The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A Historical Study

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If a person was going to try and approach this topic of the Resurrection of Christ, there are many ways to tackle it. It is a task that should concern every person who’s acting on this subject, first as a historian; don’t think theologian. That’s the mistake of so many people as they come into the church and they try to force their ideas of what they have come to believe on to the rest of the body, instead of taking a historical approach. And this is why I have said it is important that we should take the time, and I’ve said this in many messages, if you’re going to read a scholar, if you’re going to buy a book on the subject, the proofs of the Resurrection, or the proof of anything, start first by asking the question is the author of this information starting out with a hypothesis or a theory that he or she wishes to prove, and then sets out to get supporting data to shore up their first goal, which is they will support what their ideas, theories, hypothesis are. Or is this actually a genuine attempt at trying to ferret out, find, and put together some conclusion that will bring forth a theory, or a hypothesis. And if we distinguish between the two you can pretty much put yourself into one camp or the other. People who have been brought up in a certain religious frame, who come in with a set theory or a hypothesis, ideology, or theology into the church, and they must find everything to support what they believe. And anything that does not support what they believe they kick it out or they leave, right? The flipside are people who are genuinely coming in, and I’m looking for those people today, the people who have no bias at the beginning, their horizon is plain. They’re, they’re; it has not been obstructed and they’re looking to collect the data to then make a fair assessment and come up with the ultimate decision based on the data that has been presented. You know, I think a lot of times people think Christianity, or any of the world’s religions are relegated to people who are weak, distraught, and are confused, and therefore in the search and quest to find something that they can objectively latch on to, this is how a lot of religion is explained away. And I really resent that because as I said I’ve been exposed to much in my lifetime and I can certainly say that although I have navigated some interesting and dark times, my, I don’t want to call it my decision because it was God’s decision, He found me, to open my heart and my mind to the evidence was not based on some weakness, but rather you’re looking at probably one of many in this room who would class themselves as great skeptics at the get-go: “There’s got to be something more to this thing, but I’m just not sure.” So, let me kind of push on here. There are those who would say strictly addressing the subject of the Resurrection of Christ (which I will get to) that miracles of that nature cannot occur; no person has ever come back from the dead. But if you’re going to throw the miracle of the virgin birth and the death and Resurrection, but specifically the virgin birth and the Resurrection of Christ out the window, you must also throw all of the Old Testament miracles out the window as well. So to my Jewish friends and listeners, your Scriptures have just been thrown in the garbage too, along with mine, so two of us can, two groups can walk in misery against the skeptics. But if this is what I’m trying to labor at, if somebody can wrap their mind around the fact that apart from creation God raised up a deliverer type in Moses and put on display many miracles that no mortal man could perform, whether it was God controlling the weather or God turning the water to blood or whether, I mean the death of, the death angel passing through, the essential first Passover; but all these are miracles, including the miracles of deliverance being led out of Egypt and all of those things that eyewitnesses to the events of the parting of the Red Sea to perhaps the walls of Jericho falling down. All of these miracles that were by God’s design to put His power on display to demonstrate He is God and He changes not must be thrown out along with the miracles of the New Testament. The miracles of Elisha, think about what was chronicled by the hand; by the hand or the mouth of Elisha, of Elijah, of a diversity of persons throughout the Old Testament. And you can’t just say, “Well, just discount the New Testament in Christ, because we don’t want to deal with Him, but we’ll keep the Old.” No, if you’re going to discount the New you’ve got to discount the Old and basically you have no Bible, which brings me to something very interesting. Along all of these arguments and I was tempted to bring many of the books that I use, but I just thought, you know what? You’ll take my word for it. You find that there are a lot of people who will talk about the impossibility of Christ’s Resurrection as a miracle event, but will not deny the fact that Christ lived. Now here, indulge me for a minute. If the report from this, this is an article from NPR, if the report is right, “As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents. That’s nearly 31 percent of all 6.9 billion people on earth. In 2010, Islam was the second with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent of the global population. And these numbers are predicted to shift in coming decades as the world’s population rises to 9.3 billion by the middle of this century. In that time the projection is that Islam will grow by 73 percent, while Christianity will grow by 35 percent, resulting in a 2.8 billion Muslim and 2.9 billion Christians worldwide.” And a small sliver of that, it’s a very small percentage makes up Judaism. Indulge me for a second because I’ve got to tackle this. If all of these great scholars are looking at the same information I am, then you’re going to have an interesting roadblock because well close to and well over 50 percent of the world’s religions, we’ll call it somewhere verging 60 percent of the world’s religions, not all, but including Judaism, Christianity and Islam do not deny the existence of Christ. They just view Him differently. This is a huge problem when you consider that 60 percent that comprises Judaism, Christianity and Islam include Jesus in some dimension. Putting aside the 23 percent I think they said here, or 31 percent of Christians and tackling the percentage of Muslims and Jews involved in this total number, people make a great mistake in thinking