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Doctrine of Jesus Christ Resurrection

January 16, 2011

The Resurrection of Christ
Introduction
In accordance with the Scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead
after His physical body was in the grave for three days (1 Cor. 15:4). Jesus
predicted several times that He would rise from the dead on the third day (Matt.
16:21; 17:9, 23; 20:19; 26:32; 27:63f. 28:6f; Mark 14:28; Luke 9:22; Mark 8:31;
9:9, 31; 10:34; Luke 18:33; 24:7, 46). In fact our Lord declared that He was the
resurrection (John 14:6). The apostles confirmed that He had risen from the dead
on the third day (Acts 1:22; 2:24, 32; 3:15). Neither the Romans nor the Jews
could produce the body of our Lord to disclaim what the apostles were
proclaiming to the world.
It was in the interests of these two groups to put an end to such talk by simply
producing the body which they could not since He had in fact risen from the dead.
Not even a guard of Roman soldiers protecting the tomb could prevent the
resurrection of Christ. The tomb of our Lord was owned by Joseph of Arimathea
who was rich and was sealed with large rock by the Romans at the request of the
leaders of the Jews in order to prevent the theft of the body by the disciples (Matt.
27:62-66). Even our Lord’s enemies remembered distinctly say that He would rise
from the dead on the third day. Pilate’s own soldiers were sent to perform the task
of protecting the tomb (Matt. 28:14). These hardened Roman soldiers were
terrified by the angel who rolled away the large rock which had sealed the tomb
from entry on that Sunday morning of our Lord’s resurrection (Matt. 28:4). In fact
some of the guard went into the city of Jerusalem to report the resurrection of
Christ (Matt. 28:11-15). In Matthew’s day it was common knowledge in Jerusalem
that these Roman soldiers had witnessed the angels rolling away the great rock
which sealed the tomb and had accepted a bribe from the Jews to keep quiet about
the resurrection (Matt. 28:15). It was the guards that spread the lie that the body
had been stolen.
The foundation of Christianity is built upon the resurrection of Christ since the
integrity of our Lord is at issue and as attested by many witnesses He did rise from
the dead as He said He would (Acts 1:22; 4:2, 33; 17:18; 23:6; 1 Cor. 15:14). The
resurrection of Christ is the greatest attested fact in all of human history. It is
mentioned by secular historians as well.
Tacitus writes, “Christus, from whom the name (Christians) had its origin,
suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our
procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for
the moment broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in
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Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find
their centre and become popular” (Annals XV, 44).
Josephus writes, “Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be
lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works-a teacher of such
men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the
Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the
suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross,
those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive
again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand
other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from
him, are not extinct at this day” (Antiquities Book 18, chapter 3).
Talmud states, “On the eve of Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days
before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth
to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any
one who can say anything in his favor let him come forward and plead on his
behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the
eve of the Passover.”
Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ
The four gospels agree that Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb after His
crucifixion and that on the third day it was empty. Even our Lord’s enemies could
not dispute that the tomb was empty. Our Lord’s enemies could have simply
disproved the resurrection of Christ and stop all the talk in Jerusalem concerning it
if they could have simply produced the body, which they knew they could not.
They didn’t even attempt to arrest the apostles because they trusted in the veracity
of the Roman soldiers who were under the command of Pilate himself. The silence
of the Jewish leaders is as significant as the boldness of speech by our Lord’s
disciples. The grave clothes were undisturbed in the tomb thus incontrovertible
evidence that our Lord’s body was not stolen by grave robbers since they would
not take the time to make sure everything was in proper order because of time
constraints to commit such a crime. Our Lord’s body was buried with myrrh,
which glues linen to the body not less firmly than lead. The gospels describe an
orderly scene, not one of confusion that would have resulted had the grave clothes
been torn from the body. That something extraordinary had taken place is shown
by the fact that John “saw and believed” (John 20:8). The five written accounts
(the four Gospels and 1 Cor. 15) tell of ten different appearances by Jesus after the
Resurrection, five on the first day, five more spread over forty days, then an abrupt
cessation.
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Resurrection vs. Resuscitation
Only one resurrection has taken place in human history-the humanity of our
Lord Jesus Christ. He was the first fruits in resurrection (1 Cor. 15:23). There were
only resuscitations prior to the humanity of Christ’s resurrection. The resurrection
involves the total and complete eradication of the old sin nature whereas
resuscitation does not. It is a body composed of flesh, bone and spirit, but no
blood where the old sin nature resides. Of course, our Lord did not have a sin
nature but His body, which died physical was transformed into a resurrection body
on the third day.
The resurrection body is composed a totally different molecular structure that is
designed to exist with God in the eternal state. Eternal life is a pre-requisite for
receiving a resurrection body like the Lord Jesus Christ’s. The resurrection body
needs eternal life to function and eternal life is an attribute of God.
The next group of people to be resurrected from the dead is the church at the
rapture (1 Cor. 15:51-57; Thess. 4:13-18; Phlp. 3:20-21). Everyone else who was
raised from the dead in the Old Testament and in the New Testament was
resuscitated. The following is a list of those who were resuscitated in both the Old
and New Testaments: (1) Elijah and “the widow’s son” (1 Kings 17:17-24). (2)
“The daughter of Jairus” (Matt. 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-26; Luke 8:41-56). (3) “The
widow’s son” (Luke 7:11-18). (4) “Lazarus” (John 11:1-44). (5) “Paul” (Acts
14:19-20; 2 Cor. 12:2-4). (6) “Eutychus” (Acts 20:7-12).
Three Categories of Divine Omnipotence
The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit raised our Lord from the dead (Rom.
1:4; 8:11). The same divine power that raised Him from the dead will raise the
church age believer from the dead at the rapture.
The Lord Jesus Christ was trichotomous: (1) Body (2) Soul (3) Spirit. Our
Lord’s death was unique: (1) His physical body went to the grave (Luke 23:50
53). (2) His human spirit went to heaven (Luke 23:46; John 19:30). (3) His human
soul went into Paradise a compartment of Hades (Luke 23:43; Acts 2:27; 2:31;
Eph. 4:9).
God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are agents in the Resurrection. The
Lord was brought back from the dead by three categories of divine power: (1)
Omnipotence of the Father sent back our Lord’s human spirit to the body in the
grave (Acts 2:24; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:21). (2)
Omnipotence of the Holy Spirit sent back our Lord’s human soul to the body in
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the grave (Rom. 1:4; 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18). (3) Omnipotence of the Son raised His
physical body from the grave (John 6:39-40, 54 10:17-18).
Resurrection Body
Resurrection is the result of the exertion of three categories of divine
omnipotence by each member of the Trinity, which produces an immortal physical
body with a molecular structure, which functions only with eternal life and thus
enables it to live perpetually in fellowship with God in the eternal state. The
resurrection body is composed of the following: (1) Flesh (2) Bone (3) Spirit.
There is no blood in the resurrection body because blood contains the old sin
nature. The physical death of the believer is the total eradication of the old sin
nature. The moment of a sinner trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior they receive eternal
life at regeneration and is thus a new creation. Eternal life is an attribute of God
and is the life of God. Eternal life is thus a pre-requisite for receiving a
resurrection body. The reason being is that eternal life will empower the
resurrection body.
Every church age believer will receive a resurrection body at the rapture of the
Church (1 John 3:2). The resurrection of the church is a part of the mystery
doctrine for the church age (1 Cor. 15:51-53). Church age believers will have a
resurrection body like the Lord’s (1 John 3:2).
The believer’s physical body is a body of humiliation compared to the
resurrection body, which is called the “body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21). The
resurrection body will be composed of flesh and bone and will not have blood as
the physical body now has. The resurrection body will have a different molecular
structure which will enable it to walk through walls as our Lord did in John 20:19.
It will be able to leave the earth vertically as our Lord did in Acts 1:9. It will be
able to travel through space in an instant and appear in heaven. The believer will
still be able to eat and drink in a resurrection body (Luke 24:42-43). The
resurrection body will never get tired or sick and will minus the old sin nature. It
will be a spiritual body with flesh and bones (1 Cor. 15:35-50). It will be an
imperishable body and not like the one believer’s now have (1 Cor. 15:52). The
resurrection body will be immortal (1 Cor. 15:53). The believer’s resurrection
body is a result of our Lord’s victory over death at the Cross (1 Cor. 15:57).
Our Lord delivered us from the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). The believer in a
resurrection body will no longer be able to sin because it will be minus the old sin
nature which tempts the believer to commit acts of sin-mental, verbal and overt.
The resurrection body will be an eternal monument to the Grace Policy of God.
All church age believers will receive a resurrection body regardless of whether or
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not they were a winner in time. The only requirement for receiving a resurrection
body is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Faith alone in Christ
alone is the means of receiving a resurrection body. It only takes 1 nonmeritorious
decision to receive a resurrection body. The believer who makes
thousands of non-meritorious decisions in time will receive greater rewards to
adorn the resurrection body.
Paul uses the stellar universe analogy to illustrate the fact that there will be
varieties of resurrection bodies in heaven (1 Cor. 15:40-41). The overcomers in
time will receive a resurrection body plus rewards (1 Cor. 3:11-15) while those
who weren’t will receive only a resurrection body (1 Cor. 3:11-15; 1 Jn. 2:28).
