Ultimately the resurrection is a challenge to one’s view of the deity of Christ. For one to say, “I am going to be killed and in three days, I will rise from among the dead.” is the ultimate challenge to that person’s ability to pull off such an event. This is especially true since it had never been done before nor has it been done since.
Surely a so-called magician can provide enough allusion to make even the most discerning individual wonder if he just witnessed slight of hand or a real miracle. But take any magician, torture and kill him and watch to see if he can resurrect himself. The only option available to the skeptic is to assume Jesus wasn’t killed. He must believe the body of Jesus could endure 39 lashes with a cat-of-nine-tails (from which punishment many died), a crown of thorns jammed into his skull, then endure the dragging of a heavy cross half-way up a hill, have his hands and feet pierced with spikes to that same cross, hang on that cross for hours and then be speared through the pericardium and still be alive.
One would need to believe that even if Jesus didn’t die from the crucifixion, in three days when the swelling from the pierced hands and feet would have been at their worse and his back so lacerated that his spine could be seen and the wound near his heart still gaping, He still came walking into a room of disciples speaking words of encouragement.
The only other option is to believe well-meaning but deluded disciples wrote these words. One would need to believe that even though the writers of the biblical account knew that Jesus did not really appear to them, they none-the-less reported that He had. Perhaps they told the fib because they wanted to prolong the movement Jesus had begun. Maybe they said what they did because they honestly believed Jesus rose from the grave, though He did not. The difficulty in this view is that these writers and many other eyewitnesses had to die because of their story.
They could have preserved their life had they been willing to change their testimony, but they chose rather to maintain their testimony and let an executioner kill them. Josh McDowell has forced us to ask this question, “Does any sane person die for what he knows to be a lie?”
What good would it do for the individual to maintain the lie in the hope of preserving a movement, if he is going to be dead and not realize any of the glory of the movement? What sane person would do this? The answer is probably no one. But in fairness, let’s say there was one person who would die for what he knows to be a lie, maybe two or even eight. The problem is that there were hundreds who died because they refused to say Jesus did not rise. That’s all they would have had to say; but they refused and were killed. They would have died for what they knew to be a lie!
No other belief system, no other prophet or religious founder in history ever claimed he was God as did Jesus. No one else ever foretold his own death and resurrection and pulled it off. The defeat of death is the basis of our claim that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the one and only Living God. He alone deserves our worship.
What points of interest can you share with others about your Easter sermon?