when they make a declaration, such as, “Jesus didn’t live,” while even the Quran, which was written some 600 years-plus after Christ acknowledges that Christ lived, that He was a great prophet of God. They just do not acknowledge that He was Savior or that He was Son of God. They do not acknowledge that He actually died and rose, but acknowledge that He lived. In their writings it is at least seventy times, somewhere around seventy times in the Surahs talking about the life of Jesus, acknowledging by the way that He was born of a virgin. I’m not quite sure how that could be accepted and some other things not, but that He went around working great miracles, doing great deeds, was a prophet of God, spoke the words of God. And in Judaism, although we do not read in the Old Testament about pertaining to the things of how Jews understand or perceive Jesus, Jesus by far is understood as a man who lived and essentially led a lot of people astray; but He lived. So these are important because that represents 60 percent of the three religions and if you, if you even kind of tippy-toe into some of, not all, but some of Buddhists, some of the Buddhists’ beliefs, which are steeped in Buddhism and some of them splinter off into different directions, but ask them about Jesus as well. And I read an interesting article there about those people within Buddhism who say, “Yes, and Jesus was a great man. He’s on the same plane as Gautama Buddha. He did say wonderful and good things,” and they reduce Him down to that, essentially acknowledging that He lived. Now the reason why I bring this up is because if you’re going to start talking about Jesus, you have to essentially acknowledge that He lived. And although I just said something brief and I’m going to blow right by it, it’s important to understand that miracles don’t happen with somebody who didn’t exist. That’s the first thing that has to be argued and it’s slightly, you know, it’s rhetoric, I know, but it must be said that way. Now if somebody is going to do some real analysis outside of these world’s religions and outside of that, and I may come back to tell you what five, how five rabbis explain Jesus; in fact, I’m going to do it right now. I’ll give you, I’ll just give you their; these are five current rabbis: “Jesus was a national hero.” I won’t give you the elaboration because I don’t have the time. “Jesus was a national hero.” He was the “penultimate Messiah,” precursor to the ultimate Messiah, “a righteous leader.” One of these says, “He was a rabbi,” well, He was that, and “an ethical exemplar.” These are five different rabbis explaining Jesus, and the same five rabbis you could ask to explain their concept of what happens to you when you die or heaven, and you’ll have five different answers as well. So I just thought I would kind of pop that in there so you can see there’s a lot more to this. But if we are going to do a study and try and get some information, there are a few things that we must do as historians or detectives. One of them is use a method, and a method that is been tried and proven that we know that it has the ability to unearth. We have to submit the ideas to people who may be unsympathetic to our position, and at the same time, they have to have some knowledge of this field. That’s done, by the way, on a constant basis in Universities and in religious publications by scholars. It just doesn’t happen. Usually in churches what happens is somebody comes up with an idea that they think is a good idea to be added on into the church and the poor people who are subjected to this are usually unsuspecting parishioners and congregants who may be a little bit lazy to check out the pastor to check and make sure what is being said is actually true or in the Bible. So it’s important to submit ideas, we’ll call it to a metal test. The next thing would be to detach from bias. That means even if I go into the subject really wanting to believe that this event happened, I must be willing to open myself up to the possibility that I may find things that may not be congruent with my position. And I have to be honest enough as a researcher and a reporter that if I find different, putting aside ego and pride to report those in my findings, or if you’re doing the same thing. Not to “Well, no matter what, I’m going to say this happened.” That’s lying. Last but not least, accounting for what we know as certain history, certain things that absolutely unequivocally happened and there’s no changing that. For example, if you point into the Bible in the New Testament, we would say for example, the individual named Pontius Pilate existed. Certain individuals historically documented, which are absolute foundations recorded in secular history, which there is no debate unequivocally lived and there is much history recorded about them. So this would be the type of method we would, or thinking we would use and we’d begin first with the burden of proof. Now you might say, “Well, this is kind of taxing. I expected you to, you know, tell me something today that’s going to give me a spiritual back massage.” But what I’m doing today is I’m trying to get those people who have not yet come to a place of really being able to analyze with thought why this matters. This approach, specifically looking at the Resurrection of Christ, matters. Since most of our information comes from the text, the Bible, we could apply some methods of approach. We could apply the “I’m skeptic about this information.” We could apply being completely neutral or we could, we could apply a method of what seems most credible or plausible. So we could also say what seems more or less miraculous, what seems━we could do the more or less thing, which a lot of scholars have engaged in. But if God doesn’t exist, and I just gave you a 60 percent of the three main religions that say Jesus lived and existed and indeed, whether you call Him a prophet, whether you call Him a liar, or whether you call Him the Son of God, no one in the 60 percent is debating that Jesus, the man, which we in Christianity call man and God lived, but if God doesn’t exist, then the reporters of the internal information that we will use, called the Bible, are lying. If we operate under the auspices that God exists, then we have to ask, is there good evidence that this report occurred. Whatever it is that we’re looking at, is there good evidence that it occurred? Is there a pattern which God has intervened or done something on a repeated basis? Do we have evidence that leans the other way: reporters are not to be trusted, full of deceit and lies and this is all a