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Why the Easter Story Must Be True

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
April 15, 2022 6:00 am

Why the Easter Story Must Be True

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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April 15, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Andy Stanley explains why the biblical account of Jesus’ death and resurrection must be true: If it were merely legend, the story would be written much differently! And if it were just a legend, would all of the disciples proclaim the story for many years and then die for it?

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Here we are 2000 years later there are people on every continent in just about every country celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How that happened. That's a really good question. Why do we celebrate the biblical account of Easter we have some answers for you on this good Friday addition of Focus on the Family with focus president and author Jim Daly on John Fuller, John, today we commemorate the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, an event that has been documented by even nonbiblical sources. A skeptic can agree that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person who died on the cross on a hill called Golgotha 2000 years ago and we think of that. But the real question is this.

Did Jesus actually rise from the dead.

Because if you did, he's extraordinary and that's the topic of our guest pastor Andy Stanley he's going to explore this for us today.

That's right. He's an author and founder of Northpoint ministries in the senior pastor of North point Community Church here now is Andy Stanley on Focus on the Family will absolutely love Easter 11 Easter weekend. I actually love Easter sermons.

I love Easter I love Easter because Matthew Mark Luke and John all give us the Easter story is chaotic. It is detailed. In fact, it's the most detailed account really is the most probably the most detail and I'm finally tuned describe event in all of ancient history, by far, 500 years. Either way of the resurrection. If there's more detail to these few hours around the resurrection of Jesus, anything, all of ancient literature and it is exactly like you would find a story expect the story to be, there is inconsistency just like when a lot of people can't tell the story nobody doubts what I that something actually happened, but the details are little bit different there angles or perspectives are little bit different, but the great thing about the gospel accounts when it comes the resurrection is that they all arrived at the same conclusion. They all arrive at the same conclusion and although it is an on believable story when it comes to just you know 30,000 feet looking and thinking about a wreck resurrection were discovered today is that it is actually unbelievably believable is actually unbelievably believable and that will become apparent as we move through our time together. Now we do not believe Jesus rose from the dead. Because the Bible tells us so. We believe Jesus rose in the dead, but we don't believe he rose from the dead simply because the Bible tells us, so it is way way better than that. Let me tell you why that's important. The reason us adults in this room in churches and millions and millions of people all over the world actually believe that Jesus rose from the dead is this. It's not because the Bible tells us so so much better because Matthew and I witness these events believed it Mark who spent time with eyewitnesses believe that Lucas says he thoroughly investigated all these events believed it. John, who was an eyewitness believed it and then hang onto your hats. James the brother of Jesus believe that his brother was the son of God, and rose from the dead.

Ask a question asked is there Easter. What would your brother have to do to convince you that he was the son of God. And there's only one thing magic tricks would not do it. Miracles would not do it. The only thing that could possibly convince you that your brother is the son of God was for you to attend his funeral and then a few days later Brenda show back up. It is like okay you're the son of God. Here's the amazing thing James the brother of Jesus is indivisible in the Gospels when Jesus is doing all the stuff and suddenly at the end when it is most dangerous to be a Jesus follower James shows back up in the story in the city of Jerusalem as a leader in the first century church. Why because his brother rose from the dead. That's why we believe it. And then there's this guy you heard so much about the apostle Paul, the apostle Paul hated Christians hated him.

He actually put Christians in jail. Okay, he hated Christians and then within just a few years. A few years of the resurrection of Jesus.

This man, apostle Paul, who was a Pharisee who hated Christians had Christians in prison became a Jesus follower. So if you want to know why we take this seriously, if you want to know why it's not make-believe is not a made up stories something just to inspire us and to give us hope. The reason we believe it happened in history is because Matthew Mark Luke John Peter, James, the apostle Paul and others but just those who were eyewitnesses and new eyewitnesses wrote about it said they believed here's what's great.

That's why we take the Easter story seriously so real quick. I want to tell you the Easter story.

Here's what happened pre-first century Jerusalem pre-first century Judea. Many Jewish people are hoping for a Messiah. Rome control the whole world they thought and they prayed that God would send the military deliver a Messiah, and every once in a while someone would show up in history that they thought this is the one.

This is the time. This is the one.

This is the time, and time after time after time. The Roman soldiers, the Roman army. The power room would squash the rebellion and once again Judea was under the heel of Rome. Rome was known as the eternal city and it looks like the Roman empire would be the eternal Roman empire and then one afternoon a very strange man dressed in strange clothes walks out of the Jordan River basin. It's a civilized Judea and began to save her pet repair that repent. God is about to do something unique we know them as John the Baptist and the leaders from the temple went down to the Jordan River Valley and they found John the Baptist. They said are you a Messiah are you claiming to be another Messiah and John the Baptist said something that shocked them. He said no but he's on his way get ready get ready get ready get ready get ready repent of your send so that when he shows up. You will recognize them for who he was and very soon after that. This is so dramatic Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth, who just about every body in the 21st century has heard of Jesus of Nazareth steps onto the pages of history and he begins to teach and he begins to heal.

