Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Jesus Christ P41 (01-26-21)
If you were to ask somebody what is the meaning of the resurrection, what would they say? Is it to prove Jesus is alive? But what does His resurrection mean to you personally? Recall what the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians. If Christ Jesus was not raised, then we are still dead in our sins and our faith is futile.
So, let us look more closely at the events surrounding his resurrection. If you closely at his burial and how a cloth was wrapped around his head, and 75 pounds of spices put on his body, and a large stone placed around the entrance that takes many strong men to move, and then Roman guards in place at the entrance to ensure that no one steals his body away, there is absolute overwhelming evidence he was dead.
Then you hear the report from eyewitnesses, that we read about in the gospels, of what they saw when they entered the tomb some three days later. You have Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others with them who told the apostles that the tomb was empty. An angel had moved the stone away. So then two of the apostles, John and Peter, came to see for themselves.
John outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He looked at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. But Simon Peter then arrived and entered the tomb, and saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth around Jesus’ head, the cloth folded by itself separate from the linen, and the head was not there inside. Finally, the other disciple who reached the tomb first also went inside and he too saw and believed.
Again, what did they believe? That Jesus indeed is risen just as he said he would. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was in the heart of God and did not happen by accident. Jesus said it must happen this way for our sake. Why did we need Jesus to do this for us? First of all, he shed his blood on a cross to take away the cause of our death for sin, once and for all, for all men. But what was the more serious problem of man than sin? Our death, a permanent separation from God! What did Paul say would be our eternal state if Jesus did not rise from the dead, knowing that a cross had occurred? We would still be dead in our sins.
As you read the gospels anew, and think about what Jesus said, how many times did he say things like, “I am the bread of life”, ”Come to me for life” and “I am eternal life”. Obviously, he is not talking about literal bread to eat, because as we said before, he often spoke in physical terms to explain spiritual truth. Man shall live by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
God wanted mankind to be in an intimate relationship, in communication with the living God, that He is the breath of life to us just as He breathed into Adam the breath of life, His life. So God created mankind with free will, so man may choose to trust God or live independently of God, a choice to be made. Now, we are born without the life of God and have the choice of life. Those who choose life in Jesus Christ shall live and experience the life God intended man to have, the very best for mankind.
In Christ is where man has forgiveness of sins, have the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to him, and can experience love, joy, peace, the fruit of the Spirit, that which God produces in us and through us, through the dynamic relationship of trust with the living God, our Creator, who has everything we need for life and godliness. He knows how we were designed to function and He simply wants us to be the recipient of His grace. He initiated our creation without consulting us and He initiated love toward us, and we respond to that love. Do you recognize His love for you? What is your response to that love?
Let us continue in our study in A Closer Look at Jesus Christ, in Chapter 13: The Facts of the Resurrection. Let us ask the Lord Jesus Christ to open our eyes, to allow the Holy Spirit to deepen these things in our hearts, and to teach us the truth that will set us free.
We will start in Romans, where Paul addressed the believers in Rome.
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,
He is talking about the gospel that was promised beforehand through all the prophets and the Holy Spirit, in the holy scriptures, in regarding his Son, as to his human nature, a descendant of David.
4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
We, in essence, see the humanity of Jesus, who as to his human nature, was a descendant of David, but as to his real person, his Deity, declared to be the Son of God, just like you have God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, to be declared the Son of Trinity, to be the Son of God through the resurrection of the dead.
As we read before, without the resurrection, we are to be pitied of all people and our faith is futile without the resurrection. The resurrection is what brings life to the dead, not only eternal life, but a life after death, but is what brings life to us who are already dead.
So many times, we think of eternal life as something that is going to happen in the sweet bye and bye after we die, but eternal life is something that starts immediately the moment you are born again, with the Holy Spirit of God.
Then, we are explained in 1 John.
1 John 5:12-13
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Let us go back to after where Jesus was crucified on the cross, what happened to the body? All of the reasons for studying this, which we will do, in the preparation of the body of Christ, the preparation of the tomb, and therefore, the eyewitnesses to the empty tomb, is all to bring us to an understanding of the implications of that empty tomb. In order to understand all of it, let us go to the details that the word of God gives us as to what took place after Christ was crucified on a cross.
Turn to John 19, starting at verse 38. Look at the material that was used in the preparation of the burial of Christ’s body.
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.
Nicodemus was a religious leader, sneaking at night, in order to talk with Jesus. That account is in John 3. But again, that is an indicator of the fear people had of the Saduccees, Pharisees and teachers of the law. They feared them because of their adverse effect on a human being with their judgmental spirit.
Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
We take a look at what took place there, and to realize that Jesus was weighed down with 75 pounds of materials. With 75 pounds binding you up, if you are alive, you do not get up with that kind of binding. Again, it tells us then that Jesus’ body was bound in linen, with approximately 72 pounds of myrrh and aloes. The Jewish burial custom included the washing and straightening of the body. The body was then wrapped tightly from the armpits to the ankles in one foot strips of linen. Then the myrrh and aloes were placed in folds that served as a preservative and a cement, or concrete, which glued the wrappings into an absolute solid binding. Now, the face cloth that is talked about in John 20 was wrapped around the head and then with the ends interlaced.
6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.
John’s account suggests that Peter and his companions were startled by the sight of undisturbed grave clothes which Jesus had simply passed through.
8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
That was the preparation of the body. So let us go to Luke 23.
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.
Now, starting in verse 53, let us see how the tomb was prepared.
53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
Then they secured that tomb, as we read in Matthew 27. Joseph of Armathea took his body, and they cleansed the body and placed it with 75 pounds of myrrh and aloe and then placed him in the tomb. Then they walk away. Then a huge stone was rolled in front of the entrance.
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
Look at verse 62 to see what will be done to the body so it is not be disturbed.
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’
The religious leaders called Jesus a deceiver. Those were the religious people, the so-called holy ones, calling Jesus a deceiver. What I have seen in religion is that they do not have a clue to sincerity. Any time a person is sincere, they are perceived as a deceiver by the religious, without question. They cannot understand sincerity.
The religious cannot understand anyone doing anything out of a sincere heart. They take transparency, a person who is honest about himself and transparent, and use it against them. That is what keeps people from not wanting to be around religious people. You cannot be honest. You cannot be transparent. You cannot let people know that you have faults and you have fears because the religious are always there to judge you and to use it against you. Therefore, the ones who are led by the deceiver are calling others the deceiver. Maybe it is because they really do not realize how deceived they are. Or maybe they know they are deceived and maybe this is a way to get other people to believe them, is by calling anyone who is sincerely deceived. Then they themselves are living in their own hypocrisy.
The only harsh words Jesus ever used was to the religious, calling them white-washed sepulchres, those appearing clean on the outside but dirty on the inside. The very people who have a knowledge, or maybe even a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge, those who stumbled over the fact that they did not receive the righteousness that comes from God but instead went out to find their own righteousness.
2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
It is those kinds of people who are always critical and always looking for ways to destroy the body of Christ. So, they called Jesus a deceiver. Just because someone calls you something does not mean that is true. That just means that is what someone is calling you. If I believe something about you, it does not mean it is true. It just means that is what I believed about you.
I can sit down and say I believe this, what this or that person did, and I believe they are guilty. That is fine, but that does not make them guilty just because you believe so. There are other people who think they are innocent. That does not make them innocent because someone thinks so.
To be real honest, when it comes to guilt and innocence that is something God has to judge anyway. That is why it says in scripture, “Who are you to judge another man’s master?” Do not ever be deceived because of what someone thinks. Because what they think is not a determinant of truth. It is what God says is the determinant of truth. When God says to you and me, as children of God, that “if I am merciful to you, then be merciful to others.” “If I have forgiven you, forgive others.” “If I am not keeping record of wrongs, then you do not keep record of wrongs.” “If I am trusting the best, which I am, then you trust the best.” “If I hope the best, you hope the best.” That is true, if you are allowing Jesus to live His life through you. Now, if you are trying to practice religion, none of that makes sense at all. But if you are walking in the newness of life, that is what God says is the newness of life.
So they called Jesus a deceiver.
63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
In other words, we will be in worse shape than we ever were. It was bad enough getting him in there, but if he is not there, then the deception is really going to take place.
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
Here again, they sealed the tomb. The meaning of that, being a Roman seal, is that if anyone tries to remove that seal is going to receive the wrath of Roman law. The stone was used to close the tomb for the protection against both man and beast. That is why a stone was always used, to close up a tomb. It usually required several men to move it. Now, when you see that, if you were to go over to Israel, a stone was on a track. Before it was in front of the opening, it was on a track so it could be easily rolled, and when it rolled, it rolled into a gully that was the same as the roundness of the stone itself. But that huge stone rolled in a track, then dropped into this area below. When it dropped, of course, it would take several men to ever get it out of that gully.
It was not hard for the person to roll the stone into that little gully but almost impossible for any one man to get it out of the gully. It is like a car. If you push a car into a ditch, but once it is in the ditch, try to pull it out of there. That is the situation with this stone.
Since the stone rolled into the entrance of Jesus tomb, it was intended to prevent an unexpected theft, and it was probably larger than what would normally be used in that type of deal. But that is speculation. But the method of sealing the stone in Jesus tomb was probably by a rod stretched across the stone and sealed at each end of the stone. That type of sealing was done in the presence of Roman guards who were then left in charge to protect this stamp of Roman authority and power. Anyone trying to remove the stone from that tomb’s entrance would have broken the seal and in so doing incurred the wrath of Roman law which would be death. So anyone trying to break the seal would end up in that tomb or one like it.
