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The Resurrection

of Jesus

index

 

The Resurrection of Jesus

 

By Les Sherlock, posted April 2024

INDEX

Introduction

Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

The Reformation

The JEDP hypothesis

Theistic Evolution

Sexuality

Conclusion

introduction

Introduction

 

I was asked to speak at our Church midweek communion service, and because I wanted to make available to the hearers the lists I mentioned, I have put the talk on this page.

 

The theme for today is “Jesus resurrected – appears to many,” and it is a huge privilege to be able to talk about the most significant event in the history of the universe, because while it was the suffering and death of Jesus that won our salvation and all that comes with it, it was the resurrection that completed the event. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14, 17

 

“And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”

 

We could say everything that Jesus accomplished was sealed in His death, signed in His resurrection and delivered when He entered the Most Holy Place in heaven with His blood:

 

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12)

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resurrection-appearances

Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

 

Here is a list of different resurrection appearances to more than 500 people, taken from Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell’s article:

 

Mary Magdalene (John 20:11–18)

The other Mary, Salome, Joanna, and at least one other woman (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10)

Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5)

Cleopas and another disciple on road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35)

The eleven disciples minus Thomas (Luke 24:36–43; John 20:19–25)

The eleven disciples (John 20:26–29)

Seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1–23)

Disciples at a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16–17), perhaps when over 500 people met Him (1 Corinthians 15:1-7)

James (1 Corinthians 15:7)

Disciples, possibly in Jerusalem before He led them to the Mt. of Olives, gave the Great Commission, and ascended into heaven (Luke 24:49–53; Acts 1:3–11)

 

With so many witnesses, the event is incontrovertible. United Christian Broadcasters say,

 

“The Christian church is the biggest institution that exists or has ever existed in the world’s history. It is five times larger than the Roman Empire at its greatest scope. In fact, more than two billion people today acknowledge their worship of Jesus Christ as the alive and risen Son of God.”

 

Only a real event with many infallible proofs could have done that.

 

“…He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days…” (Acts 1:3)

 

When I was asked to speak on this subject, realising it would be a couple of weeks after Easter, I wondered what I could say that had not already been said, as there would be little point in me repeating the same thing all over again. I wondered what lessons we could learn from the event and I was very drawn to one question when I started considering this talk: why was Mary mourning the death of Jesus on the third day? (And of course she was reflecting the attitude of all the disciples). There are 12 passages in the four gospels relating how Jesus told his followers that He would be killed and then rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:9; 17:22-23; 26:31-32; Mark 10:33-34; 14:28; Luke 9:21-22; 44-45; 18:31-33; John 2:19-22; 10:17-18; 11:25).

 

It wasn’t just to His disciples either – He regularly taught in the synagogues and the Temple, and it was no doubt there where the chief priests and Pharisees heard Him say it, because they went to Pilate after His burial to ask for guards to make sure the disciples didn’t steal His body and pretend He had risen as He said He would. If they remembered Him saying that, why didn’t any of His followers?  In fact Jesus rebuked the disciples for not believing those who told them they had seen Him:

 

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. (Mark 16:14)

 

When Mary saw the empty tomb, she and the disciples should have been excited that Jesus had risen as He said He would. Was it that they were using their common sense and reasoning? Dead people can’t do anything and Jesus was now dead, so He couldn’t raise Himself from the dead and no-one else could do what He did in His life. So perhaps they thought that since Jesus said He was going to the Father (John 14:28), what He meant was that His spirit would rise on the third day and do that, but His body would remain in the tomb and they would never see Him again, which is why they thought they were seeing a spirit when they first met Him:

 

Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit (Luke 24:36-37).

 

This of course is what a certain bishop meant a few decades ago when he said:

 

“The resurrection wasn’t a conjuring trick with bones!”

 

It is easy for us, of course, because we know what happened, while they were living through it; but it certainly must be the case that they hadn’t taken on board the words of Jesus, and if they had remembered they must have reinterpreted them. In fact they didn’t understand when Jesus told them He would die and be raised (Mark 9:32); so were vulnerable to misunderstanding. The established church has made that same mistake several times since.

