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The Authenticity of the Risen Savior

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 11, 2024 4:00 am

The Authenticity of the Risen Savior

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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June 11, 2024 4:00 am

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You cannot accept the Jesus of the Bible and not accept His resurrection. The Bible says you must confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.

You must believe that Jesus died as a sacrifice for sin and rose from the dead. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. You may recall a trend in television some 20 years ago. Programs with religious themes were somewhat fashionable. A Wall Street Journal article at the time referred to that trend as quote, biblical stories put through the pop culture spin cycle.

Well, you don't even have to know the plot lines of those shows to know this much. When you put a pop culture spin on the Bible, what you end up with is not biblical. You certainly don't get an accurate picture of the Bible's central character, the Lord Jesus Christ. So stay here as John gives you a clear picture of Jesus straight from the Bible as he continues his study called, Who Is Jesus Anyway?

And now with the lesson, here's John MacArthur. In the tenth chapter of Romans, and you don't have to look at that, I'm just going to comment on it. In the tenth chapter of Romans and verse 9, there's a very important statement there. The Bible says this, if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.

That's a very definitive statement. Saved from what? Saved from divine judgment, saved from eternal hell, saved from punishment, saved from your sin, saved from guilt.

How is one saved from that? If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. One of the things that must be believed in order for a person to be delivered from sin and death and judgment and hell is the resurrection of Christ. And so I want to talk about that and I want you to look at the end of the gospel of Matthew.

Matthew is the first gospel in the New Testament, the first record in the order of the New Testament, record of the life and ministry of Jesus. And, of course, Matthew culminates his gospel with the history of our Lord's resurrection. You cannot accept the Jesus of the Bible and not accept His resurrection. The Bible says you must confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. You must believe that Jesus died as a sacrifice for sin and rose from the dead. Now there are certainly many people who are skeptical about the resurrection and they want to deny the resurrection. It's particularly a quasi-scholarly thing to do. Well, through the years, several theories have been offered and I'll just throw them out because I want you to see how people who reject the resurrection think.

First is called the swoon theory. That says Christ never died. He just went into a semi-coma. He was just down deep in some kind of sleep because of all of the suffering that had occurred on the cross and they assumed that He was dead and so they put Him in the tomb. And, you know, when they wrapped Him and put the spices that they typically did in the wrapping, it was the reviving effect of the spices, the coolness of the tomb, and He woke up. And He showed up and His disciples assumed He had risen from the dead.

Is there any possibility that that could be true? Well, it might help you to know that it was invented in 1600. So it took 1600 years to think that one up, a man by the name of Venturini. And before 1600, all early records were emphatic about the fact that He died.

And everybody knew the Roman proficiency at killing people, at crucifying people by the tens of thousands, and at knowing whether someone was dead. And the record says that when they came by, they knew He was already dead, so they rammed a spear into His chest and out came blood and water indicating the severing of the pericardium around the heart. He was dead. If He was only in a semi-coma, then you have to conclude that He successfully survived a really unbelievable beating, lashing prior to the cross. He survived crucifixion. He survived the spear rammed into Him. He survived being handled like a corpse would be handled with not particularly good care. He survived being entombed with about, I suppose, as much as 75 pounds of spices wrapped around His body, including His head. He survived in that condition three days with no food or water, woke up without medical help, having lost most of His blood, and then moved the stone away, chased off the Romans who were guarding His tomb, and convinced everybody that He was God. And by the way, when He was done with that, He walked seven miles to Emmaus on feet that had been shredded by nails. Give me a break.

It's ridiculous. Well, the other theories go like this. There is what's called the no burial theory. He wasn't there because He was never put there. The reason when they went to the tomb they didn't find Him is He was never put there. They took Him off a cross and they threw Him in Gehenna, which is the city dump where they threw criminals, the corpses of criminals.

He wasn't there on Sunday because He hadn't been put there on Friday. That theory doesn't work. Why did the leaders want the tomb sealed if nobody was in it?

That doesn't make a lot of sense, does it? And why did they ask the Romans to guard it if it was empty? And then why did they invent the story that the body was stolen?