Everywhere he went. There were crowds because he fed people and he healed people in his teaching was confusing were still trying to figure out and he talked in parables, and he would tell these amazing parables after the parable, his disciples would say that was fantastic. What did it mean we have no clue and we've heard all your parables okay so although he was a fantastic teacher and spoke with authority. Jesus teaching wasn't always all that clear, and yet the crowd began to follow Jesus and suddenly there was a conflict suddenly there was tension between the followers of Jesus and the followers of the temple and then something happened. Rumors began to spread that Jesus had raised someone from the dead, and not just anyone. Jesus had raised a prominent businessman in the community's name with Lazarus and not only did he raise him from the dead. He had already been buried in the rumor was that Jesus showed up late for the funeral, ask his family to roll the stone away. One of the most famous verses in the Bible, one of jet Lazarus sister says to Jesus, but by now his body stink if King James version. By now his body stink if another word.

Are you kidding the roles that would in Jesus raises a man from the dead, and I'm telling the crowd went why old and is rumors of this resurrection spread around that small Judean community. The temple leaders realize there's a shift going on.

We are losing the people and Jesus is gaining.

Jesus is gaining ground with the crowd and this brought a group of people that never got together together around one simple idea. The chief priests and the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, the temple lawyers. They all came together in a counsel and then made a decision and here's what they said John had somebody in the room. Apparently the told in the story.

If we let him talking about Jesus. If we let him go on like this.

Everyone will believe in him which we say what's the problem with that and they answer that for us and once everyone believes in him. The Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation, and suddenly Faith and religion and politics get mixed and now the tension mounts to the point were those in charge of the religious system realized something's got to go. It's either us or its him as though John tells us that from that day on from that very day on they plotted to take Jesus life and eventually as you know, he's arrested.

Now here's the fascinating thing when you read the accounts around Jesus crucifixion and resurrection. In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It's just like somebody would tell a story that actually happened and when you get to that part in the Gospels were the gospel writers tell us about the crucifixion of Jesus and the resurrection. The details are on believable and they write it as if it's narrative, not fairytale they write it as if it history, not something that they were simply making up the here's something really important for you to know if Matthew wrote Matthew, Mark wrote Mark and Luke wrote Luke and John wrote John of Peter of the epistles of Peter.

If these are actually the authors of this literature. They made themselves look terrible. In the story of Jesus terrible.

They wrote themselves and as cowards they did not write themselves into the story favorably and this is interesting because these documents weren't written to maybe 30, some say, 40 years after the events. Some say 80 or 90 years after the event will get to that is the second but if they wrote it in their lifetime. 34 years later some time and gone by. They had time to spend it.

They had time to make themselves look good. But when you read the Gospels, you don't find that at all.

You find the description of these men to be very, very real, is in real scared is in real insecure is in real concerned for them selves and the interesting thing is this.

If these accounts were written 80 or 90 or 100 years later.

Like most of you were taught in college. If they weren't written by his Matthew did write Matthew and Mark didn't write Mark and Luke didn't write Luke and John didn't write John's. They were all dead and gone. All the eyewitnesses were dead and gone in these Gospels were fabricated by people. Many, many, many years later you have to ask the question why would someone fabricate stories about Jesus. The answer is easy because they were trying to keep the Jesus movement alive. If you try to keep the Jesus movement alive. Then you make the leaders of the movement, he rose but when you read the account of the gospel accounts. Yet no one took any interest in manning these guys up when you read the stories they are all so extraordinarily believable.

Get this you know the story, but even of the story when Jesus is arrested they will stand by their man if you're making this up. You Have Them Cir., Jesus a no elbow to elbow and say if he goes we go, but in the gospel accounts. When Jesus is arrested they all run for their lives event. This is how these men are described. Not only that they will even show up for Jesus funeral. Think about this. These are his closest followers.

And when Jesus is buried. They don't show up for his burial and only say something about the barrel.

This is actually fascinating. The two people he showed to bury Jesus. One is a rich guy that was a secret believer. He kinda believed Jesus was special, but the gospel writers tell us he was so afraid of the Jews. He never went public with his faith and the other guy was a Pharisee, not dystonia. If you're making this up.

If you're making this up and you know the relationship between Jesus and the Pharisees which was horrible from day one. You don't have a Pharisee bury Jesus the Gospels tell us that this secret follower of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea and a Pharisee go to Pilate and they say Pilate we know that because of Passover, you're probably gonna break the legs of those who been crucified and you're gonna throw them in the city dump like you do.

