He’s Alive! Proofs of the Resurrection - 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 - Skip Heitzig
God isn't really something to worship.
He's just waiting to destroy all of us.
I guess there's a God out there somewhere.
I hope there is a God.
God isn't really something you worship.
God is everywhere.
I was working calls for service. We'd just been chasing a guy that ran from us, and I was moving back to my car, and this lady started honking at me and frantically waving her hands. So I ran over and said, ma'am, what's going on? And her husband was driving and he had a medical episode, and it was probably a heart attack, and he was just sitting in the driver's seat.
I initially felt over and he had a pulse, and so I was reassuring her that everything was going to be OK and held his hand until he passed away. Rescue wasn't able to get there in time. And honestly, there was nothing that I could do. But as soon as he had passed away, I was the first one there to be there to console her, to tell her everything was going to be OK. And she ended up writing a thank you note, telling me how important that was for her that she didn't have to experience the death of her husband alone.
Growing up, my dad was a firefighter. He was a retired deputy chief for the fire department, and I always thought I was going to be a firefighter. But you can't do that till you're 21, so I enlist in the Marine Corps. Deployed to Iraq, got a lot of training and stuff.
And when I got back from deployment and went back to school, and between classes and wrestling practice, Cops was always on, the show Cops, and it was on repeat. So I would just kind of come back from class and watch it every day. And just the stories of the officers on there and why they do the job and watching the excitement and the exciting things that they got to do and how they dealt with people just really made me think, hey, that's what I want to do is be a cop.
My first year in particular, I was in two officer-involved shootings. The first one was a man named Chris Chase, put it on some body armor, armed himself with some weapons and ammunition, and decided to ambushed the officers. He initially shot three officers and then stole a police car and led us on a high speed chase.
I joined the pursuit. And in the pursuit, he was firing at officers as he was driving as they were trying to stop him. And he shot one additional officer, a BCSO deputy named Robin. He critically injured her, almost killed her, but she was a tough marine and she bounced back.
Every day, whether it's your first day at work or it's your last day at work, the potential for a deadly encounter is there. So I just take every day, and I'm prepared for whatever comes at me. And I don't take any day for granted, and there is no routine day.
Michelle's very supportive and very proud to be married to a law enforcement officer, someone who's able to protect and serve the public. And she's very proud of that. I may not come home, and she knows in the back of my mind that I may not come home, but she honestly believes that I am.
And that's a burden that she has to live with that I may not come home, and I have to live that with that as well. I may not come home one day, and she may get a knock on the door saying, excuse me, ma'am. Your husband's been killed in the line of duty.
It's a burden, but it's something that we bear with honor and with pride and that's our service to the community. And being a law enforcement officer, we work around the clock, shift work. Plus being in the K9 unit, I get called out all the time. I miss holidays, I miss birthdays, I miss family gatherings. I've got to leave the movie theater or dinner, and she's left by herself while I'm running off to do the call. So that's a unique challenge.
But, again, she handles it really well. She has faith in the Lord and as do I that He's protecting me, He's watching over me. And like Pastor Skip says, you're invincible til the Lord is done with you, and then there's nothing you can do to survive. And so that's the way I live my life. I trust the Lord. And if it's my day to go, then it's my day to go, and I'm OK with that.
The sound of the Velcro coming off the vest is a great sound to me and Michelle she hears it because I'm home safe and I'm about to take down my armor I'd be lying if I said stuff doesn't come home with you. I can still remember that lady, and that was years ago, that I was there for.
There's countless stories that, I mean, honestly, I've forgotten a lot of them. And if I sit here talking long enough, I'll remember a lot more stories and interactions where you just get to see the human dimension on a different level. Where they are literally on their worst day, and I'm there trying to help, trying to bring peace to the situation.
When people are running away, we're running into that. And I think that's lost on people sometimes that they just see us in video clips on TV that show one portion of what happened without telling the full story of what happened. The decisions that we make are split second, and they're often life or death. That's the scariest part is that we're dissected in slow motion, but we act in regular time. But it's something that we're willing to do for the public.
I've been around a lot of people who breathe their last breath, and I've been the last person that they see due to horrendous acts of violence. And what weapons can do to a person and you see it firsthand, it's not like the movies. It's very gruesome. And so you think about that sometimes.
