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Levi Lusko - The Stuff Legends Are Made Of

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There is no unimportant part of your body. There's no unimportant part of your body. Every single part has a value and contributes to the larger things that happen. But there are parts of your body that you can't live without. You can't live without your brain. You can't live without your heart. You can't live without at least a lung. I mean, not true of your hand. Your hand's important. But if you cut it off, you'll survive. Your feet are important. But if you cut one of them off, you'll survive.

I've got a good friend who I've known over the years, ministered at events alongside him, named Nick Vujicic. And he was born without arms or legs. It's unbelievable. Now, he's more talented than me in just about every way. You watch him dive off a diving board. You see the things that he does, how he's figured out, really, life without limits, even though he has no limbs. But he survived the loss of his arms and legs or never having him in the first place. And so you think about what your body can survive without. You can live without your reproductive organs. You can live without a stomach. Through dialysis, you can live without kidneys.

You can survive with even part of your liver removed. It'll regenerate. I mean, this is an amazing thing. You get a part of a kidney, and a person can receive that as an organ transplant. But like I said you take the heart, you take the lungs, or the breathing ability, or you take the brain away, and it's lights out. In this series, what we're trying to discover is what are the vital organs of Christianity. What are the parts of our faith, if we call ourselves followers of Jesus, that you can't live without. And this week, we've come to the essential organ of the essential organs, as we come now to draw our attention to this statement, "On the third day, He rose again".

I wonder if there's anybody who's willing just to celebrate for a second, the fact that Jesus Christ rose. And if that doesn't excite you, if that's not enough for you, then I don't have anything more. So just so you know, there's not a point in the sermon where it's going to build towards a big climactic, that is it, right there, what I just gave you. If that's not enough to excite you and get you up, if that's not enough to get you full of faith and full of energy, then you're going to be really disappointed, because it just goes downhill from there, because all I got to give you is that Jesus Christ didn't stay dead, but on the third day He rose from the dead. And can you imagine how weak this series would be if He didn't? Because it would have ended last week.

Last week would have been the last week. The third week of the series would have been the last week of the series. It would've ended with "suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified, died, was buried. He descended to the dead". And scene. Closed quote. That's all she wrote. But that would be the least of our problems, that we wouldn't get to talk about the Resurrection of the body, that we wouldn't get talk about all those things, that our series would be over. We would have much more problems.

If you have a Bible, 1 Corinthians 15, like I said, the title of my message is "The Stuff Legends Are Made Of". Paul speaking, "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel, which I preach to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you, first of all, that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that, He was seen by over 500 brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present. But some have fallen asleep. After that, He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all, He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time".

The dictionary defines a "legend" as "a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but unauthenticated". So it's a story that gets told, and a story that even sometimes gets believed, and almost eventually comes to seem like it's historical. But it's actually, in fact, if you dig into it, it's not authentic. Examples, of course, would be like the "lost" city of Atlantis. You hear about, with deepest apologies to Aquaman, because I've got nothing but respect for Momoa, right? But the reality is there's not a lost city of Atlantis. If you dig into it, it's not authentic. It's just been told and told and told again. And it almost seems like it's true. It's legend status. Billy the Kid, there's a kernel of truth. There's a person, an individual in history, that it kind of started out as. But what it morphed into has nothing to do with the actual historical figure of this dude, all the rest, "the fastest gun in the West". I mean, just what it became is very different than what it actually is.

King Arthur, Knights of the Round Table, the sword in the stone, the Loch Ness Monster, I know we're getting into controversial territory here. But these are myths. These are legends, that if you actually look into it, it's not authenticated. Robin Hood, and the legend of the Fountain of Youth, and the search in Florida for some water, Agua de Vida. That's going to really quench your thirst and give you eternal life. These are legends. When we come to the Resurrection of Jesus, though, to many people, what we believe in, what is the linchpin of our salvation, what is the basis for our belief in Jesus Christ, to many people, our belief in Christ rising should be put on the same shelf as all of those things that we just mentioned.

