's veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of
the victim were open to exposure."
After having been whipped, a crown of thorns was placed on Jesus’ head, a
robe was placed over His open wounds, and He was beaten in the face by the
Roman guards (John 19:1-3).Then the
cross bar of the cross was strapped to His shoulders. Historians tell us that
the typical cross bar weighed 110 pounds (Josh McDowell quoting Dr. Pierre Barbet).
When Jesus arrived at Golgotha, His
hands and feet were nailed to the cross with iron nails.Up until about 30 years ago, it was thought
that this was just legend since there hadn’t been a lot of proof of criminals
actually being nailed to their crosses.Recent archaeological discoveries have shown that this was indeed done
(Josh McDowell, “A Ready Defense”).
Dr. Davis describes what happens to the human body after a short time of
exposure on the cross:
“As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles,
knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the
inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are
paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into
the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get
even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in
the bloodstream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to
push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen” (Josh McDowell, “A Ready Defense”).
The apostle John records,
(John 19:31–34 NLT)
—31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want
the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very
special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten
their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be
taken down. 32 So the
soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when
they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his
legs. 34 One of the
soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and
water flowed out.
A prisoner died quicker if his legs were broken because he would not be
able to push himself up to breathe. In the case of Jesus, the soldiers could
tell that He was already dead.
The piercing of His side with a spear was intended to certify that the
prisoner was dead.The flow of blood and
then water gives us evidence of Jesus’ death:
Dr. Davis records that there was “an escape of watery
fluid from the sac surrounding the heart. We, therefore, have a rather
conclusive post-mortem. Evidence that [Christ] died, not the usual crucifixion
death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the
heart by fluid in the pericardium.” (Josh McDowell, “A Ready Defense”).
Mark records that the professional executioner certified Jesus’ death.
15:44–45 NLT) —44 Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called
for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. 45 The officer
confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body.
The evidence shows that Jesus was indeed dead.
2. He was buried (1Cor. 15:4)
There are some critics who say that Jesus wasn’t buried in a tomb, but that
His body was simply thrown into a trash heap or put in a shallow grave.
Other critics say that the real problem was that the disciples went to the
What do the eye witnesses testify?
NKJV) —57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea,
named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man
went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body
to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen
cloth, 60 and laid it
in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone
against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and
the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. 62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief
priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying,
“Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After
three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day,
lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the
people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than
the first.” 65 Pilate said
to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know
how.” 66 So they went
and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
The evidence of a secure burial:
Tomb witnesses.Joseph of Arimathaea knew where Jesus was
buried (Mat. 27:60). He put the body in his own unused tomb.Certainly he knew where the body was. The two
Marys knew where Jesus was buried (Mat. 27:61). They had followed Joseph to the
tomb.On the next day, they certainly
knew where to go.It was these same two
gals who went to the tomb on Sunday (Mat. 28:1).John tells us that Nicodemus also was present
at the burial (John ).
Solid Rock:Matthew says that Jesus was buried in a
tomb carved out of solid rock (Mat. 27:60). There wasn’t a back door or escape
The Stone:As was customary in order to keep wild
animals from getting to a dead body, a stone was rolled over the mouth of the
tomb.Both Matthew and Mark record that
it was a “large” stone (Mat. 27:60; Mark 16:1-4).Modern engineers have estimated that it would
have taken a stone of 1 to 1 ˝ tons to cover the entrance (Josh McDowell, “A Ready Defense”).This isn’t
something you’d expect a man near death to be able to move.
The Guard: Matthew records that
a Roman guard unit was sent to make sure that nobody took the body (Mat.
27:66).Roman historical records tell us
that a Roman guard unit consisted of 4-16 men (Josh McDowell, “A Ready Defense”).Typically, four
men would be on guard at a time while the other twelve slept in a semi-circle
around the men on duty. The men would rotate in four hour shifts. For someone
to slip past the guard, he would have to get past the sleeping men and then get
past the men on duty.