But being a Christian, the Lord really protects me, and I kind of leave it at the door, so to speak, and kind of compartmentalize it and think about the good things that I've done and not miss the bad things that I've seen or been a part of. Pray for law enforcement officers as a whole that we make the best decisions that we can, and we have clarity of mind in that we go out every day with sincerity and honor the position that we're in. Pray for the departments, the leadership in the departments, and the local, city, municipal, and state governments that they make laws and rules and regulations that help our profession and help us as a society do the best that we can.
This is a job, a career, a calling that you don't really seek a lot of praise. But it's very nice for people that come up and say, hey, thank you for your service. We appreciate what you do. We support you.
Just a little thing like that goes a long way. Helps us to remember that not everybody feels the same way that's being portrayed out there and that they do support us and that they do like what we do. To anybody that out there wants to know more about law enforcement or has a negative view of them, I encourage them to go to citizen police academy and see what it's like to be a police officer or to go on a ride along or some of the community events that we have-- coffee with a cop or another event to kind of meet officers and see what they're all about, see what policing is all about so that they can make their own decision on what the profession is all about.
Let me ask you to do something for me. If you are in law enforcement, whether you are active or retired, whether it is local or federal, would you please stand to your feet, just so we can honor you this morning.
Thank you for that.
Yeah. It's a special weekend to honor law enforcement. We just felt that, especially in this climate that is so toxic in our media and in our culture that is crying to defund the police, we need them knowing that we support them, and we are confident in what they do and thankful for what they do. And so to pray for our police officers, our law enforcement today, I'm going to introduce you to Mike Geier, who is the chief of police for the Albuquerque Police Department.
Mike has served as a police officer, a law enforcement officer for 47 years, including 24 of those years in the City of Albuquerque, and he has been the chief of police for our city, for the last three years. He is going to be retiring, and we just thought this is an appropriate way to thank him and to pray for him. But he's going to pray for law enforcement officers.
One thing I need to let you know he is a man of God. He is a family man. Mike has been married to his wife Judy-- I said 43 years last night. It's 45 years. His wife was wondering what happened to those two years. And it's just precious.
Here's a man who's been married to his wife, served the community, and has been our police chief. We're honored that you're here with us, sir.
Thank you. This is a prayer for our police officers. Heavenly Father, we come to you today thankful you for the men and women or our police force, who serve and protect us around the clock. We rest better each night and go about our daily lives in safety knowing that our police force is always a phone call away to help us in our time of need.
We pray your special strength and protection upon our police officers as they go about their work of keeping the peace, preventing crime, catching lawbreakers, intervening in personal disputes, caring for victims, assisting the mentally ill, finding the lost, regulating traffic, keeping demonstrations peaceful, fighting the battle against drugs, intervening in domestic abuse, protecting against terrorism, investigating crimes, jailing criminals, and working with the court system. And we thank you for all these things that our police officers do for us. We are overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. We also have a renewed sense of the complexity and enormity of their jobs.
We thank you for each individual who has answered the call to this crucial service to our communities and for the spirit of service that they exhibit. We pray that they will receive the support they deserve from the community, the funding, and equipment they need to do their jobs, and the training they need to keep them ready to face the ever-changing world. We pray for your divine protection on each of our police men and woman.
We pray Isaiah 54:17 for them that no weapon formed against them will prosper. We pray Psalm 34:7, that protecting angels will surround them. We pray Deuteronomy 31:6, that they will be strong, courageous, and fearless. We pray Ephesians 6:10 to 18, that they would be protected by the armor of God. And we pray James 1:5, that you would generously give them wisdom and discernment in every situation.
We end by thanking you for the example of Christlike service that they give us for laying their lives on the line. For in the Bible, it says, greater love has no man that he lay down his life for his friends. That's John 15:3.
We pray your blessings and protections on the families of our police officers. We thank you for the sacrifices made by the families that we might live our lives in peace and security. And we thank you for all our police officers who provide liberty and justice for us. We pray this in the strong and mighty name of Jesus, our Lord, amen.
Amen. Amen. Thank you, Chief. Bless you.
I'd like to pray for Mike now. Father, we want to thank you for our chief of police. Thank you, Lord, for the years that he has served, the commitment with which he has served. Thank you, Lord, for his family, and thank you for his devotion to his family. Thank you that you have kept him safe and given him wisdom through the years.
We entrust him to you, Lord, as he now is able to rest after earning it for so long. Father, we pray that you would continue to use him as he serves you and serves this community. In Jesus' name, Amen. Thank you, sir. Bless you.
Thank you all. Thank you.
Would you turn in your Bibles, please, this morning to the book of First Corinthians, Chapter 15. We are currently in a series we call, 2020, Seeing Truth Clearly. What we have been doing is going through the core biblical doctrines, the teachings that constitute the Christian faith, our belief in God-- our belief in God and His attributes.
We looked at the Lord Jesus Christ the last couple of weeks, and today we are looking at his Resurrection. First Corinthians, Chapter 15. There is a man who took his wife to Israel on a Holy Land tour. Not only did he bring his wife to Israel, but he brought his mother-in-law as well.
Well, as things would happen, while they were on the tour in Israel, his mother-in-law died. And she was taken to a local undertaker, who extended his condolences but said, sir, you have a couple of options at this point. You can send her body home, back to the United States. That'll cost you about $5,000. Or we can bury her here in Israel, the Holy Land, for only about $150.
The man thought about it, and he said, you know, ship that body back home. And the undertaker was a little confused. He goes, boy, it's going to cost a lot of money, and just think about it. She could be buried here in the Holy City of Jerusalem for only $150.
And the man said, well, look, a man died here 2,000 years ago, and he was buried here in this town and he rose from the dead.
And he said, I just can't take that chance.
Have you ever thought about this? The best news the world ever heard came from a graveyard 2,000 years ago? And the news was, death has died. Death has been conquered through a Resurrection.
Chapter 15 of First Corinthians is a chapter devoted entirely to the doctrine of Resurrection. It is a lengthy chapter. It is a detailed chapter. It has 58 verses.
Most of it is talking about our future resurrection. You should care about this chapter. This is your future.
But all of that is predicated upon another resurrection, and that is one that has already happened-- the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Resurrection of Christ is the heart of our message. It is the core of Christianity. It's the guts of the Gospel. It's the very pinnacle of New Testament preaching. Without the Resurrection, none of the other truths would even matter, and Christianity would be relegated to one among many religions that are in the world.
You see, by the time of Paul the apostle, the Greeks and Romans already had their way of thinking about the world. And one was to deny the importance of the physical world. The Greeks believed in a pluralism, where the material world was evil. Only the spiritual world was of any value.
And five centuries before Paul, one of their influential writers was a man by the name of Aeschylus, who had a simple statement that infiltrated the Greek mind. He said, once a man dies and the earth drinks up his blood, there is no resurrection. Think of that statement. Once a man dies and the earth drinks up his blood, there is no resurrection.
Paul the apostle would be quick to say, I beg to differ with you. There is a resurrection, and let me give you evidence of one that has already happened-- the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 1, First Corinthians 15. "Moreover brethren, I declare to you the gospel, which I preach to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved. If you hold fast that word which I preach to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all"-- and that could be translated "first of importance or priority," "I deliver to you first that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. That he was buried, that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. And that he was seen by Cephas--" that is Peter-- "then by the twelve. After that, he was seen by over 500 brethren at once, of whom the greater part remained to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that, he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all, He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time."
Now the skeptic will say, look, we can't prove that Jesus rose from the dead. There's no scientific proof of either the existence of Jesus nor his Resurrection. And yet, lawyers who have studied the Resurrection will testify and say that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best attested to fact of ancient history.
I mean, if you think about it, how do we know that anything happened historically? How do we know, for example, that Abraham Lincoln was indeed the 16th president of the United States? There is no scientific proof that Lincoln was our president.
We can't recreate him in a laboratory. We can't bring him back to life. We can't replicate and repeat that experiment over and over and over and over again, which is the basis of the scientific method. We can't calculate an equation to prove his existence. And yet, we can assert with a high degree of probability that Abraham Lincoln was indeed the 16th president of the United States. And we can assert with a high degree of probability that he was assassinated in 1865.
How do we do that? Simple-- by appealing to historical evidence. And when you mount up the evidence, it brings into clear view that that happened. What is the evidence? Well, there were people who saw Lincoln. That's eyewitness testimony.
They wrote about what they saw. They wrote about the conversations they had with him. We have some of Lincoln's own writings in his journal. We even have photographs of Abraham Lincoln, and we even have his likeness on our pennies.
So all of that testifies to a collective belief-- an American belief-- that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. In that sense, we have proof. Maybe a better word would be "evidence."
