Christ is Risen ! He is Risen indeed! This was the greeting and response of the early Christians when they met.
Today is Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day in the Christian calendar.
Did you Google and listen to “Sunday’s comin” as I recommended in my previous post ?
On several occasions during His Ministry and at the Passover meal with His Disciples the night before His Crucifixion, Jesus foretold His death. This caused dismay among His followers. There are over 175 references to the death of the Messiah in the Old Testament . However He also told them that after three days, He would rise again. (John 2:19 )
There have been many over the last two centuries who have questioned the validity of the Resurrection and called it pure Myth.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. “ ( John 11:25 )
If you don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God, then it is of no relevance whether He rose from the dead or not, it is just a strange story from antiquity. But for those who believe, the resurrection is the perfect symbol of our Eternal Hope.
The Apostle Paul wrote , ” And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless and your faith is useless. (1 Corinthians 15:14)
The Evidence for the Resurrection.
1. Three women , Mary Magdalene, Jo-anna and Mary the mother of the disciple James went to Christ’s tomb to embalm His body. They found the stone at the entrance rolled away and an Angel appeared to them and told them Jesus had risen. ( Luke 24: 2-11)
2. He spoke personally to Mary Magdalene in the Garden where the tomb was situated ( John 20:11-17)
3. Two Disciples , one named Cleopas, were walking along the road to Emmaus, discussing the events of the past few days when Jesus joined them . At first they did not recognise Him. He explained to them from the Old Testament Scriptures how all these things were prophesied hundreds and thousands of years earlier( Luke 24:13-31)
4. He appeared in person and spoke to ten Disciples with Thomas absent He invited them to feel the wounds in His hands and the spear wound in His side.(John20:19-23 )
5. He appeared to Thomas the Doubter and other disciples, and invited Him to feel the wounds in His hands and side ( John 20:24-29)
6. He appeared to Simon while he was out fishing with other disciples (John 21: 1-13 ) It was on this occasion that Jesus changed his name to Peter. This was the third time he had appeared to the Disciples.
7. He appeared to 500 people in one place on one occasion
8 . He appeared to James.
9. He was with the apostles on the Mount of Olives at the time of His ascension
10. He appeared to Saul on the Road to Damascus when he was on a mission to persecute the Christians wherever he found them. This was the occasion when Saul became a believer and his name was changed to Paul .
This is a rather formidable line up of people. There were multiple appearances to many people, with several of the appearances being recorded in more than one Gospel. If the resurrection story was just that, a story, imagine how difficult– impossible– a task it would be to keep that many people in line and not have someone ” spill the beans!”
Click on this link HERE for some further challenging information and evidence for the Resurrection.
Sir Edward Clarke was a famous English Barrister and High Court Judge, who conducted a legal analysis of the Resurrection, made the following statement.
” As a lawyer, I have made a prolonged study of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To me the evidence is conclusive and over and over again in the High Court I have secured a verdict on evidence not nearly so compelling. As a lawyer I accept the Gospel evidence unreservedly as the testimony of truthful men to facts that they were able to substantiate.”
The is an excellent book called , “Who Moved the Stone.” by Frank Morrison which I would recommend
|Who Moved the Stone?By Frank Morison / Zondervan The strangeness of the Resurrection story had captured Frank Morison’s attention, and, influenced by skeptic thinkers at the turn of the century, he set out to prove that the story of Christ’s Resurrection was only a myth. His probings, however, led him to discover the validity of the biblical record in a moving personal way. Who Moved the Stone? is considered by many to be a classic apologetic on the subject of the Resurrection. Morison includes a vivid and poignant account of Christ’s betrayal, trial, and death as a backdrop to his retelling of the climactic Resurrection itself.|
I would also recommend the book ” The Case for Christ ” by Lee Strobel, a former Legal Reporter and Editor for tthe Chicago Tribune in the United States. Note his chapter on the Resurrection.
|The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for JesusBy Lee Strobel / ZondervanA seasoned journalist chases down the biggest story on record in The Case for Christ. Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, former Chicago Tribune legal editor Lee Strobel cross-examines a dozen experts with tough, point-blank questions in search of credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was positively the Son of God. This riveting quest for the truth about history’s most compelling figure reads like a captivating, fast-paced novel, yet it’s anything but fiction! An ideal paperback for skeptics!|
What did the Resurrection do for the Disciples ? They became changed men ! Prior to the crucifixion they were scared men who ran and hid after Jesus was arrested, suffered the indignity of an illegal mock trial and crucified. After the Resurrection, they became fearless evangelists, who suffered verbal and physical abuse, deprivation and death as they spread the Good News on the Gospel.