Nice idea, it sure would be good, maybe even some inspirational value in it. But you can't really believe that that actually happened. Or it's yeah, it's kind of like St. Nick. He was this nice guy, did some good things. But then eventually, just one thing led to another. It got bigger and got bigger and got bigger. And I'm sure the disciples thought they saw Him. Like the nice misguided people who believe in Bigfoot, really believe in Sasquatch. That's really what people would have you to think, that our faith, that it is based on misplaced information, that Christ and His rising, that that really deserves to be in the realm of legend. But that doesn't really matter, some would say, because even if it's not actually historically accurate as an event, it's still a nice, inspiring idea. And all of us should hope to be like a phoenix from the ashes and get on up from our failure. And I mean, what does it matter if it's a legend?

Here's what I want you to understand, really, the big idea for this message, when you actually look into what Scripture gives to us, what history offers to us, because make no mistake, the documents that form the New Testament of the Bible, these are not just inspiring religious writings. They are reliable, historical documents. That's so important for you to understand. The New Testament is a collection of documents that are reliable, historical documents, not just nice, inspiring religious writings. What we are presented with has none of the stuff that legends are made of. I want you to understand what legends are made of. And then I want to point your attention to what we find in these historical documents that are the New Testament. And you'll go, wait a minute, this has none of the stuff that legends are made of, because the story of Christ rising from the dead is full of details, details that, number one, first of several takeaway truths, are given to us specifically.

That's the nature of details, that they're specific. You can't be vague and be giving details. Say, I want details. I want details. Oh, well, one thing led to another. No, no, no, I want details. When you open up Scripture, you do not find, once upon a time, in a place far, far away, where did Jesus rise? Well, it's far, far away. That's the place. And what happened on the roof? Well, there arose such a clatter. No, no, listen to me. We're not confronted with vague details. Like Luke 3, in Luke, by the way, the Gospel of Luke has been considered and has been described as one of the most impressive documents of history in all of antiquity, written by a medical doctor, funded by a wealthy benefactor who wanted someone to do a thorough investigation of these reports of what Jesus had both done and taught and performed in his life. And what are the details? Does it start like, in a place far away, once upon a time, a long time ago. No, no, listen to me.

Luke 3:1-2, "In the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar", who's that? A historically verifiable leader who, at the time, that purportedly Jesus lived and ministered was the emperor. Look into that. It's real. It's a thing. "...when Pontius Pilate", who's that? He's the fifth prefect over the area of Judea, who was under the Caesar at the time, "governor of Judea". Who else was in charge in Galilee? Well, there was also Herod the tetrarch. Oh, and did he have any family? Yeah, he had a brother named Philip, who was also a tetrarch. Where was he the tetrarch of? Iturea and Traconitis. There's maps in the back of your Bible for a reason. Look into it. This is a thing. Get on a plane, if you need to. Go discover some of these ruins. Look into the archaeological, get your fingers dusty with the actual places that are mentioned in these places, because here they are. Where did Jesus live? Oh, it's just a place. Oh, it's a dreamland, really. It's more of a feeling you would feel. No. It's Iturea and Traconitis. That sounds more like a disease than a place.

Well, you're like, that's great, Levi. But who was the tetrarch of Abilene. Well, I'm glad you asked. It was Lysanias, and during the priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas. All of that given just so we would have context when we hear the next sentence. During this period, the word of the Lord came to John, the Son of Zachariah in the wilderness. He was actually just trying to tell us about a dude who ate bugs and wore camel skin clothing. But he went through all of this so you would understand, this isn't fable. That's not how fables come to us. This is not Camelot. This is not some magic, made-up location. We are given precise GPS triangulation of these locations. I've been to Israel. I've seen and stood on the ruins of Herod the Great. I've seen the places where Pontius Pilate came and went from as he made his way from Caesarea by the sea to Jerusalem. They've exposed the pavement that Jesus likely stood on as Pilate, said, behold the man, or in Latin, to the people.

You can almost still watch the blood running into the cracks of those exposed stones from where Jesus endured the flagellation. This is a real place described specifically. Someone estimated that in addition to the names that we just read, there are over 30 other historical figures mentioned in connection to the New Testament story of Jesus that can be verified from extra-biblical sources.