Post-Resurrection Appearances of Christ
The Scriptures describe fifteen post-resurrection appearances by the resurrected
Christ. There are a great variety of witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. Both
men and women were witnesses to the fact that He had risen. He appeared before
large groups to individuals as well as small intimate gatherings of individuals. The
Lord Jesus appeared to one person (e.g. Peter 1 Cor. 15:5), to two on the way to
Emmaus (Luke 24:13-15), to the eleven (John 20:24-28), and on one occasion to
more than five hundred (1 Cor. 15:6).
Especially important is Paul also known as Saul of Tarsus who was the greatest
enemy of the early Church. He was an intelligent and well-educated man and one
with a bias against the Christians. But he is emphatic that he saw the risen Jesus,
and this certainty altered the whole course of his subsequent life of suffering and
persecutions. Importantly Paul made the claim early, for his letters, the oldest
available documents that record this claim, were written within twenty or thirty
years of Jesus’ death. Paul says that “most” of the five hundred to whom Jesus
appeared were still alive (1 Cor. 15:6), thus they could be interrogated as to the
veracity of such a claim. That there is no evidence of any serious attempt to refute
the testimony to the resurrection of Christ is significant.
The following is a chronology of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ:
(1) Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-18; Mark 16:9). (2) The women returning from
the tomb (Matt. 28:8-10). (3) Peter later on the day of the resurrection (Luke
24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5). (4) The disciples going to Emmaus in the evening (Luke
24:13-31). (5) The apostles (except Thomas) (Luke 24:36-45; John 20:19-24). (6)
The apostles a week later (Thomas present) (John 20:24-29). (7) In Galilee to the
seven by the Lake of Tiberius (John 21:1-23). (8) In Galilee on a mountain to the
apostles and five hundred believers (1 Cor. 15:6). (9) At Jerusalem and Bethany
again to James (1 Cor. 15:7). (10) To the eleven disciples (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark
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16:14-20; Luke 24:33-53; Acts 1:3-12). (11) At Olivet and the ascension (Acts
1:3-12). (12) To Paul near Damascus (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor. 15:8). (13) To Stephen
outside Jerusalem (Acts 7:55). (14) To Paul in the temple (Acts 22:17-21; 23:11).
(15) To John on the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:10-19).
There evidently were more appearances that the Scriptures do not record but
which are implied by John at the end of his gospel since our Lord gave the
disciples many infallible proofs that He had indeed risen from the dead (John
21:25).
Historicity of the Resurrection of Christ
When talk about proving the historicity of the resurrection of Christ or in other
words, proving that the resurrection was an historical fact, we are concerning
ourselves with “apologetics.” This term does not mean, “to apologize,” but rather
it means, “to give a defense of what one believes to be true.”
Remember what Peter said: 1 Peter 3:15, “But set apart Christ as Lord
(sovereign) in your hearts, always ready to make a defense (apologia) to
everyone who asks you to give an account for the confidence that is in you, yet
with gentleness and reverence.”
The word for “defense” is accusative feminine singular form of the noun
apologia, which apologian. This word apologia is used in 1 Peter 3:15 of the
defense or reply for the defense of what the Christian believes to be true. Every
believer should be able to give a defense for the Christian faith. It is a part of the
believer’s royal ambassadorship.
Remember what Paul said: 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Therefore, we are
ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us;
we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
The word “apology” denotes a particular defense of the Christian faith or
doctrine; apologetics is the working out and presentation of intellectual, scientific
and philosophical arguments, which may underlie such an apology. In the early
Church Apologists like Aristides, Justin Martyr, Tertullian and Origen raised the
apology to the status of a distinct genre of theological literature.
The noun apologia was a word used by the Greeks in criminal law. It is derived
from a verb, which was employed in the courts of ancient Greece, apologeomai,
“to speak on behalf of oneself or of others against accusations presumed to be
false,” thus “to defend oneself in court.” This verb means “to defend oneself
against a charge, to make a defense in court.”
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Luke 12:11, “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers
and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your
defense (apologeomai), or what you are to say.”
Luke 21:14, “So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend
yourselves (apologeomai).”
The noun apologia refers to the content of what is said in defense, or how one
defends oneself. It denotes the “speech in defense.” There are eight instances of
apologia recorded in the New Testament (Acts 22:1; 25:16; 1 Cor. 9:3; 2 Cor.
7:11; Phil. 1:7, 17; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet. 3:15).
Philippians 1:7, “Since it is right for me to keep on thinking this about all
of you because you keep on having me in your heart both in my imprisonment
and in the confirmed defense (apologia) of the Gospel. All of you are my jointpartners
of this grace.”
Philippians 1:12-16, “Now I want all of you to know royal family that my
circumstances have resulted rather for the advancement of the Gospel so that
my imprisonment because of Christ has become well-known among the entire
Praetorian Guard and all the others. Even, the majority from the Royal
Family are confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment, increasingly
daring, fearlessly communicating the Word of God. In fact, some even are
authoritatively proclaiming Christ because of jealousy and inordinate
competition but some also because of proper motivation. In fact, some from
virtue-love knowing that I have been appointed for the defense (apologia) of
the gospel.”
In the context of 1 Peter 3:15, the word is not only used of making a defense
when brought before those who persecute you but it also refers to the believer
personally replying to someone’s honest inquiry. A good example of a believer in
the Scriptures who personally replied to someone’s honest inquiry is Philip
speaking to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:25-40.
The meaning of the resurrection of Christ is a theological matter. The
resurrection of Christ is an event in history. The nature of the resurrection body of
Christ might be a mystery but the fact that the body disappeared from the tomb is a
matter to be decided upon by historical evidence.
Here are the basic facts surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection: (1) Jesus
was a Jew crucified by the Romans in the first century. (2) There is a vast mass of
literature that tells us that Jesus was a historical person. (3) He was condemned by
the Jewish Sanhedrin who then handed Him over to be executed by the Romans.
(4) Pontius Pilate passed the death sentence. (5) Jesus died at 3pm in the afternoon
at the Jewish Passover, the fourteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan (April).
(6) The body of Jesus was placed in a tomb near the crucifixion site, which was
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owned by a friend of Jesus. (7) The Romans soldiers verified that Jesus was dead
by thrusting a spear into Jesus side, which pierced His heart, which released blood
and water from the heart. (8) The Jews requested of Pilate that he seal the tomb
and place a guard over it to prevent the disciples of Jesus from taking the body. (9)
The place where Christ’s body was laid is a specific geographical location near
Jerusalem. (10) The man who owned the tomb was a man living in the first half of
the 1st century. (11) Jesus was buried according to the Jewish custom of burying
dead bodies. (12) The tomb was composed of rock in a hillside near Jerusalem.
(13) There are many witnesses who claim to have seen Jesus on the third day after
His death. (14) The disciples went out and proclaimed that Jesus had risen. (15)
The disciples were men among men, they were historical individuals. (16) The
tomb of Jesus was sealed with a large bolder. (17) The disciples of Jesus were not
expecting His resurrection. (18) The enemies of Jesus understood His claims that
He would rise again therefore they placed a seal on the tomb and assigned a
Roman Guard to prevent the body of Jesus from leaving the tomb. (19) The tomb
of Jesus was empty on the third Day after His death. (20) The Seal on the tomb
was broken and rolled away from the tomb of Jesus. (21) Grave clothes of Jesus
were found undisturbed in the tomb by His disciples. (22) The enemies of Christ
could not produce the body of Jesus in order to refute the claims of Jesus’
disciples that He rose from the dead. (23) The Jewish Sanhedrin bribed the Roman
soldiers to say that the disciples of Jesus stole the body.
In Acts 1:3, Luke tells us that Jesus showed Himself alive by many infallible
proofs (en pollois tekmeriois). This is an expression in the Greek, which indicates
the strongest type of legal evidence. The Greek word for “proofs” is the noun
tekmerion. It is a hapax legomenon in the NT meaning it appears only once in the
NT, namely, Acts 1:3. It is found in secular Greek from Herodotus to the second
century A.D. Tekmerion refers to “that which causes something to be known as
verified or confirmed.” The word indicates “something that is surely and plainly
known, indisputable evidence, a proof.”
So what Luke is telling Theopholis is that the resurrection of Christ “was surely
and plainly known, and that there is indisputable evidence that supports that this
event took place.”
Therefore, the resurrection of Christ is an event within history. At no point
within the New Testament is there any evidence that the Christians stood for an
original philosophy of life or an original ethic. Their sole function was to bear
witness to what they claimed to have taken place, namely, the resurrection of Jesus
Christ.
Consider this: Have you noticed that in the book of Acts there is an enormous
amount of emphasis upon the resurrection of Christ but not a single reference to an
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empty tomb. The Gospels record that fact. Now, why is there no mention of an
empty tomb when the apostles evangelized in the book of Acts? Simply this: There
was no point in arguing about the empty tomb. Everyone, friend and foe alike
knew that it was empty. The only questions worth arguing about were why it was
empty and what its emptiness proved.
In Acts 2, did you notice that there was no refutation given by the Jews to
Peter’s bold proclamation that Jesus had risen from the dead. Why not? They knew
the tomb was empty and they could not deny this fact. Now remember this: The
empty tomb does not prove the resurrection, but it does present two distinct
alternatives: The empty tomb was either an act of divine power or a human one.
