The Resurrection of Jesus
October 16, 2005 -
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
1) THE UNSHAKABLE WITNESS OF SCRIPTURE - Utterly no doubt existed in the minds of any of the New Testament writers that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. It is important to remember that they gave testimony to the Resurrection, not on the basis of rumour, or as the result of some course of religious doctrinal instruction, but as eyewitnesses. In other words, they didn't merely believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. They had witnessed it. You and I have come to know Christ risen through faith. These disciples didn’t accept the resurrection of Jesus. They observed it. See Acts 1:3 - “To them he presented himself alive after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”
Another excellent passage on this same theme is 1 Corinthians 15:4-8 - “....that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”
See also the conditions of the replacing of the Apostle Judas in Acts 1:22 - “....beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection."
2) THE EASE OF DISPROOF IF JESUS HAD NOT RISEN - All the Gospel writers report the actuality of the physical resurrection of Jesus. The stone was rolled away, the grave was empty, the angels, referring to Jesus’ body, proclaimed "He is risen" - Luke 24:1-7 - “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.  And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise."
The message of the early church centered on the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. See Acts 2:29-32 - “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,  he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.  This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” See also Acts 3:14-15, 4:33, 10:40-41, 13:30, 17:18.
All of this leads to the most important part of this study. If the disciples were mistaken there were certainly enough enemies of Christianity who would try to discredit their message. All the opponents would have to do is find and produce the body of Jesus. Interestingly, no record exists of anyone so much as even suggesting a search for Jesus' body. On the contrary, the Jewish leaders were forced to resort to paying guards to tell people the disciples stole the body while they (the soldiers) were sleeping - Matthew 28:12-13 - “And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers  and said, "Tell people, 'His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.'”
3) THE NATURE OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTED PERSON - While there is mystery here (as we shall soon see) there are some absolutes we must hold on to:
a) A BODILY resurrection - He did not appear as a ghost or spiritual form. The resurrection was, as best we can describe it, physical. In John 20:20 He "showed them His hands and His side". Later, He told Thomas to touch His body (John 20:27). Luke goes so far to record that Jesus strongly denied being a spirit or ghost - Luke 24:37, 39-40 - “But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit........See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."  And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.”
b) A SPIRITUAL resurrection - While Jesus' resurrection was physical, it must be said that it was not physicality as we experience it presently. There was a new dimension to Him. See Luke 24:36-37 - “As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!"  But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.”
See some additional details in John 20:19 - “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
Notice Jesus' ability to appear suddenly from nowhere and enter rooms with locked doors, etc. This is a mysterious collection of data. While Jesus’ body was physical enough to be touched and to digest food, it was also not ordinary physical existence. This is what makes Jesus' resurrection a unique event. Other resurrections in the Gospels are only temporary resuscitations of physical existence as we know it. In Christ we see catch a glimpse of what the resurrected body will be like. For more information on this see 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 - “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.  It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
c) A MYSTERIOUS resurrection - There are some things we will simply have to wait to understand. Mary met the Risen Jesus in the garden and somehow couldn't recognize Him - John 20:14-15 - “Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."
The disciples on the road to Emmaus walked with Him for some time but didn't know it was Jesus - Luke 24:16 - “But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”People speculate about why these things happened but no one knows for certain. Part of the answer may be found in an obscure verse in Mark 16:12-13 - “After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.  And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.” This passage seems to hint that the resurrected body, while visible and touchable, is not limited to the same constant form. Thus, while people did eventually recognize Jesus, sometimes right away, there were also times when there was something different about Him. Taking all the resurrection accounts together there is both "sameness" and "otherness". One day we will understand.
4) THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS - These are cornerstone truths to hold in our minds:
a) The completion of our salvation - Romans 4:24-25 - “....It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,  who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” His death pays the price. His Resurrection frees us from the tyranny of sin and death - Hebrews 2:14-15 - “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,  and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” See also Acts 2:24 and Romans 6:9.
b) Declaration of His Deity and Lordship - His earthly submission was humble. His resurrection was majestic. See Romans 1:4 - “....and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord....” The resurrection of Jesus proves His global authorization by the Father. Jesus is no tribal deity - Acts 4:10-12 - “....let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.  This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
c) Assurance of our resurrection - Great words in 1 Corinthians 15:19-22 - “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” The new age has already dawned. Our future is bright and guaranteed. Paul says that Christ is now "...Lord, both of the dead and of the living" (Romans 14:9).