The Resurrection (No. 1)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest event in the human history, without any doubt. I believe that every sane man, every man who is accustomed to think through on the great problems of life, wants to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I can not believe that any man who is accustomed to weigh evidence can be happy as a sceptic.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ furnishes a solution of the human problem. By the human problem I mean man’s being here. We may say what we will, the fact that man IS is tremendous. His ultimate end, the reason for His being, reaches up and grips our minds and holds us in deadly embrace. And if Jesus is not the Son of God there is no solution of the human problem. It is an enigma.
If Jesus rose from the dead the human problem is solved. We understand it. It solves the sin problem and that is the paramount problem. The universal man is conscious of the guilt of sin. I know by the altars that are built that cover the earth, by its universal priesthood. Thirty million priests in India. Why? Because India, with the rest of mankind, is conscious of guilt. Man’s consciousness of guilt has made him formulate religions.
These are weighty matters I am bringing you tonight, gentlemen. These are the great basic problems of life. This is the solution of the sin problem. No religion among the religions of the world has ever offered a solution for the sin problem. Jesus Christ alone has brought the solution.
There is another problem that Jesus answers. Universal man has craved union with God. He has not only wanted to get rid of the sin problem and the sin burden and the sin guilt, but he wanted to be able to partake of the life and nature of God.
Man became a blood drinker. We call them cannibals. He became a blood drinker because he believed that if he would drink the blood of the victim who lay on his altar, he would partake of the God-nature and never die. You can see the Lord’s table behind that, can’t you?
The out-reachings of man after God are among the saddest of all the facts of human life. Man is God-hungry. Jesus is the solution of that problem. Through Jesus Christ we become partakers of the divine nature.
If Jesus arose from the dead, then redemption is a fact. If Jesus arose from the dead, man can go to heaven. At first that may not seem much to you. But you know, men, whether you have thought it through or not, the universal man believes in the life beyond the grave. Human religion has never had an adequate conception or hope.
What do I mean by human religion? The religions of India; Hinduism, Brahmanism, Buddhism. All are human religions. Christian Science is a human religion, purely based upon philosophy. The very first step is to destroy the personal God, the conviction and concept of a personal God. I want to say with all candour that I believe that the men and women who have written against Christian Science, New Thought and Unity, have made the greatest mistake that was ever made in the world of apologetics. They have ridiculed it, but they have missed the crux of the matter.
Christian Science is built upon atheism. The communism of Russia has been atheistic. Christian Science as a religion is atheistic. The very first step is the destruction of the personal God. God is a person. They destroy that utterly, and when they destroy that, aren’t they atheists? If some man would write a book proving that Christian Science is atheism, it would destroy Christian Science in a great measure.
I am going to carry you through some facts that I want you to study with me tonight. If you are going to have a bonefide resurrection, it is necessary that you have an absolute death. You can not have a genuine resurrection without a genuine death. I remember that Mr Anderson, who was a disciple of Mr Ingersol, wrote a book and that I found it one day on the desk in one of my students rooms. In it Mr Anderson made this assertion, that Jesus did not die, that He was in a state of coma. I want to refute it.
Turn to the nineteenth chapter of John. First, the Jewish Sanhedrin accepted the verdict of the Roman government that Jesus was dead. The Roman government pronounced Jesus dead, the Jewish Sanhedrin that had caused the death of Jesus accepted the verdict of the Roman government. But I want to give you something else.
John 19:31 Jesus is on the cross.
“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the, Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”
It was customary when they wanted death to come quickly to a crucified man that they would break his legs. That jar upon the nervous system would act upon the heart so that they would die suddenly.
“Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs; but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”
Let us get the picture clearly. Jesus is hanging on that cross. He has been there on the cross since three in the afternoon. It is now almost sunset. The Roman soldiers come, and the two men who were crucified with Jesus are not dead. They are hanging there moaning, and the soldiers break their legs. Death comes mercifully. One of the soldiers comes to Jesus, and his head is hanging forward. The body is cold and stiffened, and the soldier stands there and looks up at Him and then takes his spear and pierces the left side, not the right side that all the artists paint. Then he lifts on it. That spear head, that is 4 to 6 inches wide, sharp as a razor, penetrates the side of Jesus; it goes up into the body, pierces the sack that holds the heart, and the miracle happens. Water flows out, and from that wide wound, 4 to 6 inches across, rolls great clots of coagulated blood. What happened? Jesus died of a ruptured heart. That last cry was the death agony cry. His heart had ruptured, and when it ruptured the blood came pouring in from every part of the body to the heart and filled it; and as the body began to grow cold, this blood gathered there separated. The red corpuscles came to the top. The white serum settled to the bottom, and then when that soldier pierced the body and reached the heart sack, the water poured out first, and that is what John saw then - the blood.
