Faithlife Sermons

Believing In Life After Death

Year B, Easter  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Dead Man Living

When Gonzalo Montoya Jimenez woke up he was lying on a hard surface. He could barely move. Black plastic surrounded his body. His shirt had been removed. He look down at his chest and saw long black lines running in a V-shaped pattern from his belly to just above his breasts. He struggled to unzip the bag calling out for help. The attendants rushed into the room and were noticeable surprised. They thought that Gonzalo was dead. Had he come back to life? Had he been resurrected from the dead?
After the excitement of Jimenze’s “resurrection” appearance had died down, he learned that the prison authorities believed that he died in his cell after failing to show for the prison’s morning count. He was assigned to the most dangerous section of the prison. Prisoner dying in the night was not that unusual. Three doctors examined Jimenze.
He learned that he had awoken just three hours before his autopsy. He had already been marked for the procedure.
Authorities found Jimenez slumped in a chair. They say that he was cyanotic. They say that his skin color was purplish and showed signs of rigor mortis. They also could not detect a pulse. Attempts to revive him failed and he was declared dead.
He was placed in a body bag but later the doctors saw the corpse move and heard him snoring. The prison forensic pathologist opened the bag and found Jimenze still alive. The doctors say that this may be a case of catalepsy-where the vital signs are nearly imperceptible. Jimenze is now in a hospital where he is intensive care. An investigation is underway by the prison authorities.

Rebuttals to Resurrection

Shortly after his resurrection a rumor was started that Jesus did not die on the cross but only appeared to die. His disciples over powered the soldiers and took him to a unidentifiable place where he healed. Jesus managed to keep a low key presence the rest of his life by only healing and teaching those who came to him. He encouraged the disciples to write the gospels.
This may sound a bit off-the-wall but it is quite popular with those who denied the resurrection. There were many other explanations to refute the historical veracity of the story. Some simply denied that it ever took place and was entirely made up. I acknowledge that the story of the resurrection is unbelievable but for me, there is very good evidence that has convinced me ii was indeed a historical event.
My first reason is the story before us. If this were a fictitious story, it would have been written differently with a few key elements added and others removed or altered. One such account is the Gospel according to Peter. The author records that a multitude of people from Jerusalem and the nearby regions gather at the tomb. A great sound came from heaven and two men descended. The heavens opened and a great light appeared. The stone rolled back by itself. The two young men entered the tomb and then three men walked out. Now that is a fantasy story.
Lets review how Matthew tells the story and we will see a remarkable difference
Matthew 28:2–4 NIV84
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
According Matthew only the Roman soldiers were there at the tomb. They are the only ones who could tell us what actually happened. Matthew records that a violent earthquake shook the tomb and an angel rolled the stone from the entrance. Jesus stepped out of the tomb and his appearance was like lightening and white as snow. The guards were like dead men out of fear. Later when they reported to the authorities they were award hush money and were required to sign a non-discloser agreement.
According Matthew only the Roman soldiers were there at the tomb. They are the only ones who could tell us what actually happened. Matthew records that a violent earthquake shook the tomb and an angel rolled the stone from the entrance. Jesus stepped out and his appearance was like lightening and white as snow. The guards were like dead men out of fear. Later when they reported to the authorities they were award hush money and were required to sign a non-discloser agreement.
Matthew’s explanation is rife with the type of irregularities that I would expect in an historical document. The soldiers assigned to guard the tomb were Roman. They were the most feared combat veterans in the world. Under Roman law a guard who lost a prisoner would have to pay with his own life. Yet these soldiers were given a reward. Also, wouldn’t at least one of them have become a disciple? They had just witnessed the greatest act in history-resurrection. Yet, none of them are mentioned ever again by name or inference.
Think about the Cyrenian who carried the Cross for Jesus after the latter had collapsed. We not only know his name but the name of his children. The father is Simon and the two sons were called Alexander and Rufus. I believe that they are mentioned by name because they became believers and participated in the life and worship of the early church. Had any of the soldiers become believers their names would have been included either one of the gospel accounts or by Paul.
The second element to this story that convinces me of its historical authenticity is the mention of the two women. Why is this important? Because in the 1st Century the testimony of women was not allowed in legal matters. Women were despised in Jewish culture. If the story were legend than two men would have been the first to discover the empty tomb.
If Matthew were writing a fictitious account it probably would have undoubtly
Now compare the two accounts.

Why is this Important?

Since this is not a class in the Bible as Literature at a secular university we must answer the question why is this important?
1 Corinthians 15:14 NIV84
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
Throughout the Bible God reveals himself through his mighty acts. Israel’s deliverance from Egypt was not due to the strength of the nation but came from the hand of God. Their very survival for so many years was not dependent on their skills as hunters or shepherds but God’s provisions. When they disobeyed God raised up the Assyrian army to conquer the northern tribes of Israel and Babylon to destroy Judah and take possession of the Jerusalem and destroy the Temple. But if Christ is not raised from the grave than death is the one enemy that God cannot conquer. Than death is stronger than God.
Secondly, if Christ is not raised from the grave then his teaching is nothing more than fanciful stories and quaint proverbs. Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God is near. Was he lying? Was he merely spouting wishful thinking? Why should we be bothered to pray “Thy Kingdom come.” Unless God raised Jesus from a Tomb God is powerless to bring in his Kingdom.
Third, if Christ is not raised then the heart of NT Christology is a delusion. The central confession of the church is the Lordship of Christ.
Romans 10:9 NIV84
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Ro
There are no qualifiers, there are no exceptions and there are no loopholes. Just before he died a friend visited WC Fields in the hospital. To his utter astonishment, the famed womanizing, drinking comedian was reading the Bible. His friend asked, “WC what are you doing?” Fields replied, “I’m looking for loopholes.”
The saving work of Christ on the Cross is not complete without the resurrection. Unless Christ conquered death, death ends our journey. There is nothing beyond the grave. But thanks be to God who raised Christ from death to life and gives us the same promise.

Do Not Be Afraid

“Believing in the resurrection of Jesus isn’t just a matter of believing that certain things are true about the physical body of Jesus that had been crucified.” They may be unbelievable but "These truths are vital and non-negotiable...
NT Wright, Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship, p.70 ”https://ref.ly/logosres/followjesus?ref=Page.p+58&off=70
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