A very special Easter Sunday message was brought to you by Pastor Ben Naitoko. Discover the indisputable truths about Jesus’ resurrection.
- The Followers’ Surprise
- The Sealed Tomb
- The Testimony of Women
- The Apostle’s Faith.
Welcome to church! It’s so good to see you here on Resurrection Sunday. Amen. I would think of every single date on the Christian calendar. Resurrection Sunday would have to be number one because it is the fulcrum. The major point in terms of the point between the old and the new covenant. The point where Jesus Christ rose again so that we can live and have eternal life. Amen.
Christmas is really special. Good Friday is awesome but Good Friday is not Good Friday without Sunday. Amen. If there was no resurrection Sunday. It’d be pretty bad Friday. If there’s no resurrection Sunday, we probably wouldn’t even talk about it Friday. But it’s Good Friday because of resurrection Sunday. Which is absolutely awesome. Praise God.
I want to share with you today some thoughts around the resurrection of Jesus Christ because if he didn’t, if he wasn’t resurrected, then, there’s no need for us to be here. If he wasn’t resurrected, then, the faith of Jesus Christ, the faith of Christianity would actually be a lie but because of his resurrection, we are here and it’s so important. It’s probably the number one thing that so many people want to challenge is actually the resurrection of Christ. There’s absolutely no doubt that he’s a historical figure. You can’t deny that. There’s more evidence to suggest that Christ was alive than Julius Caesar. So, you can’t actually deny that.
But what people try to deny so often is his resurrection. It wasn’t even just something that has only been recently argued, even from the very beginning people tried to deny his resurrection. In fact, the apostle John wrote an entire letter. 1 John and in that letter, one of the things he addressed was actually the resurrection of Jesus Christ. People tried to deny that he actually died. They tried to deny that he was actually human and so he had actually had to address that issue nearly 2000 years ago.
I want to talk to you today a little bit different from what I would normally talk about on Easter Sunday, I want to talk to you today about the case for the resurrection. Why I believe it’s actually real. Why our faith is real. So with that in mind, I want to read to you from Luke chapter twenty-four. Luke 24:1-12 It says this.
Luke 24:1-12 NKJV
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ” And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marvelling to himself at what had happened.
In this passage of scripture, I just want to talk about four things. Four reasons for the resurrection.
1. The Followers’ Surprise
The first thing is this, it says in verse 1 of Luke 24. Now on the first day of the week very early in the morning, they and certain other women with them came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. Bringing the spices which they had prepared. The spices that they had prepared were for the anointing of the body of Christ. So what that means is this they fully expected him to be dead. It wasn’t like some kind of trick. You know there was a rumour at the time that when that the basic was going to be some kind of trick and that sort of thing or they’re going to try and steal his body so that it looked like he was resurrected.
But these ladies obviously knew none of that because they went there with spices ready to anoint the body of Christ. The first reason why I believe in the resurrection is because of the surprise of his followers. Not one of his followers when he had died, actually thought that he was actually going to come back. They actually thought for sure that he was going to be dead. That is why they all ran away from him. His disciples ran away from him when he was crucified.
On the road to Emmaus just after this incident, two men were followers of Christ walking along. Jesus appeared to them and they were talking to Jesus about all the disappointment they were feeling because of the death of Jesus. It was only when he revealed himself to them that they realised that he was still alive. Even in this passage, it says the disciples didn’t believe it when the women came and told them. They came and told them and they didn’t believe it all. So, Peter himself actually ran to the tomb to see what they were saying was actually true.
Even after Peter and the other disciples all started believing, there was one guy who would not believe. Do you know who that guy’s name was? His name was Thomas. For whom we get the phrase doubting Thomas and he actually says, I still will not believe until I see him and I put my fingers in his side and I put my fingers in the palms of his hands. Why is that because they actually saw him die. The Bible said that when Jesus Christ was on the cross they pierced his side and when they pierced his side, water and blood came out. What that means is that he was already dead when the water and the blood had separated.
Every single one of them fully believed that he was dead and they were incredibly surprised when he had actually risen when they found out that he has risen again. It was not some kind of scheme. It was not some kind of deception. It was not some kind of plan. themselves were surprised actually at his resurrection.