probability, an untruth or a lie? So these are the approaches and if we take arguments such as “the dead do not raise,” then again I digress back to this book and say, well, then you’ve got a lot of issues to deal with, because in the Old Testament, we had somebody who raised from the dead and in the New Testament, apart from Jesus, we had somebody who was raised from the dead. In fact, there were multiple people that were considered raised from the dead apart from Christ. So now you’ve got some real issues; the validity of this whole book is at stake, not just the New Testament, as some would like to propose. So here, a little example that’s very bizarre, because this is how people tend to compare the Resurrection information with making some type of analysis. Say for example, Queen Elizabeth lived and she died in 1600. I’m not sure that’s the date, but she died. And let’s just say after she was supposedly buried, she came back and she reigned an extra three or ten years or whatever it was on the throne and people had been eyewitnesses to this event. They’d like to say, “That is impossible,” and for the sake of our argument, what would it, what would that do if you tool the same application and applied it to Christ? Christ lived, He died, He rose again, He was seen by others and said He’s coming back. The only thing that separates the instances is that Queen Elizabeth never performed any miracles. Well, maybe she did in terms of the eyes of the sexist universe in which she lived, but other than that I don’t see she performed any miracles. And so you come up with a flawed argument at the get-go, not just some equivalent of something, but the very fact that what Jesus did in His lifetime is also congruent with what happened in His death and Resurrection, and also congruent with what happened afterwards with His disciples and the promises that were given to them of what would happen after He had died, resurrected and ascended, so all of these factors become very important. Now if you’re going to tackle the subject of the Resurrection of Christ you’ve got to deal with the fact that Christianity indeed begins with a miracle. If a child was born miraculously to a virgin, I mean if that’s even possible; we know that is the description of what we’re told in the Gospels, if that’s even possible, but it wouldn’t have made a difference had Christ not lived, in those three-plus years had His public ministry, called His disciples to be essentially followers and witnesses of Him. But the most important thing was He could have even, as some object and say, “Well, He, He prophesied His death in terms of what prophecies of the Old Testament declared of Him so that He could fulfill them,” but the control over the various players to time your death at an exact time by the hands of certain people and make that all come to pass, that, that in and of itself, forget about coming out of the grave! Those pieces of information are miraculous. To say, “Well, He fulfilled prophecy; oh, well, that’s easy. He just manipulated the people”” How do you think this appears that as Palm Sunday was celebrated in many churches last week, how do you think this appears that somehow when Jesus came into town He told His disciples, when He did, the Scripture says, “Go, get a donkey that’s over there.” But did He tell, did He pepper the crowd? Did He put a few plants in like a crusade, you know, and say, “Hey, when you see Jesus come in, say, ‘Hosanna to the King!’ and then everybody will chime in and they’ll all start doing it,” how do you control a crowd of people like that? How do you do that? How is that possible to do that? These are the things that we never stop to think of. How could you manipulate so many people and then turn around and say, “Well, miracles don’t happen and they can’t happen”? Just these certain events around Jesus’ life are miraculous in and of themselves, putting aside the Resurrection. And of all these people who like to argue about the Resurrection and say, “It can’t happen because no one’s ever been dead and come back to life.” I love how Lazarus is included in the records as beloved of Jesus, brother of Mary and Martha; the lament that Jesus didn’t get there soon enough, which they could not understand was by perfect design to prove that Lazarus was certifiably dead. And Jesus does but one thing, calls him from the grave and he comes forth. Don’t say nobody ever came forth, but you’d have to go back and say the people reporting this event of Lazarus coming out of the tomb made it up and were lying. Now I don’t know about you, but even that manipulation, if we’ll call it that seems kind of strange like, you know one of the ladies says, “And you know, he’s going to stink,” or “He stinks.” You know, it’s the “too many days have passed.” Think about exactly what you would have to manipulate, or better yet, what you as a writer chronicling, supposedly chronicling or inventing this, what you would have to manipulate to make all of these things work out the way they did. So the majority of the reports in the Gospels, as I said, that’s what we’re using, detail some evidence. You’ve got to kind of go through and look and sort through and when people talk about the discrepancies. Right now I’m going through submitting ideas to people who may not be that sympathetic and say, “Oh, I’ve read the Gospels; nothing adds up, they’re not the same.” One report, John’s Gospel says it was noon the day before Passover meal, the Passover meal was eaten, whereas Mark says it was 9am, after the Passover meal was eaten. One account says Mary was at the tomb alone or there were two other women there. And what exactly did they see at the tomb, because Mark’s account says a man, Luke says two men and Matthew says an angel. That’s where people say, “Well, you see, nothing agrees, so I can’t take any of this because none of it is, is in accordance. None of it matches up.” Now my first reasoning about these texts is there’s a lot of, I’m going to use the word, there are a lot of embarrassing and strange facts included in these records, which I would like to call in some strange way biographies or chronicles of the disciples. Not all were followers, but of at least Mark, Matthew, and John; I’ll deal with Luke in a minute. Biographies in the sense of not complete, not the complete life of Christ, not every detail that He did, but the things that were written down give an insight; bios, from the Greek word, bios, “life” the life of an individual, in this case, not the entire life but a snippet of the life. And what is interesting to me is that while these