Now I said a moment ago, that doesn't mean the Bible's not a legitimate source, because the Bible, the New Testament, is a legitimate source. And based on manuscript evidence, we can be sure that the Bible we have today, so far as the New Testament is concerned, is 99% the same as the Bible that was written as these letters originally went out, as these books were originally formed. And the 1% variance has no doctrinal error inside of it. We're talking about slips of the pen, punctuation errors, and nothing that would in any way alter the things that we believe at the core. But it's vital that you understand, this is not a made-up story. It was not only detailed specifically. We find the details of the Resurrection. They were believed and communicated instantly. From ground zero when Christ rose, instantly, you find the narrative of the local church being Jesus is risen. And that is what springs forth unto salvation, instantly.

And as evidence, I offer to you 1 Corinthians 15, which we just read, which was written by Paul the Apostle. OK, we're going to, I've got some work to do. All right, Paul the Apostle wrote Corinthians. He wrote 13 out of 27 books of the New Testament for sure. It's believed by many that he also wrote Hebrews. But even of the liberal scholars who would say the Bible is not inspired, no one is arguing the authorship of 1 Corinthians. No one is arguing Paul writing 1 Corinthians. So he wrote 1 Corinthians. And in it, he says what we just read, Jesus rose from the dead. He's telling the Corinthian Church. And listen, when did he write 1 Corinthians? It's believed 54, 55 AD.

So Jesus was born, they believe, about 3 BC, died 30 AD. So 54 to 55, that's 25 years after Christ's Resurrection. And Paul's writing to a church discussing the facts of the Resurrection. But you'll note, within that, he actually says to them, this is the same thing I said to you when I first was with you. It's the same thing that I was saying to you. So earlier than 25 years after Christ rose, Paul had been preaching the Resurrection and is now doubling back on, do you see the timeline now? It's so important you understand this. And we know that virtually all New Testament material was finished and beginning to be compiled by 70 AD. Now some place the Gospel of John later, like 100.

Well, let's even give them that. Let's say, from Christ's Resurrection at 30 AD, it took 70 years to get the full New Testament done. That is impressive, that within the New Testament, which every bit of it is pointing to this exalted Christ and His Resurrection, cohesively and consistently, and in 70 years, here we have this book of people who are around the world going, Jesus is alive. And Jesus has risen. And Jesus is coming again. Now some of you, you should see your faces. You're like, oh, god, Levi, you shouldn't be telling people this. That's a long time. A lot can happen in 70 years. That's enough time, for sure, for a legend or a fable or a myth and for the facts to be clouded. 70 years? Goodness gracious, 70 years, how old will I even be in 70 years? Oh, man, hold on a second. To put this in perspective, let's talk about other things from history. And I'll begin with a question.

How do you know anything that you know from history? Like you know our first president in this country? His name was: George Washington. How do you know that? You weren't there. You know it because of things people wrote down from that period. Don't be silly. I saw The Patriot. I know who was president. And Mel Gibson told me. OK, very good. All right, so you know that because of writings. We dig into history. We see people writing things down. And these things get copied and copied and copied and eventually they get put in the history books. And so we have from the writings that George Washington was our first president. That was only a couple hundred years ago.

Now let's go back further. Let's take a very well-known figure from history, responsible for the Western civilization that we are a part of in this country, Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great, what do you know about him? Compile a little list in your head. You're like, OK, he conquered the known world by age 30. 30, died at age 32. Was tutored by Aristotle. After he died after drinking a bowl of wine and dying from what some people believed to be a fever, he was put into a vat of honey, right? You guys don't know this? Named 70 cities after himself and one city after his horse Bucephalus. He never lost a single battle in 15 years. And after conquering the entire world (this is about 330 BC or so) what did he do when he conquered the world and realized there was nothing left to conquer? He wept. He wept because there was no more to do. And he had remorse. Now all of these things that we, and you're like, actually, I know one more thing, Levi. It was actually the only thing I knew, Colin Farrell, because oh, my god. Right? Very good. OK.