There really is only one to choose from.
The enemies of Jesus had no motive for removing the body. The friends of
Jesus had not power to do so. It would have been to the advantage of the
authorities that the body should remain where it was. The view that the apostles
stole the body is impossible. Therefore, the power that removed the body of the
Savior from the tomb must have been divine.
Thomas Arnold, was for 14 years the famous headmaster of Rugby, author of
the famous 3-volume History of Rome, appointed to the chair of modern history at
Oxford, and one well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining
historical facts, states the following: “The evidence for our Lord’s life and death
and resurrection may be, and often has been, shown to be satisfactory; it is good
according to the common rules for distinguishing good evidence from bad.
Thousands and tens of thousands of persons have gone through it piece by piece,
as carefully as every judge summing up on a most important cause. I have myself
done it many times over, not persuade others but to satisfy myself. I have been
used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and
weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one
fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of
every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God
hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead” (The New Evidence
That Demands A Verdict, page 217).
Former Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling states: “we, as Christians, are
asked to take a very great deal on trust; the teachings, for example, and the
miracles of Jesus. If we had to take all on trust, I, for one, should be skeptical. The
crux of the problem of whether Jesus was, or was not, what He proclaimed
Himself to be, must surely depend upon the truth or otherwise of the resurrection.
On that greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith. In its favor as living
truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and
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circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict
that the resurrection story is true.”
So now that we have established that Jesus was dead when they laid His body
in the tomb, let us now note five important aspects directly related to the
resurrection of Jesus: (1) The Tomb (2) The Burial (3) The Stone (4) The Seal (5)
The Roman Guard
The Empty Tomb
Matthew 27:57-60, “When it was evening, there came a rich man from
Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.
This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered
it to be given {to him.} And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean
linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the
rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went
away.”
Mark 15:42-45, “When evening had already come, because it was the
preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea
came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the
kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and
asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and
summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already
dead. And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to
Joseph.”
Luke 23:50-52, “And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the
Council, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their plan and
action), {a man} from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the
kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.”
John 19:38, “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of
Jesus, but a secret {one} for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take
away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took
away His body.”
The word for “tomb” in the Greek New Testament is mnemeion. It appears
only in the Gospels except for instance in the book of Acts. This tomb that Jesus
was laid in was a cave hewn or cut out of the rock of a hill near the crucifixion
site. The body of Jesus was the first dead body to be ever placed in this tomb. It
was newly created and owned by a rich man, named Joseph of Arimathea.
The tomb was located in the place where they crucified Jesus. It was located in
a garden. The reason for putting the body of Jesus into Joseph of Arimathea’s
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tomb was that it was nearby and the preparation demanded haste in burying the
body. So this was not a natural cave but one excavated in the rock. It was cut
horizontally and not downwards.
The Burial of Christ
Matthew 27:59, “And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen
cloth.”
Mark 15:46, “Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him
in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the
rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”
Mark 16:1, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the
{mother} of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and
anoint Him.”
Luke 23:55-56, “Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee
followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned
and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according
to the commandment.”
John 19:38-40, “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of
Jesus, but a secret {one} for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take
away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took
away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came,
bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds {weight} So
they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices,
as is the burial custom of the Jews.”
We know more about the burial of the Lord Jesus Christ than we know of the
burial of any single character in all of ancient history. Not only the rich, but also
even the upper middle class had tombs of their own in the 1st century. They were
acquired and prepared long before they were needed. They were treated as private
and personal property. The Jews would anoint the dead body with many spices: (1)
Myrtle (2) Aloes (3) Later on they used hyssop, rose-oil and rosewater.
The body was dressed and at a later period wrapped, if possible, in the worn
cloths in which originally a Roll of the Law had been held. We must remember
that the Sabbath was drawing near so they wanted to bury the body of Jesus as
soon as possible. Deuteronomy 21:23 stipulates that a dead body was not to be
allowed to hang all night, but that the body was to be buried that same day. So the
cross was lowered and laid on the ground. They drew the nails out and unloosed
the ropes. Joseph, with those who attended the Lord, “wrapped” the Lord’s body
in a “clean linen cloth.”
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They then rapidly carried the Body to the tomb, which was located in the
garden close by the crucifixion site. They hastily embalmed the body in front of
the entrance to the tomb and within the rock; there was a court, nine feet square.
Nicodemus brought a roll of myrrh and aloes.
It was customary in Christ’s time to use great quantities of spices for
embalming the dead, especially those who held high offices. The body of Jesus
was placed on a stone ledge. The body was washed and straightened and then
bandaged tightly from the armpits to the ankles in strips o linen about a foot wide.
Aromatic spices often a gummy consistency, were placed between the wrappings
or folds.
They served partially as a cement to glue the cloth wrappings into a solid
covering. John tells us that some seventy pounds of spices were used. The myrrh
was a drug, which adheres so closely to the body that the grave clothes would not
easily be removed. In fact, it cemented it the grave clothes to the body.
Swoon Theory
The next fact that we need to verify or establish in regards to the resurrection of
Jesus Christ was that He was dead when they laid Him in the tomb. Why is that
important? Because there are some individuals who say He didn’t really die…but
that He passed out from loss of blood but recovered from the cool air in the tomb.
This is called the Swoon Theory. This is absolutely impossible, as we will note.
This theory does not stand up to investigation and totally disregards the evidence
pertaining to Christ’s crucifixion, death and burial.
The Swoon Theory contends that Christ was indeed nailed to a cross but that
He suffered terribly from shock, loss of blood, and pain and He swooned away,
but didn’t actually die. Proponents of this theory also contend that medical
knowledge was not very great in the 1st century and thus the apostles erroneously
thought he was dead.
They also point out that Pilate’s surprise that Christ had died so soon also
indicates that Jesus merely had passed out. The cool air of sepulchre revived Him
so that He could depart the tomb. So they contend that Jesus really didn’t rise from
the dead but merely was resuscitated so to speak. This totally disregards the facts
of the case. This theory totally disregards the evidence surrounding the case of
Christ’s execution and subsequent burial.
So we need to establish the details and the evidence surrounding our Lord’s
death before we deal with the fact of His resurrection. There is no way any human
being could have recovered from the tremendous physical trauma of crucifixion
and walked out of the tomb. Those who say Christ wasn’t really dead but simply
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was revived in the tomb and then walked out under His own power are not taking
into account the tremendous physical pain and suffering that is inflicted upon a
victim of crucifixion. The only way that Christ could have walked out of the tomb
was divine power transforming the physical body into a resurrection body. He
could not have walked out of that tomb without a resurrection body.
So what was the crucifixion procedure in the time of Jesus during the 1st
century? First, there was a legal conviction and only in extraordinary cases, such
as in times of war, did this occur at the place of execution itself. After sentencing,
the criminal was stripped and scourged, itself a punishment so painful and horribly
debilitating that some died from it. This took place either immediately after the
sentence was pronounced or en route to the execution site.
In Jesus’ case the scourging probably took place before He was sentenced,
perhaps in the hope that the crowds might have compassion on the exhausted
bleeding Man from Galilee ask Pilate to release Him (Luke 23:16; John 19:1).
That His punishment was so severe may explain why Jesus did not have to bear
the cross the last steps to Golgotha (Matt. 27:32).
The brutal instrument used to scourge the victim was called a flagrum having
long, lashing pieces of bone and metal that would greatly lacerate human flesh. In
fact, the victim’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, ligaments, bones and
nerve endings were open to exposure.
This accounts for Christ’s words on the cross: Psalm 22:14-17, “I am poured
out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it is
melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue
cleaves to my jaws; and you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have
surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my
hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me.”
It must be noted that the Roman soldiers administered this extreme punishment
and not lictors who would normally perform this torture. Pilate did not have lictors
at his disposal evidently since none are mentioned, but rather he employed his own
soldiers who were cold blooded and brutal so Christ’s scourging exceeded that of
what would normally have been inflicted upon any other person. Furthermore, if
the execution took place at somewhere other than the place of sentencing, the
condemned man carried the patibulum to the spot, which was usually outside the
town.
The expression “to bear the cross (stauros)” which is a typical description of
the punishment of slaves has its origin here. Ordinarily the criminal was forced to
carry the crossbeam all the way to the execution site. The upright stake was
usually left in place at the crucifixion site. Then on the ground he was bound with
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outstretched arms to the beam by ropes, or else fixed to it by spikes. Jesus was
nailed to the crosspiece (John 20:25).
The beam was then raised with the body and fastened to the upright post.
About the middle of the post was a wooden block, which supported the suspended
body. There was no footrest in ancient accounts. The height of the cross varied. It
was either rather more than a man’s height or even higher when the offender was
to be held up for public display at a distance.
On the way to the execution a tablet was hung around the offender stating the
reason for his crucifixion, and this was affixed to the cross after execution so that
all could see (Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19).
The charge was displayed above the criminal on a board or a tablet in black or
red letters. In Jesus’ case the charge was written in three languages: (1) The
language of Judea: Hebrew (2) The language of the occupying force from Rome:
Latin (3) The common language of the day: Greek.
It cannot be overemphasized that the suffering endured on a cross was
extremely intense and severe. In fact, it was considered so hideous to the Romans,
that one of their greatest citizens of all time, Marcus Tullius Cicero states: “Even
the mere word, cross, must remain far not only from the lips of the citizens of
Rome, but also from their thoughts, their eyes, their ears.”
