Sunday School Lesson Outline
At eight (8) years of age I heard my Sunday School teacher tell another boy in class that "...you just have to believe in the resurrection," after the little guy asked: "Teacher, how do you know the resurrection is real...I've never heard of anyone rising from the dead??"
In first Corinthians chapter 15 Paul calls our attention to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Word of God poured through Paul here says that if Christ has not risen then your faith is vain, or wrong, or worthless. (see 1st Cor. 15:14)
I. The importance of the resurrection.
Christianity....Jesus Christ...Died....Rose from the dead Judaism.....Abraham...Died....His body is in the Machpelah cave. Buddhism....Buddha...Died....His ashes were recently discovered. Mohammedism...Mohammed Died...His body entombed at Medina.
The Bible scholar, Wilbur Smith, summed up the importance of the resurrection in this paragraph: "If our Lord said, frequently, with great definiteness and detail, that after He went up to Jerusalem He would be put to death, but on the third day He would rise again from the grave, and this prediction came to pass, then it has always seemed to me that everything else that our Lord ever said must also be true." (Found in the book: "THEREFORE STAND: CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS," page 419)
****The resurrection elevates all of Jesus' words "out of the ball park" from where all other religious leaders remain forever bound. Jesus is the spiritual "home run king," and there isn't any other close seconds...HE's way out ahead. Jesus is believable, IF the resurrection is for real!!!
Smith also says:....
"...Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost is "wholly and entirely founded on the Resurrection. Not merely is the Resurrection its principal theme, but if that doctrine were removed there would be no doctrine left. For the Resurrection is propounded as being (1) the explanation of Jesus' death; (2) prophetically anticipated as the Messianic experience; (3) apostolically witnessed: (4) the cause of the outpouring of the Spirit, and thus accounting for religious phenomena otherwise inexplicable; and (5) certifying the Messianic and Kingly position of Jesus of Nazareth. Thus the whole series of arguments and conclusions depends for stability entirely upon the Resurrection. Without the Resurrection the Messianic and Kingly position of Jesus could not be convincingly established. Without it the new outpouring of the Spirit would continue a mystery unexplained. Without it the substance of the apostolic witness would have disappeared." (page 230)
II. Jesus' prophecies about His death and resurrection.
 "Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee."  "But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:"  "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
 "Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?"  "Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."  "Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?"  "But he spake of the temple of his body."  "When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said."
 "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."  "Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee."
 "Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day."  "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."  "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."  "For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?"  "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."  "But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God."  "And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray."
 "And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead."
 "And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead."  "And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean."
 "And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:"  "And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry."
 "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,"  "And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again."
 "But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee."
 "And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:"  "The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus."  "Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus."  "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified."  "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."  "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."
"It was this same Jesus, the Christ who, among many other remarkable things, said and repeated something which, proceeding from any other being would have condemned him at once as either a bloated egotist or a dangerously unbalanced person. That Jesus said He was going up to Jerusalem to die is not so remarkable, though all the details He gave about that death, weeks and months before He died, are together a prophetic phenomenon. But when He said that He himself would rise again from the dead, the third day after He was crucified, He said something that only a fool would dare say, if he expected longer the devotion of any disciples, unless--He was sure he was going to rise. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a thing like that!" Wilbur Smith in his book, "A GREAT CERTAINTY IN THIS HOUR OF WORLD CRISIS" pages 10, 11
III. Can you trust History????
Can you prove something in History is absolutely true?? Well, that depends...it depends on whether you want to prove it scientifically or historically. If you want to prove something in history is absolutely true scientifically you might as well wait a long time, maybe forever. Nothing historical can be proven scientifically unless it is infinitely repeatable. Thus far no one has discovered how to repeat any historical event exactly as it once happened. As a result it is impossible to prove scientifically that your own mother is really your mother, and that she gave birth to you. We can't reverse history and watch you being born...even if someone took a movie of your birth...we can't totally rely on that because it is possible today to create a movie that looks like your birth and is only a dramatization. DNA can bring us close...but we still CANNOT replay your birth in reality, like we can break water into hydrogen and oxygen in the lab, over and over again.
So, what kind of proof can we muster for history...only historical proof. Historical proof can never be 100 percent trustworthy. We can only push it to 99.9999 percent at best. Historical proof is had when we amass at much historical data as we can find.
Today I have brought the strongest historical proof I can muster that my mother is my mother (legal documents). And I have to admit that my historical proof is pretty flimsy. My Dad wasn't present at my birth. He was not allowed in. So, even though he was in the waiting room and would testify that I was his child, he didn't see me born!
I have good news for you. We have very good historical evidence of Jesus ...much better than my birth evidence. Wilbur Smith says it like this: "Let it simply be said that we know more about the details of the hours immediately before and the actual death of Jesus, in and near Jerusalem, than we know about the death of any other one man in all of the ancient world." (Page 360)
Jesus' birth, death and resurrection are real-time events. That's where we get the word "history." It is "HIS STORY." Time is measured based on HIS birth, "B.C. and A.D."
A brilliant scholar, Wolfhart Pannenberg, said, "Whether the resurrection of Jesus took place or not is a historical question, and the historical question at this point is inescapable. And so the question has to be decided on the level of historical argument."
My skeptic friends in school used to demand that I prove the resurrection of Jesus scientifically. I fell for their poor logic. The important point is this: If we throw out the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then we bring into question all history! We make all that we study about the past something to be doubted and ignored. Even something as recent as the landing of astronauts on the Moon comes into question. We can't prove absolutely that the astronauts walked on the Moon. We don't have the ability to repeat that flight over and over again before each and every doubter! We can't really prove it beyond all doubt. We only have 99.9 percent historical proof of the Moon landing!