Everyone is crucified. We would like for you to give us the body of Jesus so we can bury the body, and chances are they paid Pilate you have a Pharisee and a coward. Come get the body while his closest followers are in hiding. Why, why is it written that way because that's what happened because nobody was trying to make anyone a hero because no one was trying to man anybody absolute have more credibility in the future of the Jesus movement and then the other fascinating thing is this Jesus enemies Jesus enemies had more confidence in the Jesus movement then Jesus followers.

When you read the Gospels, Jesus enemies. Those that had him crucified. They had more confidence in the his disciples then the disciples had in themselves, they had more confidence they had more concerned about the Jesus movement continuing then those that had whose responsibility it was to continue it. The chief priests and Pharisees who never ever got along. The chief priests and Pharisees actually went to Pilate and they said the pilot. These are my words. These Argos board decision is it Pilate you create a problem for us because you gave the body of Jesus to a Pharisee and a rich guy ended, buried in a pilot generally bodies. As you know, stay on the cross until they rot, but in this particular occasion because of Passover. You know, we understandably broke the legs of those who were crucified and you allow their bodies to be taken down, but now Jesus has been varied. So Pilate we need you to do is one more favor you've Artie allowed us to crucified one more favor. We need you to establish a guard outside of the tomb of Jesus. So his disciples don't come along and steal the body, and here's what Matthew says how the conversation went. They said so give the order for the tomb of Jesus to be made secure until the third day.

Otherwise his disciples otherwise. His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that is been raised from the dead, and this last deception will be worse than the first but here's what you pick up on immediately when you read the Matthew Mark Luke and John account of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection Jesus followers were about to steal the body, and here's why.

Because stealing a body would be dangerous and pointless thing about this.

This is something we can't fathom we think crucifixion we think Hollywood we think movies we've never smelled it. We've never seen it.

We've never actually seen what a body looks like after it hung outside for days and days and days. These men had grown up seeing crucifixions and they watched Jesus crucified and they knew if they came for Jesus.

There's a great possibility they will come for us and if they were willing to go that far to crush the movement. We will not be exempt to steal the body in order to perpetrate the lie of a resurrection was absolutely too dangerous and pointless.

Think about it if they were willing to die for Jesus while he was alive. They were about to risk their lives. Now that he was dead. Think about it. If they ran off when Jesus was arrested there in ocular risk their lives. Now that he was dead. Why die for a dead man whose death disproved everything he asked you to believe while he was alive.

Why die why die for a dead man whose death undermined everything he taught.

We talked about this last year.

This is important that the very epicenter of Jesus message was Jesus. Jesus claim to be the son of God, son of God's don't die Jesus claim to be a Jewish Messiah.

He allow them to hail him as the Jewish Messiah Jewish Messiah's don't die by the Roman by being crucified. Jesus said to his disciples. I'm been a start of movement and death won't stop it, and yet he was crucified. When Jesus died in the minds of his closest followers.

The movement ended and died as well. Jesus couldn't stay alive to keep the movement alive.

Why risk their lives to keep a lie alive. There's no way in the world. These men ever contemplated stealing that body and lying about a resurrection because they knew the next night there would be a knock on their door and there would be 11 men crucified outside the city walls of Jerusalem, so recap the story. Here's what you got you got nervous, religious leaders, gotta get rid of them and make sure he stays dead. You got terrified apostles. They came for him will probably come for us. You have despondent women who had hoped and hoped and hope that things would change in their world and now their rabbis and their teacher was dead, and you have confused Roman soldier, because after all, when the temple guard went to arrest Jesus all of his followers fled. So why are you wasting our time to guard the tomb of the dead man they didn't stand by while he was alive. There's no way in the world are going to come try to steal the body, but here's what you don't have ready you don't have anyone standing outside Jesus tomb expecting a resurrection.

Nobody was there on Easter morning counting down 10 9876.

Would you of course not, because when people die they always stay dead when Jesus died, the Jesus movement died with him. The story is written up to this point as if it absolutely happened. It is exactly what you would expect expect it's unbelievably believable and yet here we are 2000 years later there are people on every continent in just about every country celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How that happened, why is it that there were a half-dozen other wannabe messiahs and you can't name a single one of and yet at this point in history. There is so much written about this one person and here we are 2000 years later, but we are not here were not here because someone stole a body they would've figured that out or not here because someone died on the cross thousands and thousands and thousands of people were crucified who were not here because someone gave a series of lectures and said made some pithy statements that change people's lives and they wanted to keep that literature alive where here because on Easter morning on Easter morning a group of women showed up at the tomb, expecting to find a body where here because on Easter morning a group of women who knew Jesus trusted Jesus believed in Jesus has seen the miracles and then lost all hope showed up expecting body and they showed up ready to re-embalm the body because a couple guys and involving the first time and they assume they probably didn't get it right so they show up to re-embalm the body. Totally expecting to find a body, and there was no body. The story ends in a way that nobody expected. Nobody predicted and then you know what happened after the resurrection, and this was the punctuation the very same men who scattered who would even show up for the burial.

