The Easter Effect

MATTHEW 28: 1- 7A

JESUS CHRIST died a quivering corpse on a cruel cross.

Heaven was in danger of embarrassment.

Earth was in danger of enslavement.

Deity was in danger of being disgraced.

Devotion was in danger of being disillusioned.

Then an angelic messenger brought the best news since the angels in Bethlehem announced His birth. It was a message that brought joy to the world — HE IS RISEN.

JESUS CHRIST triumphant bodily resurrection has a daily effect on the lives of millions.

He Who overcame the ultimate enables individuals daily to achieve the optimum.

Those dying with faith in Christ do so confidently knowing their Lord also walked this path and turned around to come back and say, “It’s OK! What is ahead is worth the trip.”

See the broken hearted bereft by the death of a loved one. They grieve, but not as those who have no hope. Knowing their deceased beloved is more alive than they ambition regarding ultimate reunion inspires hope in them daily.

Observe the youth in a minority position beleaguered by moral bullies standing firm in the faith enabled by the support of their living Lord.

The stressed and distressed person in business is enabled to maintain moral equilibrium because of an awareness of the compelling presence of the resurrected Christ.

The wife/mother/domestic engineer puzzled by the perplexities of life is encouraged knowing she is the object of the love of the living Lord.

The elderly, alone, knowing in reality they are not alone because of their compassionate companion, the resurrected Lord.

Listen to the hope expressed by the person who has to surrender to the awfulness of what is happening to them when they are wrapped in suffering like the cloth around a mummy. Hear their hope springing from an awareness that He ever lives to comfort.

Easter has a daily effect on all of us.

Journey with me back to that first resurrection morning. The light of dawn is but slight as the Creator turns up His daily rheostat on the scene. If we had come uninformed, like the women who were the tomb’s first visitors, we would have been coming to visit a dead man.

A brilliant young jurist who had been a party to the crucifixion as a disbeliever was later converted to faith in Christ by the fact of the resurrection. His name was Saul. He was from Tarsus. After the rumor of the resurrection spread he was empowered with legal documents entitling him to search out, torture, and if necessary kill those professing belief in the resurrection. In the course of the events that followed he to became a believer in the Lord of the resurrection and wrote:

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen …(I Corinthians 15: 3 – 5a).I. HE DIED
To understand the resurrection we must accept His death.

Critics of the resurrection have consistently concocted lies to try to discredit it. Facts won’t allow it. He died according to the Scripture. That is, on the day of His death approximately 30 prophecies regarding Him were fulfilled. They occurred just like the prophets said they would.

Persons who profess He didn’t actually die don’t understand to what He was subjected in the last hours of life. One reason Pilate wanted to scourge Him was that it alone often resulted in death. This coupled with the hours of torment by His detractors depleted the best of men. Asphyxiation killed most who were crucified. Blood loss drained any remaining life. Then there was the coup de grace. The Roman soldier’s spear thrust opened a wound in His side, pierced the pericardium, and punctured the heart allowing blood and water to freely flow out.

His death had a purpose. According to the Scripture He died for our sins. This is a reduction of the gospel to its essence. Our salvation is based on a historical event. Our salvation is dependent upon the happenings in two moments in time. One is the moment of His resurrection and the other is the moment of our faith response to Him. He has done His part and awaits our response.

The women came to the grave to complete the internment process which was aborted by the sundown which brought the Sabbath day. They walked as they talked about who would remove the stone. Such stones weighed between one and three tons.

Engage your intellect to learn a beautiful principle. The Scripture says the stone was “rolled away.” The Greek word for “rolled” is KULIO.

Mark uses a prepositional prefix “ANA”. Thus, the word ANAKULIO. With the prefix added the word means to roll up an incline.

Luke uses a different prefix, “APO”, which when added renders APOKULIO which means to roll a great distance.

Combined we get a picture of how the angel moved this one to three ton stone. He moved it up hill a great distance away.

That is how our Lord works. He didn’t just tilt the stone He MOVED it.

Colleagues and critics alike agree the tomb was empty that Easter morning. The expected dead man wasn’t there. The angel messenger said it clearly, “He is not here, for He is risen…”

One of the most prominent critics of the resurrection recently stated that the appearances of Christ after burial can’t be attributed to hallucinations. That is obviously true because there has never been such a thing as group hallucination.

Note these observances: “and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 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. After that He was seen of James, then all the apostles, Then last of all He was seen by me…” (I Cor. 15: 5 – 9a).

Did you catch that? He was seen of Peter. Of all the people who didn’t expect to or want to see Jesus it was Peter who just a few days before had refused to even acknowledge knowing Him. He lived to write of what the resurrection meant to all of us in the opening verses of his first letter:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice…” (I Peter 1: 3 – 6a).

