Many Theories have been posited by liberals, skeptics and nay-sayers concerning the literal resurrection of Christ. But a careful examination of the Word of God shows that these theories hold water about as well as the tomb held Jesus!
MARK - THE GOSPEL OF ACTION
“SHATTERING THE MYTHS OF MAN”
This morning to the climax of our study, as we have been spending several months now in the Gospel of Mark going through it expositionally, and we come to a tremendous place to end our study and that is, the beginning of Christianity, that is, the empty tomb. So, I encourage you to turn back to the Gospel of Mark, in chapter 15. If you have notes this morning, I’m going to approach this a little differently. We’re going to give some facts related to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and, I think it’s fair to say that, after we ended last Sunday you could suggest, perhaps, that Christianity was finished. The Savior had died. His claims as Messiah, supposedly, had just been shattered. He had died and many would say the death was either premature or unnecessary, a tragedy that He’s dead now. And I want to give you six reasons why Christianity should have, humanly speaking, been finished.
We need to review chapter 15. Verses 43 to 45 would help us, if we begin there. Look at verse 43 with me. Let’s begin, in fact, with verse 42. “And when evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council,” - you’ll notice that he’s part of the Sanhedrin that had declared Jesus guilty of death and we don’t know but, perhaps, Joseph had remained silent through all of the illegal courtroom proceedings - “who himself was waiting for the kingdom”. Now, we don’t know if there had been a change in his life but the word “waiting” is in the imperfect tense, it’s a periphrastic imperfect, which means that every chance this man had, he was waiting or thinking about the kingdom, it was constantly on his mind. When he got out of bed in the morning he thought, “Maybe today is the day the kingdom will come.” So, this man, evidently, was a man of faith, hanging on to the slim threads of hope that he had that Jesus was, in fact, that king. “and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” If he had not asked for the body, the customs of that day would have taken place. And that is, that they would have buried Jesus in the Valley of Hinnom, known as the “Valley of Ashes,” or the “Valley of Corpses,” where they kept a fire perpetually burning and the bodies of criminals were thrown into that valley and consumed by the fire. So, if he had not asked for the body, Jesus would, of course, have been buried in the Valley of Hinnom. “he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate” - was a little surprised and - “wondered if” - Jesus - “was dead” - it was a little early, and so - “summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead.” You could underline the two words dead in verse 44, “He was dead”, “He was already dead.” “And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.”
I think the first reason why Christianity was finished was because Jesus was dead. He had been crucified. The Persians created this cruel death. They worshipped, one of their particular gods was the god of the earth, and so they didn’t want to defile the sod with the body of a dead criminal. And so, they devised a way that a criminal would die above the ground. And so, they came up with this idea of crucifixion. They would elevate the body of this criminal twelve or ten feet into the air. It was a horrible death. We have witnesses, not only by the centurion but by the soldiers who were there, and no one ever denied the fact that He had, in fact, died. He was dead. It should have been finished.
The second reason that, I think humanly speaking, Christianity was all over was because His body was mummified with over a hundred pounds of spices. Turn ahead to John and let’s take a look at this practice. John, chapter 19, verses 39 and 40. “And Nicodemus came also, who had first come to Him by night” - now we have two men involved, not only Joseph of Arimathea but, Nicodemus, you remember this wealthy man -“bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.” It was the practice, in that day, to mummify the body with spices, both powder and liquid, and it took a lot of money. Nicodemus, being a wealthy man, was able to buy an amount used for a royal persons death and burial, a hundred pounds of spices, and he purchased these. “And so they took the body of Jesus,” - verse 40 - “and bound it in linen wrappings” - it’s plural. The other gospel writers will talk about a linen sheet. Evidently, they had a sheet, they took it to the tomb and they then cut it into strips, as the practice was. And they would lay the body down on a stone tablet, there in the tomb, and they would then begin to wrap every limb of His body in these linen wrappings, the “swivay(?)”. You remember that Jesus was wrapped in the “swivay(?)” when He was born, as a little baby. That’s all they had to bury Him in, was a linen sheet. That’s all they had to wrap Him in as a baby, was a linen sheet, poor birth. And they would wrap every limb of His body and interlay spices. So, by the time they’re finished, this individual is completely hidden from sight. He is wrapped completely with, who knows how many, yards of linen wrappings. And then they would lay another separate piece on His face, that they referred to as the linen handkerchief. And interwoven into these linens were at least a hundred pounds of spices. We’re going to refer back to this a little later in the sermon but, I want you to understand the practice and it was done with Jesus, as well. So He was mummified there in the tomb. They made the tombs in such a way that along the side would be a trough cut out and they would lay the body in that trough or that ledge. They would be elevated at a particular point where they would, of course, they would put the head on that elevated position. And so there He was, crucified, He was dead, and now He was mummified. There is no way He can breathe through a hundred pounds of spices and linen wrappings. He’s dead, naturally speaking or humanly speaking.
