“Risen” – Matthew 28:1-20 – EASTER 2019

Sunday, April 21st, 2019 – EASTER
Matthew 28
“Risen”

Service Orientation: The reality of the resurrection assures us that Jesus has conquered sin and death. HE IS RISEN!

Memory Verse for the Week: “The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:5-6

Background Information:
• In the Jewish reckoning of time, a day included any part of a day; thus, Friday was the first day, Saturday was the second day, and Sunday was the third day. Unlike the Jewish leaders, they certainly had no expectation that the disciples would steal the body (27:62-66). When the women arrived at daybreak on Sunday, the third day, Jesus had already risen. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 570) These Christians were scattered in five different parts of the Roman Empire, all of them in northern Asia Minor (modern Turkey). (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament; Vol II, 389)

• The religious leaders’ worst fears had been realized (27:63-64)—Jesus’ body had disappeared from the tomb! Instead of even considering that Jesus’ claims had been true and that he truly was the Messiah risen from the dead, the chief priests and elders devised a plan and paid a bribe to the soldiers in order to explain away what had happened. What irony that the chief priests were forced to bribe the guards to spread the very lie that the chief priests had tried to prevent! This may have seemed like a logical explanation, but they didn’t think through the details. Why would Jesus’ disciples, who already had run off on him at his arrest, risk a return at night to a guarded and sealed tomb in an effort to steal a body—an offense that could incur the death penalty? If they had done so, would they have taken the time to unwrap the body and leave the grave clothes behind? (574)

• All the gospels stress the significance of the women as the first witnesses of the empty tomb. This is hardly likely to be a fictional invention, in a society where women were not generally regarded as credible witnesses, especially as the singling out of the women for this honor detracts from the prestige of the male disciples. (R.T France, The New International Commentary: Matthew, 1098)

• The chief priests use bribe money to commission the soldiers to spread lies, while the resurrected Jesus uses the promise of his presence to commission his followers to spread the gospel (vv. 16—20). (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol 8, 590)

 

The questions to be answered…

1. How can we be certain what we read about Jesus’ resurrection is true?

We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart. (Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, Chapter X. 1.)

The resurrection takes the question “Is Christianity valid?” out of the realm of philosophy and makes it a question of history. (Josh McDowell, More Than A Carpenter, 125)

2. What significance does this event hold for mankind?

If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? (Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, 210)

The Christian belief is not that some people sometimes get raised from the dead, and Jesus happens to be one of them. It is precisely that people don’t ever get raised from the dead, and that something new has happened in and through Jesus which has blown a hole through previous observations. The Christian thus agrees with scientists ancient and modern: yes, dead people don’t rise. But the Christian goes on to say that something new and different has now occurred in the case of Jesus. This isn’t because there was an odd glitch in the cosmos, or something peculiar about Jesus’ biochemistry, but because the God who made the world, and who called Israel to be the bearer of his rescue-operation for the world, was at work in and through Jesus to remake the world. The resurrection was the dramatic launching of this project. (N.T. Wright, Matthew For Everyone, Part 2, 202)

3. What significance does the resurrection hold for my life? (we’ll explore this further in the 10:50 Service)

Answers…

1. We can be certain because of the insurmountable evidence that supports it.

A. Internal textual evidence – The Bible corroborates itself.
(Pro. 30:5; Mat. 4:4; Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Thes. 5:21)

And lest anyone question the reality of Christ’s resurrection, the apostle Paul provided evidence that Christ has risen. Paul reported that eyewitnesses had seen Christ after the resurrection. They included Peter, the other disciples, and more than five hundred people at once some of whom were still living in Paul’s day and could be questioned about what they saw (1 Cor. 15:4—7). Paul also viewed himself as an eyewitness. He placed the resurrection of Jesus Christ at the very heart of the Gospel. (Thomas C. Oden, This We Believe, 136)

B. External textual evidence – Outsider sources confirm

(e.g. Tacitus, Josephus, The Talmud, Lucian, Suetonius, Thalus, Pliny, Celcus, Mara Bar-Serapian et al.)

Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay: falsehood by haste and uncertainty. (Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), II. 39.)

C. Historic evidence – The change in history’s trajectory is indisputable.

The resurrection is the hinge on which all Christianity turns. It’s the foundation on which everything else rests, the capstone that holds everything else about Christianity together. Which means—crucially—that when Christians assert that Jesus rose from the dead, they are making a historical claim, not a religious one. (Greg Gilbert, Who Is Jesus?, 125)

D. Inherent evidence – The truth of the resurrection changes people profoundly.

inherent: adjective  : involved in the constitution or essential character of something : belonging by nature or habit

(e.g. The disciples, Paul, the early church and saints, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards, Spurgeon, Roberts, Lewis, Billy Graham, Mother Theresa… even many of those sitting near you this morning.)

Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection, because it is entirely artless. They do not invite us to look at themselves, as they invite us to look at the empty tomb and the collapsed graveclothes and the Lord whom they had seen. We can see the change in them without being asked to look. The men who figure in the pages of the Gospels are new and different men in the Acts. The death of their Master left them despondent, disillusioned, and near to despair. But in the Acts they emerge as men who hazard their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and who turn the world upside down. (John Stott, Basic Christianity, 58)

2. Because Jesus is risen, we can have confidence in everything Jesus said.
(Acts 10:43; Rom. 15:13; 2 Cor. 3:3-5; Eph. 3:12; Heb. 3:6, 11:1; Titus 1:9)

