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The Testimony For Jesus' Resurrection - Scott Richardson

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March 6 - 11, 2011 Gospel Meeting At Jackson Drive.

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March 13, 2011


The Testimony For Jesus’ Resurrection

John, in his gospel, gives overwhelming proof of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Perhaps the strongest testimony provided is that of Jesus’ resurrection. If Jesus truly did rise from the dead, He is everything that both He and John claimed! What evidence is there for the resurrection of Jesus? In John’s gospel, the testimony for Jesus’ resurrection begins with Jesus’ death.

The Crucifixion

The soldiers’ observed that Jesus was dead: “but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs” (John 19:31-33).

Blood and water came from Jesus’ pierced side: “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (John 19:34). Medical authorities have commented on this phenomenon as evidence that it proves Jesus died on the cross (not sometime later).

John himself testified of the crucifixion (John 19:35) as did Tacitus, a Roman historian (ca. 112 AD). “Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberias.”

The Empty Tomb

The most obvious thing at the tomb was that the stone was removed: “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb” (John 20:1). This was the stone that had been sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:62-66).

Then it is seen that the body is gone—the tomb is empty! “So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’”(John 20:2).

What do Peter and John find? They find the grave clothes. Peter and John see the head covering (face-cloth) lying neatly folded by itself. “And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself” (John 20:3-9). This in itself indicates there had been no hurry to get away, or to steal the body.

Some claimed even in that day that the body had been stolen. This was the “official” theory offered from the very beginning (Matthew 28:1115). Think about this: If the soldiers were asleep, how did they know it was the disciples who took the body? How could the large stone guarding the entrance be rolled away without awakening the soldiers? The soldiers guarding the tomb were Romans (Matthew 27:62-66). They were professional soldiers charged to guard the tomb with their lives. The punishment for falling asleep on duty was death.

Some claim that Jesus did not actually die on the cross, He only swooned, suffering from shock, pain, and loss of blood; He fainted (swooned) from exhaustion. Thinking that He was dead, the Roman soldiers took Him down and He was buried in the tomb. In the coolness of the tomb, Jesus revived and somehow He left the tomb, appeared to His disciples, then lived in obscurity to die years later. How incredible! Jesus would have had to revive sufficiently enough to break through the burial garments that bound Him, including a hundred pounds of spices used in preparing His body for burial (John 19:3840); roll away the large stone that sealed the tomb; fight off the Roman guards protecting the tomb; walk the seven miles to Emmaus where He was seen by the two disciples; walk back to Jerusalem where He was seen by the apostles—all within the same day!

Some also claim that those who claimed to see Jesus had hallucinations. This certainly makes no sense! The appearances were not just to individuals, one at a time. Ten apostles claimed to see Him (John 20:1925). Jesus appeared to six disciples at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-14). He appeared to over 500 people at once (1Corinthians 15:6). The theory contradicts laws and principles which psychiatrists say are essential to hallucinations. The appearances were not restricted to people of any particular psychological make up. Hallucinations are linked in an individual’s subconscious. An individual may have an hallucination, but hallucinations do not appear to groups of people. They occur in people when there is a spirit of anticipation or hopeful expectation. The disciples had no such anticipation (Luke 24:13-21). They were prone to disbelieve even after they were told of the resurrection (John 20:24-25).

The Witnesses

Mary Magdalene was the first person to the empty tomb (John 20:1). Remember, she at first thought someone took the body (John 20:2,1115), but then believed when Jesus appeared to her (John 20:16-18).

The disciples who were hiding for fear of the Jews (John 20:19), also saw Him that first day. Jesus appeared to them, showing His hands and His side (John 20:19-20). Thomas was not been with the disciples. Thomas doubted their testimony, refusing to believe. When Jesus appeared eight days later, Thomas was convinced (John 20:24-28).

Again, Jesus was with disciples in Galilee by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1). Jesus showed Himself to Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James, John, and two others (John 21:2-14).

Later, we also see John himself in particular who bore witness to the death of Jesus (John 19:35) and then who also bore witness to the resurrection of Jesus (John 21:24).

There are only two alternatives to understanding these witnesses. First is that the witnesses were credible, honest, and truthful. This understanding is enhanced by the number of the witnesses, by the character of the witnesses, by the suffering of the witnesses. They gladly suffered for their testimony (Acts 5:41). They testified even after losing loved ones, like John who lost his brother James (Acts 12:1-2). Second is that the witnesses were liars, frauds and deceivers. This theory only works if the resurrection did not occur. The very nature of their testimony does not permit being mistaken or misled. They claimed to have heard, seen, and touched Jesus following His resurrection (1John 1:1-4; Acts 10:39-41). You cannot say that they were simply mistaken, or misled; you must proclaim them liars if Jesus was not risen from the dead! Are you willing to believe that those who wrote the New Testament were so corrupt?

The testimony for Jesus’ resurrection is strong, enhanced by the evidence of the crucifixion, the evidence of the empty tomb, and the evidence of the witnesses. Alternative theories simply do not hold up in the face of such evidence.

What is the significance of this evidence and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? Jesus is everything that John and Jesus Himself claimed to be: He is the Son of God! He is the bread of life! He is the light of the world! He is the Good Shepherd! He is the resurrection and the life!

—S. Scott Richardson Sr.

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