If you want to determine what happened in a court of law, it's the same thing as historical research that I just mentioned. In a court of law, eyewitnesses are brought in. They are deemed credible or not credible. They're examined. They're cross examined.
Motives are examined. Physical evidence is admitted and scrutinized, be it fingerprints or writings or emails or texts. And given that, we have far greater evidence that Jesus existed and His Resurrection happened than we have that Plato existed or Homer existed.
So what I'd like to do, by looking again at these verses with you that we just read, is offer to you what Paul offered to his writers, and that is lines of evidence. We'll call them proofs of the bodily Resurrection of Christ. There are three of them.
Paul says, first of all, His Resurrection was anticipated by the scriptures-- the Old Testament scriptures. In Verse 3, he said, "I delivered to you first of all that, which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. That He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." Twice, he is referring back to Old Testament textual basis, the Scriptures.
Why? Because the death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is clearly foretold in the Old Testament. Jesus himself appealed to the Old Testament. Remember, when he was walking on the road to Emmaus, after His Resurrection with a couple of unnamed disciples? They didn't recognize that it was Him.
They didn't expect a Resurrection. Now He shows up, and He's walking with them and talking with them. He asked them a couple of questions. They answer back.
And He says to them these words-- "Oh foolish ones and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" And then we are told, "Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the scripture the things concerning Himself."
What was that all about? It was an Old Testament Bible study to show that the Messiah was predicted to die and rise again or to enter into His glory. When the Jews asked Jesus for a sign that He was the Messiah, He said to them, a foolish and an adulterous generation seeks after a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. He appeals to an Old Testament prophet to provide a picture, a foreshadowing of death, burial, and Resurrection.
But the real scripture that predicts the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is found in Psalm 16, and Peter knew that text. And Peter, when he preached on the day of Pentecost, brought up that Psalm to his audience in Jerusalem. And in my version, the New King James that I preach from every week, he quotes Psalm 16 as saying, David writes, "Therefore, you will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will you allow your Holy One to seek corruption."
But I want to share that from the New Living translation, where it says, "You will not leave my soul among the dead, nor will you allow your Holy One to rot in the grave." That's just kind of an in-your-face translation of that concept. You're not going to allow your Holy One, or my soul, among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
Now he's quoting Psalm 16. Then Peter goes on to explain the meaning to them of Psalm 16. He said, "David was not referring to himself when he spoke these words. David was looking into the future and predicting the Messiah's Resurrection." And if you know anything about that sermon that Peter preached, he said, I can prove to you that David wasn't talking about himself because here's his grave. David is still dead.
So when he said, you're not going to let my soul rot in the grave, he obviously wasn't talking about himself because he's still there. He must then have been referring to the son of David who would come, the Messiah who would come. Jesus Christ and His Resurrection. So Peter is saying David didn't write Psalm 16 as a personal story but as a prophetic statement.
So Jesus appealed to the Old Testament, Peter appealed to the Old Testament, and so did Paul the apostle. Paul stood before a couple of Roman governors and King Herod Agrippa. He went through a couple of years of trial in Caesarea.
And when he stood before King Herod Agrippa, in Acts 26, Paul said, "I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen, that the Messiah would suffer and be first to rise from the dead as a light to the Jews and Gentiles alike." Even Jesus himself predicted His own Resurrection. Though it's not an Old Testament scripture per se, Jesus plainly told his disciples in Mark Chapter 8, "Then Jesus began to tell them that He the Son of Man would suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, the teachers of the religious law. He would be killed, and three days later he would rise again."
You see, Jesus Christ has three basic credentials. Number one, his impact on history, unlike any other. Number two, prophecy about him. Over 300 predictions made about his birth, lineage, life, burial, death, Resurrection, et cetera-- over 300. So his impact on history fulfilled prophecy.
And number three, His Resurrection from the dead. And that's what sets Him apart from other religious leaders. It's what sets Christianity apart from other world religions.
There are about 25 other books claiming to be holy scripture. There's one thing they all lack-- prophecy, prediction. The Bible is packed full of predicted prophecy. One fourth of the Bible roughly is prophecy, where God predicts what is going to happen before it even happens. It's very, very impressive. Anybody can make predictions about the future, but when you layer it with details and then it happens, it does something to your faith. That's what Jesus said was the purpose of it.
