Examining The Miracle Of The Resurrection Of Jesus.

Tim Lundy
Apr 4, 2021    31m
Do you believe in the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? This message examines the evidence that shows you that you can trust in the eternal truth of the resurrection, and how this truth changes your life. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: 00:04 It's great to be together on this Easter morning. It's great to remember, to be able to celebrate, and to maybe think about it in a different way. In fact, I want to ask you a question. What do you think of when you hear the words conspiracy theory? Now, I know some of you, you probably shudder, especially with all the conspiracies right now.

Tim Lundy: 00:40 In fact, a few weeks ago, I had a really interesting experience. I was on a flight, it'd been a long day of travel because of weather, every flight had been delayed. And I had my last flight, it was late at night, it was a short trip, and I'm sitting on the plane and I have the only empty seat next to me, and I'm sitting there hoping, please let it stay empty. Right before the attendant closed the door, one more person gets on, it's a business guy, about my age, you can tell he's a gregarious guy. He had a lot of bags, and of course he was sitting next to me. And as soon as he sat down, I found out he was a talker. And he liked to talk, and he wanted to share with me the conspiracy theories he had of the world, and he was up to date on all of them. And from what I could tell, he believed all of them. It was fascinating, I mean, there was a part of me, it felt like I was sitting next to a YouTube video that I couldn't press stop on.

Tim Lundy: 01:40 He just kept sharing, and so finally I just settled in and I thought, well, okay, let me learn more about this in the process. And he would share these different theories about the election, about different things going on, you can imagine with it. But every so often he would say something and it would just be so out of left field, I couldn't fathom somebody believed this. At one point, he was talking to me and he said, well, you know, President Biden, when he stumbles on his words, you know what causes that don't you? And I thought he was going to say a health issue or maybe dementia. And he said, he's a robot. I said, he's a what? Well he's a robot. A robot? He said, oh yeah, yeah, Hollywood, big technology, you'd be amazed what they can do now. But they're struggling with the mouth, the programmers can't quite get the mouth right, and so when he stumbles on his words, that's, what's happening and the robot is messing up.

Tim Lundy: 02:41 At this point in the conversation, I started looking around, I thought, okay, somebody put him up to this. I mean, where's the camera, I'm on a show somewhere. But the more we talked, I realized, he really believed it. I mean, he went on like this, he was worried about me, he asked what kind of currency I was carrying. I showed him, I've got my debit card. He goes, oh, you trust the banks. I said, I don't know if I trust them, but they have my money. And I said, should I carry cash? He said, oh, I don't trust cash either. And his bag, that had kind of been in the way of both our feet, he unzips it, he always carried gold with him at all times in case the currency crashed, he'd be prepared in a moment.

Tim Lundy: 03:25 Now I got to tell you, here's what was fascinating. This guy was sharp, he lived in Southern California, he was a financial consultant. He was going in to help a company, that's why he was going. And I looked at it, and I thought, who falls into this kind of stuff? Who believes this kind of stuff? It made me research a little bit about conspiracies. And one of the things I found out, you know, conspiracies flourish, if you track them in history, they flourish in times of anxiety. When people don't feel like they have control over what's going on, it's easy for a conspiracy to spread and people buy into it.

Tim Lundy: 04:05 Now you're probably asking, Tim, what does this have to do with Easter? You're making me anxious on Easter morning about these conspiracies. The reason I bring it up, is it's fascinating if you look over the last 2000 years, the number of theories and even conspiracies about Easter. As people try to figure out why did this one person, Jesus Christ, impact our planet in this way? Why did this one weekend stand out so much? I mean, from the death on the cross, to the resurrection, how do you explain the events of it? If you study it, I mean there's a number of theories, a number of people will say there's conspiracies behind it. I mean, some of the more common ones, for a while there, scholars would say, Jesus never even lived, there was no Jesus. Kind of the conspiracy was, he was created in legend.

Tim Lundy: 05:06 But most scholars today, as they trace it, most scholars would admit there was this man, Jesus, that lived in this time period. He was there in Palestine, and most would say, he died by crucifixion, that wasn't that uncommon for the Roman authorities to crucify an insurgent, somebody like a Jesus. And so most will agree with, they believed there was a historical Jesus and that he actually was crucified, that's really not the hard part to believe. The hard part is, what happened to his body once he was buried, and where did all these stories of resurrection come from? One group kind of posited, maybe he didn't die on the cross actually, they call it the Swoon Theory. And so he was very damaged on the cross, but once they laid in the term, lying in cool tomb, he wasn't completely dead. He, he revived, and unwrapped himself, and came out. Now, this theory really has never held up. I mean, Romans were really good at crucifixion, in fact, they were the experts at it. And so if you'd been crucified on a cross, your hands were pierced, your feet with a nail, that on top of the fact he'd already been scourged, he'd lost so much blood out of his back, he had a crown of thorns on his head, just the blood loss alone over that period of time. And then the final detail you have in it, the Roman soldier that took that spear and put it right there through that fifth inner space of the ribs, right into the pericardium and the heart. I mean the Swoon Theory has never held up over time. And one of the key reasons, no one's been willing to test it, try getting crucified and go through that and see if you could live.

Tim Lundy: 06:55 A third theory that people have held to, is maybe it's the wrong tomb they went to. Again, this is one of those ones that got discarded quick, it's kind of stupid to think his followers would go to the wrong tomb. I mean, Joseph of Arimathea was the owner of the tomb, the Jewish authorities would have immediately pointed out, wrong tomb. So that theory got discarded in it.

Tim Lundy: 07:17 And one of the other ones that I'll just kind of put in the bad theory category, it shows some actual misogyny, a lot of people have said over time, going back all the way to the second century, that you really couldn't trust these stories because women were the first witnesses. In fact, there was a guy named Celsus who attacked Christianity, and his main attack of this story is he said, are you really going to believe the record, the witness, of hysterical women? Now, again, it showed the misogyny and how they thought of women in that time. I'm thankful that God thinks more of women than many people in history did. And in a lot of ways, it actually proves it that much more, because if you were making up these stories, because of the way they viewed women back then, you probably wouldn't have chosen women as your first witnesses. And yet the gospel writers point that out, and God did.

Tim Lundy: 08:19 Now for a lot of people, their struggle with believing anything about it, is can you really believe these historical documents? I mean, can we really believe that a Matthew Mark, Luke or John, these first century witnesses that were with Jesus, were the ones that wrote it? And you'll hear this at times, Hollywood loves this theory that, you know, in the third and fourth century, the secret councils that got together and they kind of either manufactured or found the legends that they wanted, and that's what they assembled into our Bible. Now, one of the mistakes they're making in this is, yeah, the Bible was assembled in the fourth century, the Bible as we have it. They took the Old Testament scriptures, or the Jewish scriptures, and then they took these New Testament documents, and that's when they combined them into what we have as a Bible. But there's a difference between assembly and production, it was assembled then, but they were produced in the first century. In fact, there's a whole science, it's called textual criticism, where they study the documents, they study the age, they date them, they're able to study how old they are and they compare them. And I'm not an expert in it, but I had the opportunity to study under experts, that's why in the graduate program I took Greek and Hebrew.

Tim Lundy: 09:42 And when you study under it, here's the thing that's fascinating, the New Testament as we have, it is the most attested historical document we have from that time. There's no other historical documents that have both the number of manuscripts, and are dated all the way back, you can go all the way back into the first century there. I'd encourage you, this is a big topic, so if that's a struggle for you, it's worth researching, but actually research it. You know, when I help my kids do papers, even in middle school, a lot of times they'll tell me, oh, we're not allowed to use Wikipedia as a source. I'll say, why not? They go well, while it may be accurate, it's not considered really accurate research per se. And I'd say the same, if you're going to research something like this, especially something you're building your belief system off of, don't go off of just whatever came up first on Google. Just because something's popular, it doesn't mean that it's actually accurate. Studying this, and spending time in it, I think the more you research it, you'll find how historically reliable these documents are.

Tim Lundy: 10:51 You know, the simplest conspiracy theory is actually the oldest, the simplest one of all. And I say, it's the oldest, because it goes all the way back to that very first day. The tomb is there, the body is gone, and so what's the simplest theory? Is somebody took it, somebody removed it. In fact, you know, this theory started with Jesus's own followers, they're the first ones who say this. In John 20, it describes when Mary first went to the tomb. She went that Sunday morning, she went and saw the stone was rolled away. And as soon as she saw it rolled away, she ran to Peter and John. Notice what she says, look at it in verse 2 there, she said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where..." And notice she puts this, "...they have taken Him." I mean, here's the start of a great theory, they, this nebulous group have taken the body of Jesus. Now notice what she didn't say, she didn't run and go, he's been resurrected, he arose just like he said, it wasn't even on her radar.

Tim Lundy: 12:03 In fact, the story goes on, Peter and John, they run to the tomb, and John gets there first, and he kind of looks in the tomb. And a few verses later it said, "Simon Peter came following him and he went into the tomb..." And this line is unique, "He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself." That word, saw, is interesting. The common word for saw, or see, in Greek is vlépo. In fact, when it said John arrived, it said he vlépo, he's kind of looking around. The word Peter used there though, the one that when he saw is the word [foreign language]. In fact, you probably know the English word we get from that, theory. Because what he's doing, he's not just looking, here's what the writer's telling us, he's theorizing, he's trying to figure out, okay, here's the evidence I'm seeing, how does this fit with what I know? How does this fit with, I saw Jesus buried here, the stone, and now wait, the linens are still here too, he hasn't arrived at a conclusion in that. That's the thing I want you to notice with all of them, all of the disciples struggle with really accepting that he's been resurrected.

Tim Lundy: 12:48 You look through each of these stories with them, Peter and John are trying to figure it out, Mary's going to come back to the tomb later, she actually sees Jesus, she thinks he's a gardener. And she says to him, she says these words, where have you taken him? Somebody had to move him. You look at the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus walks with them. And while they're walking, the whole time, Jesus is using the Old Testament scriptures to point out what would happen. And the whole time they're kind of listening, they love his teaching, they don't see it, they don't get it. His disciples are locked up in a room, hidden, scared, because they didn't expect resurrection, they just know the body's gone. Even Thomas, after the others have seen him, and they said, we saw Jesus. Thomas said, I don't believe it, I don't believe it, unless I see it with my eyes, unless I touch the scars, I don't believe it.

Tim Lundy: 14:33 You see what's happening in each of these parts of the story, resurrection wasn't part of their story. I mean, it's amazing to me that they didn't get it, they'd been with Jesus these three years, they'd seen him do these miracles. They'd even seen a few weeks earlier, he had resurrected Lazarus after Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. But see, here's the difference guys, in each of those miracles, Jesus was the one doing the miracle. But now Jesus was gone, Jesus was the one in the tomb, they didn't have a concept that someone could resurrect himself. And that's why even at the very beginning, they're struggling with putting this together.

Tim Lundy: 15:21 You know, one group that was prepared for this. It's interesting in the story, the chief priest, part of the group that had crucified Jesus, that hated Jesus. When they buried him, it's fascinating to me, they go to Pilate, the governor, and they said, you know, when Jesus was teaching, he always said he was going to raise in three days, he'd come back in three days, and the last thing we need is somebody stealing his body and perpetuating a lie like that. And so they asked pilot, they said, would you put some Roman soldiers on guard? Now the chief priest had their own soldiers, but kind of in the scale of things, their own soldiers are kind of like weekend warriors, they're not quite up to what a Roman soldier was. And so to really make sure this is sealed, they go, would you put Roman soldiers there? Because once a Roman soldier guards, something, they're the best in the world, nobody will question it.

Tim Lundy: 16:15 Boy, you talk about a plan backfiring, because when the soldiers show back up and they talk to the priest in chapter 28 of Matthew, and they tell him what had happened, the stones rolled away, he's gone. Now the priests have a bigger problem, because they had asked for the best soldiers in the world. It says in the text there in Matthew 28, they said to them, verse 13, "You're going to say ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep." And they paid them, it says in the text, a large sum of money. In fact, they had to pay off Roman authorities as well. See all of these leaders, all of these people, they had a reason to lie. They didn't need a resurrected Jesus, it made their life more difficult, and so they're willing to bribe and they're willing to lie.

Tim Lundy: 17:14 I mean, it's all the fodder of a good conspiracy. But you know, whenever you're evaluating a conspiracy, you always want to ask yourself, who has reason to gain from this? And they had reason to gain from it. Now the problem is, it didn't last, some of the people believed it in that time. But like every conspiracy, and here's the key on any conspiracy, time and truth always bring out whether something is really a conspiracy or it's true. And the time and the truth of the next few weeks, of the events that happened...Guy's there's a reason today we don't get up today and we don't celebrate the fact that body was stolen, this isn't body stolen Sunday. We don't have Easter festivals with children, and the children re-enact, oh kids, here's the exciting part, here's when the disciples slipped in between the soldiers and they moved the stone. Oh, and they took the time to unwrap the body, even though Roman soldiers were right there. See, it just doesn't hold up. We don't stand up on this Sunday morning and say, he is stolen! He is stolen indeed.

Tim Lundy: 18:28 None of those things hold up over time, because of the time and the truth of the events that happened, because Jesus started showing up to his followers, because Jesus showed up in that upper room, because Jesus revealed himself to Mary, because Jesus, while he walked with those guys and they got to Emmaus, they shared a meal together, and then he opened their eyes and they could see, oh, it really is him. Because Jesus showed up when Peter was fishing, and he had a breakfast with them on the seashore. He showed up to over 500 real people, even his brother, James, his little brother declared that Jesus is our Savior and God. Now I don't know about you, I have a brother, what it would take for me to say those words about my brother, it would be a miracle, but James said it about his. Even this guy, Saul, who was the chief priest' star understudy, the guy who hated Christianity the most, the guy who was going to wipe it out because he knew it wasn't true, he was so sick of this lie that he rose from the dead. Until Saul came face-to-face with Jesus, and in each of those encounters, it changed everything.

Tim Lundy: 19:53 And all of those followers spent the rest of their life, and they spent hard lives, lives where they were martyred, lives where they lost everything. I mean, if you look at it, they had every reason in the world not to tell this story, but they told it because it was the truth. The time and the truth, the evidence of it. I love the quote by Wolfhart Pannenberg, you can see it there, "The evidence for Jesus' resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: First, it's a very unusual event. And second, if you believe it, you have to change the way you live." Guys, I'd go so far as to say, when you look at this Easter, when you look at this whole story, either it's the greatest conspiracy in human history, or it's the greatest miracle in human history. It's either the greatest conspiracy that's been perpetuated for 2000 years, and literally hundreds of millions of people are following it, or it's the greatest miracle that has ever happened, and it's changed the lives of hundreds of millions.

Tim Lundy: 21:22 Now, obviously I believe it. I don't just believe it because of the miracle of that day, the events of that day, you know why I believe it? I believe it, because I see the ongoing miracle of lives that are changed. You know, as a pastor, over the years, I've had so many privileges, and the greatest is watching and walking along people, real people, and seeing how God's changed their lives. I've seen marriages that were just totally on the rocks, totally separated, and I've seen as those couples give their life to Jesus, he changes that home. I've seen people addicted to everything you can think of, and watched them get clean, but more than get clean, get a purpose in life through Christ.

Tim Lundy: 22:13 I've been all over the world, I think of children who are in the slums of one of the poorest country at the time, Rwanda. And watching them dance and sing with joy, and hearing how their lives have been changed by Jesus. You know, I've had the privilege of having close friends who are CEOs, or executives in some of the largest companies, friends that are actors or even celebrities. And as I've listened to their stories, and they'll talk about the fact, despite all their success, it means nothing compared to what Jesus has done in their life. I've been with couples, I've been with elderly people, I've been in hospital rooms, I've even been at graveside, I've watched people in life, and for me, the greatest miracle is not just what happened on that one day, it's what I see happen every in real lives.

Tim Lundy: 23:12 One of those lives that stands out to be the most, I'll close with it. It was a story I heard, a gentleman I met, when I was in Jerusalem. I had the opportunity a few years ago to go with some friends to Jerusalem, and we were touring in the city and we went to the garden tomb. Now there's some debate, which tome is the exact tomb Jesus was in. There's a church built on one, but a lot of scholars believe the garden tomb is actually the more accurate place, we don't know for sure. But one of the things I love, if you ever go there, go visit it, because the garden tomb is, it's been the archeology, they've dug it out and everything, it's exactly like it was in Jesus' time and a lot of people believe that it could be the tomb he was in. When you go into the tomb and you see that cave that was dug out into the hillside, and you see the shelf, the rock shelf where the body lay. And then just stepping out of the tomb, whether that was Jesus tomb or not, even as I stepped out and felt the sunlight coming in. I could only imagine this Easter morning, what it was like for Jesus, when he stepped out victorious, he'd conquered death, he'd overcome sin, he'd done everything he said he would do.

Tim Lundy: 24:28 But you know, my favorite part of that day, was the guide that we had with us, it was an older British gentleman. And he was walking and he was telling the story, and as he described what happened, he just shared, and he was very respectful because you have people from all over the world that are visiting it, and he said, for me, I am a Christian and I really do believe in the resurrection. And so I asked him, I just said, when did you become a Christian? Because he was such a kind, man, he had this gentle spirit and this kind of almost twinkle in his eye, and you could just tell the way he talked about Jesus. I figured, oh, he's been a Christian his whole life. And he said, you know, I became a Christian just a few years ago. And the reality was I wasn't a very nice person, and I wasn't very good to my wife, and she became a Christian. And she started telling me about Jesus, and I just laughed at her, he said, I used to mock her so much, you believe that stuff? And I was so irritable, I've had neck issues and my pain in my neck all the time, and I couldn't sleep, and it just made me grumpier.

Tim Lundy: 25:38 And finally, one night she looked at me and she said, why don't you ask Jesus to heal you? He said, I laughed. And as we lay in bed, it was hurting, I almost said it scoffing as a skeptic, but I cried out to God. I said, alright Jesus, if you're real, heal me, then I went to sleep. And he said, I woke up the next morning and the pain was gone, I didn't believe it. He said all day, I kept kind of moving it, waiting for it to kick back. In fact, he said, I went a few days before I would even tell my wife. He finally had to tell her, you know, my pain is gone. And so I started investigating Jesus and these stories, and I thought to myself, if he could do that, maybe there's some truth here. And then I discovered that he died for me, and I sat down with my wife and I apologized to her. And his eyes teared up as he said it, and I prayed and Jesus forgave me and he changed everything. And one of the things I'm most committed to, is I want to give my wife the kindness that she is deserved all these years, and I'm glad Jesus showed me that. And he ended the story and he said, so when the opportunity came to serve here in this garden, telling people about Jesus, I couldn't think of a better way to spend those years.

Tim Lundy: 27:20 Guys, I love Jesus, and I believe Jesus, and I believe he rose again. And I believe it not just because of the events of that day, but the events of today, the miracles I see all around me, the lives that have been changed. In fact, this whole series, we've been talking about miracles, the ones that John wrote about. And John said, at the end of his book, I want you to read these verses with me again. The reason he wrote this, he said, "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book." He said, I didn't even tell you all the miracles he did, "But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

Tim Lundy: 28:16 I want that for you. I don't know if you've ever experienced that miracle of life change, but like my friend in the garden, like the people that I've seen throughout the years, it always begins with the step of belief. That you actually believe Jesus is who he says he is, and that he did what he claimed only he could do. And so I want to give you an opportunity, even now, to express that belief. And I'm going to encourage everyone, I don't know where you are, some of you, you're watching this all alone, some of you, maybe you've gathered as a group. You might want to bow your head, you may want to keep your eyes open, you may want to say this aloud, or you may want to say it silently. All I'm going to ask you to do is respond with me, I believe. And for some of us, we're going to make this response because we've believed for years. For some of us, maybe you believed a long time ago, but it's been a while since you expressed it. And for some of you, maybe today is that first step of faith where you declare that you believe. Wherever you are, would you respond with me? And when I prompt you, we're just going to declare together, I believe. So if you believe that Jesus died for each one of us on the cross, say with me, I believe. If you believe that he rose from the dead on that Easter morning, say with me, I believe. If you believe that he's forgiven you for your sins, say with me, I believe. And if you believe that, today, you are forever a child of God, say with me, I believe.

Tim Lundy: 30:17 Let's pray together. Father, I thank you. We see how you worked in human history, but we also see how you worked in our lives, how you're changing us. And so I pray for each person who declared that with me, I pray for those of us who've known you for years, would it be an affirmation of how much we believe. I pray for those who've been far away from you, would it be the first step back again. And for those who took that first step of faith today, I pray, I pray that they would know that their life is a miracle, that you're doing something beyond imagination, that you're changing them, and forever they will be your child. Lord, we celebrate this day, this Easter day, we thank you for the miracle of that day. I thank you more, that the miracles continue today. And I pray this in Christ' name. Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032