Jesus was dead. His heart had been ruptured. The prophesy of the 22nd Psalm had been fulfilled. It was written a thousand years before Jesus died, and it is the most graphic picture ever written. I want you to note now, that Jesus was dead.
Read the last part of this chapter beginning with verse 38.
“And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus which at first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then they took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.”
What was the custom of the Jews? The wealthy Jews followed the processes that they had learned in Egypt. And all of the wealthier Jews had slaves that had learned the art of embalming the human body. It was not the total process.
So they took the body of Jesus from the cross. Joseph of Arimathea was wealthy. Nicodemus was wealthy, And they washed that precious body. Then they took the linen cloth and they tore it up into strips, one and a half to two inches wide, and they took this sticky substance, a hundred pounds weight, and they smeared that cloth as you would a salve. Then they took a toe and wrapped it. Then the foot, then the leg, then the fingers and hands and arms. Then the body was wrapped round and round until they used one hundred pounds of that sticky substance. And they used linen cloth enough to use one hundred pounds. Jesus weighed likely 200 pounds before His crucifixion. He must have been a perfect man, six feet, broad of shoulders, deep chest. He was God’s crown of creation - the master man, and He stood a king and peer among men.
If He weighed 200 hundred pounds, he must have shrunk twenty pounds at the crucifixion. He would be one hundred and eighty pounds plus one hundred pounds. Jesus body would weigh two hundred and eighty to three hundred pounds. The body was hermetically sealed. Across the chest it must have been three inches thick, perhaps more. One hundred pounds smeared like that over the body would be over one inch thick.
The entire body was covered except the face. That was left for loving hands to embalm, and the women came down to finish the embalming. If Jesus had not died of a ruptured heart, and had not died of the spear thrust, after the body had been covered as I have indicated by that substance, hermetically sealed, so no air could get to it, He would not have lived four hours. I want you to know that Jesus was dead. Rome pronounced Him dead. The Sanhedrin pronounced Him dead. The spear had found a ruptured heart. Blood and water had flowed out of it. He is now hermetically sealed and put in a tomb, and that tomb is as dry as it is around Los Angeles in the summer time. And that body put in that place, it would only take a little while until the grave clothes would harden. You know that cloth would shrink more or less and tighten on the body.
Jesus is dead, in Joseph’s tomb, and his body is hermetically sealed, and just that little place around the face is uncovered.
Turn with me now to the twentieth chapter of John. Do you know anything about the value of narrative evidence before a jury or judge? Suppose a man has been killed down here on the street in a brawl, and the trial has come. Here is the value of narrative evidence. The trial goes on, and finally a little news boy goes on the witness stand. He is fearless in the presence of the judge. He knew the judge. He knew the lawyers. He had sold them papers. He stands there unabashed in the presence of the judge, and presently the prosecuting attorney says, “Tell us what you saw.” And in the vernacular of the street he begins to tell. He says, “I saw that guy over there and the man that was killed quarrelling. Mickey and I were shooting craps, and we heard the scrap and we saw that fellow there, judge. I saw him pull out a knife and stab and then run.”
What do they do with that kind of evidence? That is narrative evidence. The boy describes it exactly as he saw it. The judge sits and listens, the jury sits, and listens, and the court draws out of that child the whole picture. You can not bring any kind of rebuttal. That boy’s story has been the evidence. The boy saw it. That settles it; he saw it.
Here is narrative evidence. Here is the type of evidence that has been overlooked by people trying to prove the deity of Jesus.
“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid Him.’ Peter therefore went forth and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together, and the other disciple did outrun Peter and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.” John 20:1-8
Now what was it John saw that made him believe in the resurrection? “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” Not one of the disciples believed that Jesus was going to rise from the dead. And after He arose from the dead they doubted it, and Jesus upbraided them for their unbelief.
Now what was it that made John believe? Let us go back and look at the story. Mary and the other women came down to finish the embalming of Jesus. Three days had gone by, and before the face lost its beauty to them, they were going to cover it like the rest of the body. A napkin had been lying on the face. But when Mary arrived she found someone had been there and opened the sepulchre. She did not stop to look in. Filled with anger and indignation, for to the Jew the dead is sacred, she starts back to the city to tell Peter and John. Down through the city she runs, burst into the room where they were, and says, “They have taken away the body of the Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Then Peter, who had gone through hell for three days and three nights because he had denied Jesus in the face of the Sanhedrin said, “John, let’s go.” Peter is large and heavy of body, and they run and John outruns him, and he comes to the sepulchre hewn out, and a big stone had been rolled against it and sealed, but the stone is away now. And John drops on his knees and looks in. John has in him that refinement that you can feel through his writings.