In John 14, Verse 29, our Lord said this, "And now I have told you before it comes that when it does come to pass, you may believe." So here's Paul. He's about to tell us about our future resurrection. He begins by saying, let me tell you about Jesus' Resurrection and how we know it is a historical fact.
And it's, number one, because it was anticipated by the Scripture, the Old Testament predicted it. There is a second line of evidence, second proof. And that is the Resurrection was after His death.
Now, you might hear that and go, well, that's duh. That's pretty obvious. You have to die before you're resurrected. Yeah. But Paul wants to make a point that Jesus actually died. That's the meaning behind Verse 4.
It said In verse 3 that He died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried. Now, that's just not a little insignificant detail. By saying He was buried is to say, He really, truly, physically died. That's why He was buried.
He was buried because He was dead. He was put in the grave for three days. So Jesus actually died.
I underscore that because there has been afoot a belief that Jesus didn't die. There is a theory that has been going around for years that Jesus didn't die but He just fainted on the cross and He looked dead. And they put Him in the grave in that condition. So when he got out of the grave, it wasn't a Resurrection, it was a resuscitation.
Back in 1965, a book was written that took the world by storm. People just loved to read this book. They thought it was the latest, greatest, coolest thing. It was called The Passover Plot by Hugh Schonfield. And Schonfield said that Jesus planned His own death and staged a Resurrection.
So here you have a man talking about the way, the truth, and the life lying to everybody. That was what he postulated. Jesus planned his own death and staged a Resurrection. What he said is that He had one of his followers give Him water laced with a drug that rendered Him unconscious.
Then He had another disciple, Joseph of Arimathea stick Him in a tomb. And He was alive in that tomb, and then was in the next couple of days nursed back to health. That's called the swoon theory.
The swoon theory is basically Jesus was exhausted from the ordeal of almost dying. He had significant blood loss. He passed out, and He was stuck in the tomb.
And they get very creative about this theory. They even say Jesus went into a deep coma. But the cool atmosphere of the tomb and the aromatic spices used in burial preparation served to revive Him.
And He got back up and He stretched. And then He moved a two ton stone by Himself and walked out. That's their explanation.
And when I hear it, I go really? You believe that? Well, you have a lot more faith than I have. If you believe a person can go through that kind of physical ordeal to be stuck in a tomb in a cold, damp environment and get better after a couple of days, wow, that never happens.
There was a letter that was written to a local newspaper, and the person that wrote the letter said, "Our preacher on Easter said that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that His disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely signed, Bewildered." So somebody at the newspaper wrote back, "Dear Bewildered, beat your preacher with a cat o' nine tails with 39 heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross, hang him out in the sun for six hours, run a spear through his heart, and embalm him, and put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens."
The Gospels say He died. He died. Matthew's account says, "He yielded up His spirit." Mark and Luke simply say, "He breathed His last." That's death.
John's gospel puts it this way-- "Bowing his head, He gave up His spirit." And in the same account records that when the Roman soldiers walked by, because they were breaking legs of the victims, they didn't break Jesus' legs because they saw He was already dead. So they had testified to the fact that He was dead.
And when you retrace the steps of Jesus to the cross, you come with one conclusion after that-- He was dead. Not mostly dead. He was dead.
Last week we talked about his ordeal in the Garden of Gethsemane, that he sweat great drops of blood. And we noted to you that rare but prevalent medical condition under certain circumstances of extreme mental anguish called hematidrosis where the tiny capillaries in the blood vessels burst, and it looks like a person is sweating blood. It speaks of high anxiety.
If that happened, and the Bible says it did happen, then Jesus would be rendered extremely weak after that. From that point, He was arrested, and He went through a trial. Not one trial, but six separate trials. That evening, through the night, into the next morning, into the next day.
He stood before Annas the high priest, number one. He was taken to Caiaphas the high priest, trial number two. He was taken early in the morning to Pontius Pilate-- that's trial number three.
He was taken before the entire Sanhedrin-- that is the Jewish ruling elders. He was then sent to Herod Antipas for a trial-- that's trial number five. Then he was sent back to Pontius Pilate for a final verdict-- that is the sixth and final trial of Jesus.
After that, Pilate had him beaten-- "scourged" is the New Testament term. The Romans had a special implement called a flagrum, which was a handle with leather thongs attached to it. Woven in between were pieces of lead and glass. It was designed to grab the skin, lay hold of it, and eviscerate the victim. 39 times that hit the skin of Jesus. His back would have been taut for that event.