From the Resurrection onward, the gospel that Jesus had preached became the gospel that was Jesus. The disciples now recognized that Jesus Christ came not only to preach a gospel but to be a gospel. The themes of their message were now: (1) the Messianic Age has come; (2) the gospel is the ministry, death, and Resurrection of the Messiah; (3) Jesus is now at God’s right hand as Lord; (4) Jesus has verified His role by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; (5) Jesus has created, and continues to create, a new community; and (6) Jesus will return as Judge. (See I Cor. 15:3—5; Gal. 3:1; I Cor. 1:23; Rom. 8:31—34, 2 Cor. 5:16.) (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary, 322)

3:. We can face life with purpose and fearlessness.
(Prov. 16:4; Ecc. 12:13-14; Mat. 28:18-20; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 2:10; Col. 1:16; 1 Pet. 2:9)

Christian faith is then, not only an assent to the whole gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the blood of Christ; a trust in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection; a recumbency upon him as our atonement and our life, as given for us, and living in us; and, in consequence hereof, a closing with him, and cleaving to him, as our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” or, in one word, our salvation. (John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 19-20)

Conclusion…
Because Jesus is risen…

1. Death is no longer our final destination.
(Ecc. 12:7; Luke 23:43; John 3:16, 11:26; Rom. 6:23, 14:8; 1 Cor. 15; 1 Thes. 4; Rev. 21)

Let us take comfort in this thought. Trial, sorrow, and persecution are often the portion of God’s people; sickness, weakness, and pain often hurt and wear their poor earthly tabernacle: but their good time is yet to come. Let them wait patiently, and they shall have a glorious resurrection. When we die, and where we are buried, and what kind of a funeral we have, matters little: the great question to be asked is this, ‘How shall we rise again?’ (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 325)

2. Jesus offers us a risen life now, and forever.
(John 3:3; Rom. 6:4, 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 4, 5:17; Gal. 5:20; Eph. 4:22-24; 1 John 1:9)

Because Christ was raised from the dead, we know that the kingdom of heaven has broken into earth’s history. Our world is now headed for redemption, not disaster. God’s mighty power is at work destroying sin, creating new lives, and preparing us for Jesus’ second coming. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 569)

3. We can face life with purpose and fearlessness.
(Prov. 16:4; Ecc. 12:13-14; Mat. 28:18-20; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 2:10; Col. 1:16; 1 Pet. 2:9)

Christian faith is then, not only an assent to the whole gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the blood of Christ; a trust in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection; a recumbency upon him as our atonement and our life, as given for us, and living in us; and, in consequence hereof, a closing with him, and cleaving to him, as our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” or, in one word, our salvation. (John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 19-20)

Worship Point:
Jesus is risen! Worship happens as we reflect that reality in our lives.
(Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 15:12-19; Col. 3:14-17; Heb. 12:28)

The power of God that brought Christ’s body back from the dead is available to us to bring our morally and spiritually dead selves back to life so that we can change and grow. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 569)

It may well be questioned whether a man knows the value of the gospel himself, if he does not desire to make it known to all the world. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 328)

Gospel Application:
Because Jesus is risen, we are offered new existence in exchange for our old one.
(Rom. 6:1-23, 12:2; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10, 4:17-24; Col. 3:10; 1 John 3:9)

As the one who decisively conquered death, Jesus is the one to whom we must turn for victory over man’s most dreaded enemy. (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, 141)

On the basis of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God can freely forgive man, for the penalty has been paid by God Himself. But again, God does not force this pardon on anyone. We are not puppets. God offers forgiveness to us; it is up to us to accept or reject. The final point tells how we may appropriate the new life God offers. (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, 148)

Jesus Christ is risen victorious from the dead. His resurrected body became more glorious, not hindered by ordinary human limitations. Thus He ascended into heaven. There He sits as our exalted Lord at the right hand of God the Father, where He intercedes for us until His enemies shall be brought into complete subjection. He will return to judge all people. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (2015 Free Methodist Book of Discipline, Par. 104, p. 9-10)

The Resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of resurrection unto life to those who are in Him. (2015 Free Methodist Book of Discipline, 25)

Spiritual Challenge Questions…
Questions to discuss with a life-group, family member, or Christian friend to further challenge you in living out today’s text.
1. How has Jesus’ resurrection impacted the way I live my life? How can it continue to do so in the future?

2. What can I observe around me that has been impacted by the resurrection?

3. In light of the resurrection, how can I live a risen life?

4. Who is someone Jesus wants me to share the truth of the resurrection with?

QUOTES AND RESEARCH TO NOTE……

The point, of course, is that what is happening is the action of God himself. The God who remained apparently silent on Good Friday is having the last word. He is answering the unspoken questions of Jesus’ followers, and the spoken question of Jesus himself on the cross. And what God is doing is not just an extraordinary miracle, a display of supernatural power for its own sake, or a special favour to Jesus. What God is doing is starting something new, beginning the new world promised long ago, sending the disciples to Galilee in the first place but then, as we shall see, on to the ends of the earth and the close of the age with the news of what has happened. A whole new world was opening up in front of them. (N.T. Wright, Matthew For Everyone, Part 2, 198-199)

In fact, what the Jewish leaders did in this story is not very different from what generations of skeptics have done ever since. Don’t be fooled by the idea that modern science has disproved the resurrection of Jesus. Modern science has done no such thing. Everybody in the ancient world, just like everybody in the modern world, knew perfectly well that dead people don’t get resurrected. It didn’t take Copernicus or Newton, or Einstein for that matter, to prove that; just universal observation of universal facts. The Christian belief is not that some people sometimes get raised from the dead, and Jesus happens to be one of them. It is precisely that people don’t ever get raised from the dead, and that something new has happened in and through Jesus which has blown a hole through previous observations. The Christian thus agrees with scientists ancient and modern: yes, dead people don’t rise. But the Christian goes on to say that something new and different has now occurred in the case of Jesus. This isn’t because there was an odd glitch in the cosmos, or something peculiar about Jesus’ biochemistry, but because the God who made the world, and who called Israel to be the bearer of his rescue-operation for the world, was at work in and through Jesus to remake the world. The resurrection was the dramatic launching of this project. (N.T. Wright, Matthew For Everyone, Part 2, 202)