The Roman guard assigned to guard the tomb was a rank of four or more soldiers who were highly trained and disciplined in their service. They were well armed and under strict orders to maintain constant surveillance of the tomb. Any failure in their assignment, such as falling asleep or leaving their post would have resulted in the death penalty. So we do not have to worry about diligence of the duties that were assigned to guard those things.
So in light of the enormous stone covering at the entrance, the official Roman seal over the stone and the quality and caliber of the guards watching the seal and the stone, it is absolutely unfeasible that anyone could have tampered with that tomb or the body of Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, in Luke 24:10, the tomb was empty. Recall, it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others with them who told the apostles that the tomb was empty. Now, again, when Simon Peter arrived with John at the tomb there, what did they see? They saw strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head, and the cloth was folded up by itself separate from the linen. What were the results of that? When the other disciple had reached the tomb, went inside, he also saw and believed. They did not understand from scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead even though Jesus had told them “I am going to rise from the dead”.
1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
In John 20, what is the significance of the grave clothes lying in their undisturbed condition? The linen body clothes were lying where the body had been, collapsed from the weight of the spices, but undisturbed. And the head napkin was lying apart from the body clothes, still curled in a concave shape but there was no head inside of it. The condition of those grave clothes appears to have had a remarkable effect on John and Peter as they viewed them.
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
John outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He looked at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. But Simon Peter then arrived and entered the tomb, and saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth around Jesus’ head, the cloth folded by itself separate from the linen. Finally, the other disciple who reached the tomb first also went inside and he too saw and believed.
Let us look at the implications of this empty tomb in Matthew 28:11-15.
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
This is what normally happens when someone devises a plan such as this to crucify somebody unmercifully, to develop a plan of destruction for another human being. That is exactly and precisely what the Pharisees did. If people are involved in that type of thing, and look at themselves and ask, “Am I functioning as a Pharisee or functioning as Jesus?”
This is what the religious leaders did. All of them were motivated by Satan himself, as was Judas, who was a reporter of all this type of thing, the one who turned in Jesus. And all of the chief priests, Pharisees and the leaders and teachers of the law, who all met with this plan to get him crucified to begin with. Then God started making something out of this deal. They keep trying to destroy him and the message. The legalists today are still trying to do the same thing with anyone who tries to proclaim the grace of God. There are people out there trying to destroy you and the message. That is what they are trying to destroy, the message of the grace of God.
Why are you trying to destroy it? Because you do not understand it. If you ever understood it, you would never try to destroy it because it is the greatest news on the face of the earth. But because you do not understand it, you want to destroy it because it does not tie in with what you believe. What keeps a person, those elders and the religious leaders, from understanding the grace of God? Pride. Pride will never receive grace. Pride wants to earn God’s acceptance through what you are doing. Pride is a giver in order to receive. Grace in you just understand there is no way and there is none righteous. How can anyone, except someone thinking they are righteous, want to destroy or criticize somebody. It has to be somebody who thinks they are rites built upon their own righteousness in order to destroy and tear down someone who they think is not as righteous as they are . What else is it?
Here are the elders. This is what religion always does to this very day, through the chief priests and leaders, and teachers of the law. They keep trying to destroy and it is not working. And instead of thinking, maybe God does not want this plan to work. So they say, “Let us devise another plan, in order to save our skin.” That is what people are involved in, saving their skin, saving face. So they gave the soldiers large sums of money.
12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’
In the first place, if they were asleep, how would they know the disciples came and stole the body away? So that would be a little difficult for someone to figure out?
14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.
So they probably had a governor bought off too or the governor was so dumb to figure out you cannot know who stole the body away if they were asleep. How could a disciple come while you were asleep, to roll this huge stone away, break a seal, with you being sacked out some place? Also, again, I could say I was asleep, why would you say that when the penalty for being asleep was the death penalty. But in any case, they had to get something out.
15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
So when devising a plan to destroy somebody and Jesus is in the life of the person you are trying to destroy, you will find your plan failing and failing. Satan thought he destroyed the message when he crucified Jesus. But they never destroyed the message. They spread the message. It cost Jesus his life but it enabled us to have life. So that plan, instead of working, it did not work. It went the very opposite.
Today, you can literally look back and say, “Thank you Pharisees, elders and teachers of the law for your vileness and viciousness and evilness. You enabled me today to be the recipient of the gospel because of your own stupid, selfish and vicious decision that you made 2000 years ago.” Truly God still works all things together for good to those who love the Lord and to those who are called according to His purpose.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
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