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CSI - Jerusalem
(The Road to Jerusalem, 3)

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(4/8) Introduction Ė Does Easter excite you? It does me. It is because of this day, that everything we believe and everything that we hope for in Christ is certain. The certainty of Jesusí resurrection is the backbone, the foundation, the hub of everything we believe. Without it, we are sure of nothing. We arenít sure that Jesus was God, we arenít sure that He paid for our sins, we arenít sure of heaven as our home. All of our hope would be wishful thinking without the peace of certainty if Jesus did not rise from the grave. Thatís Paulís point in the scriptures we just read. If Jesus only taught us to love, and only did good things for the people back then, we are like the millions of people with losing lottery tickets. So how do we know that it really happened? How do we know that what the Bible says is really true? How do we know that God is going to keep His promises? How do we know that Jesus died for us? How can we be certain that Heaven is our home? We must be sure that Jesus really died and rose again from the dead.

We are going to do our own Crime Scene Investigation. Over the last 10 years (give or take), shows like CSI, CSI New York, CSI Miami, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Law and Order and all its spin offs, and many others, have been based on inspecting the crime scenes and solving mysteries with solid evidence. That is what we are going to do this morning. Dr Luke begins His letter to Theophilus with these words, "ÖHe also presented Himself alive after His suffer with many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3).

I. "Jesus died," Paul said, "according to the scriptures, and was buried." On a morning like this one two millennia ago, it looked like the bad guys had won. Some devoted followers of Jesus came to the tomb where Jesus had been buried to anoint His body, to pay their last respects in as devoted a way as possible. Maybe they were seeking closure as we do with a funeral service today. With Passover and the Sabbath, they couldnít do that after His execution. When they got to the tomb they were shocked with this: " And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. 24 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ĎThe Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again" (Luke 23:54-24:8)

  • Today, all over the world, people are still seeking the living among the dead. Muslims will follow the words of Muhammad, who is dead; Buddhist will follow the words of Buddha who is dead; Atheist will follow the words of Darwin, Marx, Frederick Nietzsche, or some other philosopher. All looking for something better in life, but seeking life from the dead.
  • "Marley was dead. There is no doubt whatever about that. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail. This must be distinctly understood or nothing wonderful can become of the story I am going to relate;" so said Charles Dickens as He begins his famous, A Christmas Carol.
  • Well, Jesus was dead, as dead as a doornail. We must establish this or our story will not be wonderful. Why must we establish this? The reason is that many are proclaiming that it wasnít so. Muslims do not believe that Jesus was God the Son or that He died on the cross. At best He survived the cross and married one or several of the Maryís and had children. A similar scenario was postulated by Dan Brown in the DaVinci Code, a popular novel and movie of just a few years ago. In 1965, Hugh Schonfield, a New Testament scholar, published a best seller called, The Passover Plot, that popularized a theory that Jesus did not die on the cross but went into a drug induced coma. It is called the Swoon Theory. The theory says, like Dan Brown and Islam, that Jesus was revived in the tomb and with either the aid of His followers or in His own strength He rolled the stone away and left to live happily ever after with Mary and Martha, or Mary Madeleine in India or somewhere where He raised a family.

Jesus was dead. Pilate first delivered Jesus to be scourged and told the soldiers to stop short of killing Him. Though it is horrible to watch, Mel Gibson captured the scourging that Jesus endured in his Passion of The Christ. The instruments used were called flagrums. Long cords with bits of metal or bone tied in the knots at the end, that were intended to rip the flesh open and off the victim. Often the condemned would die from the scourging. Though Jews were limited in the number of times a person could be beaten, the Romans were not bound by any such restraint and Jesus was beaten to the point in which the prophet Isaiah reminds us that He know longer was recognizable as a man (Isa. 52:14). The cross beam weighing about 125 pounds was then affixed to His shoulders for the 650 yard walk to the place of execution, where He is nailed through His hands and feet and gasping for air. He is left to hang for at least 6 hours with the worst pain a human being can ever experience. But after the 6 hours the scriptures tell us that He dismissed His spirit into the Fatherís hands and died. Roman law said that a person could not be taken off the cross unless death had occurred. To make sure He was dead, a soldier pierced His side with a spear and blood and water came out (John 19:31-17) of the pierced pericardial sac of the heart. Jesus was already dead and the clotted blood and the watery serum that came out is evidence of that. John with no medical experience would have had no means of knowing the significance of His report.

