The Resurrection of Christ
Introduction: Review & Pivotal Moment.
We set out 3 weeks ago to begin a journey of exploring the exclusive claims of the Christian faith. Every religious and non-religious make exclusive claims, therefore to give a religion a fair hearing means we need to examine those exclusive claims. If someone wants to truly examine the exclusive claims of Christianity then we must start with Jesus Christ, so we have been exploring the Gospel of Mark.
In week one we looked at the authority of Jesus Christ. Week two was on how Jesus’ authority is coupled with His deep loving care. Then in week three, we saw how the rugged, sacrificial grace of God was put on display through Jesus Christ.
Last week spoke about pivotal moments. Everyone has some significant moment that shapes who they are today. For the atheist, they might say it is the day the universe was formed. A Muslim could say it is the day the prophet Muhammad came out the cave of Hira with his first message from allah. Some would identify the 911 terrorist attacks. On a personal level someone might say there marriage, the day they got their PhD, received the job promotion they worked so hard for, or the birth of a child. Christians believe the most pivotal moment in world history, and personal history is the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Last week we examined the Cross of Christ, and today will be examining the Resurrection. I would summarize the meaning of the Resurrection as such…
Theme: The Resurrection of Christ demands we evaluate what we are living for.
1. The Revelation of the Resurrection—Mark 8.31; 9.9, 30-32; 10.32-34
At this point, I hope we all have noticed something unique about Jesus's teaching. Jesus predicted His death and resurrection—READ Mark 8.31; 9.9, 30-32; 10.30-32. We should also take notice that many of Jesus' friends and family were greatly disturbed by these predictions. In Mark 8.33 Peter tried to tell Jesus He should not talk in this predictive way. At one time his family came and attempted an intervention:
Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, "He is out of his mind."—Mark 3.20-21
But Jesus never wavered on His predictions. Jesus knew God predicted the Christ would die in Isaiah 53. God would do this to atone for our sins. Jesus also knew that OT text like Genesis 22, Psalm 16, Jonah 1.17, 2.9-10 predicted the Christ would be raised from the dead. Jesus was not speaking like a mad man or lunatic. No, these were calculated predictions based on God revealed through the OT.
2. The Reality of the Resurrection—Mark 16.1-8.
Many people do not believe in Christianity, each for their own reasons. But the resurrection is the linchpin of Christianity. If the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a historically reliable fact then Christianity falls apart. The apostle tells us in I Corinthians 15 that is if the resurrection is not true then the Christian is meaningless, and we should be the most pitied people on earth. Paul says all of this because he believes the resurrections is a historically reliable fact.
When I originally wrote this point I called it “The Story,” but after thinking about it more I thought it was wiser to say, “The History.” So, let me briefly share the history. The same women who boldly followed Jesus, and saw Him die, also saw where they buried Jesus (Mark 15.47). On a Sunday morning, they decided to go the tomb and anoint His body with perfume, which is a subtle detail conveying to us these women did not expect Jesus to believe alive (Mark 16.1-2). But when they arrived they were shocked—READ Mark 16.3-6. After this, they were instructed to go share this news with the disciples. As you read Luke 24.11 you learn all the disciples were skeptical.
The NT is the most historically reliable document from the ancient world. In his commentary on Mark Dr. Danny Akin puts it this way:
The New Testament is the most well-authenticated document of antiquity, a fact no textual critic of any theological persuasion would deny. More than 5,600 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament exist. These are of an earlier date and of a more reliable nature than those of any other work of antiquity.—Akin, p. 367
Dr. Akin is so confidently saying this because there are numerous works that have dealt with all the opposing arguments throughout history. I listed some of these books at the beginning of this series, but just in case you missed it a few of those are: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Craig Blomberg, The Son Rises by William Lane Craig, and The Resurrection of the Son of God by NT Wright. All of those are written on a scholarly level, so some easier reads are Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, and The Reason for God by Tim Keller.
3. The Response to the Resurrection.
In the final section you will talk about various types of people or responses to the historical event of the resurrection: (1) it’s not true, (2) It’s true, but I don’t care, and (3) It’s true and it changes the way I live.
First, let's consider what it means for us to say it's not true. In more recent times Christians have been accused of ignoring the evidence of science or the logic of philosophy and blindly keeping their faith. We will talk a lot more on FAITH next week, but for now let me say a few things.
The Portland pastor Art Azurdia once said, “What is authentic faith?...Faith is not a mindless stab in the dark. It is not a crossing of the fingers and hoping for the best. It is not a leap into apparent nothingness. It’s a word that speaks of reasoned, careful, deliberate, intentional thought.” In my experience, there are people who are Christians who have not carefully and deliberately reasoned through their faith. But there are also non-Christians who have not carefully and deliberately reasoned through their faith in science or logic. There are people on both sides on this. For instance, I have encouraged people throughout this series to consider reading various books on the historical reliability of the NT, which contains the account of the resurrection. If someone is unwilling to read those things or consider them then they are like Kyrie telling us the earth is actually flat. It is one thing to claim something is not true because you have really considered it, but it is another to say that because you just don't like it.
Second, there are people who believe the resurrection is true, but it doesn’t mean much to them. Many Christians fall into this trap because of their refusal to continue to wrestle with the meaning of the Cross and Resurrection. They believe the events are true, but they have no meaning. When something truly means something to you it becomes a governing thought. For instance, soon will be the 50th year since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. I can still remember hearing his I have a dream speech for the first time. This was the first time I saw two important things to me personally. One, was a black man speak so powerfully and eloquently. Two was a Christian man who was using his faith to enact change on social problems. Dr. King's speech became a governing thought when I considered the Asians, Hispanics, Disabled, and many others in my high school. Dr. King's dream became my dream. From where did Dr. King get his dream? He got it from his faith in Jesus Christ. Dr. King knew the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ changed the way we think about social injustice, human relationships, and so much more.
So, finally, let’s consider the proper response. All of the people who saw Jesus Christ raised from the dead were radically changed. Consider how cowardly the apostles were during Jesus' death, but after the resurrection, they fear persecution and death no longer. Consider Paul's disposition to Christianity before he met the risen Christ and after. If you want to live a life radically transformed like the men and women of the NT then consider learning the spiritual disciplines they practiced. Try this exercise sometime. Find an ethical or moral code in the NT, and then ask God to help you see how the code is grounded in the Cross or Resurrection. In the book of I Corinthians Paul responds to various ethical issues by pointing people back to the Cross and Resurrection. This practice happens regularly throughout the NT. The idea is God always gives us an imperative command based on an indicative truth.