people will debate none of these things agree there are more things agreed upon in the Gospel records than disagreed upon. So the people who highlight the things that I just did like, you know: did the women tell the disciples? And why were the women the one? And why then in, particularly in one instance, why were the women silent? There’s a whole litany of questions regarding the authenticity or the validity. There are scholars who propose to look at the Gospels and claim they are mere mythology, for which I have an interesting thought on that, but I’ll keep that one to myself. If, if the Gospels are part of a mythological genre as some suppose, then you could equally put it to the burden of proof. And I’m going to go back to the question, if it’s of a mythological origin, why include places that actually exist? Why include names of people who actually existed and run the risk that those could be potentially put to the risk by going to outside sources to authenticate those persons or places to see if those events actually did indeed happen? Which, by the way, we can do; go to the historian Tacitus, go to Lucian. There are plenty of these, including early church fathers, Clement of Rome and Polycarp, which will give you some degree of background. Some people like to refer on Josephus, the Jewish historian. I kind of back away a little bit, because I believe his works were probably highly doctored by others at a later time. But regardless, the idea here is to establish this is not mythological as some would say, but truly using these documents, these as I’ve referred to them as artifacts if you will, to kind of put out the truth and sift away, as I said, the burden of truth: what is more likely than not to have happened. Now reflected in this collection of what I’m referencing, specifically about Luke, and there are some things that are interesting to pull apart. Luke says he’s going to set out to put all things in order. And if you read carefully, Luke was a companion of Paul. Some people get this confused and they think because Luke wrote and he’s considered in what we’ve used as the four basic building blocks to get an idea and perspective of the life of Christ, ultimately forgetting that he was associated with Paul and this information becomes really important for another reason. As Luke says, he set out to set things in order. It must be concluded that Luke went around canvassing to talk to eyewitnesses to get reports on certain things. Now in Luke’s perspective as he’s writing there’s something very interesting. He’s very interested in speeches. For example, we know that he did a lot of the writing of the book of Acts. Luke is chronicling in the book of Acts, at least the beginning part, and I believe there are something in the ballpark of 25 percent of the book that are considered principle speeches and over 50 percent of Acts that is dealing with some type of quoting of somebody’s speech. So Luke had this thing about dealing with what somebody said, trying to get a report of what somebody said and when they said it. There’s the mark, by the way, of somebody who’s tracing historian. I’m tracking down not a beloved physician; I’m tracking down a historian because these are the methods I put out at an earlier time when I first started talking. You’ve almost got to look at some of this information and say it’s kind of mind boggling because it’s there. You have to just kind of read it and see how the analysis would advance. Now I’m going to give you an interesting comparison of how people treat this record, versus how people treat history. I just mentioned incongruities and inconsistencies, right? How come we don’t apply the same amount of scrutiny to a record such as the historian Tacitus? In 48 AD he wrote about the Emperor Claudius to the Roman senate. He records a speech and there are fractions of the speech that are also preserved on a bronze plaque. The two records, what is recorded by Tacitus and what appears on the bronze plaque do not agree with each other. They’re close, but they do not agree and yet historians widely accept the, we’ll call it the gist of the material presented. Now why can’t we do that with this document? Why is there such an urge to say, “No, no, no! You can’t do that! Don’t you see the differences here?” Whereas I look at the differences in the Gospels and I, it tells me that these are honest reporters because just as at the scene of an accident, where somebody’s saying, “Well, what happened? What color was the car and how did the accident happen?” And you’ll have, pull aside four different witness, you will most likely get four different colorings on the event. Maybe even how, what vehicle, what color of the vehicle; you’ll get different information. And they weren’t, I believe, set out to say, “Let’s all agree that we should all have it be an angel was at the tomb.” Now for the sake of this talk, the reason why I’m doing all this is to somebody who’s asking what is available; this is what’s available to us. And we’ve got to go back to at least acknowledge that there are some very good, old, dating back to circulation of first and second century, even if they’re fragments, that are valuable. It means that those fragments have been perpetuated, essentially some translational issues may have occurred, but they’ve been perpetuated through the ages. And prior to those we know of no other documents concerning the New Testament that existed. Arguments for example that people like to take, one of them is out of the Gospel of Mark. And they’ll say, “Well, how can you prove the Resurrection when the close of Mark’s Gospel, the short ending,” which is the authentic ending, not the long ending, we know that is an absolute fact based on the manuscripts, “it ends with them running out of the tomb, fleeing and they were full of fear.” And the question that’s always asked is, “Well, why do you think that was left like that? Because if Mark was actually writing, Mark would have actually told the story in great detail leading up to that point and then how they saw the resurrected Christ and how these things happened,” but whoa! Hold on a minute. Get your story straight. If Mark is the secretary for Peter and we know that that is widely accepted in the scholar’s community, that Mark, the book that bears his name, is essentially Peter telling Mark the events of what happened. Which is why it’s interesting in the Resurrection, you’re getting, leading up to the empty tomb, “Go tell my disciples, and Peter.” It’s interesting that his name is in there as the story is as he’s telling it the end doesn’t really