2. The Sealed Tomb
The second reason why I believe in the resurrection is because of the empty tomb. Luke 24:2-3 says this, but they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. So they came with their spices to the tomb. They were going to anoint his body for burial. After his burial, then when they went there, they noticed that the stone was actually rolled away. Now that was actually a big deal. Because the Bible also tells us in the book of Matthew. It says that Pilate had decided that he didn’t want anybody to come and steal the body of Christ. There was a rumour that Christ’s body was going to be stolen by his disciples and they were going to make up a lie. So, what did they do? They actually sealed the tomb. They sealed it so the stone couldn’t be rolled away. So, clearly, tombs weren’t often sealed. We see that in the Testament.
The Bible tells us about the prophet Elisha that after he died that they found a tomb and to dispose of his body they threw his body in a tomb. They were able to roll that away. But this stone could not be rolled away. Why? Because the Bible says that Pilate had decided to seal the tomb and station 2 guards there. So have you ever been in a situation where in your life that your breakthrough seems like it’s sealed and there’s people there trying to stop you from getting it? Amen? That’s exactly what happened at the tomb.
Here’s the promise of the Lord that Christ was going to be resurrected. And yet the enemy wanted to seal that tomb and actually station guards there. But by the time the ladies got there the guards were gone and the stone was rolled away. That tomb was empty. You know you can’t find the body of Christ anywhere. Why? Because he’s not dead. Because he’s risen. Because he’s alive. Many of his disciples you can actually find where their bodies are. Where their bodies are buried. Seven of them are buried in different locations in the foundation of different cathedrals around Asia and around Europe. You can find the bodies of the disciples but you can’t find the body of Jesus Christ. Why? Because he is still alive. Because he has risen. The Bible says he is seated at the right hand of the father.
3. The Testimony of Women
The third reason why we can believe in the resurrection is because of the testimony of women. The testimony of women. Luke 24:4-11 says this. And it happened as though greatly perplexed about this that behold two men stood by them in shining garments. Then as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth they said to them, why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen. Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee saying, the son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men. And be crucified. And the third day rose again. And they remembered his words.
Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and all to the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to be like idle tales. And they did not believe them. If you were going to make up a resurrection story in that society you wouldn’t have women as witnesses. Because in that society, women were not considered to be reliable witnesses. If you were going to make up a story, you would be telling men.
But who was the first testimony of Jesus Christ’s resurrection too? It was to women. Amen? Who knows? We serve a non-sexist God. Who knows that we serve a God who actually believes in equality, amen. In the same way, we see here, he testifies actually to women. So they came to the men and they actually didn’t believe it. If you were going to fake a resurrection, if you were going to make up a story, you wouldn’t have women as the centrepiece of the story but the reality is, God doesn’t care about that sort of thing. In fact, you wouldn’t even have your hero dying on a cross. No one would want to follow someone who actually died on a cross but the reality is he may have died but he actually rose again and so, in all of this, we can see that if you are going to make up a story, you wouldn’t make up a story like this.
He actually spoke to the women first. That’s why I believe Christianity is the most liberating faith for women. Amen. There are so many things out there about Christianity being sexist and that sort of thing and that’s not true. Christianity is the most liberating thing for women and here Jesus Christ appeared to women first. If you’re going to make something up, you wouldn’t tell it to the women.
4. The Apostle’s Faith
The last thing was this, he says in Luke 24:11, but Peter arose and ran to the tomb and stooping down he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves and he departed. Marvelling himself and what had happened.
So the women came and they spoke to Peter and the disciples. Peter didn’t believe it. Peter wanted to see for himself. So he himself went to that tomb and when he saw it then he believed it. Then he started telling the other disciples. Over the next 40 days, Jesus Christ started appearing to different disciples. As I said to you before the last person to who he appeared was actually Thomas. Doubting Thomas. But in the end, he appeared to every single one of them.
They believed that unto their deaths. You would not believe a lie. You would not allow a lie to actually cause you to be martyred and yet most of these disciples ended up being martyred because of what they believed. They went to their deaths believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Look at how some of these disciples died. Simon Peter died crucified. But he didn’t want to be considered equal to the Lord. So he allowed himself to be crucified upside down. John in his 90s still proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Andrew dies on a cross and on this particular cross, he didn’t want to die the same way as Christ did as well. So he actually died on a cross but instead of being like a T, it was actually like a letter X. Thomas died in India and was speared for his faith. James was killed by Herod in Acts 12 proclaiming his faith. Philip was beheaded. Most of the disciples actually all went to their deaths from believing and proclaiming the resurrected Christ.