So the things that I just told you and anything else we know of Alexander the Great comes to us from two primary sources, two definitive biographies written about Alexander the Great. They were written by Plutarch and Arrian. And listen to me. They were written 400 years after his death. Tell me all the great debates that have broken out in all your college classes over the years of whether or not Alexander the Great really lived. I don't think he was Philip of Macedon's son. I think, right? I don't believe he had elephants in his armies. I actually believe it was zebras. Where is the, no, we trust. Everyone says, no, we know Alexander the Great was tutored by Aristotle, because Plutarch said so, because Aryan said so. And we don't flinch. No one flinches an eye at trusting those as reliable sources for centuries after the events took place.

So when I tell you that the entirety of the New Testament was finished 70 years later, and there are over 5,000 manuscripts or copies, 99% identical, not diverging on one doctrinal issue of significance to attest to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, I am telling you this is head-spinning verification manuscript evidence that historians, but wait, there's more, because Paul said, I communicated to you. This is closer from 25 years. He wrote 1 Corinthians 25 years after. He's telling them, I already told you this. But I'll tell you it again, because it's the only thing that can save you. I'll tell you again, because it's the only thing that can save you. And then he said the same thing that I gave to you was the same thing I received. So there's a colon, and he goes on to quote something. And the quotation, you might have felt it as I was saying it. He said, the same thing I said to you, the same thing I'll give you again, it's the same thing I also received.

And here it goes again, Christ died according to Scriptures. He was buried according to Scriptures. On the third day He rose according to the Scriptures. Da-da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, was seen by Cephas and the twelve. And da-da-da-da, da-da-da. You're like, wait a minute, it almost seems like it's a poem. It almost seems like it's song lyrics. It almost seems like there's a flow. And that's exactly how rabbinical teaching methods went so that things became sticky because of oral tradition, before people had copies of the New Testament or apps on their phone where they could read a lot of times, they took important things, essential things, and they condensed them. We do the same thing, alphabet: Now I know my ABCs. We need to make things sticky that we want to stick. And so it was with this gospel. Now Paul is saying to them, I received this.

Now if you read Galatians 1 and 2, you'll find out when he received it. Paul hated Jesus more than anybody. His name was Saul of Tarsus, really hated Jesus. And it's stunning that this intelligent man, this up-and-coming leader of the Jewish religion about-faced one day and began following Jesus, about-faced and began following Jesus. It was a total green eggs and ham moment, because he hated Jesus till he met him. Then he's like turns out I love the guy, darnedest thing. He talks about, after a period in the desert of seeking God, of going to spend some time with Peter and with James and with John, the leaders of the Christian Church. And he wanted from the horse's mouth to hear everything about Jesus. You tell me everything. And it was during that visit that they entrusted to him this ancient creed. Christ died according to the Scriptures, was written on the third day according to the Scriptures, was seen by Cephas and the twelve. And da-da-da-da, da-da-da. And then he was seen by James.

Now that one's a big deal. James is Jesus's half brother. What would it take for you to believe that your brother is the Son of God, a Resurrection, at the very least? Like I would just be the beginning. Walked on water? Nah, I still don't believe it. No, I had to deal with him for too long. It's like, right? James, who didn't believe in Jesus. And they tried to shut it down, tried to come and take him by force. He'd be like, yeah, we're putting you in a mental institution because you're crazy. You're going to get yourself killed. He about-faced and began to be the leader of the Church of Jerusalem. So that's part of the creed as well. And then he was seen by 500, right? And what is he saying? When he says that, he says, and most of them are still alive. Why? Because this creed was formed when all those people were still living. Then he concedes, Paul says, as he writes this 25 years later, he goes, yeah, by now, some of them have probably died. But most of them are still alive. And where is it? Well, where Traconitis was and Herod the tetrarch, and Lysanias, and Pontius Pilate's jurisdiction.

You see what I'm saying? He's inviting the skeptics to go and talk to them. Like here, I'd give you the number, but iPhones haven't been invented yet. So instead, you'll just have to go there. If you have questions, you can talk to this group, members of which of the 500 are still very much alive. Now if Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 25 years after the Resurrection, and it was already something he had received with enough time to communicate it to them and refer back to that, what am I trying to get you to see? This creed was formed very early. It's estimated that from six months to one year after Christ's Resurrection was how long before the church was using this as their primary vehicle by which they would communicate the facts of Jesus's Resurrection. What am I trying to say? I'm trying to say the details were believed and communicated instantly and not just specifically. And why is that important and worth our time? Because myths are not this way. This is not the stuff legends are made of.