What the chief priests arranged with the guards was not, in fact, a purely first-century phenomenon. Matthew has alerted us to a recurring feature of Christian faith: the need to argue for the the truth of Easter, and to expose and demolish rival attempts to say what happened. Those who believe in the resurrection need to be constantly on the alert against attack. They also need, of course, to be sure that they are themselves allowing the resurrection to blow constantly like a fresh breeze through their own lives, thoughts and imaginations. There’s no point defending and explaining God’s new world if you’re still living in the old one yourself. (N.T. Wright, Matthew For Everyone, Part 2, 204)

The second task is to baptize them. Baptism is not an optional extra for followers of Jesus. Jesus himself linked baptism to his own death; part of the meaning of baptism is to commit us, through plunging into water, to dying with Jesus and coming to share his new life. (Paul spells this out in Romans 6, but many other passages imply it, including the present one.) Baptism is the public, physical and visible way in which someone is marked out, branded almost, with the holy ‘name’. As Jesus was given, by the angel, the name ‘Jesus’, signifying his real identity and the task that lay before him, so now, with his work complete, we suddenly discover that the ‘name’ which we are all to share is the new ‘name’ of the living God — the father, the son and the holy spirit. (N.T. Wright, Matthew For Everyone, Part 2, 208)

Why is the Resurrection so important?
• Because Christ was raised from the dead, we know that the kingdom of heaven has broken into earth’s history. Our world is now headed for redemption, not disaster. God’s mighty power is at work destroying sin, creating new lives, and preparing us for Jesus’ second coming.
• Because of the Resurrection, we know that death has been conquered and that we, too, will be raised from the dead to live forever with Christ.
• The Resurrection gives authority to the church’s witness in the world. Look at the early evangelistic sermons in the book of Acts: The apostles’ most important message was the proclamation that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead!
• The Resurrection gives meaning to the church’s regular feast, the Lord’s Supper. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we break bread with our risen Lord.
• The Resurrection helps us find meaning even in great tragedy. No matter what happens to us as we walk with the Lord, the Resurrection gives us hope for the future.
• The Resurrection assures us that Christ is alive and ruling his kingdom. He is not legend; he is alive and real.
• The power of God that brought Christ’s body back from the dead is available to us to bring our morally and spiritually dead selves back to life so that we can change and grow (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 569)

In the Jewish reckoning of time, a day included any part of a day; thus, Friday was the first day, Saturday was the second day, and Sunday was the third day. Unlike the Jewish leaders, they certainly had no expectation that the disciples would steal the body (27:62-66). When the women arrived at daybreak on Sunday, the third day, Jesus had already risen. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 570)

Again a supernatural event took place, probably having occurred before the women arrived at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake (see also 27:51-52) that occurred as the angel of the Lord descended, or it was the means by which the stone was rolled away from the tomb’s entrance. The stone was not rolled back so Jesus could get out, but so others could get in and see that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, just as he had promised. This is as close a description of the Resurrection as the Bible gives us. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 570)

COME AND GO
The angel who announced the good news of the Resurrection to the women gave them four messages:
1. “Do not be afraid.” The reality of the Resurrection brings joy, not fear. When you are afraid, remember the empty tomb.
2. “He is not here.” Jesus is not dead and is not to be looked for among the dead. He is alive, with his people.
3. “Come and see.” The women could check the evidence themselves. The tomb was empty then, and it is empty today. The Resurrection is a historical fact.
4. “Go quickly and tell.” They were to spread the joy of the Resurrection. We too are to spread the great news about Jesus’ resurrection. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 572)

The religious leaders’ worst fears had been realized (27:63-64)—Jesus’ body had disappeared from the tomb! Instead of even considering that Jesus’ claims had been true and that he truly was the Messiah risen from the dead, the chief priests and elders devised a plan and paid a bribe to the soldiers in order to explain away what had happened. What irony that the chief priests were forced to bribe the guards to spread the very lie that the chief priests had tried to prevent! This may have seemed like a logical explanation, but they didn’t think through the details. Why would Jesus’ disciples, who already had run off on him at his arrest, risk a return at night to a guarded and sealed tomb in an effort to steal a body—an offense that could incur the death penalty? If they had done so, would they have taken the time to unwrap the body and leave the grave clothes behind? (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 574)

If this had occurred while the guards were asleep, how could the guards possibly have known that the disciples came during the night and stole the body? If this truly happened, why didn’t the religious leaders arrest the disciples in order to prosecute them? The story was full of holes and the guards would have to admit to negligence on their part, so getting them to spread this rumor required a large sum of money. If the governor (Pilate) were to hear the story, the Jewish leaders promised to intervene for the guards, satisfy Pilate with the made-up rumor, and keep the guards out of trouble.(Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 574)

This mountain at the conclusion of our Lord’s life corresponds to the mountain of temptation at the beginning. There he was offered the empire of the world, if only he would take the easy lower path; here he is acknowledged King of the world because he took the hard one of obedience unto death. F B. Meyer (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 576)

With this same authority, Jesus still commands us to tell others the Good News and make them disciples for the kingdom. We are to go—whether it is next door or to another country—and make disciples. It is not an option, but a command to all who call Jesus “Lord.” We are not all evangelists in the formal sense, but we have all received gifts that we can use to help fulfill the Great Commission. As we obey, we have comfort in the knowledge that Jesus is always with us. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 578)

