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The Authenticity of the Risen Savior B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 12, 2024 4:00 am

The Authenticity of the Risen Savior B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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June 12, 2024 4:00 am

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The Lord Jesus rose from the dead. That means that He is God. But it also means this, that He had accomplished on the cross the work that God sent Him to do. God the Father sent God the Son to do a work on the cross.

What was it? To bear our sin, to die in our place, to be punished on our behalf, to be, as it were, the sacrifice for our sins. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. The cross is foolishness to those who won't believe its truth, but have you ever considered just how far the scoffers have gone and will go to try to disprove the resurrection? The truth is lies about Jesus Christ have been circulating since the day He rose from the dead. And today on Grace To You, John MacArthur examines one of those 2,000-year-old lies as he helps you answer one of life's most important questions, who is Jesus anyway?

That's the title of our current study. So follow along with John and see what that ancient lie actually proves about Jesus Christ. 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. 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. In the fourth chapter of Acts, 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. Do you remember when they were crucifying Jesus back in Matthew 27, the chief priests were mocking Him, the elders, the scribes, the Sanhedrin, the same people were mocking Him. And this is what they said, let Him come down from the cross and we will believe in Him.

He did better than that. He endured the cross, died there and came out of the grave and they still didn't believe in Him. He did something greater than come off the cross, He came out of the grave. And that news panicked them. They should have fallen on their faces, embraced the truth that He was God the Messiah, seen Him as their Lord, declared their faith in His resurrection, repented of their sin and false religion and been delivered from sin and death and judgment. But they weren't interested in that.

And it's always that way with skeptics, it's always that way with critics, it's always that way with the hard-hearted. So all they wanted to do was stop the spread of the story, get rid of it. And so, in verse 12, the guard reports in verse 11, the chief priests in verse 12 call to assemble with the elders, council together. Matthew uses this phrase, assembled with the elders, as a technical term to discuss the meeting of the Sanhedrin, 70 men, the elders of Israel who had the leadership responsibilities, they had a formal meeting, it would be like a Senate meeting. And they took formal counsel. This same phrase about counsel together is used three other places in Matthew to refer to the passing of a resolution in this body.

This is a formal constitution of the ruling body of Israel and they've got a problem on their hands. The body is gone, the tomb is open, a supernatural earthquake has occurred, a supernatural angel has appeared. The Romans were literally knocked into coma by the shock of the event. The grave clothes are visible, lying exactly where they were, indicating that nobody took him out of there.

He passed through the grave clothes and left them right where they were. They know that. So they get together and establish a resolution and their resolution is we're going to create a lie.

We're going to perpetrate a lie. And they really have to do a couple of things. One, they have to bribe the soldiers. So, verse 12 says, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers.

Or guria in the Greek is silver, actually silver. Judas they had bought for 30 pieces of silver, that's what they did, you know? They weren't finished trying to buy off Jesus or sell Him off cheap. This must have been a lot more since there could be as many as a couple dozen men in the guard and there might have been ten or twelve men who came back to report we don't know, maybe less than that.

But there were a lot of men to buy off here, so the sum might have been much more than the 30 pieces they give to Judas. But they're glad, frankly, to pay any price for this lie. So they bribed the soldiers to lie. Secondly, they tell the soldiers to spread the lie. In verse 13 they said, you are to say His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep. That is so ridiculous. How would you know they stole Him if you were asleep?

It's ludicrous from its very outset. We know what happened because we were asleep. But this was the only thing that made sense. Forget the hallucination, forget the séance, forget all those other ridiculous theories that make no sense because they can't explain the empty tomb and where the body is, at least this explains the empty tomb and where the body is, the disciples stole it.

Forget the imposter theory, the telepathic theory, the no burial theory, the swoon theory. They knew this was the only thing that made any sense. And so the soldiers become preachers of the anti-resurrection gospel. They've got nothing at stake. They're crass, tough men. They could care less about Jesus. All they want is money.