The very same women who were despondent and showed up ready to re-embalm that body those very same men and women just a few days. Not a few years, not 50 years.

Not after all the eyewitnesses and died a few days later. These men and women poured into the streets of Jerusalem within walking distance of the tomb within walking distance of Golgotha. They poured into the streets of Jerusalem and they said to the very people who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus, who stood at the trial of Jesus you oversaw and approved his crucifixion you killed in God raised him. We've seen them now. Repent of your sent and will act the book of acts tells us that thousands thousands of people in the city of Jerusalem.

Within weeks of the resurrection repented and embraced Jesus as Messiah.

The reason we are here 2000 years later, is it because Jesus said some cute things, not because Jesus died on the cross, but because he read was raised from the dead, and he was seen by eyewitnesses who went and proclaimed that message and most of them gave their lives, not for what they believed people do that all the time they gave their lives for what they believe they saw a resurrected Savior and the reason these cowards and these despondent people reengage with the message of the movement of Jesus was because they saw a resurrected Savior. Not here, something that is so cool that I'm done about 22 years after the resurrection.

The apostle Paul writes a letter to a group of Christians in Corinth and he writes a letter to them and he reminds them of what's at the core of their belief as Christians and listen to what he tells them he says now, brothers and sisters. I want to remind you, because when I was with you. Years ago I told you all about this, but I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. In other words, this is an essential part of your faith pieces for what I received and what he says received is because the apostle Paul to become a Christian for for years after the resurrection, and he received his information for eyewitnesses pieces for what I received I passed on to you as of first importance.

In other words, this is a peripheral this is right in the middle. This is essential to what we believe is Jesus followers of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. In other words, within a period of 22 years. This had already been documented in literature. Someone had begun to write down the details of these incidents. He said I want to remind you that when I presented the gospel to you I told you that the body of Jesus was taken down from the cross and was actually buried. He died on the cross for your sins, and was buried.

He continues that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared not hang on. This is unbelievable and that he appeared to Cephas who was Peter. He appeared to Cephas and then to the 12, the apostles and then after that he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living because last of all he appeared this is so powerful and last of all he appeared to me is the one who's abnormally born.

Here's what he means by that.

For I am the least of the apostles and I do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. This was his precious, sensitive way of saying it's true.

They were all cowards. It's exactly as I presented to you. They didn't show up for his funeral that it showed for the burial when he was arrested they ran for their lives. Peter Peter denied even knowing who Jesus was, to a little schoolgirl. It's true that none of them stepped up but I can't be critical policy because I did worse than that, I had Christians arrested and tortured and put to death.

The idea God would allow me to be an apostle to proclaim the message of Christ death and resurrection. It's so humbling I wake up every single day and I can't believe I get to be a part of this some great insights from Pastor Andy Stanley today on this good Friday edition of Focus on the Family. I love this message and just like the apostle Paul.

I'm truly amazed. To think that we get to wake up every day and be a part of spreading the gospel, the good news around the world. What a privilege and there's nothing more important than the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins, rose from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of God the father and he offers us forgiveness for our sins and eternal life with him. And if you've never asked Jesus to be your savior. Please consider stopping what you're doing and praying this prayer with me Lord Jesus Christ. I need you, I agree that I'm a sinner and have sinned in my thinking and speaking and actions. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I've counted the cost of following you, I repent and turn away from my past sins I open the door. My life, and receive you as my Savior and Lord, thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be a men and if you prayed with me. Let me say well done.

Welcome to the family of God.

This weekend is the perfect time to begin your walk with Christ.

Happy Easter Christ is risen he is risen indeed. And if you prayed along with Jim please stop by our website to download a free booklet called coming home and explains more about what it means to be a Christian and offers some great next steps to grow in your faith look for the link in the show notes or call one 800 the letter a in the word family and will tell you more. Have a great Easter weekend and be sure to be back with us on Monday when Phil Yancey explains how Christians can reach out to those who are hurting when people by saying I'm just like you and I found something that satisfied depleted of muscle. If you ever experienced anything like this.

If you ever experience confusion, pain, whatever.

I know a place to go on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team.

Thanks for joining us for this Focus on the Family podcast if you would please take a moment and leave a rating in your podcast app were sure about this episode with the print work do both and will say thanks in advance. I'm John Fuller inviting you back once again help you and your family thrive in Christ, I'm here asking people how they could both give and get. I don't know. Maybe. Love you both give and get love through body.

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