“THE WITNESSES OF THE RESURRECTION”

I Corinthians 15:1-11                                              Easter of 2004

 

INTRODUCTION:   Dr. James McArthur, Jr., rightly said that as the heart is the most vital organ of the human body, the resurrection of Jesus is the most important fact of the Christian faith.  As the heart brings elements of life to all parts of the body, the fact of the resurrection of the Lord gives the ultimate guarantee to the eternal life of His followers. It is the resurrection of Jesus sets apart of the Christian faith from the rest of all religions and philosophies.  It is that empty tomb of Jesus that elevates Jesus way above any and all founders of religions in human history.  But how do we know for sure that Jesus really did rise from the dead? Let us look at the records of this historical event:

 

THE ANGEL, THE FIRST WITNESS: (Matt. 28:1-6)

       In the above scriptural reference, we read the account of the angel of the Lord who was sent from God to bring the news of the resurrection to the women who came to the tomb intended to anoint the body of Jesus. He said to the women that he knew they had come to see the body of Jesus, but Jesus was not in the tomb. Jesus had risen from the dead.  The angel also invited the woman to see the empty tomb.  If we can’t believe words of men, we certainly can believe words of the angel.

 

THE MANY EYE WITNESSES WHO SAW THE RISEN LORD:

1)      The women who went to the tomb on that Sunday morning. (John 20:14-16)

2)      The 12 disciples in that upper room on Easter evening. (John 20:19-20)

3)      The two disciples on the way to Emmaus. (Luke 24:15-23)

4)      Cephas, James, other disciples and over 500 of other believers. (I Corinth. 15:3-7)

5)      Other appearances. (Mt. 28:29; Mk. 16:9, 12; Lk. 24:31-39; Jn. 21:1, etc.)

The list goes on and on.  We may not feel comfortable to believe in one or two witnesses on accounts of things. But we certainly will find it convincing to believe in things that have so many eye witnesses.

 

PAUL’S EXTRAORDINARY ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS: (Acts. 9:1-9)

       This time, Jesus did not appeared to Paul right after risen from the dead as He appeared to other witnesses, but He appeared to Paul after He had assented into heaven.  This is an extraordinary event in the life of the Apostle Paul.  This is the vision and the high calling which Paul said he could never violate nor abandon.

 

PETER’S EARLY MESSAGES: (Acts 2:23-32; 4:8-10)

       It is the resurrection of Jesus that emboldened Peter to deliver the early Christian messages. The resurrection of Jesus was the center piece of the gospel message delivered to the 5000 as well as to the council. The power of the resurrection gave Peter and other disciples the courage to spread the message of salvation.

 

THE BOLD STAND TAKEN BY THE EARLY CHRISTIANS: (1 Corinth. 15:1-2)

       The courage and the stand taken by the early Christians is another powerful witness of the resurrection of Jesus.  Many early Christians dared to give their lives in the face of persecution and death is because of the power of the resurrection.

THE 2,000 YEARS OF CHRISTIAN WITNESS: (1 Corinthians 15:11)

       The power of the resurrection of Jesus continues to embolden believers in the expansion of the Kingdom of God.  Believers continue to give ultimate sacrifice to bring the gospel message to the utter most parts of the world as instructed by the risen Christ in Matt. 28:19-20.  The recent sacrifice of lives by four Baptist missionaries in Iraq is just one of many testimonies of the power of the resurrection.

 

CONCLUSION:

       No other founder of any religion has claimed to rise from the dead except Jesus, the son of God incarnated. It is that empty tomb on the first Easter morning that gives power and hope to all believers through the 2,000 years of Christian history. We believe and serve the Lord of life who is the giver of eternal life.