They're glad to accommodate. But, of course, this is ridiculous. They shouldn't have been sleeping, by the way. They knew that and I don't think they were. I mean, the Roman watch was two to three hours max. Three hours, basically four watches through the night of three hours covered the twelve hours if there was that much darkness, so sometimes it would go down to two hours. They just had...whoever was on watch, and there would be more than one, there would be a few, they would all have to fall asleep in a very short watch of just two or three hours at the most. They didn't fall asleep. And I'll tell you another reason they didn't fall asleep, not only because they had short watch, but because if you fell asleep and lost your prisoner, what happened?

You lost your life. That was Roman military law. That was a capital crime in the Roman military. If you lost your prisoner, you paid with your life.

And so this is no small issue to them. We're going to go out and we're going to say, now let's get this right, you've given us all this money and we're going to say that the body was stolen while we were asleep. That's a risky position because the death penalty was prescribed for soldiers that failed in their duty and lost their prisoner. So in verse 14, the Jewish leaders say this, if this should come to the governor's ears, we'll win him over and keep you out of trouble. Pilate was really the commander of the Roman troops. It was Pilate who commissioned these men and handed them over to Jewish authority and they say, we will persuade him, is what it says, or we will satisfy him and we will secure you, we will remove your anxiety, we'll keep you out of trouble.

If it looks like a court-martial and a death, we'll come to your rescue. So they bribed the soldiers with the money, the promise of protection, and told them to go spread the lie everywhere. And verse 15, he took the money, they had been instructed. And here, friends, are the first preachers that came from the resurrection, Roman soldiers. And they said, he didn't rise, the disciples stole his body while we were sleeping, that's it. They did as they were told, as they were taught, didosco.

And it was effective. This story was widely spread among the Jews and is to this day. Matthew's writing 30 years later, it was still the conventional wisdom. It's still the best critical theory today among liberals and deniers of the Bible. They knew the truth, they knew it, the Romans knew it, the Jews knew it, they knew it, they never denied any of his miracles.

They knew that the miracles were spreading all over everywhere, they never denied that. But they hated the truth, they produced a lie, published a lie to save their own hides and the Romans joined in for money. So non-believers become the first proclaimers of the anti-resurrection.

And it became the common view 25, 30 years later. As late as Justin Martyr who lived, I think, about 115 on to about 160 something in that second century, Justin Martyr says, you Jews selected men, sent them into all the world proclaiming that a certain atheistic and lawless sect had arisen from one Jesus, a Galilean deceiver whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb and deceived men by saying that he's risen from the dead and ascended into heaven. That absurd and blasphemous medieval Jewish legend became so popular it was known as Tol Doth Jeshu. It found its way not only into the comments of Justin Martyr speaking to the Jew Tryphon, but it becomes a medieval legend and here it is in modern liberal theology today. The lie still abounds about this. You know, from the standpoint of the life of Jesus, it is the last insult against Him. There were insults against Him from the start of His life and certainly all through His ministry. This is the last insult.

The apostasy of Israel is final. They lied even about His birth. Do you remember what they said? They said to Jesus one day, they said, we're not born of fornication. That's an old one, isn't it?

People say that today. That's the Da Vinci Code. Jesus had a relationship with Mary Magdalene and they had a child.

Or it's the old story of Mary getting pregnant by a soldier named Pantera and Jesus being an illegitimate child. That starts with the Jews at the time of Jesus who said, at least we weren't born of fornication, denying the virgin birth. They denied the beginning and they denied the end.

They lied about the start and they lied about the finish. The Bible makes it clear that He was born to a virgin and all the evidence indicates that that is indeed the case. But if He is God, virgin born, then they have to accept the fact that what He says about them is true and they won't accept that, so they lie about His virgin birth even though the facts are clear. They lie about His resurrection even though the facts are clear. It's all about loving sin.

It's all about hating righteousness. It has nothing to do with the evidence. I mean, if you just look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ, an empty tomb, grave clothes sitting there, an earthquake, stone moved, Roman soldiers in coma, immediately there are at least ten appearances of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, to another woman, to Peter, to two upon the road, to twelve on the following Sunday evening, to the twelve again eight days later, to seven of them by the sea in Galilee, to five hundred in Galilee, then to James, to eleven of them minus Judas on the Mount of Olives from which he ascends into heaven. They knew He was alive. And that's why, listen, they would go out and preach the resurrection and die for it.