make a difference. Do you know why? Because if you’re only reading the Gospel up unto that point, you could conclude, yes, there might have been a longer ending and it was lost, you could conclude that that was the way Mark, writing for Peter left it, as if to say, “Okay, Peter, you’ll get the last word.” It could be that the last final ending of that story is not told so that as some modern scholar’s said, “The reader could use their imagination.” Or it could be what is most plausible. The most plausible is if it is Peter telling Mark the story, why on earth would you bother wasting time to finish the story when it’s Peter who is going to be preaching on the day of Pentecost and the story essentially is, “Hey, you know what? Listen, I’ll tell you all about this thing later on. Sorry, I’ve got to go. Jesus is over there. He’s going to be here for forty days, I’ve got to go catch up with Him. I’ll be back later, all right.” Because if it was me, I’d be thinking, “Hey, we’ll catch up on this later,” and later never comes, so it’s all good because the chronicle of Peter in Acts tells me all I need to know of why the end is not finished. And you could say, “Well, that’s speculation.” Well, I’d rather speculate that way than some of the other things that have been suggested. Now on the subject of, I use the word “embarrassing,” there are things inside of this book that if we were leading up to, to prove and to shore up the Resurrection, paint Jesus in a less than stellar light. And let me give, let me please explain this. For example, in Mark 8, in Mark 9, in Mark 10 there are references to Jesus’ death, what must happen to Him and eventually we’ll call it vindication: the Resurrection. In one of those passages, and certainly it is parallel with Matthew, we encounter Peter rebuking Jesus and then Jesus rebuking Peter, that whole exchange. To an onlooking world if you were recording that, would you really want to have the servant rebuking his Master and would you really want the Master having to rebuke the servant? There are internal pieces of evidence that you look at and you say if somebody was fabricating something to portray the image of Jesus as, well what did they call Him? “A national hero, a righteous leader,” I like these two, “a national hero and a righteous leader.” If somebody’s going to try and paint those pictures, the picture of Jesus depicted in the Scriptures would be much different. It would not be as servant rebuking Master; it would not be Jesus in the garden with His disciples falling asleep: “Couldn’t you watch one hour?” Or when He’s finally arrested, you know, you don’t see Jesus looking like Conan the Barbarian fighting off the people with His━you know, it’s Peter that takes out a sword and tells you what a bad swordsman he is and he cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. And Jesus says, “Put that thing away. Don’t you know that I could take down legions of angels,” I mean, but His whole behavior, if you’re trying to paint a national hero isn’t very heroic. It could be considered stoic, but not heroic. It doesn’t appear as a man who’s a valiant fighter. He essentially goes in, into both trials, or certainly there are two minimally, three different religious and political trials that He will be put to, and not in one of them, there’s not one place where you see Him acting like we a depiction of Samson who’s defiant to the end, he’ll take down the pillars and━no. He is really fulfilling prophecy as we know from Isaiah’s prophecy, but at the time, onlooking, cataloging, writing this down, He looks kind of milquetoast a little bit. And a lot of people say, “Oh, you know, Jesus is not, doesn’t come across as someone who’s like a vigilante fighter.” So if we were trying to chronicle and paint a picture of what these people chronicled of Jesus, the picture is not really that strong. And I mean it, it actually lends itself to a little bit of embarrassment if you’re talking about what your leader looks like. He kind of looks a little bit wimpy. And I’m not saying that as disrespect, I’m saying if you were going to paint a picture of your national hero, if you were going to paint a picture of an ethical exemplar or a righteous man, but you’d certainly also paint him more as a super-fighter, as someone who’s there saying, “And woe unto you! And this will happen to you,” and whatnot in the face of these who were trying Him. So when we talk about the way Jesus is depicted, it is not one that lends itself to if we were trying to make this mythological, mythologically speaking, we could come up with way better, and if it’s a fabrication that people just collated and put around the idea of this man who lived, but he wasn’t really anything except a liar and a fraud, He’s still being depicted in a pretty poor light. As if you analyze all the different elements of how He is interfacing, we look back now if we’re taking it at face value and say Jesus fulfills the Scripture: meek, humble, He, as I said, fulfilled Isaiah. But in terms of painting the picture of a hero for the eventual Leader, Master, Savior of the world; no, it doesn’t really come close to what most people would envision. Again, if you’re going to look and make some comparisons, there are some great comparisons in Maccabees of valiant people, who when it came time for them to die like the seven, I believe there are seven sons. When it came time for them to be, they were actually martyred and they were told they would have their fingers cut off and their tongues cut out and their eyes gauged out and each one of them said, “Go ahead,” essentially, “Go ahead, make my day.” That’s the first book of Scott out of Maccabees. But valiantly and defiantly and they said, “In the name of God, and this and thus”” just as fighters would be. You’ve got other records through the New Testament that give essentially a pattern. My first one is Stephen. Stephen’s pattern is very much like Christ’s when he’s brought before this group of religious people and he’s giving his beautiful speech to them. And at the last, just before he’s stoned, he, he basically says, “Lay not this thing to their charge,” which it sounds very much like, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” So it’s almost as though a new pattern or a new way of being has been imprinted on the followers of Christ. And I don’t know if you were making this thing up how you would get around to making those men behave in that way when confronted in those circumstances, because we know their character, even if mythical and fictitious creations, we know their character within this