Then He is placed, of course, in a solid tombstone, number three, and a stone is rolled in front. He was placed - “in the garden” - verse 41, in - “a new tomb”. You’ve heard people refer to Him being buried in a borrowed tomb. I don’t think it was borrowed. I think it was permanent. I don’t think Joseph of Arimathea ever thought that he’d be buried there. I think he felt like he was giving away this tomb. It was the body of Jesus and it was all over. And then you notice, a stone was rolled in front. One of the other gospel writers tells us, in fact, why don’t you turn back to chapter 27 of Matthew and just hold your finger there. Chapter 27 of Matthew, and we’re going to look at several verses here but, for now, let’s look at verses 59 and 60. Matthew, chapter 27, verses 59 and 60, “And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out” - of solid - “rock” - no back doors here, no exits, this is solid rock - “and he rolled a large stone” - or he had many servants roll the stone - “against the entrance of the tomb and went away.” Now, the custom of this day, if you were wealthy enough, you could have your own tomb and, of course, have it on your own private property, as he did. And then, they would dig a trough that would run in front of that tomb. And uphill they would have a large stone that had been cut out of solid rock and it was kept in place, perhaps, by a smaller rock placed in front of this huge boulder. And, at a particular time, when the body had been deposited in the tomb, they would pull out that smaller rock and gravity would do the work that would take more than thirty or forty men to do, that is, it would roll this stone to a resting place directly in front of the tomb. In fact, we have an ancient manuscript, the man who was translating, or I should say copying, the Gospel of Mark, makes a side note in the margin of his text, he said, “They rolled this stone that more than twenty men could not budge or move.” He would give his interpretive comments, that were not part of the text, but it just struck him that such a huge tomb had such a huge rock. In fact, engineers have discovered, by studying the typical tombs of that day, that the opening would be somewhere between five and five and a half feet high so that you could bend down and go into that tomb and do the work. They estimated that for a rock to be large enough to cover a tomb with a five and a half foot opening, that rock would have to be, at least, one and a half to two tons in weight, just to be large enough to cover the entrance of that tomb. This was no small feat. And, I imagine, when the stone came to rest in front of that tomb, that Joseph walked away and whatever disciples had been there, perhaps, the women, we know were there, they left with their heads hanging low, thinking, “This is tragic.” You see, I want you to understand, you and I know the end of the chapter, we know the end of the story but don’t let that take away from you the agony that these people felt that, humanly speaking, “It’s finished.” He’s dead. He’s mummified. He’s buried.