To die upon a cross meant excruciating pain. Death came slowly after
extraordinary agony, probably through exhaustion or suffocation. The terrible
open wounds from scourging and spikes in the hands and feet, the agonizing thirst
and hunger, the hemorrhaging of the blood vessels in the head and heart, the
scorching heat of the sun by day or the cold of the nights gradually robbed the
victim of all strength.
The unnatural position made every movement painful, the lacerated veins,
exposed nerve endings and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish, the
wounds inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened. All these physical
complications caused an internal excitement and anxiety, which made the prospect
of death a welcomed release from the suffering.
The victims soon became insane from the pain. Medical studies show that death
itself was caused by asphyxiation. Ordinarily the crucified person lived for some
time, frequently lasting more than 24 hours and sometimes as long as 48 hours.
Some records exist of crucifixions lasting from 3 to 6 days.
At times the legs of the victim were broken to put an end to the suffering of the
victim (John 19:32). Thus Pilate was surprised when he was told that Jesus died
within 6 hours (Mark 15:44f). The condemned person was exposed to mockery.
Sometimes he was stripped and his clothes were divided among the executioners,
thought this was not the common rule.
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Crucifixion took place publicly on streets or elevated places. Usually the body
was left to rot on the cross to provide food for predatory animals and carrion
crows. There is evidence that the body was occasionally given to relatives or
acquaintances.
The physical and mental sufferings, which this slow death on the crossinvolved
are unimaginable. Crucifixion as a capital penalty was ended only by
Constantine the Great.
The fact that Christ had died on the cross is supported by evidence. Clearly, the
weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the
wound to His side was inflicted. This supports the traditional view that the spear,
thrust between His right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also
the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured His death (Jn. 19:31-35).
John solemnly declares in John 19 to the reader that he was an eyewitness to
the fact that Christ was already dead on the cross when the Romans came to break
the victim’s legs. Had Jesus been alive when the spear pierced His heart, strong
spouts of blood would have emerged with every heartbeat. Instead, John noticed 2
distinct separate things proceeding out of the side of Jesus: Blood and water.
This is evidence of massive clotting of the blood in the main arteries and is
exceptionally strong medical evidence of death. Furthermore, the Roman soldiers
knew a dead man when they saw him and they knew Jesus was dead. The wound
to Jesus side was incontrovertible evidence that He was dead. So our Lord did not
pass out from crucifixion.
Let me say this as well…Jesus did not die from a broken heart as some say.
Remember what our Lord said: John 10:18, “No one has taken it away from
Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down,
and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from
My Father.”
Jesus died like no other human being died…of His own volition. Death is the
sovereign decision of God based upon the integrity of God and omniscient
knowledge of all the facts. Yet, the physical death of Jesus was unique in human
history. He died of His own volition. The Lord Jesus Christ did not die from
suffocation or exhaustion.
The Lord Jesus Christ died triumphantly, in control of His senses and of His
own volition.
Matthew 27:50, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded
up His spirit.”
“Cried out” is kraxas, which is an aorist active participle from krazo, “to cry
out aloud, scream, shriek.” Kraxas is a constative aorist which takes the action of
the verb in its entirety and takes us from its beginning to its conclusion. Kraxas
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describes the actual sound of the Lord Jesus Christ’s dying. The Lord Jesus Christ
screamed or shouted with a loud voice.
“Yielded up” is apheken which is an aorist active indicative from aphiemi, “to
dismiss, to release, to let go.” Apheken is a culminative aorist, which views an
event from its existing results, the Lord Jesus Christ’s physical death.
Mark 15:37, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last.”
“Uttered” is apheis, which is also a constative aorist and describes the breath
control of the Lord Jesus Christ at His physical death. The constative describes the
last breath of our Lord. The constative aorist describes states that the Lord Jesus
Christ died of His own volition.
John 10:18a, “No one has taken it (His life) away from Me, but I lay it
down on My own initiative.”
The Lord Jesus Christ did not bleed to death, die of a broken heart, or die from
exhaustion. If He had bleed to death, He would have fainted. The Lord Jesus
Christ was in total control of His faculties and was totally and completely alert
throughout all His suffering on the cross.
Luke 23:46, “And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, ‘’Father, into
Thy hands I commit My spirit.’ And having said this, He breathed His last.”
“Crying” is phonesas is constative aorist active participle and is from phoneo,
“to speak clearly, to enunciate.” Phonesas emphasizes the content of the Lord
Jesus Christ’s last words on the cross. Ekpneo is used by both Mark and Luke to
indicate that at the close of the Lord’s words, He did not breath again.
Matthew uses aphiemi to state that the sound of His words were discontinued at
the point of His last exhale. The Lord Jesus Christ of His own volition and in total
control of His faculties dismissed His spirit by clearly enunciated the words,
“Father into Your hands I commit (‘deposit’) My spirit,” and then did not
breath again.
The Stone
Next, we will deal with the stone that covered the entrance to the tomb, which
was designed to prevent the disciples of Jesus from stealing the body. The Jews
called the stone golel.
Matthew 27:60 states that it was a “large stone.” The phrase “large stone” in
the Greek of Matthew 27:60 is composed two words: (1) Megas (adjective),
“great.” (2) Lithos (noun), “stone.”
This was a bolder that covered the entrance to the tomb of Jesus. It was a large
heavy disc of rock, which could roll along a groove slightly depressed at the
centre, in front of the tomb. It served as protection against both men and beasts.
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The Talmud indicates that it was so enormous in size that it required several
men to remove it. The massive stone that sealed the entrance to the tomb of Jesus
was probably larger than what was normally used since the Jews wanted to prevent
any possibility of a theft of the body. There is a fascinating parenthesis written by
a copyist in a fourth century manuscript of Mark 16:4. This manuscript is called
Codex Bezae and is located in the Cambridge Library.
What is significant is this fourth century manuscript was more than likely
copied from a 1st century manuscript. That is significant because that is closer to
the actual date of the events recorded. The phrase in the parenthesis states that
twenty men could roll away this massive stone. So therefore when the women
came to the tomb on Sunday morning…there was no way they were going to move
the massive stone and where were they going to find more than twenty men to
move it.
The Seal
Next, we have the matter of the seal to address.
Matthew 27:66, “And they went and made the grave secure, and along
with the guard they set a seal on the stone.”
The seal was an additional precaution, sealing the stone, with a thread over it
and sealed to the tomb at either end. The worthy men did their best to prevent
theft, and the resurrection. This Roman seal was actually considered as a mode of
authentication.
The Roman seal affixed to the tomb was meant to prevent any attempted
vandalizing of the sepulchre. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb’s
entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.
The idea is that they sealed the stone in the presence of the Roman guard and then
left them to keep watch.
The sealing was performed by stretching a cord across the stone and fastening
it to the rock at either end by means of sealing clay. Or, if the stone at the door
happened to be fastened with a crossbeam, this latter was sealed to the rock. The
door could not be opened without breaking the seal. If you broke that seal, that
was a crime against the Roman state who was the proprietor of the seal. The guard
was to prevent the duplicity of the disciples. The seal was to secure against the
collusion of the guard.
The Roman Guard
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The final very important fact pertaining to the resurrection of Jesus Christ was
that of the Roman guard.
Matthew 27:62-66, “Now on the next day, the day after the preparation,
the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said,
“Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, “After
three days I {am to} rise again.’ Therefore, give orders for the grave to be
made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal
Him away and say to the people, “He has risen from the dead,’ and the last
deception will be worse than the first. Pilate said to them, “You have a guard;
go, make it {as} secure as you know how. And they went and made the grave
secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.”
The Jewish leaders led by Annas and Caiaphas sought a guard for the tomb of
Jesus along with the seal to the tomb. Pilate complied.
The Greek word for “guard” is the noun koustodia. This word is a Greek
transliteration of the Latin custodia. This was a guard to Roman soldiers and not
the Temple police. They sealed the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea with Imperial
Seals of Rome. They affixed in wax the official stamp of the Roman procurator
Pilate himself.
Commanding the guard was a centurion designated by Pilate. Presumably one
who had his full confidence. Tradition has it that the centurion’s name was
Petronius. It is reasonable to assume that these representatives of the Emperor
could have been trusted to perform their duty to guard the tomb quite as strictly
and as faithfully as they had executed a crucifixion. Their sole purpose and
obligation was to rigidly perform their duty as soldiers of the Roman Empire.
The Roman seal affixed to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea that they were to
protect was far more important to them than the traditions of the Jews. Soldiers
cold-blooded enough to gamble over a dying victim’s cloak are not the kind of
men to be outwitted by timid Galileans or to jeopardize their Roman necks by
sleeping on their post.
The punishment for quitting your post as a Roman soldier was death. Vegetius
speaks of daily attention to strictness of discipline by the prefect of the legion.
Punishment was much more severe in the Roman Army of the 1st century than it is
in our modern armies. The maniple or sub-division of the Roman legion consisted
of either 120 or 60 men. They consisted of two guards of four men each who kept
watch.
So a watch consisted of four men. This was the number that watched the
crucifixion. Each of whom watched in turn, while the others rested beside him so
as to be roused by the least alarm, but in this case the guards may have been more
numerous. In closing, we need to address one more vital fact.
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There is absolutely no chance that the disciples had any ability whatsoever to
overcome this guard of Roman soldiers, roll the stone away and escape with the
body of Jesus. In fact, they had all forsook Him at the cross except for John.
They were cowards. Peter denied Him three times. The only thing the disciples
of Jesus were concerned with was their own safety. They had gone into hiding.
They had just witnessed their Teacher ruthlessly crucified by the authorities. They
were a discouraged, dejected and depressed group of individuals. The last scenes
of their Teacher were of Him dying as a criminal. For them all was lost but the
Lord had other plans.
Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, the women, the disciples all believed Jesus
dead and they did not expect Him to rise again as witnessed by their actions after
the crucifixion. The preparation of the body for burial was evidence that they did
not expect Jesus to rise from the dead.
John 20:9, “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must
rise again from the dead.”
But they were about to see the power of God demonstrated in a way that they
never dreamed of. Never had a criminal given so much worry to authorities after
his crucifixion as Jesus did. Above all never had a crucified man had the honor of
being guarded by a squadron of soldiers.
Everything humanly possible was done to prevent the resurrection of Christ.
But they underestimated the power of God. The life of Christ began with a great
miracle and will end with a great miracle. If Jesus rose from the dead, then He
must have been virgin born as the Gospels state.
If the story of His birth be true, we can believe that of His resurrection. If His
resurrection be true, we can believe that of His birth. If ever a fact of ancient
history may count as indisputable, it should be the empty of Jesus.
Everyone in Jerusalem and the surrounding area knew that Jesus was crucified.
He was famous for His miracles and teaching. It was common knowledge that He
was crucified, died and was placed in a tomb near the crucifixion site.
The Romans had sealed the tomb and placed a guard to prevent the theft of the
body…everyone knew about it…it was front page news. It also common
knowledge in Jerusalem that the tomb was empty on that Sunday morning.
The massive stone was moved and the seal broken and the Roman guard
nowhere to be found. Everyone could go look for themselves and see that the tomb
was empty. Anyone could investigate the site…no one was protected it now.
Everyone knew the location of the tomb of the famous Jesus of Nazareth. It could
not be disputed by the authorities.
This is why they helplessly stood by as the disciples of Jesus authoritatively
proclaimed His resurrection. Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost, two months
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after the resurrection, was compelling and persuasive because everyone knew the
tomb was empty. It was a simple case of putting two and two together.
This Man, Jesus of Nazareth not only fulfilled the prophecies of the predicted
Messiah of Israel but He also demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that He
was the Son of God since He backed it up by walking out of the tomb as He
predicted He would many times. There was simply no other explanation for the
empty tomb. It was a simple case of weighing the evidence and making rational,
logical decision.
Please note that the Jewish authorities despised Jesus. They strongly opposed
His teaching and were prepared to go to any lengths in order to suppress it. Their
job would have been easy if they could have invited potential converts for a quick
stroll to the tomb and there produced the body of Jesus. That would have been the
end of the Christian message.
The fact that a church centering around the risen Christ could come about
demonstrates that there must have been an empty tomb. The empty tomb of the
disciples by itself did not cause the disciples to believe. John said He believed
because He remembered that Christ had foretold His resurrection.
Neither Mary Magdalene, nor the women, nor even Peter were brought to
believe by the testimony of the empty tomb. It was Christ’s post-resurrection
appearances that assured His disciples that He had actually risen from the dead.
They too thought that someone has taken the Lord’s body as witnessed by Mary’s
weeping at the tomb and her response to the angels and our Lord.
Another point: Have you noticed that the references to the empty tomb all come
in the Gospels, which were written to give the Christian community the facts they
wanted and needed to know concerning the resurrection? In the public preaching
to those who were not believers, as recorded in Acts there is an enormous
emphasis on the fact of the resurrection but not a single reference to the empty
tomb. Now, why? There is simply only 1 plausible explanation and answer.
There was no point in arguing about the empty tomb. Everyone, friend and foe
alike, knew that it was empty. The only questions worth arguing about were why it
was empty and what were the implications of it being empty.
There is no reason whatsoever to debate on whether or not the tomb of Jesus
was empty on that Sunday morning two thousand years ago…it is a historical fact
that is verified by witnesses who were both disciples of Christ and His enemies.
The empty tomb stands, a veritable rock as an essential element in the evidence
for the resurrection of Jesus. It is a matter of history that the apostles from the very
beginning made many converts in Jerusalem, hostile as it was, by proclaiming the
good news that Christ had risen from the grave. And they did it within a short
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walk from the tomb. Anyone who heard the apostles preach Christ risen could
verify this fact by going to see the empty tomb of Jesus.
Remember the enemies of Christ went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the
fact that the body of Jesus would not leave the tomb on the third day. The fact that
the body of Jesus was not in the tomb despite the extreme security measures by
our Lord’s enemies was indisputable evidence that He had risen.
The last thing that enemies of Christ wanted was to have His body leave that
tomb and yet it did. The proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus could have not
been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness
of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned.
In all the fragments and echoes of this far-off controversy, which have come
down to us, we are nowhere told that any responsible person asserted that the body
of Jesus was still in the tomb. We are only given reasons why it was not there.
Running all through these ancient documents is the persistent assumption that the
tomb of Christ was empty. How can anyone deny this evidence? You cannot.
Nazareth Inscription
There is a secular source of early origin that bears testimony to Jesus’ empty
tomb. This piece of evidence is called the “Nazareth inscription,” after the town
where it was found. It is an imperial edict, belonging to either the reign of Tiberius
(A.D. 14-37) or of Claudius (A.D. 41-54). It sternly warns against meddling
around with tombs and graves.
The news of Christ’s resurrection had gotten quickly back to Rome. Pilate no
doubt reported the news to Rome. This edict is an imperial reaction to the empty
tomb of Jesus.
We also must bring up the fact that the Roman soldiers who were responsible
for protection of the tomb were bribed by the Jewish Sanhedrin to keep quiet about
what they saw (Mt. 28:11-15).
The fact that the Roman Guard who witnessed the resurrection was bribed by
the Jewish Sanhedrin to say that the body of Jesus was stolen by His disciples is an
admission by the enemies of Jesus that the grave was empty…an admission which
is enough to show that the evidence for the empty grave was too obvious to be
denied. The fact that all the evangelistic messages of the early church by the
apostles never mentioned the empty is evidence that the empty tomb was not in
dispute and thus was not an issue.
The main debate was over why it was empty and not whether it was empty. The
fact that the tomb was empty is acknowledged by the opponents of Jesus as well as
verified by the disciples of Jesus. The Jewish Sanhedrin’s accusation that the
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disciples of Jesus stole His body from the grave, out from the noses of the vaunted
Roman military takes for granted that the tomb was empty. What was needed was
an explanation.
Matthew 28:2-4, “And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an
angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone
and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as
white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.”
We need to understand the character of the Roman guard in order to really
appreciate Matthew’s account. These were rugged, well-trained, well-disciplined
soldiers that were petrified. They had been dangerous, life-threatening situations
many times as Roman soldiers…they had been living in a hostile environment in
Jerusalem…for these soldiers to act like they did is impressive. They were human
fighting machines and yet they were petrified at the sight of the angels.
Matthew 28:11-15, “Now while they were on their way, some of the guard
came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And
when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a
large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, “His disciples
came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this should
come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of
trouble. And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and
this story was widely spread among the Jews, {and is} to this day.”
The Roman guard was now in dire straits because the seal had been broken and
the massive bolder moved away. They were going to be court-martialed for
allowing this to happen. The soldiers cannot have alleged they were asleep, for
they all knew that the penalty for sleeping on watch was the death penalty.
The soldiers had no other choice but to turn to the priests. They were shrewd.
They did not report to Pilate but to the Jewish chief priests and together they
concocted the story that the body was stolen. They knew that these men were
anxious to cover up the miracle as were the soldiers themselves.
By examining the story, we see that it actually proves the resurrection of Jesus
Christ. If Jesus body was stolen, then it was taken either by His friends or His
enemies. His friends could not have done it since they had left the scene and were
convinced that Jesus was dead. His enemies would not steal His body because
belief in His resurrection was what they were trying to prevent.
They would have defeated their own purposes if they had removed His body.
Furthermore, if they had taken it, why did they not produce it and silence the
witness of the early church. Anyone who stole the body would have taken the
body in the grave clothes. Yet, the empty grave clothes were left in the tomb in an
orderly manner. This was hardly a scene of a robbery.
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The body of Jesus was gone and they would be put to death if Pilate heard that
they failed. Even if the story got to Pilate, he was not likely to do much about it.
He was sure that Jesus was dead (Mk. 15:43-45). That was what mattered to him.
The disappearance of Jesus’ body created no problems for Pilate.
The Grave Clothes
The next piece of evidence that one must weigh when dealing with the
resurrection of Jesus Christ is the grave clothes (John 20:3-9).
John 20:1-9, “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came
early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken
away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other
disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord
out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’ So Peter and
the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were
running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and
came to the tomb first and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen
wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came,
following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying
there and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen
wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had
first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet
they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the
dead.”