What is the significance of the resurrection?
*
It proves that Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus stated that He had authority to lay down His life and to take it up again (John 10:17-18).
*
It verifies the truth of Scripture. Both in the Old Testament and in the teaching of Jesus, His resurrection is clearly taught (see Ps. 16:10; 110:1). If Jesus had not come out of the tomb, then these Scriptures would not be true.
*
It assures our own future resurrection. Because Jesus died and rose again, we shall one day be raised to be like Him (1 Thess. 4:13—18). In fact, the entire structure of the Christian faith rests on the foundation of the resurrection. If we do away with His resurrection we have no hope.
*
It is the proof of a- future judgement. “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man who he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
*
It is the basis for Christ’s heavenly priesthood. Because He lives by the power of an endless life, He is able to save us “to the uttermost” (Heb. 7:23—28). He lives to intercede for us.
*
It gives power for Christian living. We cannot live for God by our own strength. It is only as His resurrection power works in and through us that we can do His will and glorify His name (see Rom. 6:4).
*
It assures our future inheritance. Because we have a living hope, we can experience hopeful living. A dead hope grows weaker and weaker before it eventually dies But because Jesus Christ is alive, we have a glorious future (see 1 Peter 1:3—5). (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Matthew – Galatians, 104)

The stone was not rolled away to permit Jesus to come out, for He had already left the tomb. It was rolled back so that the people could see for themselves that the tomb was empty. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Matthew – Galatians, 105)

What did they see in the tomb? The grave clothes lying on the stone shelf, still wrapped in the shape of the body (John 20:5—7). Jesus had passed through the graveclothes and left them behind as evidence that He was alive. They lay there like an empty cocoon. There was no sign of struggle; the graveclothes were not in disarray. Even the napkin (which had been wrapped around His face) was folded carefully in a place by itself. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Matthew – Galatians, 105)

The remarkable change in the early believers is another proof of His resurrection. One day they were discouraged and hiding in defeat. The next day they were declaring His resurrection and walking in joyful victory. In fact, they were willing to die for the truth of the resurrection. If all of this were a manufactured tale, it could never have changed their lives or enabled them to lay down their lives as martyrs. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Matthew – Galatians, 105)

We need not wonder that so much importance is attached to our Lord’s resurrection: it is the seal and headstone of the great work of redemption, which he came to do; it is the crowning proof that he has paid the debt which he undertook to pay on our behalf, won the battle which he fought to deliver us from hell, and is accepted as our Surety and our Substitute by our Father in heaven. Had he never come forth from the prison of the grave, how could we ever have been sure that our ransom had been fully paid? (l Cor. 15:17). Had he never risen from his conflict with the last enemy, how could we have felt confident, that he has overcome death, and him that had the power of death, that is the devil? (Heb. 2:14). But thanks be unto God, we are not left in doubt: the Lord Jesus really ‘rose again for our justification.’ True Christians are ‘begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead;’ they may boldly say with Paul, ‘Who is he that condemneth: it is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again’ (Rom. 4:25; 1 Pet. 1:3; Rom. 8:34). (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 323-4)

Let us take comfort in this thought. Trial, sorrow, and persecution are often the portion of God’s people; sickness, weakness, and pain often hurt and wear their poor earthly tabernacle: but their good time is yet to come. Let them wait patiently, and they shall have a glorious resurrection. When we die, and where we are buried, and what kind of a funeral we have, matters little: the great question to be asked is this, ‘How shall we rise again?’ (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 325)

Let us embrace this truth reverently, and cling to it firmly. Christ is he who has the keys of death and hell; Christ is the anointed Priest, who alone can absolve sinners; Christ is the fountain of living waters, in whom alone we can be cleansed; Christ is the Prince and Saviour, who alone can give repentance and remission of sins. In him all fullness dwells. He is the way, the door, the light, the life, the Shepherd, the Altar of Refuge. ‘He that has the Son has life; and he that hath not the Son hath not life’ (1 John 5:12). May we all strive to understand this! No doubt men may easily think too little of God the Father, and God the Spirit; but no man ever thought too much of Christ. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 327-8)

Where is our faith, if we neglect this duty? Where is our charity? It may well be questioned whether a man knows the value of the gospel himself, if he does not desire to make it known to all the world. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 328)

The plain practical lesson of the words is the necessity of a public confession of faith in Christ. It is not enough to be a secret disciple: we must not be ashamed to let men see whose we are, and whom we serve. We must not behave as if we did not like to be thought Christians; but take up our cross and confess our Master before the world. His words are very solemn: ‘Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, . . . of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels’ (Mark 8:38). (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 329)

All the gospels stress the significance of the women as the first witnesses of the empty tomb. This is hardly likely to be a fictional invention, in a society where women were not generally regarded as credible witnesses, especially as the singling out of the women for this honor detracts from the prestige of the male disciples. We have seen how 27:55-56 and 27:61 have prepared the ground for the women’s role as guarantors of the reality of the resurrection. It is now through them that the male disciples are to hear the news and to receive the instructions of their risen Lord. But in Matthew (and in John with regard to Mary the Magdalene alone) their privilege is even more pronounced, in that it is they who are chosen to be the first to meet with the risen Jesus himself. The male disciples must wait until they get to Galilee (and even then some will “doubt,” v. 17), but he reveals himself to the women even in Jerusalem. It is Luke rather than Matthew who is generally regarded as placing special emphasis on the contribution of women to the origins of Christianity, but here Matthew gives them a place of honor which not even Luke can envisage (Luke 24:22-4).
(R.T France, The New International Commentary: Matthew, 1098)

The cover-up story which the priests and elders concoct as a result then enables Matthew to explain the current charge of grave robbing which we noted (in the introductory comments to 27:62-66) as the likely reason for Matthew including the guard in his account at all. It was because this story was still current in Jewish circles, as a countermeasure to Christian preaching of Jesus’ resurrection, that it was important for Christians to set the record straight. But at the same time the fact that the priests must resort to this lie underlines that the tomb really was empty; even the priests cannot deny that fact. (R.T France, The New International Commentary: Matthew,1104)