If they truly did not believe it, then you would have thought that at least one would have backed out of it. You would have thought at least one would say, okay, okay, okay. Alright, you got us. There’s usually one in a group, you know? Groups can’t lie, you know, you might have one of them say, listen, okay. This was a whole setup. We made this whole thing up, okay? But every single one of them actually went to their deaths, fully proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Back in the late 60s and early 70s, there was this controversy in the United States. It was called the Watergate Scandal. Basically, it was a big political issue at the time to do with the President at the time President Nixon and a number of men were imprisoned. One of the men who was imprisoned was a man by the name of Charles Colson. The thing about Charles Colson was that he wasn’t a believer before he went to prison but he got converted to Christ whilst he was in prison and for the rest of his life, he lived his life as a defender of the Christian faith.
He actually has this really interesting quote. He says I know the resurrection is a fact. And Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead. Then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world and they couldn’t keep alive for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep alive for 40 years absolutely impossible. People went to their deaths seeing and believing in the resurrected Lord.
My question to you today is this. Do you believe? Do you believe in a resurrected Lord? The Bible says that if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth then you’ll actually be saved. In the same way that if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth all this victory that’s available in him is available to us. The same spirit that rose Christ from the dead lives in us as well. That’s why the Bible says that through Christ, we can be born again. We actually have eternal life through Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says, for God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. There is an everlasting life available to you. If you believe.
My question to you today is this, do you believe? Maybe you’ve come here and you’ve never been to church before. Maybe you’ve come here and someone has dragged you here. Sometimes, I talk to people and you talk to them about coming to church and they say, oh no, I’m not going in there, mate. If I go in there, the roof would cave in. Well, we have got a really sturdy structure here. Look at this, we’re all still here. Everything’s fine and I just want to let you know that you don’t have to be perfect. All you have to do is believe and confess with your mouth and you will be saved. That’s the whole reason why Christ died.
He died to take the punishment for our sin that we can have a that we may might be made right with God. That the same power that rose Christ from the dead will come and live on the inside of us. There’s eternal life. There’s victory. There’s overcoming available through Jesus Christ. My question to you this morning is this. Not whether you think Jesus is a good teacher. Not whether you think that Jesus actually existed. My question to you is this. Do you believe in him? That Jesus Christ is the son of God. But that He died for our sins. Resurrected from the dead. So that the same spirit that rose Christ from the dead can live in us.
If you are here and up until now you have not believed? But today you believe I want to let you know that Spirit can come and live on the inside of you and you can have a different life and eternal life. You can start right here, right now. So, I just want to invite you, just close your eyes and bow your heads. and if you’re reading this today and you’re saying, be not, I can’t believe this but I believe I believe. Then all you gotta do is believe in your heart and confess with your mouth. Bible says you’ll be saved. And so if you’re in this place today and you haven’t given your life to Jesus Christ but you want to. With every eye closed and every head bowed. If that’s you today just write where you are. Slip up your hand and say that’s me this morning. I want to give my life to Christ. I want to have a relationship with God. I believe in him today. If that is you right, will you? I slip up your hand and say that’s me. What better day to do that? Make that decision on Easter Sunday If that’s you right where you are, slip up your head and say that’s me today. I want to give my life to Christ. I want to have a relationship with God. Father, I just thank you lord god that in you, we live and move and have our being. That is you and through you, our sins are forgiven and we are saved and I thank you and praise you for that lord right now in Jesus name. Just keep your eyes closed for one more moment. And maybe in this place and you need the power of God to move in your life. There’s a situation in your life where something looks dead and buried, it’s sealed, and it’s almost like there’s a guard stationed around it. If that is you, we want to pray right now and stand in agreement. The same Spirit rose Christ from the dead lives in us. So, if that’s you right now, step up your hand and say that’s me this morning. I got a situation I need the lord to move in.
Father, in Jesus name, I pray and I declare for every single person, the same spirit that rose Christ from the dead lives in us and I thank you for them each and every person this morning Lord. I thank you and praise you and I just pray for breakthroughs. I just pray for miracles. I thank you for your resurrection power. I thank you and praise you for that lord in Jesus name. Amen. Church, would you stand to your feet? Lift your hands. We’re just going to worship god one more time. He’s an awesome god. Father, I just thank you for your presence. Help us to be people who continue to walk and live in your resurrection power. In Jesus name, amen.