Then, after that, they put a crown of thorns on his head. The scalp was highly vascular. It bleeds a lot. This I know from personal experience.
So after no sleep, after lots of blood loss, after high anxiety, then they give him his cross to carry to the place of execution. And he didn't even carry the whole cross. The Romans wouldn't do that. The cross weighed too much, like a few pounds. So they gave him the upper top piece-- the cross being called the patibulum, which weighed between 70 and 90 pounds.
They placed that on his shoulder. He couldn't even make it all the way. He collapsed.
Simon carried it to Golgotha. Jesus was then strapped to the cross with huge iron tapered spikes in between his radius and ulna at his wrist. Specifically designed by the Romans so the victim would have to pull up on the spikes to get air and exhale.
Jesus died on that cross and He was buried. So it was anticipated in Scripture. It was after a literal, physical death, not a swoon. He didn't pass out. He died.
And then the third line of evidence is simply that it was affirmed by others. Notice in Verse 4, "He was buried, He rose again the third day according to the scriptures and that He was seen by Cephas and then by the twelve. After that, He was seen by over 500 at once, of whom the greater part remained to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that, He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Last of all, He was seen by me also." These are appearances of Jesus. He appeared.
How do you prove a Resurrection? You show up. All right. You show up.
So this is eyewitness testimony, and eyewitness testimony has always been-- if it's credible testimony-- the most reliable form of evidence. Paul brings in five witnesses.
Now, why was it important for Jesus to actually appear to people after His death? Was it to scare them, so he could go "boo" and watch what happens? Because people were legitimately freaked out when He showed up sometimes. They were scared. No. The reason Jesus physically appeared was to quell any rumors of what happened to that body.
Back in 1876-- you probably remember this story from your history books-- Wild Bill Hickok was murdered in South Dakota, a little town called Deadwood, South Dakota. Young gunslinger walked into a bar, put a gun to his head, and shot him right there on the spot in a poker game. That was 1876. He was buried in the White Gulch Cemetery in South Dakota.
Seven years later, they moved his body from that cemetery to another cemetery, the Mount Moriah Cemetery. If you were to have visited the original grave of Wild Bill Hickok after he was moved, you would see an empty grave. And you could say, huh, what happened to that body?
And you could say, well, maybe he was raised from the dead. But somebody who knew better would say, he didn't rise from the dead. They just moved his body.
So to quell any rumors that they just moved his body-- because after all, even His enemies, Jesus' enemies said, if you remember when He was alive, Jesus kept saying He's going to rise again from the dead. We're afraid His disciples are going to move the body. That's why Jesus appeared is to quell any rumors.
So who did He appear to? First on Paul's list is Cephas-- that's the Aramaic term for "Peter." It means "rock" in Aramaic. Pétros is his Greek name. Simon is his Hebrew name.
He appeared to Peter. Why did He appear to Peter? Well, there's probably a lot of reasons. But of all the people that needed that, I think Peter's pretty high up on the list, don't you? I think Peter needed to see Jesus most of all.
He was most remorseful because he denied Jesus. He denied him three times. So Jesus appeared to him and said, Peter, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?
Finally, Peter said, look, you know everything. You know I love you. And then Jesus graciously forgave him, basically saying, then serve Me. Than feed My sheep. Feed My sheep. Tend My lambs. And He reinstated him back into service.
Now, when Jesus appeared to Peter, you have to understand Peter's kind of life in a nutshell. Before Jesus and Peter ever got together, what did Peter do for a living? He was a fisherman. That sounds good to a lot of us, but it was just a job. He got up every morning, put his nets in his boat, took his boat on the Sea of Galilee, fished, brought it home, hung out with his wife. Did it again, did it again. It was just a monotonous, boring life.
I'm sure just working for a living every day, Peter even got up and thought, is this it? Is this all there is to life? I just work all day and come back home and do it again?
Until one day somebody walked into his life and put His gracious finger in his chest and said, from now on, you're going to fish for men. Follow me. And something grew in Peter's heart. It's called hope.
As Peter listened to Jesus' messages, as he watched His miracles. And he came to believe, this is the promised Messiah of Israel who's going to bring a kingdom. And his hope grew and grew and grew until the last week of Jesus' life, He kept confusing Peter by saying things like, I'm going to leave. You're not going to see me any longer. I'm going to die. And it was all confusing.