This passage is an eyewitness of account of what someone saw when they
viewed the tomb. Though the younger John arrives at the tomb before Peter, John
does not go in but simply takes a peek in to see. Then John went in after Peter and
saw and says that he believed that Jesus had in fact risen from the dead.
Why upon seeing the grave clothes did he believe that Jesus did in fact rise
from the dead? First of all, because the grave clothes were not strewn about the
tomb, as they would be if the Roman soldiers or thieves took the body. Secondly,
the grave clothes were in the exact position they were in when Jesus was in the
grave clothes.
The Greek indicates that the linen burial clothes that were cemented upon the
body of Jesus with the myrrh and aloes, the one hundred pounds of spices, were
not strewn about the tomb but where the body had been.
There was a gap where the neck of Jesus had lain and that the napkin which
had been about His head was not with the linen clothes but apart and wrapped in
its own place meaning that they were still done up. The body had simply
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withdrawn itself from the grave clothes. John needed no further information to
believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. There is no way possible for any one to
take the body of Jesus away in a manner where they simple withdraw His body
from the grave clothes.
Disorder of the tomb and its contents would have been sure signs of Roman
soldiers or thieves, yet in the tomb of Jesus there was no evidence of this.
There are three different Greek words in this passage for the English word
“saw”: (1) Verse 5: third person singular present active indicative form of the verb
blepo, which is blepei. (2) Verse 6: third person singular present active indicative
form of the verb theoreo, which is theorei. (3) Verse 8: third person singular aorist
active indicative form of the verb eidon, which is eiden.
The apostle who arrived at the tomb first says in John 20:5 that he to note of
the linen wrappings lying in the tomb. In this verse John employs the verb blepo,
which means that John took note of the linen wrappings lying in the tomb. He
simply took note.
If the body was stolen, John knew that the wrappings would have went with the
body. John 20:6 states that Peter “saw” the linen wrappings in the tomb. The
Greek word for “saw” in this verse is the third person singular present active
indicative form of the verb theoreo, which is theorei.
The cognate noun of the verb theoreo is theoros, “a spectator.” The verb is
used of one who looks at a thing with interest and for a purpose, usually indicating
the careful observation of details. It means to observe something with continuity
and attention, often with the implication that what is observed is something
unusual. What Peter thought was unusual was that if Jesus was body was stolen
which was more than likely what he thought, then why weren’t the grave clothes
disturbed? You see, the resurrection of Jesus was the last thing on his mind.
Both verbs, blepo and theoreo are historical presents, which are employed
when the writer wants to describe a past event with the vividness of a present
occurrence.
Then in verse 8 John uses the word eidon, which means that John had come to
an understanding as the result of perception. He understood what he saw and put
two and two together and concluded that Jesus had in fact been raised from the
dead.
The aorist tense of the verb is a culminative aorist which views an event in its
entirety but regards it from the standpoint of its exiting results. The result of
John’s perception of the scene in the tomb was that he came to an understanding
or a conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead. Peter and John had faith based on
evidence. They could see the grave clothes. They knew the body wasn’t there.
2010 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 25
As good as the evidence was it didn’t change their lives at this particular time.
Those of us who live centuries later cannot examine the evidence for it is no
longer there for us to inspect. We have to depend upon the Word of God and that
record is true. In fact, it is faith in the Word of God that the Lord really wanted to
cultivate in His disciples. It was the Word of God and not personal experiences
should be the basis for our faith.
John 20:24-29, “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not
with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, ‘We
have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the
imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my
hand into His side, I will not believe. After eight days His disciples were again
inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and
stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace {be} with you.’ Then He said to Thomas,
‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand
and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas
answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Jesus said to him,
‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed {are} they who did
not see, and {yet} believed.’
John’s description of the position of the linen clothes and the napkin around the
head is described in minute detail. This is something he and Peter would never
forget. The description states that none of the grave clothes were hastily thrown
aside as would be the case in a robbery. The napkin, which had been twisted
around the head of Jesus, remained on the elevated slab…this is why John said
that the napkin was not lying with the linen wrappings.
This description tells us that the body simply again was withdrawn from the
grave clothes without disturbing them one iota. What is also fascinating to John
was that no grain of spice is displaced. Doesn’t mention it…they had put one
hundred pounds of spice on the wrappings to cement them to the body of Jesus.
So there lie the grave clothes. They are fallen a little together, but are still
wrapped fold over fold, and no grain of spice is displaced. The napkin too, is lying
on the low step, which serves as a pillow for the head of the corpse. It is twisted
into a sort of wig, and is all by itself.
The grave clothes resembled a cocoon whose former occupant is now a
butterfly. Or it looked like the empty shell that a locust leaves behind when it
sheds its skin. This scene spoke to all who saw it.
The Uniqueness of Christianity and the Resurrection of Christ
2010 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 26
The resurrection of Christ makes Christianity distinct from Buddhism, or Islam
or any other religion on the face of the earth. The original accounts of Buddha
never ascribe to him any such thing as a resurrection. In fact the earliest accounts
of his death, we read that when Buddha died it was “with that utter passing away
in which nothing whatever remains.”
Mohammed died on June 8, 632 A.D. at the age of 61, at Medina, where his
tomb is annually visited by thousands of devout Mohammedans. All the millions
and millions of Jews, Buddhists and Mohammedans agree that their founders have
never come up out of the dust of the earth in resurrection.
As William Lane Craig states, “Without belief in the resurrection the Christian
faith could not have come into being. The disciples would have remained crushed
and defeated men. Even had they continued to remember Jesus as their beloved
teacher, his crucifixion would have forever silenced any hopes of His being the
Messiah. The cross would have remained the sad and shameful end of His career.
The origin of Christianity therefore hinges on the belief of the early disciples that
God raised Jesus from the dead” (Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection,
pages 116-117).
Christianity is based upon the resurrection of Christ. It stands or falls with the
resurrection of Christ. If Jesus Christ didn’t rise from the dead, then He is the
greatest deceiver of all time. If He did rise from the dead, then He is indeed the
Son of God and we are obligated to worship and adore Him as our Lord and
Savior. If the resurrection of Christ never took place, then as Paul says we as
Christians are of all people to be most pitied (1 Co. 15:15-23).
The apostles always appealed to the resurrection of Christ when evangelizing
(cf. Acts 2:14-41; Not merely is the resurrection of Christ the principle theme of
apostle’s message but if that doctrine were removed from his message, there
would be no doctrine left. If you remove the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ
from the Bible, everything else in the Bible is meaningless.
For the resurrection is considered as being: (1) The explanation of Jesus’ death
(2) Prophetically anticipated as the Messianic experience (3) Apostolically
witnessed (4) The cause of the Baptism of the Spirit (5) Certifying the Messianic
and Kingly position of Jesus of Nazareth.
Without the resurrection Jesus’ claims as the Messiah would not be established.
Without the resurrection there would still be no fulfillment of the prophecies
concerning the Messiah’s suffering and glory. Without the resurrection the
Baptism of the Spirit would not have taken place.
If the resurrection of Christ is not historic fact, then the power of death remains
unbroken and with it the effect of sin and the significance of Christ’s death
2010 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 27
remains uncertified, and accordingly believers are yet in their sins, precisely where
they were before they heard the name of Jesus.
There is no hope for this lost and dying world under the deceptions of the devil
if Christ did not rise from the dead. The Gospels record the teaching of Jesus that
He must be betrayed, killed and rise again (Mk. 8:31; Lk. 9:22). All the apostles
testify as witnesses to the fact that the tomb was empty and that Jesus appeared to
His disciples as He said.
The book of Acts records the proclamation of the resurrection of Christ as its
central fact. The New Testament epistles and the book of Revelation are
meaningless unless Christ did indeed rise from the dead. The resurrection of Christ
has been and always be the central tenet of the church. It is one of the most
fundamental doctrines to the Christian faith. As W. Robertson Nicoll states, “The
empty tomb of Christ has been the cradle of the church.”
From her infancy, the church has not only believed in the resurrection of
Christ, but that her whole existence is totally dependent upon it. Without faith in
the resurrection of Christ there would be no Christianity at all. Christianity stands
or falls with the truth of the resurrection. If you can disprove the resurrection of
Christ, then you have destroyed Christianity.
Christianity is based upon the historical fact of the resurrection of Christ. It is
based upon facts and these facts are verified by eyewitnesses that testify as to it
taking place. The resurrection of Christ is either the greatest miracle of history or
the greatest delusion which history records.
The resurrection of Christ is the doctrine that turned the world upside down in
the first century that lifted Christianity above Judaism and the pagan religions of
the Mediterranean world.
The resurrection of Christ is of critical, practical importance because it
completes our salvation. If Christ has not risen, then we are not justified before
God for Christ has been raised for our justification according to Romans 4:25.
If Christ has not risen, then we will not rise from the dead according to Romans
8:11, and if we will not rise from the dead, then we have no hope. The resurrection
sharply distinguishes Jesus of Nazareth from all other religious founders.
The bones of Abraham and Muhammad and Buddha and Confucius and Lao-
Tzu and Zoraster are still here on earth. The tomb of Jesus is empty. How else can
we account for the transformation of the apostles? Before the disciples were a
frightened lot, who for the exception of John were not even there at the cross when
our Lord was crucified. They denied ever knowing Him as in the case of Peter
according to Matthew 26:69-75. They were huddled behind lock doors in fear and
confusion according to John 20:19.