Now, Matthew, chapter 27, verses 62 to 65, give us the fourth point, and that is that a Roman guard was positioned to guard the tomb. A Roman guard was positioned to guard the tomb. Now look at verse 62, “Now on the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, ‘Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’’” Now, if He is deceiving, why would they even worry? Notice what they say. They say, “Sir,” - “give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day”. Why? Well, they say, “lest the disciples come and steal Him away”. But, I think, they’re trying to keep Him in. “Just in case He really is, let’s take every precaution to keep Him in that tomb.” And so they said, however masking their fear that He was really the King, “lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” If they were really afraid that the disciples would come along and steal the body out of the grave and falsify His resurrection, they would know it would be a hoax. You would think the Pharisees would leave the rock off and leave the guards away, so that when the body is missing, they could say, “Look, we didn’t guard it, we didn’t put a stone in front of it, and they obviously came in the night and stole it.” I bet you, at the end of this thing, they kind of smacked themselves in the head and say, “Why did we take every precaution? That proves that something supernatural happened. Why, in the world, did we come up with the idea that we put a guard there? How are the disciples going to overcome sixteen armed guards?” They probably wished that they had left it alone. And yet, how clever God is in His plan, they did exactly that. So, they secured a Roman guard. Verse 65, “Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard;’” - or “take a guard,” literally - “go make it as secure as you know how. And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.” Now, you need to understand that this Roman guard is not like many artists portrayed this setting. You’ve seen the paintings, you know, of two or three cute looking guys in mini-skirts standing out in front of this tomb holding a couple of cardboard swords. This isn’t it at all. The guard referred to here, the Greek word indicates that this was the fighting machine of the Roman army. A unit guard would be anywhere from four to sixteen men, armed to the teeth. These men would be the most powerful defensive and offensive weapon of the entire Roman army. In fact, these men were trained to guard six square feet from attack. They were specifically trained to be able to cover and protect and guard six square feet. And there were at least four of these men, guarding at least sixteen square feet armed with spears, and swords, daggers, coats of mail, and all kinds of protective defensive and offensive materials. So, I would say then, that one of the reasons you could say that Christianity is finished is, not only is He crucified and mummified and buried, put in a solid rock tomb with a stone in front but, there is this guard, this impressive guard, that nobody will ever get through. We might as well chalk up Christianity as being finished.
But, let me give you another reason that, naturally speaking or humanly speaking, it would be over with and that was, the last part of the verse I just read, “they set a seal on the stone.” “They set a seal”. Verse 66, “And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.” This is the same thing that they did with Daniel, the prophet. It was the practice that, once the boulder was placed in front of the tomb, that they would take a rope, perhaps some kind of twine, and they would attach it to one side of the tomb with special sealing clay and then they would wrap that thread or that rope around the stone and attach it to the other side of the tomb with sealing clay. And then, the Roman authority would take a ring and press it into the clay and it, in effect, said that all of the authority of Rome is saying, “Don’t touch this rock.” And practice had it that, if you touched it, if they could come and prove that you had removed this seal, you were crucified upside-down. So, all of the Roman authority is declaring, “It’s over with, last chapter. Don’t mess with this tomb.”
And then number six, we know from studying the accounts of the gospels, the disciples were now in hiding. The disciples were in hiding. Their credibility is gone. Their message is silent. Some kingdom cause. This thing is really going to take off. These men are afraid to show their faces. They had fled the moment Jesus had been arrested in the garden. And now, they’re in hiding, perhaps in John’s home. And, I imagine, as I try to crawl into the skin of one of those disciples, I would probably be feeling tremendous confusion. I would be stunned into silence. I had spent three years of my life following this man and hearing the claim, “He was the king,” and now, He’s dead. Perhaps I would be feeling angry or bitter. Their lips were quiet.
And then, what happened next, you know, divinely speaking, Christianity would not be finished but would flourish. Let me give you some reasons to jot into your notes. First of all, we find that the feared Roman power was ignored and the seal was broken. They put up the seal. They declared that, if you touch this, you are declaring war on the entire Roman Empire. And, if caught, you would be crucified upside-down. There is the implication, in that the seal was broken, in this, somebody more powerful than Rome has come onto the scene. Somebody willing to take on the entire Roman Empire has shown himself, the seal is broken. Now, we know that to be the power of God, who will take on any kingdom. One day He’ll rule the world.