It is not enough that the nations hear the message; they must also respond with the same whole-hearted commitment which was required of those who became disciples of Jesus during his ministry (see, e.g., 8:19-22; 19:21-22, 27-29). The sentence structure is of a main verb in the imperative, “make disciples,” followed by two uncoordinated participles, “baptizing” and “teaching,” which spell out the process of making disciples. (R.T France, The New International Commentary: Matthew,1115)

From the Resurrection onward, the gospel that Jesus had preached became the gospel that was Jesus. The disciples now recognized that Jesus Christ came not only to preach a gospel but to be a gospel. The themes of their message were now: (1) the Messianic Age has come; (2) the gospel is the ministry, death, and Resurrection of the Messiah; (3) Jesus is now at God’s right hand as Lord; (4) Jesus has verified His role by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; (5) Jesus has created, and continues to create, a new community; and (6) Jesus will return as Judge. (See I Cor. 15:3—5; Gal. 3:1; I Cor. 1:23; Rom. 8:31—34, 2 Cor. 5:16.) (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary, 322)

Salvation is not simply a pietistic experience of assurance that we are “justified by faith,” or “forgiven,” or “saved,” but is the assurance of a saving relationship with Christ whom we confess as Lord and serve as Lord by following His teachings. This is a righteousness of relationship, a new life in which we walk with Christ (Phil. 3:9). (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary, 331)

the chief priests use bribe money to commission the soldiers to spread lies, while the resurrected Jesus uses the promise of his presence to commission his followers to spread the gospel (vv. 16—20). (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol 8, 590)

Once again the instinctive concern of the Jewish leaders relates to expedience and the people’s reaction, not to the truth. The story they concoct shows how desperate they are for an explanation, for if the guards were asleep, they could not know of the alleged theft; and if one of them awoke, why was not an alarm sounded and the disciples arrested? Molesting graves was a serious offense in the ancient world, subject at times to the death penalty. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol 8, 591)

Quotes from some great apologetics books read and utilized in preparation of this message….

John Stott, Basic Christianity,
The argument is not that his resurrection establishes his deity, but that it is consistent with it. It is only to be expected that a supernatural person should come to and leave the earth in a supernatural way. This is in fact what the New Testament teaches and what, in consequence, the church has always believed. His birth was natural, but his conception was supernatural. His death was natural, but his resurrection was supernatural. His miraculous conception and resurrection do not prove his deity, but they are congruous with it. (p46)

Are we then seriously to believe that Jesus was all the time only in a swoon? That after the rigours and pains of trial, mockery, flogging and crucifixion he could survive thirty-six hours in a stone sepulchre with neither warmth nor food nor medical care ? That he could then rally sufficiently to perform the superhuman feat of shifting the boulder which secured the mouth of the tomb, and this without disturbing the Roman guard? That then, weak and sickly and hungry, he could appear to the disciples in such a way as to give them the impression that he had vanquished death ? That he could go on to claim that he had died and risen, could send them into all the world and promise to be with them unto the end of time? That he could live somewhere in hiding for forty days, making occasional surprise appearances, and then finally disappear without any explanation? Such credulity is more incredible than Thomas’ unbelief. (p49)

This simply does not ring true. It is so unlikely as to be virtually impossible. If anything is clear from the Gospels and the Acts, it is that the apostles were sincere. They may have been deceived, if you like, but they were not deceivers. Hypocrites and martyrs are not made of the same stuff. (p50)

Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection, because it is entirely artless. They do not invite us to look at themselves, as they invite us to look at the empty tomb and the collapsed graveclothes and the Lord whom they had seen. We can see the change in them without being asked to look. The men who figure in the pages of the Gospels are new and different men in the Acts. The death of their Master left them despondent, disillusioned, and near to despair. But in the Acts they emerge as men who hazard their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and who turn the world upside down. (John Stott, Basic Christianity, 58)

These are the evidences for the resurrection. The body had disappeared. The graveclothes remained undisturbed. The Lord was seen. And the disciples were changed. There is no adequate explanation of these phenomena other than the great Christian affirmation ‘the Lord is risen indeed’. (p59)

Thomas C. Oden, This We Believe,
And lest anyone question the reality of Christ’s resurrection, the apostle Paul provided evidence that Christ has risen. Paul reported that eyewitnesses had seen Christ after the resurrection. They included Peter, the other disciples, and more than five hundred people at one some of whom were still living in Paul’s day and could be questioned about what they saw (1 Cor. 15:4—7). Paul also viewed himself as an eyewitness. He placed the resurrection of Jesus Christ at the very heart of the Gospel. (Thomas C. Oden, This We Believe, 136)

Josh McDowell, More Than A Carpenter,
The resurrection takes the question “Is Christianity valid?” out of the realm of philosophy and makes it a question of history. (Josh McDowell, More Than A Carpenter, 125)

Given the brutality of the whipping, as well as his subsequent crucifixion, it is historically certain that Jesus was dead. (p127)

the claim of the resurrection could not have 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. (p129)

The Wrong-Tomb Theory
A Theory propounded by British biblical scholar Kirsopp Lake assumes that the women who reported the body missing had mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb that morning. If so, then the disciples who went to check the women’s story must have gone to the wrong tomb as well. We can be certain, however, that the Jewish authorities, who had asked for that Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent the body from being stolen, would not have been mistaken about the location. (p131)

If a wrong tomb were involved, the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb. (p131)

The Hallucination Theory
It is not credible to think that five hundred people could have seen the same hallucination for forty days. (p131)
So where was the actual body of Jesus, and why didn’t those who opposed him produce it?