Jesus gave them “The Great Commission”:
“…Go into all the world and preach the Gospel…… ” Matthew 28:18-20 and they did just that
Andrew is only mentioned thirteen times in the New Testament. He was the quiet achiever. Andrew is the one claimed by the Armenian Church to have been the one who brought the Gospel to their country. He was martyred in Patras on the west coast of Greece . He was tied to an X shaped cross for three days before he died. He did not believe he was worthy of being nailed to an ordinary cross like his master.
Jude Thaddaeus is also called Judas the son of James in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. He travelled extensively and preached in Babylon, Persia and Armenia . It is said that he was crucified and shot with arrows until he died at about the age of 70.
Simon the Zealot travelled along the northern coast of Africa and to Britain. He was crucified by the Romans in Lincolnshire , England on 10th May AD 61
The Apostle Thomas is remembered to this day as the classic doubter.. He was a twin but it is unknown whether his twin was brother or sister. He is credited with taking the Gospel to India. The King of Madras Ordered his execution. He was speared to death on a mountain in the town of Mylapore a suburb of Madras in India. It is known as Mount Thomas to this day .
Philip was the first disciple to be called by Jesus. He took the Gospel to Gaul (France),Britain and what is now known as Turkey. He was crucified upside down and stoned to death. Originally he was buried in Hierapolis in Turkey. Pope John the Third (560-572 acquired his body and had it interred in a new Church in Rome which he named “The Church of the Holy Apostles Philip and James’. The bones of these two Apostles are still in that church today.
Three Apostles named James. James the Greater was beheaded on the orders of Herod Agrippa the First, fourteen years after the death of Christ. Tradition has it that his body was transported to Santiago de Compostela in Spain where his shrine attracts pilgrims from all over the world. James was later named Patron Saint of Spain.
James the Less. Very little is recorded about him and his ministry. He is said to have preached in Palestine and Persia. He also died a martyr’s death on a cross.
James the Brother of Jesus was the Leader of The Jerusalem Church. It was reported that he lived such a holy and virtuous life that he was surnamed James the Just or James the Righteous by the Jewish people of the day. Annus the High priest ordered him taken to the top of the Temple where they pushed him off. As he was not killed by the fall they had him stoned and clubbed to death.
Matthew was the converted Tax collector. It was he who wrote the first book of the New Testament , The Gospel of Matthew.For fifteen years after the resurrection he preached in Jerusalem. Later he travelled to Ethiopia. This is not the modern Ethiopia but an area along the upper Nile, south of the Aswan. It is the land of Cush referred to in the Old Testament. He is said to have lived there for twenty-three years. He was stabbed to death by soldiers sent by King Hyrtacus.
Peter the one who denied he even knew Jesus when challenged by a servant girl on the night of the crucifixion , became the fearless preacher. Although he appeared hot headed and impetuous on many occasions he seems to have been generally accepted as the leader of the group. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter automatically took the lead, preaching to a large crowd, which lead to the conversion of 3000 people. Peter travelled to many parts of the then known world. Tradition says he travelled as far as Britain
Peter was also martyred by crucifixion. At his own request he was crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.
John was probably the youngest of the Disciples. He was originally one of John the Baptist’s Disciples . He seems to have been one of the “inner three” who along with James and Peter received special training from Jesus.It was he who wrote The Gospel of John, The three letters bearing his name and the last book of the Bible, The Book of Revelation .
John was the only one of the Disciples to die a natural death at the ripe old of almost one hundred in 98 AD.
Paul, although NOT one of the original Disciples became one of the most important figures in early Church history. He was a devout Jew and a contemporary of the original Twelve. While travelling on the Road to Damascus with letters from The Jewish hierarchy in Jerusalem, he had a dramatic confrontation with the Risen Jesus. His conversion was a true about-face. From a persecutor of Christians, he became one of the persecuted. He faced death on many occasions for his Faith. He was beheaded in Rome on the same day as Peter in 67AD
I would recommend a book : ” Whatever Happened to the Twelve Apostles “ by Elva Schroeder, for more detail.
These men apart from Paul, all lived with Jesus during His earthly Ministry. They saw Him killed on a cross. Their whole world seemed to come to and end . They were expecting a Messiah who was going to free them from Roman occupation and tyranny. Initially they missed the point. They failed to see that the prophets of old spoke of a Suffering Saviour; The One who would come as the ultimate sacrifice for their sins. No longer would they have to take sheep, goats and bullocks to the Temple to be sacrificed by the High Priest. However He will come again as The Conquering King ( See the last book of the Bible, The Book of Revelation )
They willingly sacrificed their lives believing and knowing the Truth of the resurrection.
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.
What choice will you make ? Your life depends on it.
He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed
See my previous Post Easter Bunny,Easter Eggs or Jesus