Why didn't they go to the dump and produce it? Well, there's a third theory offered called the hallucination theory that He never really did come out of the tomb. All the people who thought they saw Him were hallucinating. They thought they saw Jesus because they wanted to see Him so badly that they actually actualized Him in some kind of mental image that they thought was reality. That theory doesn't work for too many reasons to go over. The tomb was empty.

It was empty. That's not a hallucination. For all the disciples who wanted to see Him alive so badly that they might have hallucinated Him into some kind of semi-reality, there were the Romans who had no interest in His being alive and they knew He wasn't there. And how could the church be built on hallucinations? How could 500 people have the same hallucination at the same moment when 500 saw Him at the same moment in Galilee? And since they didn't expect Him to rise from the dead, they were sad and unbelieving and bemoaning that He was gone, how could they in many sense be pathologically prepared to hallucinate, or to sort of mentally actualize a supposed resurrection? Well, you say, what about a mass hallucination?

Don't they happen? There have been some mass hallucinations like Fatima, but that was something Satan would do, or demons would do. And certainly Satan and demons would never give the resurrection of Christ a sort of hallucinating false representation. And, of course, we have to ask the question again, where's the body? If it's so only a hallucination, what happened to the body?

Another view is called the telepathy theory. This says there was no physical resurrection, no physical resurrection, but God sent back telepathic mental images to the disciples so they would think that He was alive. This wasn't their own wish and sort of actualized hallucination, this was God. That doesn't fly because that makes God a deceiver, doesn't it? That makes God into some kind of a trickster. It founds the Christian gospel on deceit.

If God says you have to believe that He was raised from the dead in order to be saved, and He wasn't raised from the dead at all, but God simply tricked you into thinking He was, then God is Satan. It makes liars out of all the disciples, all those who claim to touch Him, all those who claim to have held Him, to seen Him and heard Him and talked with Him and eaten with Him and walked with Him. And if it was telepathic, it must have been a telepathic video because it ran for more than seven miles on the way to Emmaus. And then that telepathic image sat down and ate.

That's a stretch. There's another theory that's been popular through the years called the seance theory, a medium conjurer of spirits, somebody who's a contact person with evil spirits, conjured up the spirit of the dead Jesus by occult power. That doesn't work either because it doesn't answer the question, where was the body and why is the tomb empty and how could they touch Him and talk with Him and walk with Him and eat with Him over a prolonged period? Well there's another theory called the mistaken identity theory, someone impersonated Jesus. Whoever impersonated Jesus must have crucified himself because when Jesus met with the disciples, He said, look, see the nail prints in My hands, see the spear thrust in My side.

It's a pretty high price to generate scars like that to make a false impression. And then how do you explain that this person who is pretending to be Jesus walked through a wall, or miraculously created breakfast by the side of the Sea of Galilee, appeared and vanished? And how do you explain that this person impersonating Jesus ascended into heaven while everybody was watching? Because that's what Jesus did. And the disciples had been with Jesus 24-7 for three years, they knew who He was.

They couldn't be fooled by an imposter and after all, where was the body again and why was the tomb empty? It's amazing the extent to which people will go to fabricate ridiculous explanations to explain away the one thing that if they would believe, it would save them from eternal judgment. You can come up with any kind of concoction you want if you're going to reject the true Christ, but all the evidence is going to militate against that. There is enough evidence in the Bible to believe the truth, that's why it's there. It's written so that we might believe that He is the Christ, that He died, that He rose again.

The evidence is all in. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then why didn't the authorities produce the body? They could have stopped the church in its track. They could have stopped all apostolic preaching.

They could have ended all discussion. Well the most common theory and the one that is held up most often in critical circles is the theft theory, that the body of Jesus was stolen to falsify the resurrection. The disciples came, they somehow got past the Roman guard, the seal rolled the stone away, stole the body. Well and someone actually said the Jews did it to make sure He didn't rise from the dead. Well then why would they secure it in the tomb and put the Roman guard there if they were intending to steal it?

That's ridiculous. Somebody else has suggested the Romans did it. They had absolutely no reason to do it, not believing in Jesus or in resurrection and being on guard there. That leaves the only logical possibility that the disciples stole it and even if they could have, would they have?

