< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: The Resurrection

Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Resurrection

Mark 15:40 – 16:8 40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
This passage shows us two paths we can choose to follow: one of fear or one of faith. A dominant feature of this section is fear. But after the crucifixion we do see an upswing of Jesus’ friends coming out to help. Even AT the crucifixion Mark added that some of the women were there: Mary, Mary and Salome who had been with Him during His ministry. Rabbis didn’t usually have a lot of women around, but Jesus wanted to show the equality of all people. Women were important too.
Joseph was a part of the Sanhedrin who had condemned Jesus to death. So was Nicodemus. They were very high up the chain. But they believed in Jesus, even if it was secretly. And they were mindful of the need of a proper burial. Pilate would have just known they were Sanhedrin who had started the whole thing and so let them take the body.
According to John 19:39 they used 100 Roman pounds of myrrh and aloes. That’s about 75 of our pounds. First they would have laid the cloth down. Then put the body on it and covered the body with the ointment and myrrh. Then they would have rolled the cloth around and around the body like a mummy. The head would have been wrapped separately.
This part wasn’t just told to show that after the horrible way Jesus was treated Jesus’ body was taken care of at His burial. It was important that people knew He was really and truly dead.
They took the body to the tomb. Joseph was a rich man and this would have been a large tomb. New and never used.
Tombs usually had a small entrance that opened into a bigger section which had a ledge along a wall for the body to lie on. A HUGE stone would have been placed a little higher up the hill, braced by a smaller stone that a man could kick aside once the body was placed and the stone would then roll into place.
The women had followed and were watching to see where He was buried, not wanting to leave Him.
This is what we’ve been waiting for through the whole ordeal of His trials and beatings. Someone to come forward and proclaim who He was! To honor Him.
But because of the Sabbath nothing more happens until the first day of the week. And again that starts in fear. As soon as the stores were open the women would have bought spices for Jesus. Then they went to the tomb hoping to find away in to add the spices to His wrappings. So they could honor Him too. They had no idea how they would get in.
But when they got there the enormous 3 to 4 thousand pound stone had already been rolled away and there were no Roman guards around. Then they saw an angel and the grave clothes. The Gospel of John describes the grave clothes as basically left like a cocoon. The body had apparently vanished! And the face cloth had been folded as if to show someone had done it on purpose.
The Angel said He has risen. And they were very afraid. They were trembling. They were beside themselves. But there was also great joy! Like a roller coaster ride – great anticipation, but also great fear. They heard He is risen, but hadn’t seen Him yet. They may at this point have remembered Him saying He would rise.
We feel fear in our lives too. But Christ wants to offer us faith. And the resurrection supports our faith and dispels our fears

Proofs of the resurrection

1)  The body of Jesus has never been found.

There are no bones. The tomb was empty!  Bones are very hard to destroy.  If Jesus had not risen from the dead, someone would have had to take the bones.  If someone would have taken the bones it would have taken a large number of people to subdue the guards and take the body. 

2) The scriptures would have immediately been discredited.

When the Gospels were written there were still people alive who had seen what happened!

3) The supernatural transformations of the Apostles into bold preachers and martyrs. The willingness of the all the fainthearted disciples to die for their belief. Would eleven of twelve have died for a fraud? Would none have cracked? Liars make cowardly martyrs.

4) The multiplied testimonies of people who saw the resurrected savior. 1 Cor. 15:5-8 “and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born”)

5) The entirety of the Christian faith would not be based on conjecture or probability, but on a fact. If the resurrection was a hoax and the Scriptures are a man made document, wouldn’t the writers have been more careful than to place all of their authenticity eggs in one basket?

6) The Jewish conspiracy to cover up the resurrection. Matthew 28:11-15 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So 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.”

7) The grave clothes are a testimony that the body simply vanished. The wording of John indicated that’s the grave clothes would have hardened and were left as a ‘cocoon’ shape after Jesus’ body went away. 

8) No defense of the resurrection and nothing artificial is done to protect the credibility of the account. The point blank assumption that He was raised features an assumption that it is fact.

9) The Apostles were not frauds but men of character.  They were simple men who were powerfully transformed by a supernatural event.

10) The moving of the huge stone can only have been supernatural. The breaking of the Roman seal and the removal of the stone highlights the supernatural work of resurrection.

11) The change in Peter. He went from a coward to captain of the faith

12) The salvation and change in Paul.  He went from a Christian killer to captivated servant of Jesus Christ.

13) The change in James the brother of Jesus. And the change in Thomas who went from being a doubter to disciple.

14) Sunday worship from Sabbath worship. The central day of worship moved from Saturday to Sunday as a result of the New Testament account of the Resurrection.

15) That the Romans guarded His tomb speaks to the threat of resurrection. How often were the tombs of criminals guarded?  A dead criminal was seldom a threat in any way.  This guard would have consisted of 4-16 soldiers deeply loyal to the Roman seal.  In fact, their lives were dependent upon there performance.

16) The early creedal testimony of 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 that dates to within 5 to 10 years of the resurrection.

17) Jesus disappeared after 40 days. As suddenly as He appeared back on the scene is a suddenly as He left again, ascending into heaven.

18) The dominance of women as eye-witnesses.  If the account were fabricated the authors would not have used the testimony of women to prop up a lie.  It is just stated including the involvement of women that would not have been allowed to testify in court.

19) The state of the grave clothes convinced John a skeptic. (John 20:6-8). The grave wrappings provided by Joseph and Nicodemus remained in the form of a chrysalis.  The body simply vanished.  No one would have been able to have created this cocoon, except God removing the body supernaturally.

20) The disposal of the Roman guards. The Roman guards failing to maintain there post was a cause for court martial and death.  The only explanation for them being neutralized is a large well-trained fighting force or the appearance of an angel Matthew 28:2-4 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

21) Jesus’ predictions of the resurrection miracle underscores its reality.

23) The plain manner in which the narrative is recorded. The story is greatly understated.

24) The existence of the church demands a dramatic reversal. The church began 50 days after the crucifixion and 3000 were added on the first day.  Something sparked the viral launch of the world’s largest religion.  That something is the resurrection.

25) The enshrinement of the dead was common ancient practice for renowned religious leaders. Mohammed, Buddha and other religious leaders have tombs that are visited by their adherents.  The largest religion in the world has only an empty tomb, several of them to visit. There is no debate as to where these men lay.  There tombs are enshrined. Jesus tomb was never enshrined because His was empty.
1 Corinthians 15:14-19 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Paul put all of his eggs into one basket. It’s all about the resurrection. Christ is the way to God! Only Christ!
1 Corinthians 15:20-26 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Christ is the King and the judge. So what do we do with this knowledge?
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
The work of the Lord is making disciples and saving souls. Taking spiritual responsibility for the souls or others. We are called to be disciples. Look again at what the Angel told the women in Mark 16:7 go, tell his disciples and Peter.

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