You can't turn people into martyrs for a lie. If they had just stolen His body, why would they go die? Why would they preach a risen Christ that they knew was a deception and die for that? They were unanimous in their affirmation that He was alive, unanimous in their proclamation that He was alive, unanimous in their willingness to die for that truth. Their faith was so confident and so strong, it was absolutely unwavering. They set themselves against the very authorities that had killed Jesus and they knew that they would receive the same.

They boldly confronted the same leaders from whom they once had run in fear. When Jesus was taken prisoner, those apostles scattered in fear. Now they run right back to confront those same leaders with a resurrection proclamation and it's so extensive and so constant that the leaders say, you have filled Jerusalem with this teaching. And thousands of people believed, three thousand on Pentecost, thousands more and thousands more.

And in a matter of weeks there must be twenty-five thousand believers. By what power then do you turn cowardly, simple, poor, illiterate preachers into world changers? Not by a lie, not by a deception. They were not eloquent. They were not educated. They were not brilliant. They were not oratorical. They were not masters of argument and logic. They were not magicians. They were not charlatans and clever con men, highly skilled.

They were not particularly persuasive nor clever. The power of their life that has changed the world up to this very day and will continue to do it was the reality that Jesus Christ was alive. It's the only explanation. They believed in the resurrection and they preached it. They had every opportunity to satisfy themselves as to the truth of it. They saw Him. They ate with Him. They touched Him. They met with Him.

They could examine all the evidence. They could touch His hands and His side and His feet and they did. That's why Acts begins, Jesus appeared to them with many infallible proofs...infallible proofs. They were absolutely convinced and they gave their lives for it.

And the Holy Spirit inspired them to write the record of the New Testament which is convincing to all those who are open to it and we would give our lives for the same fact that Jesus Christ lives. The Jews couldn't deny the resurrection, no way. All they could do was lie.

You say, well, couldn't it have been the truth that the disciples stole the body? Look, you don't bribe people with money to tell the truth. They were already coming with the truth. They came and told the Jewish leaders the truth. They had to buy them off and bribe them to lie. So the lie becomes the greatest proof of the truth. They knew that the only way they could explain an empty tomb was the disciples came and stole the body.

And so that's the lie they came up with. But there's no way those disciples, scattered and cowardly and fearful and having a hard time believing and morose and despondent about losing Jesus Christ as they are obviously indicating in the trip to Emmaus when they're moaning that He's gone. No way they would have been transformed into powerful preachers who would die for the truth of the resurrection if in fact the resurrection didn't really happen and they didn't have ample evidence. It's ludicrous to believe that the guards were asleep, all of them, and could still report exactly what happened.

It's ludicrous to believe that they would have to be paid to tell the truth. The whole explanation is self-condemned and what you're left with is Jesus rose from the dead. And if He rose from the dead, He has power over death. If He has power over death, He has life in Himself. He's the source of life. If He's the source of life, He's God who gives life.

If He's God, then what He says is true and what He says is that salvation is only through Him. Simon Greenleaf, a Harvard professor of law, wrote this. All that Christianity asks of men is that they would be consistent with themselves, that they would treat its evidences as they treat the evidence of other things and that they would try to judge its witnesses as they deal with their fellow men. When testifying to human affairs and actions in human tribunals. The result would be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability and truth. Simon Greenleaf says, just apply the same laws to the testimonies of those who saw the risen Christ that you would apply in any court case, stack up the witnesses, the eyewitnesses in excess of 500 on numerous different occasions, at least ten, all affirming the same thing, all eyewitness accounts, all having seen, heard and touched the risen Christ and just treat their witnesses with the same integrity that you would treat any other witnesses in a human court and the evidence is overwhelming. The Lord Jesus rose from the dead. That means that He is God. But it also means this, that He had accomplished on the cross the work that God sent Him to do. God the Father sent God the Son to do a work on the cross.

What was it? To bear our sin, to die in our place, to be punished on our behalf, to be, as it were, the sacrifice for our sins. And when near death He said, it is finished. He had borne our sin, He had died our death, He had taken our place, received the judgment of God on behalf of all who would ever believe and because He did it so perfectly and because He accomplished exactly what God wanted Him to accomplish, He arose. And when He arose, the Bible says He went into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God and is forever exalted and given a name above every name which is the name Lord and you must confess Jesus as Lord, the one who paid for your sins, the one who rose from the dead and therefore has offered a fitting sacrifice which satisfies God, God being satisfied with Him, lifts Him to heaven, seats Him on His throne where He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords forever. There is no salvation in any other than Jesus Christ. You must confess that He is indeed Lord as God has named Him Lord for what He has done and you must believe in His resurrection or you cannot be saved.