Would they have stolen the body? Let's look at the end of Matthew and chapter 28. This is really an amazing portion of Scripture.

Verse 11, this is after the resurrection, okay? Now while they were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers.

What's that called? Bribery. And they said, you are to say His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep. This is the fabrication of the lie that proves the resurrection is true.

And, verse 14, if this should come to the governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble. And they took the money and did as they had been instructed. And this story was widely spread among the Jews as and is to this day and even to this day. There are many who are still saying the disciples stole the body. Go back to verse 11, the guard, the Roman guard, not just one person, but the guard, which is in the plural sense here, reported to the chief priests, the Jewish leaders, the religious leaders of Israel what had happened. And what had happened was the resurrection.

Now this is the problem for them. They've been trying to eliminate Jesus for a long time. Mass murder was employed to try to kill Him when He was a child. In the massacre that Herod brought against all the male children under two in the vicinity of Bethlehem, they finally captured Him through the betrayal of Judas. They used injustice to sentence Him to death. They used blackmail of Pilate to get Him...to execute Him. They tried to use force to keep His body in the tomb.

And so desperate are they to eliminate Jesus that even when He rises from the dead and they've been told that that's what happened, they will use bribery to silence the truth of His resurrection and to perpetrate a lie. Let's go back in the chapter to the first verse and kind of get the picture here. After the Sabbath, Saturday, began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Sunday.

Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, came to look at the grave where Jesus had been since Friday. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, came and rolled the stone away and sat on it. And His appearance was like lightning and His garment as white as snow. Look at this, and the guards shook for fear of Him and became like dead men.

This is a very traumatic experience. An earthquake, an angel, stone rolls away and the guards were the ones who went into comatose shock. Now from there we jump to verse 11. While they were on their way, who's that? The women on their way to tell the disciples that Jesus was alive, you remember verse 5, the angel answered and said to the women, do not be afraid, I know you're looking for Jesus who's been crucified. He's not here, for He has risen just as He said, come see the place where He was lying and go quickly and tell His disciples He's risen from the dead. Verse 8, they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them and they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Now while they were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the city.

Not all the guard, I think probably some of them stayed at the tomb. By now the stone is away, the earthquake has settled down, they're coming out of their sort of instantaneous coma that they were thrust into by the blazing glory of this angel. By now they have checked the tomb, they have checked the grave and like everybody else who checked it, they have found grave clothes lying in their place but no Jesus.

They don't know what to do about this. So some of them are sent, dispatched to go to the chief priests, tell them what happened. Go back to chapter 27 for a minute and verse 62. On the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gather together with Pilate. This is the...after Christ has been buried. And now the chief priests and the Pharisees get together with Pilate and they say, sir, we remember that when He was still alive, that deceiver said after three days I'm going to rise again. Therefore, 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's risen from the dead.

And the last deception will be worse than the first. Pilate said to them, you have a guard, I'll give you some soldiers. 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. This Roman guard was given to the chief priests and the Pharisees by Pilate, delegated really from Pilate to the authority of the Jewish leaders. Believe me, Pilate wanted no more to do with Jesus.

If there was going to be any more trouble with this Jesus, Pilate wanted to do anything he could to mitigate it, even turning over some Romans to the Jewish leaders to use as a guard to make sure the disciples did not come and steal His body. Well since they were under the Jewish authority, when the earthquake came and the angel appeared and they all went down into a coma, when the time came that they finally came back to their senses, when they checked the tomb and nobody was there, they knew where they had to go and to whom they had to report because they had been delegated to the Jewish authority, the official leaders of Israel, the Sanhedrin, they needed to know what happened. And so it says in verse 11, they were on their way into the city while the women were on their way to tell the Apostles. They came into the city, reported to the chief priests all that had happened.

What did they say? Well, we were out there and there was this tremendous earthquake, unbelievable earthquake, everything was shaken all over the place. And then there was this blazing, glorious, angelic being and the stone was rolled away and the seal was broken and, you know, we don't remember what happened after that for who knows how long.