The Seal: Matthew also records
that the tomb was “sealed” (Mat. 27:66).This meant a cord was stretched in front of the stone, with sealing clay
put on both ends, stamped with a Roman seal.The idea was that if anyone broke that seal, they would bring the wrath
of the Roman government upon them.
Burial Procedures: Jewish burial
procedures involved winding the body in several layers of cloth and spices.John records they used 75 pounds of aromatic
spices (John ).Some have suggested that this might have
revived a person who had fainted when in reality it would have suffocated
someone who was barely clinging to life.
3. He rose again (1Cor. 15:4)
What did the witnesses testify? On that first Resurrection Sunday morning…
The seal on the tomb was broken.
Somebody was going to be in trouble with the Roman government.
The tomb was empty
If the ladies simply went to the wrong tomb, did Joseph of Arimathaea go to
the wrong tomb?Did Nicodemus go to the
wrong tomb?Did the disciples go to the
wrong tomb?Were the guards at the wrong
tomb?And if all these people went to
the wrong tomb, why didn’t the Romans and the Jews simply produce the body of
Jesus after the disciples began to that He had risen?
The stone was moved.
This stone, weighing up to 1 ˝ tons, was not in its place.
The Greek text indicates it was picked up and moved up the hill.(Mat. 27:60; 28:2; Mark 16:3; Luke 24:2; John
Who did that?
The guard had fled
Though they risked losing their own lives, the Roman guard had left their
post and fled to the Jewish high priest to find protection from their boss,
Pilate (Mat. 28:11-15).
The empty grave clothes.
John describes what he and Peter found when they got to the tomb:
(John 20:5–7 NLT)
—5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there,
but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen
wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and
lying apart from the other wrappings.
The original Greek text indicates that the cloth around the body was still
in its wrapped state, but caved-in like a collapsed chrysalis.The napkin that had been covering Jesus’ head
was folded neatly, lying next to the rest of the cloth.
Over a period of forty days, Jesus began to make appearances to His
disciples (Acts 1:3; 1Cor. 15:5-8).
Some have suggested that perhaps there was some sort of “mass-hysteria”
occurring, but the events don’t support this.
The disciples weren’t expecting Jesus to have been alive (Mark ), in fact they didn’t believe when
the women first told them.
One of the disciples, Thomas, refused to believe the stories.Yet Jesus appeared to Thomas, and the skeptic
believed (John -29).
This wasn’t just some sort of vision either, their testimony included
touching Him, eating with Him, and talking with Him.
This group of disciples had fled in fear when Jesus was arrested, yet after
the resurrection they were all willing to face horrible martyr’s deaths in
order to proclaim that they had seen Jesus alive after His death.
In addition to the twelve, Jesus appeared to others as well.
Paul listed many others who saw Jesus, and said that Jesus appeared to
upwards of 500 people (1Cor. 15:6)
Even the Jewish Historian Josephus
mentions Jesus and the resurrection:
Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call
him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as
receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and
many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; (64) and when Pilate, at the
suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross,those that loved him at the
first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day,
as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful
things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not
extinct at this day.
Proof of life
If you are not a Christian, you need to take Jesus seriously.
I’m asking you to give your life to Jesus.
(John 3:16 NKJV) For God so
loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in
Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Keep in mind I’m not asking you to pay that high of a price without proof
What if someone asked you about the proof of Jesus in your life?
Could you prove that Jesus gave you eternal life?
The Bible talks about those who have already died as being “asleep”, and
resurrection is like waking up.
The Bible also says that those of us alive should learn to “wake up”.
What does that look like?
NLT) —11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is
running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first
believed. 12 The night is
almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds
like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we
belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate
in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and
immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the
presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to
indulge your evil desires.
Living differently from the world should be our “proof of life”.
Show the world you’ve got “proof of life”.
F., & Whiston, W. (1996, c1987). The works of Josephus : Complete and
unabridged. Includes index. (Ant XVIII, iii 3). Peabody: Hendrickson.