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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Resurrection: Foolish, Fake News, or Fact? - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Resurrection: Foolish, Fake News, or Fact? - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Resurrection: Foolish, Fake News, or Fact - Part 1
TOPICS: The Power of the Cross, Resurrection, Easter

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway To Victory". In today's world we're bombarded with so much news from so many different sources that it's often hard to tell fact from fiction. But as we approach the day when Jesus arose from the grave, we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus resurrection is a historical fact with eternal implications. My message is titled "The Resurrection: Foolish, Fake News, or Fact"? on today's edition of "Pathway To Victory".

The editor of a religious magazine received the following letter. "Dear Sir, our preacher said last Sunday that Jesus did not actually die on the cross, but he simply fainted and his disciples lovingly nursed him back to health. What do you think of that"? The editor replied, "Dear Reader, let me suggest that you beat your preacher with a cat of nine tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross, hang him in the sun for six hours, run a spear through his heart, embalm him, put him in an airless tomb for 72 hours and see what happens". Nobody with any credibility argues against the historical fact that Jesus died. No argument about that whatsoever. But what about the Resurrection? Is it foolish to believe in the Resurrection? Is the Resurrection simply a case of fake news invited by some over zealous followers of Christ? Or is the Resurrection a fact that can be proven even outside of the Bible.

That's what we're going to talk about today. And most importantly, if the evidence is strong enough for a historical resurrection, what does that mean to you and me today? First of all, I want to talk about the prophecy of the Resurrection. Secondly, we're going to look at four proofs for the Resurrection. And finally, and most importantly, the purpose of the Resurrection. First of all, the prophecy of the Resurrection. When you think about it, our entire faith rests on the integrity of the Bible. Everything we know about heaven, about hell, about damnation, about eternal life, about salvation, all comes from this book. So the question is, can we trust this book? What is it that makes this book different from other religious books like the Quran or the Book of Mormon or any other book? What is it that makes the Bible unique and trustworthy? Two words: fulfilled prophecy.

You can search the Quran, the writings of Muhammad and Muhammad did not make one single prophecy that could be fulfilled. You know why that is Muhammad wasn't a prophet of God. He made the whole thing up. He wasn't able to make prophecy that was fulfilled. Or what about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith? In the Book of Mormon, you won't find one prophecy that Joseph Mormon made that can be pointed to as fulfilled a prophecy. He couldn't it because he was a phony, a fraud as well. But the Bible contains hundreds and hundreds of prophecies that have been fulfilled. Proving that God is the one who wrote this book not man. Now, I could point out to you many examples of historically fulfilled prophecy. There are hundreds of them in the Bible. But let me just point out one for you if I could. It's found in Isaiah chapter 45.

Now, remember Isaiah was an Old Testament prophet who wrote in 700 BC about 700 years before Christ. In Isaiah 45 he made this prophecy. He said one day a man named Cyrus will be king of Persia, which is Iran today. He will be king of Persia and he will defeat the world empire known as Babylon. And once he defeats the world Empire of Babylon, he will announce that the Jews being held captive by Babylon can return to their homeland. Now, that was the prophecy of Isaiah 45. You say, well, what's the big deal about that? Well, when Isaiah wrote that prophecy in 700 BC. First of all, there was no world power, Babylon Babylon wasn't ruling over the world Persia was not a world empire. All of the world was looking at Assyria, the great world empire at the time. Furthermore, when Isaiah wrote this prophecy, not only was Babylon, not a world power, Israel was not in captivity in Babylon. They were still in Israel. They were fearing the Assyrians.

And furthermore, when Isaiah wrote that prophecy, nobody had ever heard of a man named Cyrus, he wasn't king of Persia. He hadn't even been born yet and yet 150 years after Isaiah made that prophecy in chapter 45, you know what happened? I mean, this is historical fact. In 539 BC, a man named Cyrus was the king of Persia and he did invade Babylon, which was the world power which was holding Israel captive. And one year later in 538 BC, it was Cyrus who ordered that the Israelites be allowed to return.

Now that is fulfilled prophecy. If you can't grasp the magnitude of that, let me illustrate it this way. Suppose in 1861 when Abraham Lincoln was our president and the Civil War was being fought. Just imagine somebody in 1861 made a prophecy that said one day, a man named George Herbert Walker Bush will be president of the United States of America. And furthermore, he will instigate a six week war against Iraq. And not only that, he will defeat Iraq and that will all happen one day. Would you say that was a supernatural prophecy? That is exactly the magnitude of the prophecy that Isaiah made in Isaiah 45.

