Midweek Fellowship -  September 21, 2016

“The Resurrection of Jesus Christ”

 

Dcn. Garry Salguero

 

Continuing from last week, our Scripture foundation is 1Corinthians 15:3-8, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”

 

We are going to talk about important points about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  One is: Christ was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians is the longest epistle in the New Testament and chapter 15 is the longest chapter of any New Testament epistle. This is called the Resurrection Chapter.  St. Paul was telling the church that Christ’s resurrection paved the way for the believer’s resurrection or our own resurrection.  He spent much time on this topic because the Corinthians had come to believe in life after death without bodily resurrection.  They did not believe in the resurrection of the body, but simply in the resurrection of spirit (1 Corinthians 15:12).  Some of the Corinthians flatly denied the resurrection of the dead.  From Paul’s point of view, to deny the believer’s resurrection denies the resurrection of Christ; to deny Christ’s resurrection denies the divinity of Christ.

 

Corinth was in Greece and the church in Corinth was being influenced by Greek thought. For the Greeks, the spirit was good, but the human body was evil or the material side of life was meaningless.   Greek culture believed that the body was a prison for the soul.  Death of the body freed the soul from its bodily prison, and the spirit attains immortality. Bodily resurrection was unacceptable to the Greek mind.

 

In Acts 17, when Paul came to the great intellectual center of Athens and preached the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  they sneered at him.  They did not believe him.   In 2 Timothy 2: 17- 18, “And their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.”  They were teaching that the resurrection had already taken place. These men were not totally wrong; they were teaching a half-truth as if it were the whole truth.  Christ has resurrected, but there is no more resurrection for the believers, for us. They had verses from Paul to back up their views.  Paul always wrote in his letters that Christ is risen and that we are risen with Him. He taught that there is a future resurrection of the body, which these men denied. They argued that the resurrection was only spiritual.

 

Paul compared them to gangrene, which is a death of a tissue. Gangrene (or gangrenous necrosis) is a type of necrosis caused by a critically insufficient blood supply. Necrosis  "death, the stage of dying, the act of killing" is a form of cell injury which results in the premature death of cells in living tissue by autolysis.  Gangrene is an internal body condition which is not infectious, but it spreads in the body so the last resort to stop gangrene is amputation for there is insufficient blood supply.  Blood gives life to the whole body; life is flowing through the body.  Paul is saying that the resurrection power of Jesus is the life in the blood of the body of Christ. Stop the blood supply, and the body eventually dies. 

 

A modern form of lie that is rampant in our movies is the immortality of the flesh or the zombies. It is not evident here in our country, but in some part of the world they really believe in the Zombie Apocalypse. We fear something that does not exist.  Today, we give importance to the physical body than the spirit.  We are afraid, anxious or worried about our appearance. We are looking older, but we always want to look younger.  We have different kinds of cosmetic products, even cosmetic surgery. We have stem cell to borrow ten years of aging.

 

The gospel of Resurrection is of first importance.  It is non-negotiable.  It did not originate from Paul or any other man; rather, it was received from God and then he delivered to the people. It is God’s gospel, not ours. No one would have ever devised a plan of salvation like this one, for man always tries to obtain salvation the old-fashioned way by earning it; by buying it.  But the good news of the Christian gospel is that salvation is a free gift, costly to Christ but free to us.

Jesus Christ was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.  All the scriptures that I had given you last week not only talked about the death of Jesus, but also of His resurrection on the third day.  Jesus would always say, “On the third day, I will resurrect.”  The resurrection of the Messiah is strongly implied in Psalm 22 and in Isaiah 53: 11.   Isaiah reaffirmed the promise of the resurrection in different words “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see the light and be satisfied.”  The Messiah of Christianity is no longer in the grave.  His bones are nowhere to be found and this is the evidence that Jesus Christ is not dead. He is alive! The firm foundation of the Christian faith is an empty tomb.