2010 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 28
But after the resurrection, they were transformed…they were courageous, and
willing to give their lives for the Man from Nazareth according to Acts 4:1-13 and
many other passages. After the resurrection, the apostles were confident,
embarking on massive missionary projects, evangelizing the entire Roman Empire.
What could account for this transformation? Simply, it was the resurrection of
Christ. Something happened to them that so utterly transformed their innermost
being.
They became courageous martyrs, rejoicing as ambassadors for Christ. They
were not afraid of death. Why? Simply, the resurrection of Christ. You might say
well many individuals have died for their religion such as the Muslims. When a
member of Islam dies for his religion it is in vain whereas when the Christian dies
for the sake of Jesus Christ it is not in vain. Why? Simply the Christian dies for
someone, namely Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. The member of Islam
cannot make that claim.
The Christian dies for that which he knows to be true and what he knows to be
true is based upon factual historical evidence…the same cannot be said of those
who belong to the Islamic faith or any other religion on the face of the earth. The
Founder of Christianity has been raised from the dead…the same cannot be said
for the founder of Islam or any religion on the face of the earth.
The resurrection of Christ lends credibility to the Christian’s faith in Jesus.
Christianity, whose basis is that of the resurrection of Christ, is not a blind faith,
but rather it is a faith based upon verifiable factual evidence and witnesses.
What are the consequences of such an even in history? It is the concrete,
factual, empirical proof that life has hope and meaning. With the resurrection of
Christ, God defeated through His Son our greatest enemies as human beings:
death.
Hebrews 2:14-15, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood,
He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might
render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and
might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their
lives.”
The Lord Jesus Christ has three credentials: (1) Impact of His life through His
miracles and teachings upon history (2) Fulfilled prophecy in His life (3) His
resurrection.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself during His ministry pointed to the sign of His
resurrection as His single most important credential. He boldly declared even to
His enemies that He would rise from the dead. He said something only a fool
would dare say. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a
thing like that. But Jesus did. Christ predicted His resurrection in an unmistakable
2010 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 29
and straightforward manner. His disciples didn’t understand the fact that He had to
suffer and rise again, but His enemies, the Jews took His assertions quite seriously
(Mt. 27:62-66).
Think about this for a minute regarding Jesus’ claims of rising from the dead. If
you or I should say to any group of friends that we expected to die, either by
violence or naturally, at a certain time, but that, three days after death, we would
rise again, we would be quietly taken away by friends, and confined to an
institution until we got our act together. You would have to be a fool to make the
claims that Jesus made unless you knew without a doubt that this was going to
take place.
Only someone who was the Son of God could know these things about Himself
and make the claims that Jesus made. Paul said that the resurrection demonstrated
to all that Jesus Christ was indeed who He claimed to be, the incarnate Son of God
(Rm. 1:1-4). Jesus never predicted His death without adding that He would rise
again.
Look at the list of Scriptures in which Jesus predicted His resurrection:
Matthew 12:38-40; 16:21; 17:9, 22-23; 20:18-19; 26:32; 27:63; Mark 8:31-9:1;
9:10, 31; 10:32-34; 14:28, 58; Luke 9:22-27; John 2:18-22; 12:34; chapters 14-16.
Jesus not only predicted His resurrection but also emphasized that His rising
from the dead would be the “sign” to authenticate his claims as being the Messiah
(Jn. 2:13-22).
The Christian’s Sanctification and Salvation in Relation to Christ’s Resurrection
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is directly related to the Christian’s
sanctification and salvation.
The work of the Holy Spirit in conforming the believer into the image of Jesus
Christ is accomplished in three stages and is related to the believer’s
sanctification.
“Sanctification” is a technical theological term for the believer who has been
set apart through the baptism of the Spirit at the moment of salvation in order to
serve God exclusively and is accomplished in three stages: (1) Positional (2)
Experiential (3) Ultimate.
The “baptism of the Spirit” takes place exclusively during the dispensation of
the church age and is accomplished at the moment of salvation when the
omnipotence of the Spirit places the believer in a eternal union with Christ, thus
identifying the believer positionally with Christ in His death, resurrection and
session.
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1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one
body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made
to drink of one Spirit.”
“Baptized” is the verb baptizo (baptivzw), “to cause the believer to be
identified with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
At the moment of salvation, the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit causes the
believer to become identical and united with the Lord Jesus Christ and also
ascribes to the believer the qualities and characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Positional sanctification” is the believer’s “entrance” into the plan of God for
the church age resulting in eternal security as well as two categories of positional
truth (1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Thess. 5:23; Eph. 5:26-27; Heb. 2:11; 10:10;
Acts 20:32; 26:18; Rom. 6:3, 8; 2 Thess. 2:13).
“Retroactive” positional truth is the church age believer’s identification with
Christ in His death and burial (Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 2:12).
“Current” positional truth is the church age believer’s identification with Christ
in His resurrection, ascension and session (See Ephesians 2:4-6; Colossians 3:1-4).
Colossians 3:1, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep
seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
In Romans 6:3-5, Paul teaches concerning both retroactive and current
positional truth.
Romans 6:3-5, “Or, are some of you in a state of ignorance concerning the
fact that all of us who have been identified with Christ, who is Jesus, have
been identified with His spiritual death? Therefore, we have been buried with
Him through baptism with respect to His physical death in order that just as
Christ was raised from the dead ones through the glory of the Father, in the
same way, we, ourselves will also walk in the realm of an extraordinary life.
Therefore, if and let us assume that it is true for the sake of argument that we
are entered into union with Him, conformed to His physical death. Of course,
we believe this is true. Then, certainly, we will also be united with Him,
conformed to His resurrection.”
“Positional sanctification”: (1) What God has done for the church age believer.
(2) His viewpoint of the church age believer. (3) Sets up the potential to
experience sanctification in time. (4) Provides the believer with the guarantee of
receiving a resurrection body.
“Experiential sanctification” is the function of the church age believer’s
spiritual life in time through obedience to the Father’s will, which is revealed by
the Spirit through the communication of the Word of God (John 17:17; Rom. 6:19,
22; 2 Tim. 2:21; 1 Pet. 3:15; 1 Thess. 4:3-4, 7; 1 Tim. 2:15).
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2 Thessalonians 2:13, “But we should always give thanks to God for you,
brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the
beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the
truth.”
“Experiential sanctification” is the post-salvation experience of the church age
believer who is in fellowship with God by confessing any known sin to the Father
when necessary followed by obedience to the Father’s will, which is revealed by
the Spirit through the Word of God.
1 John 1:9, “If any of us does at any time confess our sins, then, He (God
the Father) is faithful and just with the result that He forgives us our sins and
purifies us from each and every wrongdoing.”
1 John 2:5, “But, whoever, at any time does observe conscientiously His Word,
indeed, in this one, the love for the one and only God is accomplished. By means
of this we can confirm that we are at this particular moment in fellowship with
Him.”
Sanctification is experienced by the believer who submits to the desires of the
Spirit, which constitutes being filled with the Spirit, which is commanded of the
Christian in Ephesians 5:18.
Romans 8:5-6, “For you see those who at any time exist in the state of
being in submission to the flesh are, as an eternal spiritual truth, preoccupied
with the things produced by the flesh. However, those in submission to the
Spirit, the things produced by the Spirit. In fact, the mind-set produced by
the flesh is, as an eternal spiritual truth temporal spiritual death. However,
the mind-set produced by the Spirit is, as an eternal spiritual truth life as well
as peace.”
Ephesians 5:18: “And do not permit yourselves to get into the habit of
being drunk with wine because that is non-sensical behavior, but rather
permit yourselves on a habitual basis to be influenced by means of the Spirit.”
This obedience also constitutes obeying the command to let the Word of Christ
richly dwell in your soul.
Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all
wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
This obedience enables the Spirit to reproduce the character of Christ in the
believer.
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things
there is no law.”
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Experiential sanctification is only a potential since it is contingent upon the
church age believer responding to what God has done for him at the moment of
salvation, therefore, only believers who are obedient to the Word of God will
experience sanctification in time. It is obeying the command of Romans 6:11 to
consider oneself dead to the sin nature and alive to God.
Romans 6:11, “In the same way, also, on the one hand, all of you without
exception make it your habit to regard yourselves as dead ones with respect to
the sin nature while on the other hand those who are, as an eternal spiritual
truth, alive with respect to God the Father, in union with Christ, who is
Jesus.”
The believer experiences sanctification by obeying the teaching of the Word of
God, which states that the believer has been crucified, died, buried, raised and
seated with Christ and which teaching is inspired by the Holy Spirit (See Romans
6).
“Ultimate sanctification” is the perfection of the church age believer’s spiritual
life at the Rapture, i.e. resurrection of the church, which is the completion of the
plan of God for the church age believer (1 Cor. 15:53-54; Gal. 6:8; 1 Pet. 5:10;
John 6:40). It is the guarantee of a resurrection body and will be experienced by
every believer regardless of their response in time to what God has done for them
at salvation.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep,
but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable,
and we will be changed.”
Sanctification is experiencing the holiness or in other words manifesting the
character of God through one’s thoughts, words and actions.
1 Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former
lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called
you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU
SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’”
The Christian’s salvation, i.e. his deliverance from the sin nature is also
accomplished in three stages.