The Swoon theory
It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulcher, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life, an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship. (David Strauss)

Timothy Keller, The Reason for God,
If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead. That is how the first hearers felt who heard reports of the resurrection. They knew that if it was true it meant we can’t live our lives any way we want. It also meant we don’t have to be afraid of anything, not Roman swords, not cancer, nothing. If Jesus rose from the dead, it changes everything. (p210)

There was no possible advantage to the church to recount that all the first witnesses were women. It could only have undermined the credibility of the testimony. The only possible explanation for why women were depicted as meeting Jesus first is if they really had. (p213)

Paul’s letters show that Christians proclaimed Jesus’s bodily resurrection from the very beginning. That meant the tomb must have been empty. No one in Jerusalem would have believed the preaching for a minute if the tomb was not empty. Skeptics could have easily produced Jesus’s rotted corpse. Also, Paul could not be telling people in a public document that there were scores of eyewitnesses alive if there were not. We can’t permit ourselves the luxury of thinking that the resurrection accounts were only fabricated years later. Whatever else happened, the tomb of Jesus must have really been empty and hundreds of witnesses must have claimed that they saw him bodily raised. (Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, 214)

In not one single case do we hear the slightest mention of the disappointed followers claiming that their hero had been raised from the dead. They knew better. Resurrection was not a private event. Jewish revolutionaries whose leader had been executed by the authorities, and who managed to escape arrest themselves, had two options: give up the revolution, or find another leader. Claiming that the original leader was alive again was simply not an option. Unless, of course, he was. (216)
N.T. Wright, Who was Jesus?, 63)

There is one more thing to keep in mind. As Pascal put it, “I [believe] those witnesses that get their throats cut.” Virtually all the apostles and early Christian leaders died for their faith, and it is hard to believe that this kind of powerful self-sacrifice would be done to support a hoax. (p218)

It is not enough for the skeptic, then, to simply dismiss the Christian teaching about the resurrection of Jesus by saying, “It just couldn’t have happened.” He or she must face and answer all these historical questions: Why did Christianity emerge so rapidly, with such power? No other band of messianic followers in that era concluded their leader was raised from the dead—why did this group do so? No group of Jews ever worshipped a human being as God. What led them to do it? Jews did not believe in divine men or individual resurrections. What changed their worldview virtually overnight? How do you account for the hundreds of eyewitnesses to the resurrection who lived on for decades and publicly maintained their testimony, eventually giving their lives for their belief? (pp218-219)

Why sacrifice for the needs of others if in the end nothing we do will make any difference? If the resurrection of Jesus happened, however, that means there’s infinite hope and reason to pour ourselves out for the needs of the world. (p220)

Greg Gilbert, Who Is Jesus?,
The two criminals crucified with Jesus were still alive, and it was getting late in the day on Friday. In any other city, the Romans probably would have let them hang there on the crosses through the night, maybe even giving them bits of food and water so they’d stay alive and suffer for days. They decided not to do that this time, though, not in Jerusalem. Though the Romans kept any conquered people firmly under heel, they were usually relatively respectful of the religious traditions of those they dominated. So it was with the Jews, and the Romans agreed to respect their weekly day of rest, the Sabbath, which ran from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. So when the Jewish rulers asked the governor to do something to make sure the bodies wouldn’t remain on the crosses through the Sabbath, the governor agreed. (p117)

The resurrection is the hinge on which all Christianity turns. It’s the foundation on which everything else rests, the capstone that holds everything else about Christianity together. Which means—crucially—that when Christians assert that Jesus rose from the dead, they are making a historical claim, not a religious one. (Greg Gilbert, Who Is Jesus?, 125)

Christians aren’t making a religious claim when they say Jesus rose from the grave. They’re making a historical one; they’re saying that this thing happened just as surely and really as it happened that Julius Caesar became emperor of Rome. It’s the kind of claim that can be thought about and investigated; it can be judged, and you can come to a conclusion about it. (p126)

Sean McDowell, Apologetics for a New Generation,
As a pastor and a teacher, I regularly encourage people to look for bridges for the gospel. A bridge is simply a ready-made opportunity that lends itself toward a spiritual conversation through which we believers might share the truth about Christ and the hope that is found in Him. And as I often tell people, these bridges are all around us,
all the time. We just need to have eyes to see them and the boldness, passion, and faith to use them when they present themselves.(p176)

William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus,
In considering the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, it is important to avoid giving the impression that the Christian faith is based on the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. The Christian faith is based on the event of the resurrection. It is not based on the evidence for the resurrection. This distinction is crucial. (p7)

It is the absence of God that ultimately makes man the Cosmic Orphan. It is the grim finality of death that makes his life a tragedy. Even if God did exist and had created man, it would still be a tragedy if a personal being like man should have no better fate than to be forever extinguished in death. Death is certainly man’s greatest enemy. In losing God, modern man has lost immortality as well. Death means eternal annihilation. This prospect robs life of its meaning and fullness. It makes the life of man no better than the life of a cow or horse, only more tragic. (p11)

Many people wonder how God could create a world with so much evil in it. But they seem to overlook the fact that most of that evil is the result of man’s free choices. (p12)

The religion of science glorifies one aspect of reality as though it were the whole of reality. (p19)

The obvious sincerity of the disciples is evident in their suffering and dying for what they believed. The Christian thinkers here picked up Eusebius’s argument. To charge the disciples with a cheap hoax flies in the face of their all too apparent sincerity. It is impossible to deny that the disciples honestly believed that Jesus had risen from the dead, in light of their life of suffering and their dying for this truth. Reimarus’s contention that the disciples made this up so they could continue their “easy life” of preaching is nothing but a poor joke. (p26)