We do know this, the body's gone. And their worst fear had come true, these Jewish leaders. Interestingly enough, the Jewish leaders become the recipients of the first news of the resurrection of Jesus.

He said it, he said, destroy this body in three days, I'll raise it again. I don't think the disciples had even yet heard since the women were still on their way. And the story of the Romans was a truthful report.

They showed to the chief priests everything that happened. There are a couple of comments in the fourth chapter of Acts. In the fourth chapter of Acts, Peter's preaching and you know all about that. If you go down to verse...well let's see, Acts 4, 10, Peter filled with the Holy Spirit says, "'Let it be known to you, all of you, all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.'" Here's Peter preaching the resurrection very soon after.

By this name, this man stands here before you in good health. Of course he's talking about that healing. Back in verse 2, it says, being greatly disturbed, that is the leaders, because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead, so they laid hands on Him and threw Him in jail. They came right out preaching the resurrection, preaching the resurrection.

Now go down to verse 16. They ordered them to go outside and the council began to confer with one another and this is what they said, "'What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may not spread any further, we've got to stop them from speaking.'"

It's really amazing, isn't it? They never deny the miracle. They just want to stop it from spreading. And you know what, that's exactly what goes on today with skeptics and critics. They can't deny it. There is no way to deny it. They can't come up with a reasonable explanation.

They cannot undo the testimony of multiple eyewitnesses on different occasions. There's really no way to deny it, but they hate it. They resent it.

They just want to stop it from being proclaimed. That's John MacArthur, chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, helping you answer the all-important question, who is Jesus anyway? That's the title of John's current study here on grace to you. And now, shifting gears for a minute, you know, John, I frequently encourage our listening family to write and let us know how God is using grace to you in their lives.

Maybe you could take a moment to let them know how important it is for us to hear from them. As a pastor, I get to interact all the time regularly with the people in my congregation. But I have another congregation spread all over the world through radio, the internet, and all the resources that we provide that I don't get to interact with. And that's a loss to me, as well as to all the family of grace to you folks who love this ministry and who partner with us to send the truth out so that you can grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. And it matters so much to us to hear back from you so that we can enjoy the fruit of these labors. So let me encourage you, if you're blessed by this ministry, it would mean so much to all of us to let us know that. You can write a letter of grace to you.

You can send an email. Just allow us to hear from you what the ministry is accomplishing in your life so that we can determine the effectiveness of what we do so that we can communicate back to the radio stations that carry our program that this is an important and viable ministry. In March and into April, we aired the series that has generated more response than any other In Grace to You's history.

That series is The Fulfilled Family. And from the feedback we've received, we know that God again has used that material to encourage husbands and wives in their relationships with one another and in the raising of their children. During that series, we also had the opportunity to talk about my latest book, very timely book, titled The War on Children. Also timely was the interview program we aired in February called Signs of the Times, a dialogue on some of the most troubling trends in society and how the church should respond to them. Phil and I discussed the problems of immorality in the internet, the anti-God actions of government, the strife in Israel, and more. If those recent programs or any of our programs have encouraged you, we would love to hear about that.

Email is great or you can drop a note in the regular mail. Thanks for letting us know you're listening and learning with us as we proclaim God's timeless word. Yes, thanks, and thank you, John.

And friend, if Grace to You has helped you grow in love for God and obedience to Him, we'd love to hear that story. As John said, your letters are so encouraging. When you can, send a quick note our way. Our email address is letters at gty.org. Once again, that's letters at gty.org.

You can also send a letter by writing to us at Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. And if you missed any of our contact information, you'll find it all at our website, gty.org. And while you're there at the website, gty.org, be sure you take advantage of the thousands of free resources that will help you dig deeper into God's Word. You can read practical articles on issues that affect your life and church on the Grace to You blog. You can also read daily devotionals from John and follow along with the reading plan from the MacArthur Daily Bible. And don't forget, John's entire sermon archive, that's well over 3,600 sermons, all available to download in audio and transcript format.

All of that and much more is free at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Join us again tomorrow as we look at one of the world's oldest lies and show you what it actually proves about Jesus Christ. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-11 05:29:46 / 2024-06-11 05:39:39 / 10

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