 

A virgin’s womb facilitates incarnation and an empty tomb is the evidence of resurrection. It is not an accident that Jesus was buried alone, in an empty tomb (Luke 23:53). This is significant because it meant that His resurrection could be confirmed.  In those days, it was uncommon for anyone to be buried alone. Most tombs contained more than one body. If there was somebody with Jesus Christ, there might be confusion on which body was resurrected.  It was ordained by God that Joseph of Arimathea prepared the tomb of Jesus Christ. 

 

One time, I was in the mall and I bought something, but I was unable to get my receipt.  The security guard would always check the receipt upon leaving the mall premises.  If you would notice, the cashier would staple or tape your receipt to your package so that it would not get lost.   If ever there is a dispute about whether the payment was made, all you have to do is produce your receipt.

 

When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” in John 19:30, He uttered the Greek word tetelestai, which means, “Paid in full.”  The payment for sin that God demanded has been paid, and the empty tomb is proof that the payment was received and the debt satisfied. The resurrection is our “receipt” from God the Father that He accepted His Son’s payment for the sins on the cross.

 

Jesus Christ’s death was the ultimate proof of His incarnation and the final payment for our atone­ment.  His resurrection is the ultimate proof that Jesus is God our Savior.  He is the Son of God, the incarnate Lord, the One who was in the beginning with God, the One God sent to save us from death and hell.  He is the Anointed of God, ordained from before the foundation of the world to be the Head over all things to the Church and the Head of the Church. Jesus was ordained to be the first-begotten of the dead.  He died and all His people died in Him. He rose and all His people rose in Him. They are inseparable from Him in His resurrection.

 

1 Corinthians 15: 20-23, “20 But now, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ, all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.” 

 

In natural childbirth, the head of the baby appears first and then the body; so it is in the Resurrection.  It is the Head who appears from the grave first of all, never to die again, and then all the Body of Christ. We were planted together in the likeness of His death – He and us. Now, we are raised with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. 

 

1 Corinthians 15: 56-57, “56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is victory over sin and death through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is our hope!

 

In what is perhaps the oldest book in the Bible, Job asked the universal question: "If a man dies, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14). A little later, however, his strong faith in a future resurrection returns, and he exclaims: (Job 19:25,26), “25 “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,

And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.  26 “Even after my skin is destroyed,
Yet from my flesh I shall see God.”  This is the resurrection of Job; the resurrection of the body.   One cannot be resurrected if you don’t have flesh. Job says that he is looking at God with his form, with his flesh. 

 

In Hosea 6:2, "After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up."  Hosea was not talking about Jesus Christ; but Jerusalem, the Body of Christ.  In Ezekiel 37: 1-14 which is the Valley of the Dry Bones.  This was the vision of the prophet Ezekiel where the Lord commanded him to prophesy over to the bones, then flesh grew, and skin covered them, and eventually they came to life.

Certainly Christ’s resurrection is the basis for our victory and our hope.  From my point of view, the resurrection of the flesh is like creation rebooted.   We are given a new flesh. If someone would ask what our age would be when we are resurrected, it would probably the age when Adam was created.    We have hope that there is resurrection. 

 

Another point about the Resurrection of Jesus: Christ was seen.  Following His Resurrection from the dead, Jesus made a number of appearances to His followers. It was not the ghostly appearance or the effects of depression or hallucination or apparition; and no less than ten of these are recorded in Scripture. Acts 1:3 says, “To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”  In King James Version, the word used was infallible proofs meaning absolutely trustworthy or not capable of making mistakes. 

  

Luke or Theophilus who wrote the Book of Acts was also a doctor, a credible witness. A doctor confirms if a person is dead or alive. There were incidents that Paul did not mention regarding the resurrection of Jesus.  Scriptures says that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene in Mark 16: 9. Also, to the two men walking to Emmaus in Luke 24:13 – 33, and to the seven disciples while they are fishing on Lake Galilee in John 21:1 – 24.

 

Paul recounted the appearances of the resurrected Christ to individuals and groups.  He appeared to Cephas, which is the Aramaic name for Peter in John 1:42. Paul noted that Jesus appeared to Peter and the apostles. One week after His first appearance with most of His disciples, Jesus manifests Himself again, but this time Thomas is present. In John 20:26 – 27, “Once again, the Lord appeared when the disciples are meeting behind closed doors. He says to His disciples, “Peace be with you.”  Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

 

It is amazing that the first person, after all of the women at the tomb, the resurrected Christ appeared to the very one who had denied Him three times. This ought to encourage us because God is a God of restoration.  He is a God of forgiveness.