But when Peter comes, he is a coarser type. He ducks his head and goes into the sepulchre. Then John reverently follows him. John SAW something that made him believe. When God revealed this thing to me, He revealed it to a sceptic. I had been preaching for years, but in my secret heart I had questions about the resurrection of Jesus.
Come now, we will step inside the sepulchre. If John, when he went in, had seen that someone had come and ripped down that thing, he would not have believed. If John had seen that some wild animal had torn those grave clothes to shreds, would he have believed? No! Well, had John gone in and had seen the grave clothes intact and that Jesus had come out of that cocoon without destroying the rest of it, what would John have done? What would you have done? You would have believed.
I want to tell you what I did when I saw that empty cocoon, and I saw that the broad shoulders of Jesus had come out of that aperture for His face, that had hardened like a board. I slipped off my chair on to my knees, and I said what Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” I knew Jesus had risen from the dead. I submit this to you. This is perfectly in harmony with Jewish custom of burying. It is within reason.
Josephus tells us there were more than a million visitors in Jerusalem. It was one of the cycle years when the Jews came from all over the world to make their sacrifices. Outside the city booths were built. Jews who were commercial travellers had come to their old home in Jerusalem. There was one thing that filled the very air - the story of Jesus. Thousands, ten thousands, had gone out and had seen the dead body of Jesus hanging on the cross. He was crucified early in the morning, and the city was shaken to the foundation. Everybody was talking about it.
And when Peter and John came down over the hillside to the cemetery where Jesus was buried, what do you think they did? What do you think impulsive, warm-hearted Peter did? Did he keep it quiet? Peter rushing down to the first man he met, what do you suppose he said? What do you suppose John said? I know what you would say; I know what you would say, “He is risen.” You would not have to say “Jesus is risen.”
In an hour’s time the whole city of Jerusalem was stirred to its foundations. It stirred under the impulse of the new miracle. What did they do? Do you suppose they stood and talked, or do you think they made a rush for the sepulchre? You can see them going. If it had been in Portland, a hundred thousand people would have visited it that day. A hundred thousand Jews visited that hillside and smote their breast and tore their hair, and they went back to tell it. All that day the empty cocoon preached and told the story that Jesus had risen from the dead. It went on day after day and week after week until forty-nine days, less three. For forty-seven days the clothes on the hillside preached, and countless thousands of men were stirred and shaken to the foundation.
And then after that forty days, John says, “I saw Him!” Peter says, “I saw Him,” and 500 men followed Him to Olivet and saw Him ascend. What do you suppose the 500 men told the multitude of visitors? There was no other subject talked about. That goes without arguing.
Then fifty days later another staggering thing happened. Early in the morning they heard the rushing, mighty wind, like a thousand aeroplanes over the town. God had planned the drama.
One hundred and twenty men and women in that great square filled with people, and they heard those men and women speaking in tongues and glorifying God, telling of the resurrection of Jesus. Every man and woman hears in his own language. Every man hears the first message of Jesus in his own tongue and from the lips of Galilean fisherman. Some laugh, but others were serious. It was the climax that for fifty days had rocked Jerusalem and staggered the Jewish nation.
Peter stands forth. In the presence of whom? The Sanhedrin, the Senate, and the elders of Israel. Who is Peter? He is a humble fisherman. He is an untutored man. He has the same reverence for the high priest that the Roman Catholics have for the Pope. The Sanhedrin was sacred to him. He bowed before it. He feared it. The High Priest was sacred to him.
Yet, Peter stands out there in the presence of the Sanhedrin, and he indicts first the Roman governor as having murdered the Son of God. Second, he indicts the Sanhedrin, then the Senate and priesthood as murderers of the Son of God, His indictment is the most severe, the most amazing ever uttered.
Peter speaks only about 25 or 30 minutes, not longer than that, and what happens? Three thousand Jews broke with Judaism and accepted Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the Son of God and were baptized.
Where did he preach that sermon? Within the very shadow of that cross, within ten or twelve minutes of where Jesus hung stark naked one day crowned with thorns as an outcast. And three thousand Jews broke with Judaism. And every Jew who accepted Jesus Christ indicted the Sanhedrin, the Senate and the Roman government with the murder of Jesus.