This is God's Word to us, this is God's plan. Salvation awaits all who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their hearts that God has raised Him from the dead. To deny the resurrection is to deny His deity. It is to deny the sufficiency of His sacrifice.

It is to make Him a liar, the Apostles a liar, the Scriptures a liar. To believe in the resurrection is to affirm the Bible is true, Jesus is God. He did rise, the gospel message is the truth.

And it is and it alone saves. Join me in prayer. God, how we thank You that the tomb of Jesus is empty, it's been empty all these centuries because He lives and He ever lives to make intercession for us, He lives and because He lives, we can live also by faith in Him because He conquered sin and death and hell and rose to heavenly glory. We too in Him can conquer sin and death and hell and rise to heavenly glory and even sit with Him on His throne, the Scripture says. He said, I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in Me, though he were dead yet shall he live and whoever believes in Me lives forever. We thank You that we find eternal life in Christ even when we leave this veil of tears, we leave this earthly existence, we enter into that eternal glory and joy and peace that awaits us in the heaven of heavens. But only if we confess Jesus as Lord and believe that You raised Him by the very power that is His from the dead. Thank You for the truth of the resurrection in which we are clearly given the proof we need that He is the one He claimed to be and by which we ourselves through faith are given that very eternal life which He displayed in His own resurrection. We thank You that in trusting Him we shall live with the very life that is divine granted to us from Him the source of life. What great immense truth this is and may it be sealed to every heart, especially those who at this point may not yet believe, may not have confessed Jesus as Lord. Oh God, how I pray that they would do that even now, that they would be flooded with the conviction and the clarity of this truth of resurrection, grasp it with all their might, repent of their sin, confess Jesus as Lord, affirm they believe that He died for them and rose again and thus believing and acknowledging Him as Lord be delivered from death and punishment into eternal life. We bless You and thank You in Christ's name.

Amen. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. Today's study is one that John originally preached to help unbelievers in particular grapple with the Bible's claims about who Jesus is and what he accomplished for sinners. John calls this series, Who Is Jesus Anyway? So John, to sort of tie everything together, what do you hope listeners will take away from this study armed with what you've taught them? What do they need to do next? Well, first of all, they need to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

I mean, that's the main point. And secondly, if they're already believers, then they need to take the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and proclaim it far and wide. I preached this study as a special evangelism focus at my church, Grace Community Church, and the idea was to give people the foundational truth about Jesus Christ, to give that to people who don't know Christ and don't therefore have salvation and don't therefore have hope, and then also to equip believers to be able to effectively communicate the gospel. So this is now the end of our study, but it doesn't have to be the end of your exposure to this truth, because the series, Who Is Jesus Anyway? is available on four MP3 downloads.

That's right, and those downloads are free. Friend, if you have not put your faith in Christ, this series lays out truth that you need to reckon with. And if you're a Christian, point someone you know to this study or review it yourself for your own encouragement and in order to equip you for the opportunities you have for evangelism.

Again, the series is titled, Who Is Jesus Anyway? is available right now from Grace To You. You can download the MP3s and the transcripts of this series free of charge at our website, gty.org. You can also order the series in a four-CD album if that works better for you.

The cost is reasonable and shipping is free. To order, call 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. In addition to the Who Is Jesus Anyway? series, you'll find more than 3,600 other sermons available for you at our website, gty.org. Take advantage of all the free study tools that are available to you from Grace To You, and thanks for letting us know if those free resources are hitting their mark. If you're benefitting from Grace To You, write to us here at PO Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412. Now for John MacArthur and our staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Watch Grace To You television this Sunday on DirecTV Channel 378, then be back tomorrow when John begins a study that will equip you to find hope even in the midst of dark and difficult circumstances. That study is called Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land. Tune in for another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-12 05:39:37 / 2024-06-12 05:49:30 / 10

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