Now, that's just one of hundreds of prophecies I could point to, but perhaps the most amazing prophecies in scripture have to do with the Lord Jesus Christ himself. In 900 BC, 900 years before Christ Christ, it was prophesied that Jesus would be crucified on a cross. Crucifixion wasn't prevalent then. It was prophesied that he would be sold for 30 pieces of silver. It was prophesied that the soldiers would gamble for his clothes. 2,000 years before Jesus was born, it was prophesied that he would come not only from Abraham but also from the line of Isaac. Seven hundred years before Christ was born, it was prophesied that he would be born in this tiny, nondescript city of Bethlehem. Bethlehem, nobody had heard of Bethlehem before but one of the most amazing prophecies about Jesus had to do with his resurrection as well.

Nine hundred years before his birth, the Psalmist wrote this in Psalm 16, verse 10 about the Messiah, "For Thou God will not abandon my soul to Sheol, neither will it allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay". You see the Jews believed that on the fourth day, decay set into a body that had been buried. And the Messiah by prophecy was saying, "God, you're not going to allow my body to decay. I'll be raised up on the third day". If that seems too obscure to you and then go down to what Jesus himself prophesied about his resurrection. In John 2, verses 19 to 21, "Jesus answered and said, 'Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up.' The Jews therefore said, 'It took 46 years to build the temple and you're gonna raise it up in three days?' But Jesus was speaking of the temple of his body".

Or in Matthew 12, verses 38 to 40, "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him saying, 'Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.' But Jesus said to them, 'An evil and adulterous generations craves for a sign and yet no sign will be given to you except the sign of Jonah the prophet for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, the great fish, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.'" And in case anybody missed it. In Matthew 16:21, Matthew says, "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day".

This resurrection wasn't tangential, it was central to the teaching of Jesus. In fact, it was so well known what Jesus was predicting about his resurrection that remember his enemies, aware of what he claimed he was going to do, took extra precaution to make sure that grave was sealed so that the body could not be taken away. We'll look at that in just a moment. What I'm simply saying to you is over and over again in the Old Testament and the New Testament, there was a prophecy that Christ would be not spiritually but physically literally raised from the dead.

The prophecy of the Resurrection. Secondly, let's look at the proof of the Resurrection. Well, that's a pretty mighty big claim, Jesus. How do we know you actually pulled it off? What is the proof for the Resurrection? And is there proof outside of the Bible? I could stand up here and quote Bible verses all day long. But you would say that's a circular argument if you are a skeptic. So let's look and see outside of the Bible, what the evidence is for the Resurrection. I wanna mention to you four what I think are proofs that when you add them together, prove the Resurrection.

First of all, the proof of human logic. The proof of logic. Turn over to Matthew 27, verses 62 to 66. I want you to notice something. What happened here? This is on Saturday the day after the Crucifixion on Friday. "Now on the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priest and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate and said, 'Sir, we remember that when Jesus was still alive, that deceiver,'" isn't that interesting? Religious leaders, "He's a deceiver". "That deceiver said after three days, I am to rise again". They knew that was central to his teaching. "Therefore, Pilate, please give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day. Lest the disciples come and steal him away and say to the people he has risen from the dead. And the last deception will be worse than the first".

That was their fear that the body would disappear and people would say he is who he said he is. So they asked Pilate, the Roman governor for extra security to secure the tomb. "And Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard, go make it as secure as you know how.' And they went and made the grave secure. And along with the guard, they set a seal on the stone". Notice the two things they had to secure this tomb. First of all, they had a seal. Now, the Roman seal was a string that was strung across whatever was being guarded and kept in place by two pieces of wax bearing the emblem of the mark of Rome. Obviously a string and some wax isn't gonna secure a tomb, but it was a signal of the authority of Rome. It's kind of like one of those crime scene things that are pasted up at a crime scene. By authority of the police you're to go no further.

Well it's the same way here. By authority of Rome, this is secure and anyone breaking the seal faces the full wrath of the Roman government. And notice it was the guards who put that seal there. That's why we know one reason we know they were Roman guards, not temple guards. Only they had the authority to put the Roman seal in place. So they had the authority of Rome that was backed up by the guard unit, the Roman Guard unit. I'll show you in a minute how you know, for sure. This isn't a single guard. This was a guard unit of 16 men. How do you know that, pastor? Well, in Acts 12 verse 4, we find when Peter was in prison and he was put there by Herod Agrippa. Herod Agrippa had him guarded and it's very clear by a guard unit of 16 men. Four who would be awake at all times guarding the jail cell. And so that's what you had here. You had the Roman seal, you had a guard unit making sure that that body stayed where it was supposed to stay.

Now, here's the evidence outside the Bible that I wanna talk to you about. It is a true truth outside of the Bible that Jesus's body has never been discovered. Everybody agree with that? Nobody has discovered the body of Jesus. So the tomb has been empty for 2,000 years. Now, here's where logic plays into it. You've got to ask yourself, how do you explain an empty tomb? A body that hasn't been found for 2,000 years of somebody we know that died. There are only two possible explanations. Either men took that body out of the grave or God took that body out of the grave. So let's use logic. Let's look at the possibility that men, other people removed the body from the grave. Who would those other people have been?

Some people say, well, it was Jesus's disciples, it was his friends. They were the ones who did that. Really? I mean, think about these people. I mean on Friday, all of his disciples had deserted him by Friday night. The Crucifixion. Remember at the trial of Jesus? Early Friday morning, Peter, who was the most courageous of all of the disciples, he ran as fast as his feet could carry him when this little servant girl simply said, hey, weren't you hanging around Jesus? Just by suggesting he knew Jesus. That was enough to say, that for Simon Peter to say, I'm out of here. All the disciples had departed from Jesus.

Now, are you gonna tell me that those fearful cowardly disciples somehow in 48 hours are gonna screw up the courage to go and defeat an entire Roman Guard unit and risk their life for a lie? That makes no sense whatsoever. Other people say, wait, okay, I agree. It couldn't have been his disciples, but maybe his enemies stole the body. Maybe the religious leaders. Maybe the Romans themselves, that even makes less sense. They lacked the motivation to do that. Remember they were the ones who said, let's keep this body here lest the deception continue that he is the Son of God. They were doing everything they could to stop the Christian movement from starting. And once it did start to pick up steam. And remember 50 days later at Pentecost, when Peter was standing up preaching his great sermon and 3,000 were saved that day, the Romans were scared to death. How do we stop this?

Now, if they already had the body of Jesus, they could have stopped it right there at Pentecost. While Peter was up there talking about this man Jesus who was raised from the dead, the Romans could have stood up and said, "Yoo-hoo, Peter right here, we've got the body. Come and look, dead as a doornail". And you know what would have happened? The Christian movement would have been stillborn at its inception. But in fact, the movement grew and grew and grew and grew. What I'm saying to you is logic tells us there is no logical person who could have or would have taken Jesus's body from the tomb. The only explanation is God is the one who reached down and rescued his Son from the grave. The proof of human logic.

You say, "Well, I'm not so sure about that. Give me something else, pastor". Okay, let's look at the proof of human nature. You know, it is human nature to want to preserve ourselves. We're born instinctively, to protect ourselves, to keep our own lives. And look at the transformation though that occurred in these disciples. They turn from cowards in 72 hours to courageous defenders of the faith, willing to give up their lives for the faith, willing to risk everything because of this belief that Jesus was alive. Turn over to acts chapter five where you see a great illustration of this.

Acts 5 beginning with verse 27. "And they," that is the captain and the guards, "had brought the apostles and they stood them before the Council," the Sanhedrin, "and the high priest questioned them saying, 'We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, the name of Jesus, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.'"

What did Peter say? Had it been that Friday night? He would have said, "Jesus? Jesus, who? I don't know anybody named Jesus". He would have disavowed any knowledge of Jesus. But notice what Peter did at this time. "And Peter and the apostles answered the Sanhedrin and said, 'We must obey God rather than men.'" We don't care what you do to us. We're gonna continue to preach in the name of Jesus. Why? Notice the reference of the resurrection verse 30, "'For the God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you had put to death by hanging him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to his right hand as a prince and a Savior to grant repentance to Israel and the forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things. And so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.' And when they had heard this, they were cut to the quick and were intending to slay them".

That is the courage of the apostles. A courage that came for having seen the risen Savior, and that courage continued. If the apostles friends deserted them because of their faith, they gave up their friends. If their families left them because of their faith, they gave up their families, if they lost their jobs because of their faith, they gave up their jobs if they were threatened with death because of the faith in Christ, they gave up their lives. The only way to explain that is they had seen the risen Lord. But proof of human preservation, you say when a pastor, there are all kind of people who die religious zealots who die for something that is not true. And that's true. I mean, just think of these Islamic terrorists blowing themselves up. They believe it's the truth. That's the difference. A lie. What they believe the 72 virgins and all of that, but they believe it is true.

It's one thing to believe a lie that you think is the truth but no person, no sane person dies for something he knows is a lie. It was the faith of the apostles that give strong evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Thirdly, the proof of early acceptance of the Resurrection message. Again, this is an argument outside of the Bible, how quickly the Resurrection story was embraced. Now, let me tell you the usual take that you'll hear even today about the Resurrection story and the Bible.

This is the garbage I heard in my religion classes in college and you still hear it to a certain extent. Today it goes like this. Yes, Jesus was a real person. He lived a good life. He was a good teacher, but 100 years or 200 years after his death, when the gospels were written, all of these fictitious events, miracles and especially the Resurrection were added to the Jesus story, corrupting the original story. And now you can't separate truth from fact in the gospels because of this corruption of the message.

Now that is the common story or it was until fairly recently because now even the most liberal scholars like John A. T. Robinson, for example, have admitted recent manuscripts have shown that The New Testament, especially the Gospels weren't written 100 or 200 years after Christ's death. We now have proof that the majority of the New Testament, including the gospels were written between 40 and 65 AD. Some of the gospels were written not within decades, but within years of the life of Christ. And the reason that's important is it is impossible for myth to corrupt the truth in that short of a time period.
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