 

According to John 21, Peter and six others decided to go fishing and they saw Jesus. Those who saw Him were PeterJohnJames, Thomas, Nathanael, and two other unnamed disciples (likely Andrew and Philip, who lived nearby.) Jesus instructed them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. When the disciples came ashore, they found Jesus cooking breakfast for them. Jesus had His well-known “feed my sheep” conversation with Peter.  John mentions that this was “the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.” 

 

Jesus appeared to eleven or twelve of His disciples.  Matthew 28: 16 says that the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee. In Mark 16: 14, Jesus appeared to the eleven. Some may point out that with Judas dead, Paul was wrong in referring to “the twelve.” However, by the time Paul wrote this letter, Matthias had replaced Judas in Acts 1:20–26.  The eleven agreed that the replacement had to be a man who had been with them from the time of the Lord’s baptism until the day He ascended.  One of the key purposes of Matthias’ appointment was that the new apostle had to be a witness to the Resurrection. So by the time Paul wrote his epistles, Matthias had joined “the eleven” and was himself a witness of the resurrected Christ, so it is perfectly accurate to refer to this group as “the twelve.” This scene is a reminder that Jesus had many other committed followers besides the select apostles.

 

Jesus met with the disciples on the Mount of Olives in Acts 1. Just before His ascension into heaven, He commissioned the apostles to preach the gospel to the entire world.  He also told them to wait ten more days until Pentecost, in the city of Jerusalem, so that they may receive the power of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:18–20Mark 16:14–19Luke 24:44–53)

 

Jesus appeared to more than five hundred brethren. In 15:6-8, Paul is making a strong argument for the resurrection of Christ, showing historically verifiable witnesses. The apostle Paul is the only New Testament writer that mentions Jesus appeared to over five hundred brethren at one time after His resurrection. Paul was talking about what happened in Acts 1: 15, “15 At this time, Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together).   In Matthew 26: 32, He said, “32 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”  InMatthew 28: 7,  the angel told Mary, “7 Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”  In Acts 1: 6-8, there was a gathering of believers at Mount Olivet before His Ascension.  In Galilee, there were many believers of Jesus Christ and it was more than five hundred. 

 

Paul’s main argument is that there were still eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ living at the time he was writing this first letter to the Corinthians.   He was inviting people to check out the reality of the Resurrection for themselves. Paul said, “There were nearly five hundred people who, some twenty years ago, saw Jesus after His resurrection. Ask one of them.”   This is very convincing proof of the Resurrection, because Paul would never have challenged people like this in a public letter that was going to be circulated if these eyewitnesses had not in reality seen the resurrected Christ.  Paul was convinced and confident that these witnesses really saw the Resurrection and they would confirm the facts.

 

While it is possible for a small group of twelve to have a vision or even an optical illusion of a risen Jesus, this would be impossible with as large a group of five hundred.  If in court and these five hundred were to testify for only six minutes without cross-examination,  you would have fifty hours of first-hand testimony, making verification possible.  Paul was affirming that the resurrection of Jesus Christ really happened.  We should not lose hope because the resurrection of Christ is also the resurrection of our body.

 

Paul states that some of the believers who witnessed Jesus “have fallen asleep.”  The word “sleep” (koimao) is often used in the Bible as a synonym for death when speaking of believers. This metaphor emphasizes the hope of resurrection that believers will one day “wake up” out of death.  The death of Christian believers is like sleeping and we will be awakened at the resurrection.

 

Paul gives another convincing proof: Jesus also appeared to James, then to all the apostles. James is Jesus’ half-brother, who did not believe in Him until after the resurrection. (John 7:2–9)  James grew up in the same home with Jesus, but he rejected Him until after Jesus rose from the dead. After his encounter with the resurrected Christ, James changed and he became the leader of a church in Jerusalem.

 

Jesus appeared to Paul to one untimely born.

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