Last Sunday during our Connect Groups at Southern Calvert Baptist Church, we studied the crucifixion of Christ. This week, we are going to focus on the Resurrection of Christ. This is the most significant event in all of human history. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and offer forgiveness of sins to us. His resurrection from the dead is our sin nature’s death blow. But, in order to experience the power of the resurrection, we need faith. This lesson is about how the disciples see the evidence of the resurrection and believe. The same is true for us today. We have to evaluate the evidence of the resurrection and come to a conclusion; either we believe the evidence or we don’t. All four of the Gospels give evidence of the resurrection to us. It’s like the old adage, “we report, you decide”.
I. The unbelief of the disciples
As a main text, we are going to focus on John 20. In order to examine all of the evidence, we will need to glean from Matthew, Mark, and Luke as well.
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. (John 20:1)
Mary Magdalene was the first to arrive at the tomb on Sunday morning. Mary was not alone though.
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. (Mark 16:1)
Mary Magdalene was also accompanied by Mary, the mother of James and Salome. They were not the only two ladies there. According to Luke, there was a third woman there with them.
Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. (Luke 24:10)
Jesus had ministered to all of these women during His ministry. According to Luke, not only are they disciples of Christ, they also helped support His ministry.
1 Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him,
2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. (Luke 8)
These women do not realize that Jesus has resurrected. They cannot find the body and believe that someone has taken it. They see the evidence before them but they need an explanation to understand that Christ has been raised from the dead.
2 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.
3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
6 “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.
7 “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” (Matthew 28)
These ladies encounter an angel of the Lord and he explains everything to them. The problem that the ladies had was that they were looking for a living man among the dead. They hear the truth about the resurrection of Christ and they are told to return to the disciples and share the good news of the resurrection.
8 And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.
9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.” (Matthew 28)
The ladies immediately do as the angel tells them to do. While on their way to tell the disciples about the resurrection, they actually encounter the resurrected Jesus. This is the final piece of evidence that convinces them that Jesus is alive. The disciples should be ready to believe them based on all of the evidence.
When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it. (Mark 16:11)
The disciples were not yet ready to experience the power of the resurrection because they did not believe the testimony of these ladies. God gives another opportunity to them.
12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country.
13 They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either. (Mark 16)
Two disciples who had seen the risen Lord Jesus also shared this good news with the other disciples and they still refused to believe. The reason that they refuse to believe is because they do not understand the Scriptures that Jesus had taught them while He was with them.
For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. (John 20:9)
At this point, 2 disciples decide to go and check out the tomb for themselves.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened. (Luke 24:12)
3 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb.
4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; (John 20)
Will this be the evidence that the disciples need to lead them to faith? What about you, my dear friend, have you seen enough evidence to lead you to faith? This is the only way that you can experience the power of the resurrection in your daily life.
II. Evidence of the resurrection
As we discovered in the previous section, the disciples had everything that they needed to believe. They had the Scriptures and they had the eyewitness testimonies of the ladies who had visited the tomb. They also had testimony from two disciples who had also seen the resurrected Lord.
3 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb.
4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first;
5 and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.
6 And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there,
7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.
8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. (John 20)
Seeing with their own eyes was enough for Simon Peter and John. They had yet to see the resurrected Christ but, that is coming. They did not need to see Him to believe. They had enough evidence. What about you, have you examined the evidence that we have for the resurrection? Even though we cannot physically see the resurrected Jesus currently, we have all the evidence that we need in the Word of God. Maybe you have heard someone say that Jesus never actually resurrected from the dead. There are people who claim that today. This is nothing new. People were claiming that FakeNews almost 2,000 years ago.
III. A false narrative Designed and Promulgated
Denying the evidence of the resurrection is not a new phenomenon. As I wrote earlier, people were doing that almost 2,000 years ago.
11 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.
12 And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,
13 and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’
14 “And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.”
15 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. (Matthew 28)
The chief priests did not want to believe the evidence. They paid off the soldiers to lie and spread that lie all over the place. The soldiers sold out their integrity for money. As a result of crafting and promulgating this false narrative, many people did not believe then and many do not believe today. Are you going to get caught up in the FakeNews? Or, are you going to examine the evidence and choose to believe? It all makes an eternal difference. Choose wisely my dear friend.