II. Jesus was Buried (John 19:38-42).

  • Jesus is buried. Joseph and Nicodemus were given permission to bury the body of Jesus in a cave or family mausoleum belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, wrapping the body along with 75-100 lbs. of spices and burial cloth, (to help with the odor of decay, John 19:38-42). The Body was placed in the tomb and a stone was set over the entrance. The large stone would be rolled into a ditch that had been dug out at the entrance. Then, all hurried away because the Sabbath was fast approaching.
  • The Tomb is sealed. Itís interesting that His enemies remembered His claims to rise again when His friends didnít. Matthew 27:62ff says that they told Pilate of His resurrection claims and asked for a guard. Pilate gave them the guards they asked for and had the tomb sealed. Wax would be poured around the stone and a rope or ropes would be strung over the entrance. The governorís seal would be stamped in the wax, and anyone breaking that seal would be subject to death.
  • The Tomb is guarded. (Matt. 26:66, a Guard is set). You must understand for a Roman to stand guard meant that he guarded his charge with his life. Anyone trying to take what he was guarding was to be killed and if he lost what he was guarding, he or they would be killed. Friday evening passes. Saturday passes. All is quiet,

III. Jesus Rose Again. Early Sunday morning, however, the earth shook and an angel descended and threw the stone a distance from the tomb. (John 28:2; Mark 16:4; Matt. 28:2). When the followers of Jesus looked they saw the angels but no body of Jesus. Matthew says the guards shook and became as dead men. When they regained their composure they told the chief priests what happened and were given some assurance and some money to lie and say that they slept and the body was stolen (Matt. 28:11-15). But here is what is wrong with the story.

  • No Roman would admit to falling asleep and losing their charge. That meant they would die.
  • The disciples were all hiding and were afraid that they would be next. They ran from Jesus and would not risk crucifixion to steal His body.
  • Nor would they die for a lie. The scriptures tell us that their courage was bolstered because they saw the risen Christ and were confident of their eternal future. To do this they would have had to plot they stories and stick to it and all of them would be willing to die for a lie. All but John died a martyrís death and most were very brutal deaths. How many of you would die a brutal death for a lie? Listen to Chuck Colson telling how 12 of the most powerful men in the United States couldnít keep lie together for 3 weeks during the Watergate scandal. (from his book, Loving God, Zondervan, 1983)
  • The Romans would not take the body; they hated the Jews and would not risk their lives for some hoax.
  • The Jewish leaders would not take the body, they wanted the body in the tomb to stay and all they would have to do is point to where it is. The absence of any attempt to recover the body is proof that they knew that Jesus rose again. The silence of history of anyone ever saying, "Here are the bones of Jesus," is one of the greatest testimonies of His being alive.
  • Jesus could not have survived the cross, or the spear, or the spices and burial cloth tightly wrapped around His body in a sealed tomb. Jesus was dead.
  • The Earth Quakes, The Keepers shakes, the stone is hurled a distance away, An angel descends, and Hope begins. The tomb is empty, only the grave clothes remain, the women are in awe, Peter and John hurry to see for themselves and Life has never been the same. The stone wasnít removed to let Jesus out, but for us to look in and know that He is alive.
  • Through History many have tried to prove the Resurrection a hoax, but came to faith instead. People like:
  1. Frank Morrison, who wrote the book, Who Moved the Stone and prefaced it with, This is the book that was not supposed to be written.
  2. Lew Wallace, who wrote Ben Hur, after studying the life of Christ, because an atheist friend said that in just a few years Christianity would be just a memory.
  3. C.S. Lewis, professor, and scholar, Chronicles of Narnia author was an agnostic at best until confronted with the claims of Christ.
  4. So were Josh McDowell, and many, many more. There is more evidence for the life and death and resurrection of Jesus than for any other person of history.

IV. The Hope We Have Because Jesus is Alive. What does all of this mean to us today? Why is it so important that we know this with certainty and not just, hope so, faith?

  • We know our sins have been paid for? That is what Jesus died on the cross to do. He suffered in our place so we can experience the forgiveness for our guilt and never have to experience another day separated from God. From now and forever we ware forgiven, when we accept Jesus and His grace gift. Romans 4:25 assures us that Jesus was delivered up (to die) for our offenses and was raised again for our justification. That is; His resurrection is Godís receipt, His guarantee that our sins have been paid for in full.
  • We know that no matter what happens to these bodies, Jesus is going to raise them and change them to be like His own glorious body. 2 Cor. 4:14 reminds us, that He who raised up the Lord Jesus Christ will raise us up together with Jesus.
  • We have Hope for eternity. No matter what happens in this life, we know the best is yet to come. (1 Peter 1:3-5). We are assured of Heaven and sharing an inheritance with Jesus.
  • We Know that Jesus was not just a man, but God, the Son who was and is and yet to come again (Rom. 1:3-4; 1 Thess. 4:13-18)
  • We have Help for the Present (John 14:16-17; Rom. 8:11). He is the Encourager, Comforter, Helper, and companion for life. He is Godís own Holy Spirit who will never leave us nor forsake us.
  • We Know that there is going to be a Judgment Day (Acts 17:31). You see, all that we are promised because Jesus died and rose again, we receive only when we believe and accept from God as a gift. To do that we have to turn from sin and self and turn to God. That is what the word repent means. All who will not repent or donít repent will have to pay for their own sins and that will take forever in hell; that is the point of Revelation 20.

V. The New Covenant Ė On this Easter Morning, letís take a moment and remember and worship because Jesus was dead and He died for us, but He rose again and is alive so we can be certain that all that He promised is true and Amen. Letís eat the Lordís Supper together.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman