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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. David Jeremiah » David Jeremiah - The Triumph of the Resurrection

David Jeremiah - The Triumph of the Resurrection

David Jeremiah - The Triumph of the Resurrection
David Jeremiah - The Triumph of the Resurrection
TOPICS: Easter, Resurrection

A passenger in a taxi heading for Midway Airport leaned over to ask the driver a question, gently tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. The driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove up over the curb, and stopped just inches from a large plate glass window. A few moments, everything was silent in the cab, and then the shaking driver said, "Are you okay? I'm so sorry, but you scared the daylights out of me". The badly shaken passenger apologized to the driver and said, "I didn't realize that a mere tap on the shoulder would startle someone so badly". The driver replied, "No, no, I'm the one who's sorry. It's entirely my fault. Today is my very first day driving a cab. I've been driving a hearse for 25 years".

That'd be a weird experience, wouldn't it? For many years now, the luminaries of the Silicon Valley have been putting their minds and money and machines behind an all-out effort to solve the problem of death. Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor behind Facebook and the cofounder of PayPal has not only funded anti-aging and longevity research, but is on the record of saying he plans to live to be 120. "The way people deal with aging," he wrote, "is a combination of acceptance and denial". And he told MIT Technology, "They accept there's nothing they can do about it, and they deny it's going to happen to them. I've always had this really strong sense that death was a terrible, terrible thing," he told us in the "Washington Post".

Most of us are like Richard Branson, a British entrepreneur and billionaire, who was asked how he wanted to be remembered, and he said, "I don't want to be remembered. I want to be here". You see, death has always been one of humanity's greatest fears. And down through the ages, religions have tried to sort it out and explain it. None of them seem to have arrived at the goal, and I would say that Christianity is one of the religions that has. But as you know, Christianity isn't a religion. It's a relationship. And Christianity very simply says that Jesus Christ defeated death when he came out of the tomb alive, and he alone has solved the issue of death. Death has been defeated, and we Christians, because we are in Christ, we get to participate in that victory.

Now, before you can deal with the subject of resurrection, you have to reckon with this fact: that there was indeed a death. Jesus was dead. He had died in a very public and horrible manner on a Roman cross. His death, which took only about six hours, was witnessed by thousands of people, and we know he was dead from the records, both in the sacred and secular writings. He had not swooned and then revived in the cool of the tomb, as some critics have suggested. When they laid Jesus in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, believe me, he was dead. And the scripture is very careful to document that.

You see, the Jews were very careful not to have their Saturday Sabbath Day defiled by leaving dead bodies hanging on crosses. The Romans knew better than to leave any Jew hanging alive into the Sabbath. So, they took Jesus down from the cross because he was really dead. It was the procedure for the Romans to ascertain that death, and the way they did it was by taking a hammer and breaking the legs of those who were being crucified. I must admit I had known that fact for a long time but never quite understood it, but I do understand it now. You see, when a person was crucified, they were able to sustain their life by pushing up with their legs on their body so that it would allow them to breath. But when they wanted to shorten the time of their life and get the process over, they would break the legs of the crucified victims so they could no longer push up with their legs, and they would suffocate in a very short period of time.

But I want you to listen to what the scripture says about Jesus. And I'm going to share these scriptures from the different Gospels, put them together in some sort of a format that helps us, and I begin with the Gospel John. "Therefore because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. And the soldiers came and they broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs". But one of the soldiers took his spear and thrust it into the side of Jesus. And had he been alive at that moment, bright arterial blood would've come out of the wound.

But read with me what the scripture tells us really occurred. "But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately," now watch this, "blood and water came out. And he who has seen this testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe". I am told that the separation of blood from serum is one of the strongest legal medical proofs of death. No, Jesus was dead. His body was given to two of his followers for burial. And before you can have a resurrection, you have to have a death. Jesus died, and his death is certified.

Now, I want you to join me on that first Easter morning, as we go to examine what happened to Jesus after he died. As you know, he was placed in a tomb, and Easter Sunday, three days later, was a Sunday that we celebrate today. Let's suppose that we are one of the two Marys who came to the tomb on that day. What would we see? What would we have seen that day that might have caused us ultimately to believe that Jesus Christ had gained victory over death? The first thing that would've been evident to the two women and would be evident to us, had we been in that spot, was that the soldiers who had been placed at the tomb were no longer there. Jewish officials, you see, panicked when they began to hear that thousands of people were following Jesus, and they had heard that Jesus had made the prediction that if they killed him, if he died, he would come back to life in three days.

And so, they wanted to make sure that this didn't get circulated. They pretty well believed that if anything like that were to get circulated, they would be in a lot more trouble as the leaders of that particular nation than they already were. So, here's what we read about that in Matthew chapter 27. They came and said, "Sir, we remembered, while Jesus was alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days, I will rise.' Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal him away, and say to the people that 'He is risen from the dead.' So that the last deception will be worse than the first.' And Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard. Go your way. Make it as secure as you know how.' So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard".

So, in other words, the Romans sent a team, a Roman guard, which was made up of 16 men, and they went to the tomb where Jesus had been buried, and they guarded the tomb, and this is how it would've looked. Four of the guards would have placed themselves directly in front of the place to be guarded, and the rest of the 16 would gather in a semicircle behind them. And throughout the day, every four hours, they would switch guards, so that those who were in the front would move to the side, and a new group of four would take their place, so that all of them could sleep and be alert to guard the tomb. But what happened when the Marys got to the tomb, the soldiers were gone. Listen to me, they had slept through the Resurrection. Sixteen men slept through the Resurrection. Jesus walked out of the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Not one of the soldiers tried to detain him. And when they realized what had happened, they panicked because a Roman soldier knew that if somebody escapes who's under your watch, it's your life. You pay for that.

So, the scripture tells us what they did, Matthew chapter 28. "Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all things that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying to them, 'Tell them that His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.' And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will appease him and make you secure.' So they took the money, and they did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day". Although the idea that the disciples stole the body of Jesus explains the missing corpse, the idea is more absurd than any of the other theories that have been put forth to explain Jesus's Resurrection. It's impossible that the soldiers would have all slept through the disciples moving this huge stone away from the mouth of the tomb and stealing the body of Jesus, which was wrapped in embalming clothes.

Here's the key to the whole deal, you guys. If all the soldiers were asleep, how did they know who stole the body? Hm. So, make a note in your Bibles, as I have in mine. The stolen body theory was concocted by the religious chief priests and the elders. They made it up to explain something they couldn't understand. Anybody tells you the body of Jesus was stolen, just tell them how it happened. It was made up by a bunch of religious crazy people. So, they saw the soldiers were gone, and then as they got nearer to the tomb, they saw that the seal that was supposed to be over the tomb, it was missing. You see, when they put somebody in a tomb and they sealed it, the seal was like a little band, like a little rope that was put across the opening.

It was fixed on one side and fixed on the other in the wax, and then the signet ring of the governor would be placed in the wax. And all that was, it wasn't a protectant, but it was just to signify that what was in the tomb when we sealed it is still there, and the seal has not been broken. Well, when the women got to the tomb, there was no seal, and you know why? 'Cause there was no stone. The stone was gone. In fact, the Bible tells us about that in pretty strange language. In Matthew 27, we read that "When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb, which he had hewn out of the rock; and rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed".

Now, if you've ever been to Israel and you ever get to go to the Garden's Tomb, you see the tomb. I have been there several times, and I've actually walked into the tomb and stood in there where they believe Jesus was placed. And the opening into the tomb was only four and a half feet high. When you go to this tomb in Israel, that's true. When I go there, I have to stoop way over to get inside. We're told that when Peter and John ran to the tomb, it actually says in the scripture that John leaned over and looked in 'cause he couldn't stand up, it was too short.

And the way they did this, they had a little groove that they would dig in front of the tomb, kind of a little slot, like something you would roll something, and the stone that was put in front of the tomb was round. And they put that stone in the groove in front of the hole where the entrance was. And while they were waiting for the tomb to be occupied, they would roll the stone up the slant, put a shim under it, and then after the burial, they would let the stone come back down the groove in front of the hole, put the seal across it, and the burial was finished. But when the Marys got to the sepulcher that day, the stone was gone. The Bible says it in very strange words. It says, "On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone," now watch this, not had been moved, "the stone had been taken away".

Now, this stone, we figured this out by doing some calculations. A stone big enough to cover that big of an opening would have weighed between one and a half and two tons. So, on that Sunday morning, the first thing that impressed Mary Magdalene was that when she got to the tomb, now notice, the stone wasn't rolled back up the slot. The stone was taken away. Those words describe something that has been moved from one place to a distinctly different place. When they got to the tomb, the stone wasn't just rolled a little bit open. The stone was in a different place where there was no explanation of it being there. Who picks up a one and a half to two-ton stone and moves it? I mean, who could even? Some of the scholars have said it would take 20 men to even move that stone. You'd probably wonder how that happened. I know. Matthew 28 says, "Behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it". How 'bout that?

So, here are these women on their way to honor their Lord, and they get there, and the soldiers are gone, and the seal's not on the tomb because the stone on which the seal was placed is gone, and now they're face to face with the sepulcher, the tomb itself. And when they get to the sepulcher, they find there's an angel there waiting for them. "And the angel answered and said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you come to seek Jesus who was crucified, but he's not here. He's risen as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay.' And Mary Magdalene ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, 'They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.'"

Everybody agrees, even those who are critics of the Resurrection, everybody agrees that the tomb was empty. Let me explain what I mean. Even those who deny the Gospel writers' story, the rumors of the Resurrection could not have gained credibility if people could have just gone to the tomb and found the body still there. The body was gone, and the question has always been, "What became of it"? Did the authorities steal the body in order to prevent the disciples from spreading the rumor that he had risen?

This is really hard to believe, since when the apostles began to proclaim Jesus and the Resurrection, all the authorities would have to have done is to go show the body. The Resurrection could not have been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, not for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for everybody. And the disciples didn't go off to Rome or Athens to preach Christ risen from the dead. They went right back to the city of Jerusalem, right in the middle of the city, and began to preach to everybody, "He is risen. He is risen from the dead. The tomb is empty. He's not there". And the message could've easily been disproved if somebody could just go and produce the body or they could go to the tomb and say, "No, it's not empty. He's still here".

There is no explanation for the empty tomb except one: Almighty God raised his Son, Jesus Christ, out of that tomb, alive and victorious over death. Jesus Christ is the overcomer. He overcame death. Oh, and it keeps getting better. When they looked into the tomb, guess what they found? It was almost empty but not quite. The clothes that Jesus had worn when he was buried there were still in the tomb. It says in John 20, "Peter went out, and the other disciple, and they were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; but he did not go in". No, not Peter. "Peter came, following him, went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, and folded together in a place by itself. And the other disciple who came to the tomb first went in also; and he saw and he believed".

In the literal sense, the grave wasn't empty, because the grave clothes were still there. And when John leaned over and looked into the grave, he saw something so startling that he did not enter the tomb. He saw the place where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave clothes in the form of a body, slightly caved in and empty, like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar's cocoon. That was enough to make a believer out of anybody, and John never did quite get over it. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb but rather the empty clothes, undisturbed in their form and position. And later on, you see these disciples gradually gaining confidence in the truth of the Resurrection. And a few days after the Resurrection, we read about a meeting that took place in the upper room.

John chapter 20, "And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them. And Jesus came, the doors being shut, and He stood in the midst and said, 'Peace be to You!' And He said to Thomas, 'Thomas, reach your finger here, and look at My hands, and reach your hand here, and put it in My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.' And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!'" Remember, Thomas had said, "Unless I put my hands in His side and touch the wounds in His hands, I will not believe". How often does the Lord do this? The Lord Jesus accommodated the doubt and unbelief of Thomas and showed himself alive to his disciple.

Now we move past the first day and into the second week, and we come at last, and we know that Jesus is risen, but there's one more evidence to be cited, and that's the sightings of Jesus after he came out of the grave. Do you know that there's a passage in 1 Corinthians that says that Jesus was seen by over 500 people at one time, after he had come out of the grave, victorious over death? And in 1 Corinthians 15, you get a summary of everybody who saw him. In fact, looking at the whole Bible, there's over ten records of people who saw Jesus. The people that saw him were both men and women, groups and individuals. They saw him in a house, on a street. They saw him when they were sad and when they were happy. They saw him for short periods of time and long periods of time. They saw him in different localities at different times of the day. And one writer has suggested that if you brought all of those witnesses into a court room and gave each of them six minutes to testify, you would have over 50 hours of testimony to the reality of the risen Christ.

So, this is not some fleeting observance of a shadowy figure by one or two people. There were multiple appearances to numerous people. Many people saw Jesus alive and documented what they saw, and it's recorded for us in the scripture. So, there you have it. He overcame death. Life overcame death. But here are the two words that every pastor should fear, that every preacher should never forget. Here they are: so what? So what? So what if he rose from the dead? I mean, that's great. Thanks for the history lesson. How does it affect me? How does the Resurrection mean anything to me?

I came here today to get something to take home that'll help me in my life. So, hang on for just a moment. I want to tell you three things real quickly. Because he is risen, your failures are not final. One of the things that plagues people is the guilt. Psychologists say if you get rid of guilt, you would shut down most of the counseling centers in America. Guilt is a plague that troubles everybody. Well, here's what the scripture says. The scripture says that when Jesus died on the cross, he shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins. And the Bible teaches that the wages of sin are death. That means sin, when it is conceived and when it gives birth, ultimately ends up in death.

So, the penalty of death had to be paid. Guess what, Jesus Christ, the infinite Son of God, came to this earth, went to the cross as the living Son of God, and hung there between two thieves and paid the penalty for your sin and for mine, so that we could be forgiven. Hallelujah. And the Bible teaches that when he rose from the dead, that was the receipt on the debt that was paid. So, you don't have to walk around all of your life feeling guilty. Your sin has been forgiven. If you put your trust in Jesus Christ, he will set you free from the guilt and remorse that fills your heart with agony and despair, and he will forgive all of your sins, past, present, and future. I like to remind people that when Jesus died on the cross, all of your sins were future. So, he's forgiven them all, if you'll put your trust in him.

Why is the Resurrection important? Because it proves that what Jesus did on the cross was indeed what he said it would be. When he came out of that grave, he punched the ticket for your salvation and for mine. Number two, because he is risen, not only are my failures not fatal, but my life is not futile. Do you know what the Bible says? The Bible says that when Jesus came out of the grave, the same power that brought him back to life is the power that is available to us today, if we put our trust in Jesus Christ. I'm not making that up. The same power that brought Jesus back from the death is the power that we have available to us. And when we know that, when we understand that, it gets us in a position where we can live our lives.

How many of you know we have a lot of problems in our world today? We have a lot of issues that we're trying to figure out, and we have issues in our own lives, and the power that brought Jesus back to life is about the kind of power we need, the kind of power I need. Every once in a while, God will do something really unique in your life, and you will say, "I don't know how to explain this, Dr. Jeremiah, it was just a God moment". How many of you have ever had just a God moment? And you know that God is up to something in your life. He's done something that has no explanation because it's God's power working in you, the same power that was in the Resurrection.

One of the men I love to read about is a guy named Lloyd Ogilvie. He was a chaplain in the Senate and for years the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. Here's what he said about the Resurrection. He said, "Resurrection is not just a passport to heaven, but a power to change us now. It's a present gift. To know Christ is to come under the influence of the same power that raised him from the dead". And then he said, "The Resurrection is the right angle where all disillusionment, all discouragement, all disappointment with life, with people, and with ourselves is met with the power to change us and give us a new beginning".

Men and women, the power of Jesus Christ, the resurrection power of Jesus Christ can change you. It can change you, first of all, from a person who is not in relationship with Jesus Christ to one who is. That's what he does. That's what he came here for. That's why he died, that's why he was resurrected, so that he could make a difference in your life and in mine. I humbly confess that life is too big for me. I can't deal with life in my own strength. Every week, there's something to remind me that I am not sufficient for these things, but I have a God who has invested his Son in my life and given me the power to do what I cannot do in my own strength. And that same power is available to anyone who will put their trust in Jesus Christ. Because he is risen, your life is not futile. And finally, because he is risen, my death is not final.

We started out talking about death, and I didn't want to be sad on this day and talk about death, but I've done a little study. I should tell you the result of it. Here in Southern California, the statistics on death are 100%. So, we all have to deal with it, whether we like it or not. But if you're a Christian, your death is not final. You see, the Bible teaches that when you put your trust in Jesus Christ, he gives you eternal life. That eternal life is yours. It's not bodily eternal life, it's personal eternal life. When you accept Jesus Christ, you get the gift of God, which is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. It begins the moment you believe, and it never ends. So, when you die physically, what happens is your body goes in the grave, and your soul and spirit go to be with God. That's physical death. Spiritual death, which is also called in the scripture the second death, is when you die, your soul and your spirit are separated from God forever.

You don't want to experience the second death. Everybody who's a Christian, if Jesus doesn't come back right away, we're going to die, and our bodies will go in the grave, but the Bible says because Jesus Christ overcame death, one day he's going to come back here, and there's going to be a shout and a trumpet, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. All of those who have died and their bodies have gone in the grave just are going to be resurrected to life, just like Jesus was. How do we know that? Because Jesus did it first, and he said it's the down payment on all the rest. His life, his death is the firstfruits, the scripture says, of those who sleep or those who are dead. So, I know that when I die, that is not the end.

I was very much involved in understanding and knowing about Billy Graham's funeral, but many of you probably know that on several occasions before his death, he was heard to say, "You may hear someday soon that I'm dead, but don't you believe it. I'll be more alive than I've ever been". And what he meant was actually true. When a Christian dies, it's not final. He just makes the transition and he goes to be with the Lord. That's why when you go to a Christian memorial service, it is filled with sadness, but it's not filled with despair.

As a pastor, I've had the awkwardness of doing the funeral for my own family members. I did the funeral for my mother and for my dad and my sister. And when I conducted the funeral of my mother, whom I loved dearly and love to this day, I cried, but I didn't get hysterical and I didn't despair. You know why? I know where she is, I know who she's with, and I know for a fact that one day, by the grace of God, I'm going to be with her again. That's the hope in the midst of all the hurt. So, I came here today just to tell you that if you're looking for a way to live a meaningful life that ends up in the right place with the right people, you need to put your faith in Jesus Christ.

You say, "Pastor Jeremiah, how do I do that"? You make a decision to do it. Oh, you say, "Well, I have a lot of questions". Well, if you wait till all your questions will get answered, you'll never do it. If you accept Jesus Christ, after you accept him, you'll start getting answers you never needed before. You have to make a decision. It's a step of faith. Yes, you have to know something. You have to believe what I've said today that Jesus Christ died and that he was resurrected, but you have to come to the place personally where you want to say, "I need Jesus Christ in my life. I need this power that he's promised, to face the issues of my life. I want to know for sure that when I die, I'm going to go to heaven. I've got parents in heaven. I want to see them again someday. Most of all, I want to spend eternity with Jesus".

How do you do that? You pray and you ask Jesus Christ to come into your life, that's all you do. Mean it in your heart. And the Bible says when you do that, everything starts to change. Old things go away, all things become new. You become the person that you always wanted to be because you become the person you were made to be, and God wants you to experience that more than I can explain to you in my ability as a communicator. In my hoarse voice today, I say to you, put your faith in Jesus Christ. Let him come into your life and change you to be the person you really want to me.
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