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reformation

1. The Reformation

 

This year marks 700 years since the birth of John Wycliffe, the first man to translate the Bible into English. He did it because he could see the Church leaders had used their reason to reinterpret the teaching of the Bible and moved significantly away from it. Here is a list showing 17 deviations by the time of John Wycliffe, and while I can’t guarantee the dates, I think the facts are correct. He died a natural death in 1384, but in 1428 they exhumed his remains and burned them with his books, denouncing him as a heretic. He was followed by Martin Luther and others, resulting in the Reformation and the birth of the Church of England. Their position can be summed up in a two-word Latin phrase used at the time: sola scriptura – the Bible alone. If the Bible teaches it, we accept it. If the Bible contradicts it, we reject it.  Don’t make the mistake the disciples made!

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jedp-hypothesis

2. The JEDP hypothesis

 

Then some scholars and theologians made the same mistake as the disciples by not taking God’s word literally with the JEDP hypothesis, saying the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) was not completed by Moses, but was compiled from four different sources in the 4th century BC, probably by Ezra. I am neither a theologian nor a scholar but I don’t hesitate to say it is wrong because it is contradicted by the Bible. Here is a list of 72 Old Testament verses which could only say what they do if the Torah had been completed by the time Israel entered the Promised Land shortly after Moses’ death. Here are 45 New Testament verses attributing the Torah to Moses. The 2nd verse in these lists says,

 

“And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD” (Exodus 24:4).

 

Tertius wrote the epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:22), but it is called Paul’s epistle because Tertius was writing his words. Just as that book is the epistle of Paul to the Romans, written by Tertius, so we can say the Torah is the epistle of God to Israel, written by Moses. Paul said,

 

“All scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16)

 

Peter said

 

“…holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21)

 

Jesus said

 

“…the word of God came and the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35)

The JEDP hypothesis undermines the authority of scriptures, turning the words of God into the opinions of different humans which can therefore be reinterpreted. Sola scriptura! Don’t make the mistake the disciples made with the resurrection of Jesus!

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theistic-evolution
 

3. Theistic Evolution

 

Then Darwin came along, and some scholars and theologians said God must have created by using evolution (theistic evolution), so the first chapters of Genesis must not be taken literally, but are figurative and the days of chapter one are long periods of time. Well apart from the fact that the order of events in Genesis chapter one is totally different to that required by the Big Bang and the evolution of the universe and all living things, there are two chapters that most certainly must be taken literally: Exodus 20 and 31, which describe God giving Israel the Ten Commandments. So obviously He intended those two passages to be understood literally.

 

In the fourth commandment God told Moses that every week Israel must devote the same period of time to work as He did when He created the universe and everything in it, and then have the same period of time to rest that He did. Since this meant they were to have six 24-hour days when they could work and one 24-hour day to rest, it would be the height of inconsistency to claim that God’s days were six long periods of time!

Did Moses think “God means over 13 billion years when He says He worked six days as we are to do?” Of course not, and in the list of 72 verses, Numbers 12:8 tells us God said that when He spoke to Moses,

 

“I speak to him face to face, even plainly and not in dark sayings.”

 

In other words He meant what He said and said what He meant. So God was deceiving him if it was that long; but it is impossible for God to lie:

 

.…that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:18)

 

The resurrection is the ultimate proof of this, because the compromise of the scholars is based on the principle that God could only create by using the scientific processes we can observe today that would take billions of years to complete. The resurrection conflicts with every relevant scientific law. In fact throughout the Bible we see the same thing:

 

  • Israel crossing the Red Sea on dry land with the water a wall on either side of them (Exodus 14:29)

  • The walls of Jericho falling down at a shout (Joshua 6:20)

  • An axe head floating (2 Kings 6:6)

  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego unharmed in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:21-27)

  • Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:25)

  • turning water into wine (John 2:7-10)

  • feeding over 5,000 with five loves and two fish. (Matthew 14:19-21)

 

Over and over again throughout the Bible we see God acting outside of the observable laws of science. You could almost say it is a law that when God acts, it is not according to the observable laws of science: that is how we know it was God doing it! So it is the height of inconsistency to say that while throughout the Bible He is not confined to the laws of science, when He created everything He was forced to use them. It is also ludicrous to use the observable laws of science to determine the age of the universe when it was created outside of those laws: by definition what we can see today is completely irrelevant to what happened then or how long it took. We can only know these things from an eyewitness account, and we have such an account – God’s, in His word!

 

For example, when Jesus turned water into wine, it was the best wine, which therefore had all the appearance of wine that had been maturing for months if not years; but it was created in seconds - minutes at the most. Scientific testing of that wine would have given a completely false idea of how long it took to make.

It is also contrary to observable science. Here are 15 key arguments that have been used to prove evolution from the time of Darwin to the present day.  Every one has been shown to be wrong, as can be seen immediately after the list. But even more, key evolutionists around the world are now being forced to admit that the observable scientific processes could not possibly have produced what we can now see. Here are statements from 14 different sources (although more quotes have been added since this talk). One quote:

 

“We are sceptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

 

That is signed by over 1,000 Ph.D. scientists. They still believe in evolution though, because it is based on the religious faith that God does not exist. The foundational argument is: God does not exist, we are here, so evolution must have happened. In the above statement they admit they know no scientific process(es) that could produce what they see, so they are now searching for scientific processes they do not know about!

 

Therefore there is no logical, theological or scientific reason to twist God’s words in the Bible into agreeing with man-made reasoning based on the foundation of atheism. The disciples made the mistake of not taking on board the words of Jesus and mourned His death when he had conquered it: we must not do the same. Sola scriptura.

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sexuality

4. Sexuality

 

Finally, the leaders of the Church of England are doing the same today over the issue of sexuality. If a man says he wants to be, or act like, a woman, or a woman be or act like a man, we should celebrate it, support them and bless them. The Bible is unequivocal about the issue in both Old and New Testaments – you can’t see anything clearer than Romans chapter one. But even more than that, here  is a list of 21 verses where God condemns those doing what is right in their own eyes. Anyone insisting on doing what is right in his/her own eyes, if it conflicts with God’s will, is in danger of judgement if he/she does not repent. God knows far better than us what will give us the most satisfaction and fulfilment.

 

Science says the same. There are 30-40 trillion cells in an adult body, and in almost every one is a copy of DNA (red blood cells are an exception). In every copy of DNA there are two chromosomes that determine sexuality. If you have an X and a Y chromosome you are male. If you have two X chromosomes you are female. End of story. If there is a conflict between mind and body, and by using expensive drugs or surgery the attempt is made to change a male body into female, or versa vice, since it is impossible to change DNA there will be over 30 trillion pairs of sex chromosomes crying, “That is not who I am!”

 

They may claim that God has made them the way they are, but their DNA is made by God and if they have XY sex chromosomes, then God has made them male, while if they have XX sex chromosomes, He has made them female.

 

The body’s sex therefore can never be altered successfully and if such a change is attempted, the person will be condemned to a life of inner conflict, since he/she will be fighting their own DNA. So the only scientific and Biblical way the conflict can be resolved is by the mind changing to match the body; and I have met some, both in person and in print, who have experienced that change and gone on to have happy and fulfilled lives.

 

God has given us a free will and will never take it away. If you say to Him “I want what is right in Your eyes, not what is right in my eyes,” that gives Him the opening to bring about in your life the miracle you need. It takes faith to accept what is right in God’s eyes when it conflicts with what we want, but every aspect of our salvation comes unearned by God’s grace…

 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)

 

…and when like Jesus we say, “Your will, not mine,” God’s creative power is released to make the impossible a reality in our lives. Sola scriptura.

 

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." (Matthew 26:42) 

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conclusion

Conclusion

 

Finally, Mary was standing by the empty tomb torn apart by grief at the death of Jesus, but Jesus was standing right there in front of her. I would like to describe the time I made the same mistake as Mary.

 

Over nine years ago I had a routine bowel cancer operation that went wrong and a week later I had a 6-7 hour overnight emergency operation starting at 2:00 a.m. which left me with an 7-inch cut in my stomach, an ileostomy (which is like a colostomy but on a different part of the stomach) and three days in intensive care. It was like a week in hell, with, in addition to a great deal of pain, everything going wrong that could possibly go wrong – it would take too long to describe it all (the full story can be seen here). But even worse it felt like God had abandoned me, and Satan was coming to me saying, “You’re in my power now and I’m going to destroy you.” Eventually I was allowed to go home and a few weeks later I had an appointment with the senior consultant who had promised to reverse the ileostomy when I had recovered: so I expected to be given the date. Instead he said it would take at least five months for me to recover before they could perform more surgery, which left me devastated.

 

The next day I decided I needed to try to get myself fit so I could have the operation as soon as possible, so I started by sweeping up the leaves that blow into our drive – filling two big hippo-type bags. My first wife, Gill, came to the tip with me to help me lift the bags to tip the leaves into the skip because I didn't think I had the strength to do it myself. When we got back in the car, I realised my wedding ring was no longer on my finger. I had lost one and a half stones while in hospital and it had become loose. I’d tied string around it to tighten it, but it was a cold day and became loose again.

 

Gill went to tell them my ring had gone into the large skip that was absolutely full of garden waste, and they said they’d close it and do a search. But I knew it was impossible for them to find a small ring in all that rubbish and when we got home I completely fell apart. From now on life was going to continue with everything going wrong, as it began in the hospital. Gill prayed that I would recover my peace and the tip people would find the ring. Then the miracle happened, and in less than an hour they were on the phone saying they had found it. We went back and when I put it back on my finger it felt like God was saying, “Satan’s had his go at you: now it’s my turn.”

 

So I gradually recovered and the day of the operation finally came. Just before I went to the theatre the surgeon who had performed the emergency operation came to me to talk me through what would happen. At one point he said, “I am really impressed with you. You obviously have a very high pain threshold.” I said, “Pardon?” He said, “You have a very high pain threshold.” I said, “Can you give that to me in writing please? My family say I’m the world’s biggest wimp: I have a very low pain threshold.” I know that is true. He said, “When you came into hospital you were really very poorly but didn’t make any kind of fuss, so you must have a high pain threshold.” I said, “There’s been a lot of people praying for me.” But I realised then, that like Mary, when I thought God had abandoned me, He was standing there, protecting me from the worst of the barrage that was coming at me, so much so that a professional surgeon, who had obviously seen many people in my kind of position, thought the world’s biggest wimp had a very high pain threshold. If I had remembered God’s word: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), it would have been a big source of comfort in my great time of need; but instead I looked at what was happening to me.

 

As I went under the anaesthetic I held my ring on my left finger with my right hand and told God that whatever happened in the operation, whether it was successful or not, I knew He was with me and I trusted Him to take care of me. When I came round after the operation, I didn’t need to look at my stomach: I knew I was back to normal, and it felt WONDERFUL.

 

That experience stood me in good stead when, around six years later, I was daily kneeling at the foot of Gill’s grave and breaking my heart that our 53-year marriage was over. I was pleased for her that she was now enjoying the presence of the Lord, but for me it felt like the end of my life too and every day I was falling apart, torn apart by grief. At the beginning of that year I had seen the verses about not doing what is right in our own eyes and ever since had been telling God that I did want what was right in His eyes, and now I continued to do it, but told Him this was unbearable.

 

Then a few days after the funeral one of my regular daily readings that was taking me through Isaiah reached chapter 53.

 

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

 

Jesus took my grief, but I still had it. Do I believe my experience or God’s word? It didn’t happen straight away, but about two days later I realised the grief had left me, and it never came back. There were other things that caused me great difficulty which wouldn’t have happened had Gill been still there, but the grief of losing her never returned.

 

Then a few months later an even bigger miracle happened when the most wonderful woman in the world came into my life (more details can be seen here) and we married just over a year after Gill’s funeral. It was a huge miracle because Suzanne and I have had completely different upbringing and lives in every way, and yet we are identical in almost every aspect of our lives. It is like God spent my entire lifetime moulding me into the person Suzanne needs, and moulding her into the person I need. After Gill’s death I said I wanted what was right in God’s eyes through gritted teeth: now I know beyond any doubt that what is right in His eyes is the best thing that could possibly happen.

 

None of us are immortal and the day is bound to come when He says, “It’s time for you to come home.” When that happens...

 

“In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11)

 

…but while we are still here on earth we live in a broken world damaged by the presence of sin, with a vicious enemy going around "like a roaring lion" (1 Peter 5:8), so difficult times may come. However, His way is always best and if we can say, “I want what is right in Your eyes” His power to bring it about is unstoppable. Jesus said:

 

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

 

I have said all of that to say this: as the disciples discovered when Jesus was resurrected, His word is always true and can be trusted from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. If there is a conflict between God’s word and our experience or understanding, it is our experience or understanding that is wrong, not His word. God is always here, and because He gave us His word to tell us what is right in His eyes we can be sure that:

 

“He will never leave us nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5)

 

He loves us “with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3)

“By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4)

 

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

 

Tell God you want what is right in His eyes, not yours, and receive His promises now. If you have not experienced a living relationship with Him, see here.

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