Now, I want you to turn back to John again, John, chapter 20. We’re trying to put together some of these gospel accounts to get the fullest picture possible. John, chapter 20, verse 1. And the second point, for your notes, is that the stone had been rolled away. You know well the story, you’ve heard it many times, but let’s take another look. “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark,” - it’s interesting, that all the disciples were cowards and yet, all the women were courageous - “and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.” Now, if we put together the gospel writers, the words here are interesting. There’s a little Greek word that each gospel writer would attach a different preposition to, to give us the picture of where this stone is. For your interest, Mark suggests, by his preposition, that the stone is rolled uphill, it is rolled up. And the preposition that he puts in front of “kulio” means that it’s rolled up. The other gospel writer, Luke, says that it’s rolled up and away from. He adds to what Mark says, in rolling up, and he says, it’s not only rolled up but it’s rolled away from the tomb, it’s separated from the tomb. You notice what Mary saw, look at verse 1 again in chapter 20, the last part, she - “saw the stone already taken” - you notice - “away from the tomb.” Now, this gives us an even fuller picture because John adds the preposition that, not only is it up and away but, he implies, by that preposition, that somebody has carried it away. Somebody has, literally, picked up a two ton rock and moved it not just up that gully, up the hill, but moved it away, as if it’s been thrown aside. And you see, this is fascinating, because everybody who comes back on the scene knows that somebody very strong, or perhaps fifty men have gotten hold of this rock, and somehow gotten it out of the gully and moved it away from the sepulcher and it’s lying on it’s side as if somebody, kind of, just tossed it like a pebble. The picture is beginning to unfold that something awesome has happened.
Number three, the Roman guard fled and they had to be bribed. Now, Matthew 28 tells us about this, and we won’t take time to turn, but you could jot in that reference, Matthew 28:11. We know that an earthquake took place. Maybe the earthquake was caused by that two ton rock hitting the ground and bouncing all over the place. But, whatever it was, these men were paralyzed with fear. Finally, when they got their senses about them, they fled. Did they go back to the army barracks? No. They went back, it says, to the Jewish authorities. Because after they had gained their senses, they looked into this tomb and they found that it was empty, and they’re in trouble. And now, they’re really in trouble because they have fled, in fear, the scene. They’re AWOL. Now, the Romans had a cute little practice that, if you went AWOL back in that day, you were killed, you lost your head. And so, they went to the chief priests asking, first of all, for protection, because they asked them to go to Pilate and declare that something supernatural had happened, that they hadn’t fallen asleep. But, the chief priests say, “Okay, we’ll take care of Pilate but we want you to say this, we want you to say you were sleeping.” Now, for this guard to say they were sleeping, they would have to be bribed. Because if they were caught, first of all, without their arms, they could be killed. If they struck an officer, higher up, they could be killed. If they deserted their posts, they could be killed. And, if they were caught sleeping, they could be killed. And they’re saying, “Wait, you want us to tell Pilate what? That we were sleeping? And the disciples came while we were sleeping and took the body? How much is it worth to you?” And I really believe, and we’ll have to read between the lines of the most ancient manuscripts, that these chief priests gave these guards, I think, enough money for them to retire on. Because, had Pilate agreed and protected them, their credibility as soldiers was gone. This was a fighting unit and all sixteen of them were taking a nap. The credibility of their prowess, in battle, was finished. They were foolish before the eyes of their comrades and they probably gave them enough money to comfortably retire. So they were bribed. Bribed, as well, because their lives were in jeopardy.