book, and when it came time for them to face their own martyrdom, they didn’t behave anywhere near like the things I described out of Maccabees. They just behaved very much in the vein like their Master. Now when people often talk about “Did Jesus really die?” and I read an interesting article, which is the first time I was exposed to this, although I know the degree and extent of torture, but some of the chronicles and these are from Roman sources that later wrote not wanting to actually say that they were participants, but to see how people who would be crucified were first beaten and some to the degree of being unrecognizable. Their skin being peeled back like a banana skin, veins being exposed, some parts of their innards hanging out before they even went to be crucified. So when people talk about the concept of resuscitation or revivification of Christ, this article was very illuminating because it brought into greater clarity what actually might happen when a person receives heavy lashes multiple times to their skin, to their, the amount of blood that will be put out, the things that actually naturally would happen, let alone being put up on a cross and having nails go through your hands and feet. With the design by the way that eventually your body is not able to support itself and collapses on itself and suffocation occurs. No air, suffocation occurs, the victim dies, which then led to the breaking of the bones before they took the victims down to make sure that they were actually dead. And in Christ’s case, when they came to Him, they said, “He’s already dead,” and pierced Him with a sword. So if you line up all the things that Christ went through before He got to the cross, when people say He resuscitated or was revivified by some method because He didn’t really die, I’d like to ask how many people think that they could undergo the same type of treatment. And we’re talking about brutal, not this namby-pamby description, but brutal, ripping back of the flesh with much blood being lost, probably guts and things hanging out, veins being exposed or cut, being put on a cross and then ultimately having your legs broken or your side pierced, do you think that people can survive that? Is it even a possible thing to posit that? Is it even plausible? And it’s highly unlikely. So when people talk about the fact that He didn’t die, my question is how would you survive that? And again, it’s, I’m sure it’s possible. Maybe some people after they were taken down, maybe even after having their legs broken, they could have been laying there and ultimately died of another death. But I highly doubt that if those people were buried under Jewish law, Jewish law required certain things for burial to occur, namingly the time elapsed for somebody to be considered certifiably dead. Which is the importance, by the way, of Jesus talking about the three days, which people argue, “Was it, was it three days? Is it three days and three nights?” The thing that He said the most was the very stamp or certificate in putting it in your face, which the Jewish community, those religious leaders could not understand why He kept saying “three days.” But to the Jews, on the fourth day or the end of the third day, you were considered certifiably dead, which makes His Resurrection, don’t say “a short period of time,” don’t say “two days.” People that say it doesn’t matter how long; it does matter! Because in that day and age, there was no coroner’s report with special equipment to test and go in there and see “Is there still a pulse? Is he still alive? Let’s check this mechanism. Let’s check the brain! Is the brain still operating, because maybe the rest of the body is dead, but the brain’s still working! Oh, he’s still alive.” They didn’t have the equipment, so the time elapsing was the certification of death. If we treat that properly and don’t argue that He was dead and He actually died then we come back to our points in this presentation, which are if He died and He was placed in a tomb and we know that He was placed in a known tomb; which people will argue and say, “It didn’t happen. Or if it did, why are there two tombs and why do people argue about where He was actually laid? And if He was, why,” like somebody like the apostle Paul, “Why didn’t Paul talk about the location of the tomb seeing that this thing that we’re so obsessed about seems to be so very important?” Why? Because the risen Christ appeared to the apostle Paul; why do you want to talk about a tomb when you could talk about the actual man coming and being in your face? I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t waste time talking about the location or the event of that when the real thing is appeared in front of me and is talking to me and is going to teach me and educate me on the things that I need to do in my new calling as heralder of the faith! I think these are all valid points. If we accept all of these, then there are a few things that I wish to point out, which become very interesting. Why include in the records those people who doubted? If you’re going to make up a story, make everybody just follow along like a bunch of automatons. Why include people that doubt? “Well, that’ll make it sound more authentic, right?” And the certain things that Luke especially says that are very illuminating, we can tend to read something and read and not read it correctly. Luke says that after Christ rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples on and off. It doesn’t say forty days straight, nor does it say intermittently, but I’m going to assume it was intermittently; it could be every day for forty days. We tend to think that what happened was there was His death, His Resurrection, His ascension and then a time period of fifty days to Pentecost, or forty-nine from that day to Pentecost where the disciples had the time to make up the story. But if you read the opening of what Luke says, he says during a forty day period, during a forty day span, Christ appeared to them. “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days,” whether that’s forty consecutive days or intermittently, I don’t know, “and speaking to the things that pertain to the kingdom of God,” and essentially telling them about the promise to receive the Spirit. So from after the time that He arose, deal with, you’ve got to deal with this; for forty days He appeared to them at various times or maybe throughout the whole time. That only allows you for, depending on which day you’re counting from, about nine days for them to be left alone. Now could you or I concoct a story and stick to it in