And then when it really happened and Jesus died on the cross, Peter's hope, which was at an all time high, his hope meter bottomed out. He was hopeless. He had no hope.
He just went back to fishing at the Sea of Galilee till the day Jesus showed up after the Resurrection. And John said to Peter, while Peter was in the boat, hey look at the shore. That's the Lord.
And I love the story. It says Peter took his outer robe, which was dry, laying in the boat. And he picked it up and he put it on him, and then he jumped in the water. Well, why do you put your outer coat on to jump in the water because you're just going to get it wet and then stand on the beach sopping wet and cold?
But you don't think at times like that. He just reacted. It's the Lord. So he came and he saw the risen Lord. He appeared to Peter.
At that point, Peter's hope resurged. So when he writes First Peter, Chapter 1, Peter said, "Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to His abundant mercy, He has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead." I'll put it in my words, Peter went from hopeless living to living hope in a second's time. He needed that apparition. He got it.
Second on the list, it says, after he was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. Who does that refer to? Sure. The apostles, the disciples of Jesus. The twelve.
Even though when Jesus appeared to them, there weren't twelve. Judas had hung himself. He betrayed Jesus, so there were actually 11. And the first time Jesus showed up there, weren't even 11. There were 10 because Thomas wasn't there.
But this has become the collective term for his disciples. They were just known as "the twelve," so Paul writes it that way. To the twelve.
That happened on Easter evening. They were assembled together in a room. The doors were locked because they were afraid, it says, of the Jews. And Jesus just materialized. They're eating dinner and all a sudden, whoosh. And he just said, "Peace." Not like peace, but like peace my peace to you.
And when he appeared to them, it transformed to them. They were suddenly lifted out of despair, and they would go on to different parts of the world, bringing the Gospel message. And almost all of them, without exception, were martyred, killed because they believed in the Resurrection.
They kept saying, He's alive, He's alive, He's alive. And they died for that belief. This is strong, strong evidence.
William Lane Craig, a very noted apologist, wrote this. "Without the belief in the Resurrection, the Christian faith could not have come into being. The disciples would have remained crushed and defeated men. Even if they continued to remember Jesus as their beloved teacher, His crucifixion would have silenced any hope of His being the Messiah. The cross would have remained the sad and shameful end of His career."
But it didn't. They were propelled outward and onward. The Resurrection turned cowards into martyrs. Bold ones at that.
So eye witness Peter and the twelve. Next on Paul's list, he just talks about 500. Look at Verse 6. "After that, he was seen by over 500 brethren"-- watch this-- "at once." Not individually. In one meeting. Of about 500 people, Jesus showed up.
"Of whom the greater part remained to the present, but some have fallen asleep." That's a nice biblical way of saying, they kicked the bucket. They're dead. Most of them are alive.
Because when Paul wrote this, it was 25 years after the Resurrection. A lot of them had died. Many of them were still alive.
Now, we don't know who these 500 are. We don't know where this happened. Presumably it happened up in Galilee.
But Paul's point is this-- lot of people saw Jesus alive after the Resurrection. So if you're a skeptic, go find one of these people, because there is a bunch of them still alive. And here's the undergirding point-- the Resurrection was not some event that occurred to just a few people in a remote location. Rather, it happened in a huge metropolitan city, and there were many eyewitnesses to verify it.
Lee Strobel, who was at one time the editor, the legal editor, for The Chicago Tribune newspaper and now a strong believer in Jesus after examining the evidence wrote this, "If we were holding a trial to determine the facts concerning the Resurrection, and if we were to call to the witness stand every witness who personally encountered the resurrected Jesus and we cross-examined them for only 15 minutes. If we went around the clock without a break, we would be listening to firsthand testimony for more than 128 hours. That's over five days-worth of testimony." And he says this-- "Who could possibly walk away unconvinced?" Only somebody who is not thinking through the facts.
So he appeared to over 500. Next on the list, he mentions James. Notice that with me. Verse 7, "And after that, he was seen by James."
Now, the only problem with this is, we don't know which James. There was a few of them, right? There was James the son of Zebedee, the brother of the Apostle John. There was James the son of Alphaeus, also numbered among the followers of Jesus, the close followers.
My guess is that this was James, the half brother of Jesus. You know, Jesus was born of a virgin, Mary. But after he was born, Joseph and Mary had normal physical relationships and had sons and daughters. The Bible even lists them by name.