Now back to the modern critic who concedes the appearances can’t be attributed to hallucination or any of the other normal attempts to explain it away. He has a new theory. Are you ready?
Jesus had a twin brother.

Sure, He did! And all of His life no one knew? You have got to be kidding. Such would have been exploited long before.

After the resurrection and reports of His appearing great persecution broke out.

Imagine Mary seeing Jesus’ twin and the resulting confusion. Can’t you just her saying to him: “Buford, what do you mean showing up here now, Bubba, causing this confusion!”

When the pressure and persecution built on the disciples don’t you know they would have hunted up Buford and exposed him to stop the persecution. “Buford, if you keep up this charade you are going to get us all killed, Bubba.”

A contemporary of Christ was medical doctor Luke. He examined the evidence for the resurrection and concluded it consists of “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1: 3). Observe, there were “many…proofs” and they were “infallible.” The statement was made by a man of science based on first person observation at the time of the event. It didn’t come from a dreamer with a vivid imagination two thousand years after the event.

Every argument against the resurrection is philosophic.

Every argument for the crucifixion is historical.

Our philosophy should help us explain the events of life not explain them away.

As the appointee of the highest court of the day to investigate reports of a crucifixion, Paul heard more reports of the resurrection than anyone. In the court of Festus with King

Agrippa present Paul testified: “For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.” (Acts 26:26)

Had not the fact of the resurrection been common knowledge someone in the court would have disputed the claim.

The resurrection redefines for us hope. It happened when there was no hope of it happening. The idea of Christ coming back from the grave was alien to anything His followers thought. Despair dominated during those initial days after His execution. Their hope was given birth. The best news the world ever heard came from a grave yard just outside Jerusalem: “He is risen.” With that announcement hope arose.

There are many nihilistic, fatalistic, and pessimistic philosophies alive in the world today. Summarily they generally fall under one of three headings.

Rene Descartes opened the door for a naturalist point of view with his statement: “I think; therefore, I am.”

This was the intellectual steppingstone to the conclusion that God made the universe and removed Himself from any other association with His creation. This philosophy assumes nature has its own set of laws and dynamics which govern the universe without any overriding reason or purpose.

A second philosophy, existentialism as defined by Jean-Paul Sartre, declares, “Every living thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance.” What a downer! Many people live with that attitude without knowing it as a formal philosophy.

Later the German philosopher Fredrich Nietzsche simplified it with the expression, “God is dead.”

The third philosophy of life is defined for us by the resurrected Christ. Christ fortifies His followers with tangible
hope as expressed from the other side of the grave in this His immortal inaugural:

“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore …” (Rev 1:18.)

Because of His resurrection Christ made life user-friendly. He gives hope, purpose, meaning, and direction to life. Our hope is not tied to success, security, wealth, or power, but to Christ. His future is our future.

This is illustrated by this dialogue:
“Are you a believer?” asked Caligular.
“Yes,” responded the man.
“Then I shall kill you too.”
Then the man started laughing.
“If you don’t renounce the faith I will kill you.”
The man laughed even more.
“What is your name demanded?” Caligular.

Finally controlling his laughter the man threatened with death said, “My name is Lazarus.”

The resurrection made death a laughing matter.

There are 20,000 new words being added annually to our language, and still there isn’t one adequate to express the meaning of our eternal hope in Christ Jesus.

One of Christ’s last appearances was on the Mount of Olives where a large crowd watched Him ascend into heaven. Then an angel appeared “who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.'” (Acts 1:11.)

We should know it. He left us a vital clue in the grave. John 20: 7 notes it. The napkin used as part of the burial cloth is described by John as being left folded in a place by itself.

In the orient in that era napkins were used by noblemen in dining. Servants stood by to attend their master. If the master crumpled the napkin and left the table the servant knew he was finished and was not coming back.

If the master folded the napkin and left it on the table it signaled he was not through and was coming back.
That folded napkin and the angels message coincide, “He is coming again.”

You want proof of His coming. The many infallible proofs of His resurrection confirm it.

Legal minds today concur in the uncommon common belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

John Singleton Copley, one of the great legal minds in British history and three times High Chancellor of England wrote, “I know pretty well what evidence is, and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never broken down yet.”

Two brilliant American jurists, James E. Bennett of New York, and Irwin H. Linton of Washington D.C. have come to the conclusion that it is absolutely impossible for any man with a legal mind, and accustomed to sifting evidence to sit down and thoroughly investigate the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and come to any conclusion other than that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Dr. Thomas Arnold, touted by his colleagues, as a man of intellectual integrity and legal excellence wrote: “I know no fact in the history of humankind which is proven by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the mind of fair inquirer, that the great sign which God has given us, that Christ died and rose again.”

Therefore we are “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).

We wait and live with HOPE. We wait and live OBEDIENTLY.