nine days? See, Dr. Scott used to say, “Why the wait of all that time?” But I’m going to ask you the question. If you read this aright, it says that He showed Himself forty days after His passion. That is Luke 1:3; I’m sorry, Acts 1:3 if you’re looking to check me out, be my guest and read it for yourself. The question is if He did that, that means that there’s just a small window where they’re left alone to tarry and pray and receive the Spirit, which then falls the day of Pentecost, the fiftieth day, and then begs the question. Could you coalesce all of these things, put them together and tie them and brush them up all nicely in nine days and say, “Okay, guys. We’ve got nine days. You know, okay, the Boss is gone now. What do we do in nine days? How do we get the job done? What type of stuff are we going to pull together here? Come on, the idea boards. Let’s go!” What’s so crazy about all this is if even if you were to give credence to the fact that they only had that short window of time to concoct all this and this is just a bunch of lies, I bring back the one thing that I introduce every single year into this talk, which is there is one person that didn’t have any investment in perpetuating the Resurrected Christ story or any of the passion accounts or any of the narratives that went along with, even if we call it mythological thinking or crazy biographies. And that person is the apostle Paul. And the wonder is that here is a Jew, who we know his history. He studied at the feet of Gamaliel. It’s even chronicled in Acts that he was persecuting the church. He is converted on the Damascus road. He has no, no investment. If all the others had concocted a story during nine weeks, the man who writes two thirds of the New Testament, who has no axe to grind; he’s━why would he even get involved with these people called Christians because he was cool, doing whatever he was doing while he was doing it. Instead, had his conversion experience, meets with the risen Christ, has this experience and essentially he’s on his way to now herald the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ: that Christ is risen. And the first account recollecting the event, if you want to put it in this way, the earliest report of Christ’s death, apart, outside of the gospels, is in 1 Corinthians 15 where that chronicle of many witnesses. And this is what I want you to notice when I say sometimes you find things that are not, they don’t coalesce, they don’t belong, or they’re missing. You’ll notice that in Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians 15 of all the people, the multitudes “and James,” and he says, “finally appeared to me, one born out of due time.” Do you know what’s missing in that list? The women; the women are missing; the very women that were chronicled in the Gospels are missing. They are not there. Why? Because it becomes perfectly clear that in what we’ll call an androcentric world where women were second class citizens, if they were even considered citizens they would not be considered good witnesses. And therefore when Paul’s telling the account, he includes people that haven’t even been mentioned previously, “five hundred,” he says, “and the vast majority of these are still alive.” In other words, if one were to read this and it circulated, “Here, go find one of the five hundred and you can query them about what they saw when Jesus appeared to them.” Now what’s interesting is people make a big to do about the women because women wouldn’t make good witnesses, but let me tell you about what I make a big to do about. Jesus didn’t have a problem with women. Obviously I’ve referenced this many times. In Luke’s Gospel, it says it was the women who supported out of their substance to Jesus. Many times it is Jesus speaking to women: the woman at the well in particular. No religious leader, no rabbi, no Jew, no one would go near a woman, let alone a Samaritan woman; but the woman at the well He has no problem talking to her. The woman taken in the very act of adultery, whether that text is dubious or not, indulge me for a minute to say He had no problem with women. In fact, if there’s anything that is omitted out of all these different, diverse opinions is the one thing that turns everything on its head because the society was very, as I said androcentric, very male dominant, dominated and women would not make witness, were indeed considered a lesser class. So here’s Jesus, if you want to call Jesus radical for something way before there were any suffragettes and there were any women’s rights, here comes Jesus on the scene, interfacing with women! And it’s the women who are allowed to come and be witnesses, Mary at the tomb, if you take that one place where she says, “I know not where they’ve laid my Lord,” mistaking Jesus to be the gardener. Or it’s the two women at the tomb; however you want to slice it, when you get to Paul, he conveniently lets that fact slip, but includes other people such as James. Which I find very interesting, because nowhere else would anybody conclude, whether that’s James the Less or is that James the brother of our Lord, all I know is that that name James appears there. And you could say, “Ha! Could have fooled me,” if that’s the James of, of James fame; James’ Epistle, “Could have fooled me.” But anyway and by the way it’s interesting that that’s the one that people like to latch onto when they say, “That, that little book of James just, it’s got a lot of validity.” Well, it doesn’t have much validity if you’re comparing it to two-thirds written by Paul, who tells you more about the life of faith and less about the other stuff that people are concerned about. So in the big picture, if somebody is weighing all this out, there are some very interesting criteria to examine. One of the wonderful proofs that Dr. Scott presented every single year was how these all died, all His followers save John, died terrible martyrs’ deaths. And it really is true you, an individual would not subject themselves to penalty of death for a lie. That probably, in all the type of reducing things down to just a human absolute, at some point, any one of these individuals could have said, “Hey, listen. Don’t━spare my life. I’ll tell you the truth. Let’s just sit down, let’s talk about this thing,” because they were all given opportunities, by the way, to recant. They were all given opportunities to backtrack on their stories and stop preaching Christ. And in fact, we read many times in the book of Acts, they’re told: “Don’t preach that anymore! Don’t talk about that anymore.” But they all ended up laying