(1) Positional: At the moment the believer exercised faith alone in Christ alone,
he was delivered “positionally” from the sin nature through the crucifixion, death,
burial, resurrection and session of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 19:9; John 4:22;
Acts 4:12; 13:26, 47; 16:17; Rom. 1:16; 10:1, 10; 11:11; 2 Cor. 6:2; Eph. 1:13;
Phlp. 1:28; 2 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 6:9; 1 Pet. 1:9-10; 2 Pet. 3:15; Jude 3;
Rev. 7:10).
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By “positionally,” I mean that God views the believer as crucified, died, buried,
raised and seated with Christ, which was accomplished at the moment of salvation
through the Baptism of the Spirit when the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit
placed the believer in an eternal union with Christ. In other words, the “positional”
aspect of the believer’s salvation refers to the past action of God saving us from
sin when we trusted in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and
that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no
one may boast.”
The believer’s deliverance positionally sets up the “potential” for him to
experience this deliverance in time since this deliverance can only be experienced
after salvation through obedience to the teaching of the Word of God. It also
guarantees the believer’s ultimate deliverance at the rapture, which is based upon
the sovereign decision of God rather than the volition of the believer.
(2) Experiential: After salvation, the believer can “experience” deliverance
from the sin nature by appropriating by faith the teaching of the Word of God that
he has been crucified, died, buried, raised and seated with Christ. This constitutes
the believer’s spiritual life after being delivered from real spiritual death (2 Cor.
1:6; 7:10; Romans 6:11-23; 8:1-17; Phlp. 2:12; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:5-17;
2 Tim. 2:10; 3:15; Heb. 2:3, 10; 1 Pet. 2:2). In other words, the “experiential”
aspect of salvation is used of the believer’s deliverance from sin in the present
moment.
1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who
are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
(3) Ultimate: At the resurrection the believer will be delivered “ultimately” and
permanently from the sin nature when he receives his resurrection body at the
rapture of the church, which is imminent (Rom. 13:11; 1 Thess. 5:8-9; Heb. 1:14;
9:28; 1 Pet. 1:5). In other words, the “ultimate” aspect of salvation is used of the
believer’s future deliverance from sin.
2 Timothy 4:18, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will
bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and
ever. Amen.”
In Hebrews 9:24-28, all three stages of the believer’s salvation are referred to.
Hebrews 9:24-28, “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands,
a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the
presence of God for us (experiential aspect of the believer’s salvation); nor
was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy
place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have
needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the
2010 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 34
consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the
sacrifice of Himself. (This makes possible the “positional” aspect of salvation)
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes
judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many,
will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who
eagerly await Him. (This refers to the “future” deliverance of the believer at
the rapture)”
Warren Wiersbe commenting on Hebrews 9:24-28, writes, “Did you notice that
the word ‘appear’ is used three times in Hebrews 9:24–28? These three uses give
us a summary of our Lord’s work. He has appeared to put away sin by dying on
the cross (Heb. 9:26). He is appearing now in heaven for us (Heb. 9:24). One day,
He shall appear to take Christians home (Heb. 9:28). These ‘three tenses of
salvation’ are all based on His finished work.” (Wiersbe, W. W. The Bible
Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)
Just as in the believer’s sanctification, his deliverance positionally sets up the
“potential” for him to experience this deliverance in time since this deliverance
can only be experienced after salvation through obedience to the teaching of the
Word of God through the enabling power of the Spirit. It also guarantees the
believer’s ultimate deliverance at the rapture, which is based upon the sovereign
decision of God rather than the volition of the believer.
The believer can experience his sanctification and salvation, i.e., the victory
over and deliverance from sin, Satan and his cosmic system through the
omnipotence of the Spirit by appropriating when he appropriates by faith the
teaching of the Word of God that he has been crucified, died, buried, raised and
seated with Christ (Romans 6:11-23; 8:1-17; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:5-17).
Implications of Christ’s Resurrection
There are many implications of Christ’s resurrection. One is that the
resurrection of Jesus Christ sharply distinguishes Christianity from all the world’s
religions since the bones of Abraham, Moses, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius,
Lao-Tzu and Zoraster are still here on earth.
Another is that the resurrection of Christ was a fulfillment of Old Testament
prophecy, which Peter communicated to the Jews on the day of Pentecost (See
Psalm 16:10 and Acts 2:22-28).
Jesus Christ’s resurrection demonstrated that He was the greatest of Israel’s
prophets since He predicted His resurrection several times (Matthew 12:38-40;
16:21; 17:9, 22-23; 20:18-19; 26:32; 27:63; Mark 8:31-9:1; 9:10, 31; 10:32-34;
14:28, 58; Luke 9:22-27; John 2:18-22; 12:34; 14-16).
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The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth demonstrates that He is in fact God
(Romans 1:1-4; cf. 10:9-10).
His resurrection demonstrated to the entire human race and the angels that His
substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the Cross were acceptable to the
Father as payment for the sins of the entire world. Our Lord’s resurrection
demonstrated that our Lord’s spiritual death solved the problem of personal sin in
the human race and His physical death and resurrection solved the problem of the
sin nature. It demonstrated that both of these unique deaths redeemed and
reconciled sinful humanity to a holy God and propitiated the Father’s holiness,
which demanded that sin and sinners be condemned.
Romans 4:25, “Who has been delivered over to death because of our
transgressions and in addition was raised because of our justification.”
Christ was raised for the Christian’s justification in the sense that the
resurrection of Christ demonstrated that God the Father had accepted His Son’s
spiritual and physical deaths on the cross to resolve the problem of personal sin
and the sin nature in the human race.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees that those who trust in Him for
eternal salvation will receive eternal life and will live with God forever and those
who reject Him will suffer eternal condemnation in the Lake of Fire (John 3:16
18, 36; Acts 4:12; Revelation 20:11-15).
John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he
who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and
believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’”
Paul in Romans 10:9 teaches that faith that the Father raised Jesus from the
dead is in fact an acknowledgement of the deity of Christ since the resurrection
demonstrated that Jesus is God.
Romans 10:9, “Because, if you acknowledge with your mouth Jesus is Lord
in other words, exercising absolute confidence with your heart that God the
Father raised Him from the dead ones, then you will be delivered.”
Paul in Romans 10:10 continues his thought from verse 9 by teaching that a
person believes with his heart that the Father raised Jesus from the dead resulting
in righteousness while on the other hand with his mouth he acknowledges to the
Father Jesus is Lord resulting in salvation.
Romans 10:10, “For you see, with the heart, one, as an eternal spiritual
truth, does exercise absolute confidence resulting in righteousness on other
hand with the mouth, one, as an eternal spiritual truth, does acknowledge
resulting in deliverance.”
The resurrection marks Jesus Christ out as the one and only redeemer of
mankind and the one and only means of access to God and authenticates His own
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claims that He was the way, the truth, and the life, and that He came to give His
life a ransom for many.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is that it demonstrated the fact that our Lord is
the head of the new creation (Romans 5:12-21; Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18;
2:10).
Another implication is that the resurrection of Christ resulted in the Holy Spirit
indwelling those who trust in Him for eternal salvation (John 14:16-20, 26; 15:26;
16:7-16; Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 5:5, 16-25;
Ephesians 3:16-19; 5:18; 1 John 2:20-27).
The resurrection indicates that the Father has delegated Jesus Christ authority
to judge mankind (John 5:22-29; Acts 17:31; Philippians 2:5-11).
It guarantees that all those who trust in Him for eternal salvation will receive a
resurrection body like Him.
Romans 6:4-5, “Therefore, we have been buried with Him through
baptism with respect to His physical death in order that just as Christ was
raised from the dead ones through the glory of the Father, in the same way,
we, ourselves will also walk in the realm of an extraordinary life. Therefore, if
and let us assume that it is true for the sake of argument that we are entered
into union with Him, conformed to His physical death. Of course, we believe
this is true. Then, certainly, we will also be united with Him, conformed to
His resurrection.”
Romans 8:11, “However, if, and let us assume that it is true for the sake of
argument the Spirit, proceeding from the One (the Father) who raised the
unique Person of Jesus from the dead ones, does dwell in all of you. Of course,
He does! Then, the One (the Father) who raised Christ from the dead ones,
will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who does
permanently dwell in all of you.”
If you are already a believer, your response to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus
Christ should be one of obedience and total commitment to Him (Mark 12:30). If
you are an unbeliever, your response to the testimony of the witnesses and
evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ should be one of faith in Jesus Christ
(John 3:16-18; Acts 16:30-31).
Reasons Why People Won’t Believe In The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ
The problem people face concerning the resurrection is not the lack of
evidence. As we noted there is more than sufficient evidence. There are at least
two reasons why people reject the resurrection. First of all, Scripture teaches us
the problem is moral.
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John 3:19-21, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the
world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were
evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the
Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth
comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been
wrought in God.”
Secondly, Scripture teaches us the problem is also spiritual.
1 Corinthians 2:14, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the
Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand
them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
2 Corinthians 4:4, “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the
minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of
the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
The fact that men do not believe in Christ in the face of overwhelming
evidence for His resurrection does not mean we should not use the evidence
available because the Holy Spirit uses such to open the eyes of men to the truth of
the Gospel and to encourage and verify truth to those who have a desire to know