That was the most dramatic thing that ever happened in history. There is nothing like it. Why say, if that thing was not true, all Ananias or Caiaphas had to do was to stop it - raise his hand and say, “Gentlemen, we know where the body of Jesus is. It has never raised.” But Caiaphas never raised his voice. Caiaphas knew Jesus had risen from the dead. The Sanhedrin could have wiped out the whole thing in one day, but they dared not move, until finally two thousand more Jews accepted Christ Jesus. In the next two or three days five thousand and a large company of the priesthood swung into line.
They had Peter and John arrested because they healed a man. I want to read to you from Acts 4:5:
“And Annas the high priest was there and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest.”
This was the same crowd that crucified Jesus. And Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them:
“Ye rulers of the people, and elders, if we this day are examined concerning a good deed done unto an impotent man, by what means this man is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even in him doth this man stand here before you whole. He Is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is made the head of the corner.”
If we have been arrested and locked up for healing a tramp, a beggar, an outcast, for a good deed, be it known unto you and to all the people of Israel, that in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom YE crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even in him doth this man stand here before you whole.
That is the most masculine piece of frenzy ever used in the world.
“And in none other is there salvation; for neither is there
any other name under heaven, that is given among men,
whereby we must be saved.”
And when they heard it, they could say nothing against it; and they sent them out, and said:
“That indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem; and we can not deny it. But that it spread not further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, and that they speak henceforth to no man in THIS NAME.”
You can preach anything you want to, but don’t preach in THE NAME. The Name has dynamite in it. The name will raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out devils. The Name; it is Jesus again on earth.
What are you going to do with that kind of evidence? Did Jesus rise from the dead? Before Jesus died He said something that would forever brand Him as an impostor. He said, “after I am gone I am going to give you legal right to the use of my Name,” and “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, I will do it.”
No other human being ever dared to talk like that. When a man was dead, he was dead. But here was a man that was going to do bigger things after He died than when He was alive, and He was going to give us the legal right to use His Name. “Just whisper my Name, and whatsoever you say, it will be done.” That was the most staggering thing that was ever said. That brands Jesus as the very Son of God or as an impostor.
What happened? Did His Name have power after He was Dead? Jesus is the Son of God. I think I have made my case, haven’t I?
I believe, gentlemen, that this thing is only a little fragment out of the body of truth. I believe that if it were given to the world that 90% of our scepticism would cease to be.
I want to make a few deductions. What are the implications if Jesus Christ rose from the dead? What then? Here are three things. We know He is the Son of God. We know that “He died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and rose again for our justification.” We know that every man who accepts Jesus Christ, God redeems that man, and we know that Romans 3:26 is true:
“That He might be righteous, and the righteousness of him
who has faith in Jesus.”(margin)
God automatically, when you confess Jesus and accept Him as your Lord, becomes your righteousness. And the moment that God becomes your righteousness, that moment your standing is like the standing of the Son of God.
For years I hunted for this thing I have given you tonight. That sense of unfitness and unworthiness (or as they call it in psychology, that inferiority complex) swamped me. But when I saw that God became my righteousness, I said, “I want you to know, Satan, that you have lost your case.” I know what I am now.
“Him that knew no sin he made to be sin for us; that we
might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
You, by the new birth, have become the righteousness of God, and God has become your righteousness. God could not make it any stronger than that.
I say to you reverently, friends, that if you have accepted Jesus Christ and are born again, you are standing in the presence of the great eternal Father God as Jesus is. You have just as much right to step into the presence of God Almighty as Jesus has. Don’t you see what that means? It means that Satan can not stand before you any more than he can stand before Jesus. Not only that, Jesus gave you the legal right to use His Name. And the first thing He tells you to do is to cast out demons. The first thing He told the twelve to do was to cast out demons. When He sent the seventy out, He told them to cast out demons. When He gave the great commission He said, “They that believe shall cast out demons.” This is the first thing. Why?
The devil is the opposer, and as long as the devil reigns over the sinner, the sinner can not do anything. It is your business to break his power. Can’t you see sickness is called sin in the flesh, and “God has condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Your sickness has been condemned, indicted, and found guilty before the high court of God. And it has no more right in your body than I have a right to be in some other man’s house or store that is locked up. And if I am found there, I will be arrested. And that disease has no right in your body, and you have no right to leave it there, to sympathise with it, or to harbour it, or to console it. You are consoling the enemy of God that is under indictment and condemnation. It is a serious thing I am bringing, Gentlemen. Jesus Christ has absolutely redeemed you for He rose from the dead, and disease has no right in your body and no power to stay there if you take sides with Jesus, You have a right to your healing, to redemption, to victory. You have a right to prayer. You have a right to your Father’s fellowship
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