Now, number four, both the Jews and the Romans admitted the tomb was empty. You see, it’s fascinating, ladies and gentlemen, they never denied that the tomb was empty. “No, you were mistaken, let’s go back to the tomb,” and I’m sure they did. I’ll bet the entire city of Jerusalem went to that tomb to take a peek. The stone, they saw that, if the Pharisees had not moved it, put it back in the trench. They came and they saw the tomb. The Romans declared, by silence, that it is, in fact, empty. They never denied it. You know, this lends me just to a brief moment, to declare once again the tremendous hatred and jealousy of Jesus Christ that these Pharisees and religious leaders had toward Him. It was bad enough to see Him heal the blind man, to see him raise the dead, and reject Him. They began by rejecting His words, and then they rejected His works, and, ultimately, that leads to rejecting Him as a person. The same happens in your life and in my life. You reject His word that He is the Savior, you reject His works in what you see in the lives of other believers as John testified, and you reject the tremendous transformation that has taken place in the lives of people you know, you will one day, ultimately, reject Him, as you are in part now. But, it’s tragic after this, that we didn’t have a revival among the Sanhedrinists. You’d think that they’d call a meeting and say, “Look men, we really made a mistake. There’s no doubt in our minds now that this man is really God. Did you see that rock? Let’s figure up the facts. That was the tomb and now He’s gone and we’ve had to bribe these soldiers to lie.” How in the world could they live with themselves, knowing they bribed the soldiers to tell a lie when the soldiers came back and said, “You won’t believe what’s happened. An earthquake, the stone, paralyzed with fear, the body gone.” And yet, they continued to reject Him. I really think, my friends, that we’re going to go on. But, I think, if Jesus Christ had appeared to the Roman Empire, and had declared His Kingship, and had set up a throne and visibly reigned that they would STILL reject Him. And so would you and I, had we been there.
Number five, this is fascinating, the grave clothes were undisturbed. Look at verse 6 of John, chapter 20, they were undisturbed. “Simon Peter therefore also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there” - literally, lying in their folds. Now, you remember, seventy-two plus hours have passed since Jesus has been put in this mummified state. In these hours, in the coolness of that tomb, the encasing that He had been placed in would grow hard, in fact, it would become like cement. These linen wrappings would harden with the spices and it would become something like a shell, like a cocoon. And they step into that tomb and they look into that tomb and they see the linen wrappings, not scattered all over, not lying all about that tomb, but still in their wrappings or still in their folds, literally, still shaped like a man. It’s like seeing a body laying on a bed and a sheet is over the bed and you can see the head and you can go down and you can see the feet sticking up but there is no body in there. You see, these wrappings were still lying in their folds. Obviously Jesus Christ had simply evaporated out of those folds. And the linen napkin is still laying right in it’s place. And it’s suggested it’s even been folded. It’s like Jesus evaporated out of that thing like He, kind of, evaporated through the walls. Do you remember He went to see His disciples? He had that power. He evaporated out of that cast, out of that shell, and He left everything right there, just like it had been when He had been left.
There are three words used for “saw,” or for “see.” Underline the word “saw,” in chapter 20, verse 1, do you see that? Then underline the same word, translated in my Bible, “beheld,” verse 6. And in verse 8, you’ll see it again. And I want to pause, for just a moment, because there is a powerful truth in here. There are three different Greek words used and it’s giving us the three ways that you and I respond to truth. It says that Mary came and she - “saw the stone” - the word is “blepo,” which means that she saw and she never even thought for a moment what had occurred, she just simply saw and she took off and ran. In fact, she comes back and look what she says, in verse 2, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So she didn’t really catch on to anything in what had happened. She simply saw and she took off running. The next word, in verse 6, “beheld,” is the word “theoreo,” from which we get our English word “theorize.” Peter comes in and he enters the tomb - “and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.” And he simply saw all of those facts and he began to theorize, that is, he began to count up one plus one plus one equals. And about that time, when he’s trying to figure it all up, it says that John, in verse 8, saw, the word is “horao,” “he saw and believed.” You see, some people see and yet, they see without seeing, they see blindly. Some see the facts and then they begin to theorize. Isn’t this fascinating? You know, “I wonder what occurred here?” And they begin to run through their mind all the different possibilities. But yet, John, with a heart of faith, came in and “horao,” he saw with a heart of understanding, implied in the definition of that Greek word. “He saw and believed.” And there are people today that do the same.