In fact, an eminent historian at Oxford University once did an investigation. Oh, I've been on Google this week. I'm dangerous. And his name is AN Sherwin White. And he studied the rate of development for a legend. And he concluded that not even two generations. Now a generation is often referred to as about a 30-year period. He said, not even two generations is enough time for this kind of mythology to develop, that it takes much longer than that. But I'm talking about six months. It's not like someone overheard someone saying, Jesus is amazing. Yeah, He is risen. And then they overheard that and go, oh, yeah, Jesus has risen. And the Church went, it was like, He has risen indeed. No, no, that is not what happened. This isn't a fish story being told and again and again and again. From six months, instantly, you have this being communicated. There's no time gap, whatsoever. But the details also come to us awkwardly. Jot that down. The details are specific. They're instantly believed and communicated. They're also awkward.

Now I'm going to wait a second, in case any of you think a bolt of lightning is going to hit me for saying that. But I've read the Bible, and there's some awkward stuff up in it. I read the Bible, and I just cringe sometimes. And it would be easy for me to throw some of the characters under the bus if I didn't find it so relatable to my life. I mean, think about, let's talk about Jesus's crew. These guys are the worst. None of them believed in Him. They literally like Peter, Peter was like the prime of them all. And one day, Jesus called him the devil. He's like. You're like the devil. Why would you include that in the story? You don't want people to know that. And then he breaks down and denies Jesus on the night of his arrest. And he pretends he doesn't know him. And then the guy Mark, who wrote Peter's story, who primarily communicated his side of things to the world through the gospel called Mark, he was there at the Garden of Gethsemane, covered with his long cloak, because he ran out quickly to be with them that night. And someone stepped on his cloak when Jesus got arrested. And he ran away scared.

So he said that he ended up naked. He was in the Garden of Gethsemane naked. So he's just going streaking through to see, I'm like, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait, why is that in the Bible? You didn't know about a young man who ran away naked the night Jesus got arrested? That happened. This is the Bible. Don't look at me cross-eyed and religious. This is Scripture up in here, right? And you have so many things like that, like when the women who discovered the tomb was empty, they bumped into Jesus, Mary thought he was a gardener. And she's like, what's up, gardener? Where's Jesus? Where have you put him? And Jesus is like, Mary. And she's like, ah! This is awkward. And then she goes to tell Peter and John. And now we flip over to John's gospel, which by the way he includes less miracles than Mark's gospel, they were all including different things because they wrote to different audiences. But that's also significant historically, because Mark's gospel was, everyone agrees, written first.

And again, if it was a legend that got bigger and bigger like a snowball over time, Mark's gospel starts out with the most miraculous. And then John, A, knows they have Mark. And B, he's writing to a different audience. And so he has less miracles in his gospel, even though everyone agrees that John was the last gospel written. That's not the stuff legends are made of. First, it starts with He did this. It's like, well, then He did this. And then it's like, He did that. And that's not the stuff that we find in Scriptures. But John, he says. Once Mary told us Jesus was alive, me and Peter both wanted to go. And we ran through the city streets. And I outran Peter. He literally includes god, even from heaven, Jesus is like, ugh, when he got to writing this. Really? You won? Good job, John. He included in the gospel, I'm a little faster than Peter.

I've been doing this intermittent fasting thing. It's been great for me. I went keto. And I was in ketosis in that morning. I peed on the strip, and so I beat him. It's like, good lord, how could God use any one of these people? Awkwardly written. And I submit to you, no one making up the stories would include any of this stuff, that put them in such unfavorable light. Why is it written that way? Friends, it's because that's how it happened. And real life is weird. And as you're reading the Bible, you go, that's the kind of stuff that would happen to me, exactly. And that is actually a proof of its accuracy and not the contradiction. All right. Now the details were also adhered to stubbornly. From the moment Christ rose, what you see is a consistent pattern of people stubbornly holding to it and not backing down. Peter, we talked about his denying Jesus on the night of Jesus's arrest.

Seven weeks later, there's a holiday going on called Pentecost. The population of Jerusalem has just blown up. And he has an opportunity to stand up in front of thousands of people in the same city where 49 days ago plus change Jesus Christ was hanging on a cross. And addressing those same people, he fearlessly said, "Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs which God did among you, through Him, as you yourselves know". This is in the same city to the same people Jesus's ministry took place in. He's like, hey, blind Bartimaeus, you see me? Yeah, exactly. Remember that day? Hey, man with the withered hand, high five. Yeah, remember when your hand was withered and you couldn't do that? Booyah! Right? Zacchaeus, what up, shorty?

See what I'm saying? These are the jokes, people. These miracles happened in their midst. And he's documenting events, and he's able to say to them, which you yourselves know. They're like, yeah. No one denied Jesus was miraculous. They couldn't. Everyone saw what he did. He's like, Lazarus! Hey! Hey. Right? Remember when you were dead? That was weird. And the enemies of Jesus's plan was to kill Him. They were there reading the Bible when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. And they're like, wow, we got to kill that guy. That's your best idea, right? That's your best idea? We'll kill Lazarus again. Unbelievable. And then he continues, "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men," Herod and Pilot, "put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him".

This is his sermon that he gave on the day of Pentecost. And all I can say is, who is this Peter? Who is this Peter, who was beat up and said, don't you ever talk about Jesus again. He said, I will honor you in every way I can. But I cannot help but speak about the things which I've seen and heard. I don't know what to tell you. You'll have to beat me again. But you let me out of this prison, I'm going to preach about Jesus. And Peter, and James, the brother of Jesus, and John, and Thomas, and all the disciples suffered agony for their testimony that Christ had risen. John was boiled in oil until he confessed he is not Christ. Boil me then, banished to the penal isle of Patmos. James, Jesus's brother, head cut off. Paul, who was Saul of Tarsus, who hated Christ more than anybody, he had his head cut off. Peter, the denier who denied Jesus because a little servant girl said, are you with him? Ah, he was so scared of getting crucified. Once he saw the risen Lord, they said, we're going to crucify you. He said, that's fine.

Can I ask one simple request? That you might crucify me upside down? Because I don't consider myself worthy enough to die in the same exact position Jesus died in. Stubbornly holding onto this. Now if, as is purported, they made up this whole idea of Christianity, made up the Resurrection. Jesus is dead. They just communicated to keep it alive, to keep it alive, that would be a crime. It'd be a lie, that it's all a lie. It's all a lie. Criminologists say there are three reasons people commit crime: sex, money, and power. Those are the motive behind virtually any crime you've ever heard of. Please show me where the sex money or power is for the disciples who every single one of them saved John, who lived through the boiling and lived through the banishment, that they all were willing to die. You say, hey, but there's people all over the world who die for their religious beliefs. There's people all over the world who die for lies. Yeah, but they were in a position to know it was a lie. And they were all alone. They didn't die as a group.

All right, we're in this together. All right, stick to the plan. They were all: Thomas gets killed by a spear in India preaching the gospel, and not one of them backed down. Not one of them backed down. If you're going to say Christ didn't rise, then please tell me, please explain the transformation. There's clearly some event that took place that is responsible for this change. This is a groundbreaking event in their life. So if not Christ's Resurrection, then please explain and account for the impact made on them. And I submit to you that this is not the stuff legends are made of, because of the stubborn adherence to the details of the gospel. And finally, it has stood up to scrutiny. Not the stuff legends are made of, because when you dig into legends, you find that what's purportedly history lacks authenticity.

All right, let's go find Atlantis. Has a submarine found it? No. You hear about Titanic? Yeah, James Cameron, he found freaking Titanic. Am I right? So it's like, there it is. I don't know if he found Rose's necklace or not, but I'm telling you something, it's there. You can see it. Oh, my gosh, something I heard about is there. It's not a myth. It's a thing. Right? And when it comes to the gospel, it's been scrutinized. And you know what? It's still standing. That's right. Many skeptics have tried. Billy Graham once said, he said, "If I was an enemy of Christianity, I would aim right at the Resurrection, because that's the heart of it". And you know what? It's been tried. For 2000 years, the skeptics' hammer have rained blows down upon the Church. And no one has ever disproven it. But a lot of skeptics have come to faith because of it. Wow.

That's just what happens when you actually look into it. When you don't just write it all off as impossible because it's miraculous, because that's not consistent. You don't write something off because of your presupposition you bring into it . Airplanes can't be real because I've never flown before. This had never happened before. So life is miraculous. And whether there's God or no God, life's miraculous and unexplainable. So when you don't come in with a presupposition that I don't believe in it because it can't happen, and instead you actually look into the evidence, you simply find, in the words of my friend Josh McDowell, you find evidence that demands a verdict. So what is the verdict that you come to? Because some will look at it. And if you Google it and look into it, you'll find someone to say, hey, here's the deal. He never really died. Yeah, I grant you something happened, because otherwise, you wouldn't have this difference in the disciples. And this is not the stuff legends are made of. It simply happened too quickly and was adhered to consistently and is too specific. OK, OK, OK.

So here's what they'll say. They'll say, Jesus didn't actually die. You know in Avengers, when Nick Fury was going to die, so he took that medicine that made him seem like he had died. And then everyone's like, oh my god, he's so dead. And look at him, he's still behind glass and on that table. And oh, my gosh. And he's like, so that he could come back later. I mean, look at my ugly eye. Look, right. And then a cat did it? Well, I didn't see that coming. I'll tell you what. OK. So they'll say it's like that, Jesus hanging there and He's just acting. He's like, OK. OK. And when they would leave the room, He'd be like, and then He's just right back to that. And He didn't die all the way.

This is what people say. And you know what, they took Him down. They put Him in the tomb. And it was like the cool air in the tomb and some time alone and the spices that they put in the linen strips they put around Him. It was kind of like an essential oil thing. He was like, oh my gosh, I'm feeling so much better. Is that lavender? Oh, it's so awake. Is that the Resurrection diffuser in there? Like, oh, my gosh. And feeling so good, He came out, and it's really amazing, because the medical facts, when you actually look into it, that's appallingly ignorant. Consider the three doctors including a doctor from the Mayo Clinic who was a pathologist, published in the Journal of American Medical Association, or JAMA, as we call it in the industry. And they said, "Clearly the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted. Interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge".

Please do remember, the Roman soldiers who executed Him did this for a living. And if they saw one person who they were given charge to execute live, they would have to be crucified. So it was their vested interest to make sure He was dead. They knew He was dead. But to be sure, they ran a spear through his heart. And when it punctured the pericardium, water ran forth. And when it punctured His heart, blood ran forward. And then and only then did they release His body to Joseph of Arimathea for burial. So Jesus, but even if He did somehow miraculously live through it, it was like, He's lying in the tomb. And He's got 70 pounds of spices and strips around Him. And He's got a hole in His heart. And He suffocated to death. But somehow, he was like, whoa! But in his weakened medical condition, being able to get the bandage off of Him and leave them perfectly in there, as though He had just passed through them, somehow moving a two-ton stone and getting past the soldiers who were guarding the tomb, He got to His disciples. And He would've said to them, it is I. I am risen. And they'd have said, sir, you need a doctor. Right?

They would've said, I'm going to go die for you. They would've said, you seem like you're moments away from death yourself. So that's not something to stand on. Nor is the hallucination theory. It was all a collective dream, because remember, 500 people saw Him in one place at one time, including the 12 disciples who were eating, and then he's like this, what's up? And they're like, ah. And just to do away with this once and for all, let me ask you this question, how was that dream I had last night? Wasn't it great? Do you ever wake your wife up in the night and go, hey, I'm in Hawaii. Jump in on this one so we can save on airfare. Dreams are individual, personal, and not corporate. The wrong tomb theory, this is just rude. They say, well, the women, you know women with directions. They ended up at a fresh grave. Yeah, I know, unbelievable. They say, yeah, they had tears in their eyes. The sun was bright.