The change in the disciples shows they had not invented the resurrection. After the crucifixion the disciples were confused, defeated, fearful, and burdened with sorrow. Suddenly they changed, becoming fearless preachers of Jesus’ resurrection. They suffered bravely and confidently for this fact. They went from the depths of despair to the boldest certainty. This incredible change in the disciples showed that they were not merely lying, but were absolutely convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead. (p27)

The testimonies of the Roman authors Seutonius and Juvenal confirm that within thirty-one years after Jesus’ death, Christians were dying for their faith. From the writings of Pliny the Younger, Martial, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, it is clear that the believers voluntarily submitted to torture and death rather than renounce their faith. (p29)

The apocryphal books were never treated in the above manner. The apocryphal books were forgeries, which were written in the second century after Christ. They purported to be writings of the apostles and carried titles like the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Thomas, and so forth. It is a simple historical fact that during the first three hundred years, with one exception, no apocryphal gospel was ever even quoted by any known writer. (p34)

The historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus consists primarily in the evidence supporting three main facts: the empty tomb of Jesus, the appearances of Jesus to his disciples, and the origin of the Christian faith. If it can be shown that the tomb of Jesus was found empty, that He did appear to His disciples and others after His death, and that the origin of the Christian faith cannot be explained adequately apart from His historical resurrection, then if there is no plausible natural explanation for these facts, one is amply justified in concluding that Jesus really did rise from the dead. (p45)

Some modern theologians have objected to this conclusion because it infers from the facts that Jesus rose from the dead, and we are not bound to accept that inference. But not only would such an objection destroy all knowledge of history whatsoever, it would also destroy virtually all knowledge in practical affairs, thus making life impossible. For example, if one day we heard shots from a neighbor’s house and saw a man fleeing from the house, and if we found our neighbor dead on the living room floor, and if the police apprehended the fleeing man, and fingerprint and ballistics tests showed that he was carrying the murder weapon, then, if these theologians were correct, we could still not conclude that he shot our neighbor, since this is an inference. But such evidence is accepted in any court of law. The point is that the truth of an inference should be proved beyond any reasonable doubt. (p45)

The burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea is probably historical. Arimathea is likely to be the town Ramathaion-zophim, just north of Jersusalem. Joseph is said to be a member of the Council, that is, the Sanhedrin, which was a sort of Jewish Supreme Court that tried cases dealing with Jewish law. The Great Sanhedrin, which tried important life-and-death cases, consisted of seventy-one prominent and influential men. Even the most skeptical scholars acknowledge that Joseph was probably the genuine, historical individual who buried Jesus, since it is unlikely that early Christian believers would invent an individual, give him a name and nearby town of origin, and place that fictional character on the historical council of the Sanhedrin, whose members were well known. (p53)

The tomb used for Jesus’ burial is consistently described as an acrosolia or bench tomb. Archaeology confirms that such tombs were used in Jesus’ day, but only by wealthy or prominent persons. The tomb is described as having a roll-stone for a door. Again archaeology demonstrates the use of such tombs in Jesus’ day, but only by the rich. John says the tomb was situated in some sort of garden, a fact shown to be consistent with the location of the tombs of notables. At the same time, the different gospel writers mention that Joseph was a prominent Jewish leader, that he was wealthy, and that he owned the tomb in which he laid Jesus. In other words, he is exactly the sort of man who would own a tomb such as that described in the gospels. The gospels also say the tomb was unused, which is plausible in light of Jewish beliefs about defilement. Joseph is said to be a secret disciple, and that makes sense of his placing Jesus’ corpse in his own tomb. It is the interweaving of all those separate and incidental details that makes the historical credibility of Joseph’s burial of Jesus in his tomb so impressive. (p57)

That, however, created a new problem. Although Jewish law permitted burial after nightfall, it did not permit burial on a Sabbath. Since the Sabbath-Passover began at sunset, the Jews had to get rid of the bodies before nightfall. It would have been most convenient to dump the bodies in the criminals’ common graveyard. But Joseph chose to give Jesus a proper burial, which was possible apparently because the tomb he owned was near. Thus, according to all the gospels, Joseph finished the burial of Jesus just as evening came. (p58)

It has been objected that the gospel stories of the discovery of the empty tomb do not speak of “the third day,” but of “the first day Of the week.” But according to the Jewish manner of reckoning days, the first day of the week was the third day after the crucifixion. The Jews counted a part of a day as being a whole day. Thus, Jesus was in the tomb late Friday afternoon (one day), all day Saturday (one day), and pre-dawn Sunday (one day); hence, the tomb was found empty on the third day. In fact, when we remember that the Jewish day began at sundown, then, as crazy as it may seem to us, if Jesus had been buried at five o’clock on Friday evening, and had risen at seven o’clock on Saturday evening, the Jew could quite properly say that he was raised on the third day. (p71)

But why did the early Christian saying use “on the third day” instead of “on the first day of the week”? Here we must look into the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we find that God sometimes acted on the third day to resolve a crisis or deliver His people or perform a mighty act (Genesis 22:4; Exodus 19:11, 16; 1 Samuel 30:1-2; 2 Kings 20:5,8; Esther 5:1; Hosea 6:2). In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the phrase “on the third day” is translated by a rather awkward expression. The Christian saying uses exactly the same awkward expression. This suggests that the saying is using the language of the Old Testament to emphasize that the resurrection was also an act of God’s deliverance and might. That suggestion gains in plausibility from the phrase following “on the third day” in the saying “he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (p71)

The discovery of the empty tomb by women is highly probable. Given the low status of women in Jewish society and their lack of qualification to serve as legal witnesses, it is very likely that their discovery of the empty tomb is not a later legendary development, but the truth. Otherwise men would have been used to discover the empty tomb. We have seen that all the gospels agree that the disciples remained in Jerusalem over the weekend and therefore could have been made to discover the empty tomb. The fact that women, whose witness counted for nothing, are said to have discovered the empty tomb makes it very credible historically that such was the case. (p77)

