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RAP SHEET EASTER 2024!

Series: Investigating Easter

Sermon: Is The Resurrection Reasonable?

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15


ICE BREAKER: What is your favorite Easter-themed candy?


REVIEW:

This week, we celebrated Easter and continued our investigation into the events of Jesus' life by asking, "Is the resurrection reasonable?"


We have seen throughout the series that Christianity is not a religion that hinges on a book; instead, it is a movement started by the resurrection of Jesus. If the resurrection did not take place, then our movement is irrelevant. This is what Paul expressed to the Corinthians when he said:

"and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith." (1 Corinthians 15:14)


If Jesus had stayed dead, he would have been a great teacher and moral philosopher, but that's about it. However, if Jesus rose again, we can trust his claim to be God Himself!


Author Gary Habermas compiled the most comprehensive look into what scholars believe about the Resurrection. He studied over 1,400 critically upheld works on the NT, ranging from true believers to hardened atheists.


As you can imagine, there is INCREDIBLE debate about almost endless topics. However, virtually every scholar agreed on these ten facts because the historical data is so overwhelming:


  1. Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.

  2. He was buried, most likely in a private tomb.

  3. Soon afterward, the disciples were discouraged, bereaved, and despondent, having lost hope.

  4. Jesus’  tomb was found empty very soon after his burial.

  5. The disciples had experiences that they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.

  6. Due to these experiences, the disciples’ lives were thoroughly transformed - they even died for their beliefs.

  7. The proclamation of the resurrection took place very early, from the beginning of church history.

  8. The early public testimony and preaching of the Resurrection took place in the city of Jerusalem, where Jesus had been crucified and buried shortly before

  9. The gospel message centered on the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

  10. James, Jesus' brother, and Paul, who persecuted Christians, came to believe in Jesus after experiencing an appearance of Him.


These are not just Biblical facts; they are facts of history. The question, then, is what best explains these facts? Out of these ten facts, we grouped them into three arguments for why the resurrection is the most reasonable explanation. The three groupings can be labeled:

A MISSING BODY

REPORTS OF MEETINGS

A BRAND NEW MOVEMENT


Since Jesus was killed, and then his tomb was discovered empty three days later, we are left with the most crucial question: "WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BODY?"


While there have been any number of conspiracy theories put forward, none have any historical or logical backing. The fact of an empty tomb is a massive stumbling block for atheists in the investigation of what happened at Easter!


To add to the mystery, there were reports of hundreds of people experiencing Jesus back from the dead. These were not hallucinations; no one thought Jesus was a spirit or ghost since he ate and drank in their presence. Jewish people had no category for bodily resurrection and would not have been expecting that! His closest disciples were deeply grieved when Jesus died precisely because they thought he was dead FOREVER!


Not only that but even enemies and unbelievers changed their entire lives to follow Jesus once they experienced him having risen from the grave!


Because these people believed in the resurrection, they began a movement to tell as many people as possible to put their hope in Jesus. This started the Church that, over time, spread around the world and revolutionized cultures wherever it went! Those who had experienced the events we now call Easter even willingly gave their lives for their belief!


APPLY:

At the end of the message, we discussed what the world would have been like if Jesus had never risen again. The historical reality is undeniable. The reason we have hospitals, orphanages, universities, the scientific process, the Enlightenment, human rights, ethical frameworks of justice, diversity and equality, charities and help ministries, women’s and minority rights… They ALL trace back to a movement of people who GENUINELY believed that a Jewish carpenter named Jesus walked out of a grave 2000 years ago!


What does being a part of the same movement that Jesus' first disciples started because of the first Easter mean to you?


How does an understanding of how reasonable the resurrection is build your confidence in sharing your faith with others?


What is your biggest takeaway from this weekend, and what is ONE WAY it will practically affect your life this week?


PRAY:

Spend time reflecting on what Easter means to your life, and thank Jesus for His sacrifice and victory over death!



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