down their lives, save John, a martyr’s death and it is true, I can say now looking at many of the events that have happened in my life, unless you’re willing to die for something and you’re willing to die for a cause; many people in the news, they’ll say, “Of course.” We’re familiar with people that go and, you know, they do terrorists acts and they’re willing to die for what they think is a righteous cause, by, by the way, martyring themselves, all right. A righteous cause, forget about what their cause is, because the cause is usually embedded in something, rooted in something very evil, but they believe that they have righteous cause and they will lay down and martyr themselves for the righteous cause they believe in. But these were not given the same, if you look at it, the same way the followers of Christ, they were all given in the opportunity to just basically back away and say, “Hey, it’s a lie. We made this thing up and we don’t want to die. We want to live, because if we keep living,” you know, here’s the rationale, “we could go on and keep telling people about Jesus, but we’ll still be alive and they’ll think we’ve recanted,” any number of possibilities, but they all laid down their life. And unlike someone who commits an act of terror, these did it in the honor saying they were willing to die for their Lord, as their Lord had said He’d lay down His life for them. I find it interesting that there are all these different parallels. The beginning of Jesus’ ministry, right, the time that it says forty days He fasted and hungered, then forty days is the time period that He’s with His disciples, almost like a bookend that began His public ministry; this forty days was preparation for their public ministry. His suffering and His martyrdom; their suffering and their martyrdom, it’s almost as though Jesus said many times over, “This is going to befall you. Don’t even doubt it,” but they couldn’t even grab hold of what He was saying. The reality is for this message, I could keep going and keep hammering on the proofs, the things that seem less flattering, the things that seem self-evident, but the most staggering thing is one must come to the point after exhausting all the information, one must come to one conclusion: these people were either lying about what they recorded in here, including Paul, which he had no reason to lie; he wasn’t part of the original group; or they were telling the truth. And if they were telling the truth, it means they actually had contact with the risen Christ that He indeed did come out of the tomb. That moment in time has to be clear for us as we say. And this is what I place my faith on. My faith isn’t placed on how good I am to others or what deeds or people’s works or whatever else. This one beginning point, if He came out of the tomb, then everything else that’s in this book and everything else that revolves around my being and my relationship with Him has great hope, but it also has great validity because the fact is, as I said, they were either telling the truth or they were lying. And if anybody puts this evidence on display even to the most skeptic mind, keep putting enough information out there━not keep throwing enough stuff up and people will believe it, but keep putting the information out there that can be scrutinized, that can be torn and broken down and eventually you will come up with, like someone who is sifting for gold, eventually you’ll come up with those pieces that can’t get through the sieve anymore because these are the hard, absolute, they are the solid parts that cannot be broken down. And these are what compromise people’s minds to say, “Well, I, I can’t exactly see the proof, so I won’t go there.” No. Here is the proof. And the proof is putting this to the test, sifting it out and realizing that there are these things that remain. This is what will actually bring forth, somebody saying, “Yes, He did come out of the tomb.” And that should change the way you order and think about your life, not just in the now, but of all the promises He said, “I am the First-goer of this,” and the Resurrection life and the resurrected life awaits everyone who simply puts their trust in Him. As simple, by the way, nothing complicated as people say, “Well, what do they want? What am I supposed to do?” Remember that man that came to Christ and he said, “What should I do to inherit life eternal?” And He gives him the orders, because He knew that one individual’s thing was his possessions: “Sell what you have and then follow Me.” And the man went away because he had a lot of possessions and he wasn’t willing to part with them. The question is how many will fail to grab hold of something so simple and so profound that is set in time, motion for eternity, something that’s way beyond what we can even comprehend. Not something that I think might happen. Those people that are grieving because their loved ones have gone on and they’re still here and they don’t know about the reality of heaven and the reality of resurrected life. They only know their loved one’s not here anymore. This is worthy of your examination. A look about this will change the way you see death and dying, not about just your loved ones, but about death and dying for yourself. We all must make the trip. And you realize this isn’t some make-believe fantasyland, but a real place where Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, many mansions in My Father’s house.” Now either that’s fantasy-talk or that’s reality. Out of the man who came out of that tomb, I’m going to take that as reality. And I’m going to walk and order my life, as I have these years, with the presence of Christ in my life in a real relationship, not in some kind of out there, woo-woo-land, but as a reality of a real Person that I interface with that I talk to that I try to indeed listen to through His word and order my life accordingly. Why? Because if He is risen, He tells me we too shall rise. Paul said, “If Christ is not rise our faith is in vain.” Our faith is not in vain. He is risen. Today just marks the day that everybody wants to celebrate and say, “Yes, He is risen indeed,” but we celebrate that Resurrected Life here every single day, thanks be to God. That’s my message. You have been watching me, Pastor Melissa Scott, live from Glendale, California at Faith Center. If you would like to attend the service with us, Sunday morning at 11am, simply call 1-800-338-3030 to receive your pass. If you’d like more teaching and you would like to go straight to our website, the address is

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