It would have been impossible-for the disciples to proclaim the resurrection in Jerusalem had the tomb not been empty. It would have been impossible for a Jew to believe in a resurrection if the man’s body were still in the grave. (p82)

There was no motive for stealing the body. Tomb robbers would have no reason to break into the tomb, since nothing valuable was buried with the corpse. Moreover, robbers are after the goods interred with the body, not the body itself. Why then would they carry off the dead man’s body, and what would they do with it? It is conceivable that enemies of Jesus might desecrate the tomb, but again, it would be pointless for them to haul off the corpse and hide it. (2) Apparently no one (p86)

C. H. Dodd observes, “There can hardly be any purpose in mentioning the fact that most of the five hundred are still alive, unless Paul is saying, in effect, ‘the witnesses are there to be questioned.’ ” (94) (C. H. Dodd, “The Appearances of the Risen Christ: A study in the form criticism of the Gospels,” in More New Testament Studies (Manchester: U. of Manchester Press, 1968), . 128.)

What is really amazing about this is that none of Jesus’ younger brothers, including James, believed in Jesus during His lifetime (Mark 3:21,31-35; John 7:1-10). John tells a rather ugly story of how Jesus’ brothers tried to goad Him into a death trap by showing Himself publicly at the feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem when the authorities were looking for Him. We do not hear much more about them until to our surprise they are found in the Christian fellowship in Jerusalem shortly after the resurrection (Acts 1:14)! (p96)

How is that to be explained? It is historically well-founded that James and his brothers were not believers in Jesus during His lifetime. Not only do we have independent sources attesting to that fact, which is quite plausible in itself, but more important, it is highly improbable that, had Jesus’ brothers been loyal believers in Him all along, the early Christian fellowship in which they served would have invented such vicious and wholly fictional stories about them in the gospels. But if it is certain that Jesus’ brothers were unbelievers during His lifetime, it is equally certain that they became fervent believers after His death. How can that be? Though their brother’s crucifixion might pierce their hearts, it certainly could not have caused them to worship Him as Messiah and Lord, as the early Christians did. When I think about this, I sometimes shake my head in amazement. Many of us have brothers. What would it take for you to die for the belief that your brother is the Lord, as James did? Even Hans Grass exclaims that one of the surest proofs of Jesus’ resurrection is that His own brothers came to believe in Him. 5 This remarkable transformation cannot be explained, except by the fact that, as Paul says, “then he appeared to James.” (p97)

The controlling presence of living eyewitnesses would prevent significant accrual of legend. When the gospel accounts were formed, eyewitnesses to what did and did not happen were still alive. Their presence would act as a check on any legends that might begin to arise. (p106)

Legends do not arise significantly until the generation of eyewitnesses dies off. Hence, legends are given no ground for growth as long as witnesses are alive who remember the facts. In the case of the resurrection narratives, the continued presence of the twelve disciples, the women, and the others who saw Jesus alive from the dead would prevent legend from significantly accruing. (p107)

in a hallucination, a person experiences nothing new. That in because the hallucination is a projection of his own mind. Hence, hallucinations cannot exceed the content of a person’s mind. But as we shall see, the resurrection of Jesus involved ideas utterly foreign to the disciples’ minds. They could not of their own, therefore, have projected hallucinations of Jesus alive from the dead. (p121)

The hallucination hypothesis seeks to account only for part of the evidence, namely, the appearances. But it does nothing to account for the empty tomb. (p121)

It is quite clear that without the 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 to His career. (p128)

It is not enough for a skeptic glibly to assert that there might have been some cause of the resurrection other than God; rather he must name that cause, and explain its operation in this unique instance. For the resurrection of Jesus so far exceeds the causal power of nature that nothing that we have learned in the two thousand years that have elapsed since that remarkable event enables us to account for its occurrence. Most men recognize this truth, as is evident from the fact that those who have opposed the resurrection have always tried to explain away the facts without admitting that Jesus was raised. Once it is admitted that Jesus really did rise transformed from the dead, the conclusion that God raised Him up is virtually inescapable. Only a sterile, academic skepticism resists this inevitable inference. (p137)

As Gerald O’Collins puts it, “In a profound sense, Christianity without the resurrection is not simply Christianity without its final chapter. It is not Christianity at all.”
(136) Gerald O’Collins, The Easter Jesus (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1973), p. 134.

As the one who decisively conquered death, Jesus is the one to whom we must turn for victory over man’s most dreaded enemy. (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, 141)

Jesus’ teaching therefore holds out hope for man in the face of death. The grave is not the end. At history’s end we shall be raised up by God and simultaneously transformed into persons having glorious, supernatural bodies. We shall never again experience disease or deformity or aging. We shall have powers that the present body in no way possesses. We shall apparently overcome the limits of space, so that travel from one point to another may be accomplished instantaneously. At the same time we shall still be ourselves, as recognizable to others as Jesus was to His disciples after His resurrection. Evil will be gone, along with all the ugly sins that men have committed against one another. And death will be forever vanquished, never again to hold sway over man. What a wonderful prospect! What a hope! (p143)

Thus the resurrection of Jesus offers to man both God and immortality. It is almost too wonderful, too incredible to believe. But the facts are there. God has revealed Himself in history, and the evidence is there for all to see. (p143)

On the basis of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God can freely forgive man, for the penalty has been paid by God Himself. But again, God does not force this pardon on anyone. We are not puppets. God offers forgiveness to us; it is up to us to accept or reject. The final point tells how we may appropriate the new life God offers. (William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, 148)

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