And so they bumped into some guy. They're like, where's Jesus? And they said, He's not here. And they ran off to the disciples. And if they would've listened, he would've said that He's over there. He's over there. He's not here. He's over there. But they didn't hear the last part of it. So they should've listened better. But that creates more problems than it solves, because wouldn't the enemies of Jesus just marched down to the wrong tomb and go, oh, that's not it. It's right this one, and then just produced the corpse of the Galilean? Every explanation offered by Jesus's enemies assumes an empty tomb. If I say to you, the dog ate my homework, I'm admitting I don't have my homework. And here's the story. So when the Jews say, the disciples stole the body. What are they admitting? The tomb is empty. But the disciples stealing the body, does that really work? Because what were they doing? They were scared. They were afraid. Until Jesus finally barged in on them and was like, no, for real guys, they had no motive for this.

Let's say that Jesus rose by stealing the body so we can go die, because that'll be rad. Furthermore, they weren't expecting Him to rise. No one was. The Jews believed in an end of time Resurrection for all at the same time, not in a once individual Resurrection in the middle of time. So there was no big group of the disciples waiting outside the tomb, waiting for the sun to rise and then like, 10, 9, boy, this is going to be crazy. You Filming? 8, 7... He had to go find them and be like, stick your hand in my side. Where's Thomas? Ugh, he missed church again? And by the way, don't miss church. You never know what Jesus is going to do. He's always in the midst through his Spirit as we gather. He had to come back the second time to get Thomas, because Thomas was like, it's nice out. I'm going to go do something outside. And I'll be at church. You can do both. It's only an hour and 20 minutes.

So scrutiny, again and again, it's been scrutinized. And what is found? That this is not based on mythology. It's based on historicity, our faith is. And it's this that is at the core of our belief, in that I'm saying what Paul said in 1 Corinthians, "If Christ is not alive, you are still lost in your sins and your faith is a fantasy. It would also mean that those believers in Christ who have passed away have simply perished. If the only benefit of our hope in Christ is limited to this life on earth, we deserve to be pitied more than all others". But because Christ has risen, all of those things are true in reverse. We're not wasting our time. Our life is not without hope. Our gathering is not without meaning. Our existence is not without purpose. And because of the Resurrection, we then have the faith to look at everything else in Scripture that we don't understand.

Do you understand why this is so important? We don't look to everything in Scripture and go, oh man, I see so much about Genesis and the creation. I see so much about this. And now I'll believe the Resurrection, though there's fulfilled prophecy. And all of that just builds our faith once we actually look into it. But our faith begins with the empty tomb. That's where Christianity starts. That's our ground zero. And from there, we then look at everything else that we don't necessarily understand. And we're able to believe.

This is key. Listen to me, students, because you're going to have shots fired at your faith. People are going to tell you, and they're going to want to draw you in a big talk about the flood. And how did the giraffes two by two? And then you'll be like, well, I think God whistled. And then, at least, oh, god, I had that picture going in Sunday school. And The Lord told Noah. And they're going to look at you, and let me just help you with something. I don't know about that, and some of the stuff in the Bible is weird. And yeah, there's just bloodthirsty wars, and this happens, it seems at times. And I don't understand it all. But I believe in Jesus. And listen to me. And Jesus believed in Noah. He actually talked about him. And Jesus talked about Jonah. And how did he live in the stomach?

I don't actually understand all of that. But Jesus did, and He predicted his death, burial, and Resurrection, and then ascended to heaven. And He was seen before He did by 500 people. And so I'm going with Jesus. You see what I'm saying? So bring it back to the Resurrection. So please explain for me, if He didn't rise, then how do you account, well, that was written after the fact. Actually, it was written 25 years after the fact and 7 years after the fact. Well, that's a long time. Well, let's talk about Alexander. You see what I'm saying here? There's a lot to our faith, and that's the key. My friend Andy Stanley put it this way, and I'll end with this, he said, "My high school science teacher once told me that much of Genesis is false. But since my high school science teacher did not prove he was God by rising from the dead, I'm going to believe Jesus instead". And I think this is what is under our faith.
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