I want to give you another reason that proves, in some small part, that Christianity would flourish. Number six, the women were selected as the first witnesses. And this is kind of fascinating because, in that day, if you were a woman, your testimony didn’t hold up in court. In fact, if you saw somebody killed, and you were a woman, and you stood there and you watched it all and you knew where the murderer lived, you had the address, you had all of the facts, and you came and reported it, it wouldn’t matter, you’re a woman. Your testimony would not hold up in court. But, isn’t it interesting that, all the gospel writers tell us that the first witnesses that Jesus Christ was alive were women. Now, think for just a moment, if this whole thing had been fabricated, don’t you think the disciples would have had a little more savvy, and come up with some credible person as the first eye witness and not have included women because they knew they didn’t matter? These disciples are kind of dumb. And yet, it works in the reverse, proving that they did not fabricate this testimony because, had they, women would have been left out. But they are so bold as to declare that women were the first to see Him.
And then, on top of that, you can jot in as number seven, that Christ was seen by more than 500 other people. It’s one thing to be seen by one or two or three or four people. And they could get together and they could say, “Okay, now let’s get the facts together.” But, it’s another thing to be seen by 500 plus and all of them agree that Jesus is alive. It reminds me of the story of the teacher who had four boys skip the morning classes in high school. And they came back and they told the teacher, “Teacher, we missed classes because we had a flat tire.” She immediately separated the four boys and, once she had separated them, she asked them, “All right, write down on a piece of paper which tire it was.” Smart! Well, you get 500 people together, plus the disciples, including the two men on the road to Emmaus, plus the women, somewhere along the line, we’re going to have a problem. And yet, they all agree that He’s alive.
All right now, we’ve got to wrap this up but let me give you a couple of things because, had you been there, and had you been a religious leader, you’ve got to think fast. They called an immediate council, “All right men, let’s not accept Him. Let’s find an answer to what happened out here.” Let me give you a few that have been propagated throughout history and then we’ll close. Number one, obviously, the disciples faked it by stealing the body. The disciples faked it by stealing the body. I would have loved to have been a lawyer living in this time and had a chance to cross-examine one of those soldiers. You see, because the Pharisees told them, “Look, you tell everybody,” in fact, by the way, they sent representatives out from Jerusalem to all of Macedonia telling the story that He had been stolen. They were so dead set on getting the word out that He had been stolen, they were fearful that the truth would get out. So they said to the soldiers, “Tell them you were sleeping and the disciples came and stole the body.” I’d love to get one of those guards up on a stand. “All right, let’s start from the beginning. What happened?” “Well, I fell asleep.” “Then what happened?” “Well, the disciples came and stole the body.” “Well, wait a second, if you were sleeping, how did you know it was one of the disciples that stole the body? When did you begin sleeping with your eyes open?” You see, their entire theory is riddled with problems. They’d never even hold up in a court. And let me say one other point about this. If the disciples had, indeed, stolen the body, if they had fabricated all of this story, if they had made it up, do you think that a lie would have turned them from cowards to crusaders? Do you really think that they would have been willing to come from being trembling, fearful men in hiding to now martyrs of the church, willing to die, as they all would do. Oh no, they wouldn’t do that for a lie. But they would do it for the truth.
The second theory, that is propagated or fabricated by the leaders and even by those today, is that the authorities stole the body. And that’s even more brilliant, that the authorities came along and they stole the body. Now, that makes a lot of sense because where did the church begin? Jerusalem, the hometown of these religious leaders. And what was the major message? Jesus is alive! So what do you think the authorities should have done? Produced a dead body. I think they would have paraded the body of Jesus all around Jerusalem and that would have crushed Christianity right then and there. But the authorities, who supposedly stole the body, never produced the body.