The oldest half brother was James. James, along with the rest of the siblings, did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. John Chapter 7 said, they did not believe in Him.
Mark Chapter 3 even says, James and the other brothers thought Jesus was nuts. He had a messiah complex. They came to Galilee to rescue Him from Himself one time. So he was an unbeliever.
Now, just sympathize for just a moment with James. I'm not excusing him at all, but just sympathize with him. Imagine having the only big brother in the world who never sinned. All right. I mean, you have to live with somebody who never talked back to mom and dad? Never blew it.
So they did not believe, but he came to believe. How did he come to believe? Well, Jesus showed up. He appeared. He appeared to him after his death, burial, and Resurrection. Showed himself to James.
James then shows up in the first part of the Book of Acts in the upper room in Jerusalem as a believer, along with his mother Mary. They're part of the early church. James goes on to be a leader in the early church. He goes on to direct the conference in Acts Chapter 15, all as a direct result of Jesus appearing to him.
Now, James would be somebody objective because James was not predisposed to believing at all in a Resurrection. He didn't even believe Jesus was the Messiah. And when he died, he just said, He kind of deserved it.
But when Jesus appeared to him after the Resurrection, it was enough to change his mind. But the point being is that here you have James, a denier, and Peter also a denier. They would both be objective. They were not predisposed to believing in a Resurrection. That's strong evidence.
Then, finally, it says he appeared to Paul, Verse 8. "Last of all," Paul says, "He was seen by me also as one born out of due time." Jesus appeared to Paul, not only post-Resurrection but post-Ascension on the Damascus Road. You know the story from the book of Acts.
There are a number of theories trying to explain the Resurrection. I mentioned one, the swoon theory. Let me tell you about another theory unbelievers have. It's called the hallucination theory.
Can you guess what that is? Yeah. They saw Jesus alive but they hallucinated. They thought they saw Him alive. That's all that was. It was what delusional people see.
The problem with the theory is that psychiatrists tell us hallucinations only occur in certain types of people-- usually people who are high strung, people that are very imaginative. But Jesus appeared to people with different psychological profiles. For example, he appeared to Mary Magdalene, who was weeping. He appeared to a group of other women, who it says were astonished.
He appeared to Peter, who was full of remorse. He appeared to Thomas, who was full of doubt. He appeared to two on the Emmaus road who were disappointed.
Also, he appeared, it says, to 500 at once. Here's the thing about hallucinations. They don't occur to a group. If you're delusional, and you think you see something, if everybody thinks they see the same thing, guess what happened? They saw the same thing because it really happened. So the hallucination theory doesn't hold up.
Here's the bottom line-- Jesus said, I am the Resurrection and the life, and then He proved it by getting out of the grave. He said, nobody takes My life from Me. I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down. I have the power to take it again. He announced it, and He did it.
And this is one of the great facts of history. Why? Because if Jesus rose from the dead, and He predicted that He would, that means every other promise Jesus made to you, you can lean on. If it can do that, then He can do the rest of it because He is alive. Also, you have a message.
I hope you know by now, the world is pretty hopeless. Especially during this season right now, they're very hopeless. Suicides are up. You and I have a message of hope, living hope. Jesus is alive to change lives.
Our Father in Heaven, we thank you for this glorious fact of the Resurrection. We understand that Paul was telling us about our future bodily resurrection, but it was all predicated on the first fruits, on what happened in the life and death and burial and Resurrection of our Lord.
We remember the words of our Lord Jesus, who gave us what we just said, but with the economy of words, when He said, "Because I live, you also will live. And because you live, Lord Jesus, we know that we will live forever in glorified bodies, resurrected bodies in your presence. Thank you for that great hope that sets what we believe apart from what anyone else believes or disbelieves.
We have hop. Help us, Lord, to spread around. Your love, your hope to a world that desperately needs to hear it. I pray for anyone who doesn't know You yet here, listening to this message, that they would say yes to the Savior.
You who are within earshot of this message, if you find that your life is hopeless, why don't you call out to Him? Call out to Him now. Get on with it. Say yes to the Savior. Invite him into your heart.
Say to Him right now, Lord, I'm a sinner. I admit it. Help me, save me. I believe in Jesus. I believe He died for me. I believe He rose again. And I turn from my past to Jesus as my Savior.
Take my life. Take it now. In Jesus' name. Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at CalvaryNM.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.