There’s a third, that’s propagated even today, it’s called the Passover plot. Briefly I could tell you that this is all a charade, that what Jesus was was an impostor and He’s come along and He wants to be the Messiah. And He knows the Old Testament and He knows all the prophesies related to His death and His resurrection. So, in order to be the Messiah and in order to fool everybody into thinking that He’s really the Messiah, He’s going to go to the cross and plan it and yet, fake His death. And He’s going to make sure that He’s taken off the cross before He’s dead. And you notice, they didn’t break His legs. That’s proof, He never really was dead. And then, once He’s in the tomb, the disciples would come and take Him out and He will present Himself to all of Jerusalem as the living Lord. This is called the Passover plot. However, the whole thing is ruined by one soldier who got out of line and, for crying out loud, he speared the Lord. That wasn’t part of the plot. He wasn’t supposed to do that. But some over-anxious soldier, to prove that Jesus had died, took his spear and he plunged it into the side of Jesus, perhaps even piercing the heart. And, as a result, Jesus did, in fact, die. He never was the Messiah, it was all a plot. And He did die and never rose again. Now, this whole plot hinges around the fact that the spear was thrust into the side and secondly that there were never any soldiers at the tomb so that the disciples could come in and get the body and, of course, bury Him silently. Now, there is a problem with this. The propagator of this Passover plot, that’s living today from what I understand, he says that there weren’t any guards because the only gospel account of guards guarding the tomb is Matthew. But, if he’d read the other accounts, he would realize that the only gospel account of the spear being plunged into the side, thus ruining the plot, is only found in John. So why decline to accept Matthew because he’s the only one and yet, take as a central part, the fact that the Passover plot, as presented in John, was shattered by the soldier piercing the side of Jesus. Do you see what they’re doing? They’re picking and choosing. They’re taking this because, “that makes sense to our view,” and “we’re going to discard all of this.”
One other view is the swoon theory. The swoon or the resuscitation theory. And, of course, this is the theory that Jesus Christ, of course, went through all of the trials, He was beaten half to death in the half-way death, flogged, He was so weak that He couldn’t even carry the crossbeam, and He is finally crucified, they nailed spikes into His forearms or wrists and His feet, and finally He is declared dead, but He’s really not. Then He is mummified with over a hundred pounds of spices, placed in a tomb, guarded by soldiers but, guess what happens? After three days of not eating and not drinking, instead of growing even weaker from all that’s happened, He grows stronger! And He breaks out of the shell of His linen wrappings, He pushes over a two-ton stone, takes on sixteen soldiers, and declares Himself King of Jerusalem. I like that view, that makes a lot of sense.
Two others, and I’m just going to name them and briefly describe them and then we’ll wrap it up. First of all, there is the wrong tomb theory. You can just jot in, the wrong tomb theory. And that’s simple, the disciples got their directions mixed up and so, when they went to the tomb to see Jesus, they went to the tomb that was empty, they went to the wrong one. And that means, of course, that the Roman soldiers were at the wrong one and Pilate had sent them to the wrong one and the Pharisees and religious rulers had all gone to the wrong one, as well. They were just all confused.
And then there is the hallucination theory. That means that nobody ever really saw Jesus. He never really came out of the grave but everybody hallucinated. That is, the 500 witnesses were hallucinating. The women hallucinated, the disciples hallucinated, in fact, all of Jerusalem, about now, is hallucinating. (laughter) I like that view too.
Oh, my friends, you know, these views would be more of a miracle than just simply believing the records of the gospel accounts, the falsehood that we see in the leaders and simply coming to the conclusion that what Jesus said He would do, He did. He came out of the tomb. There’s really no other way to explain it. There’s no way to fabricate the truth unless you deny or ignore the obvious. Now, let me say one thing. Just as Jesus said He would come into the world, He came. And He fulfilled all the prophetic elements of Old Testament prophets and what they do. Just as was prophesied, the Lamb would be slain for the sins of many, Jesus Christ died. And they even declared that He would be buried and He was, in fact, buried. If all of those add up and turn out to be so, what about the last thing that we’re waiting for? That Jesus is going to come again. That He will come back and rule and reign, not only for the 1,000 year millennial kingdom but, ultimately, forever. That, as well, is true. You and I have the privilege of standing on this side of these other three events and we’ve seen them to be true. Let’s not ignore the facts that Jesus WILL come again.