HE’S ALIVE” John 20:1-18
Matthew 28:6, “He is not here; for He is risen…”
At a National Geographic News Conference several years ago, an important announcement was made. They had just finished restoring and translating The Gospel of Judas. They asserted that this was the most significant ancient manuscript to be found in many years. They unveiled the manuscript in a television special. Actually the manuscript had been around for over thirty years. For sixteen years it had been stored in a safe-deposit box in Hicksville, NY because no one was willing to come up with the three-million-dollar asking price. A foundation in Switzerland purchased it in the 2003.
What is The Gospel of Judas? The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversations with Judas Iscariot during the week, three days before He celebrated Passover. What secret? Judas was the “good guy!” In fact Judas, not John was Jesus’ “beloved disciple.” It declares Judas was the only one who knew true identity of Jesus as the Son of God.
The twenty-four pages of text give details of private instruction that Jesus supposedly gave Judas. Information that was not given to the other disciples. These private instructions assert that they had not learned the true Gospel, which Jesus taught only to Judas Iscariot, the sole follower belonging to the “holy generation” among the disciples. They also include Jesus talking only to Judas about different Gnostic deities and angels instructing Judas to betray Christ, so He could get free from His body and return to the divine. This Gospel ends with Judas agreeing with Christ’s request, going to the High Priest to betray Him.
Gnosticism: The name is derived from the Greek word “gnosis” which literally means “knowledge.”
Gnostics: A sect in the 2nd and 3rd centuries trying to reshape Christianity by attacking Christian writers. They believed that they alone truly understood Christ's message, and that other streams of thought within Christianity had misinterpreted Jesus' mission and sayings. They suggested that you cannot trust Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because they did not have the secret knowledge that Judas was given.
In contrast to the canonical gospels which paint Judas as a betrayer of Christ who delivered him up to the authorities for crucifixion in exchange for money, the Gospel of Judas portrays Judas's actions as done in obedience to instructions given by Christ.
The Washington Post declared that the ancient Gospel of Judas shed new light on the disciples of Jesus.
This is, more than likely, the same document the Bible scholar Irenaeus (130-202 AD) referred to in his work entitled, Against Heresies, where he discusses a group of Gnostics, saying, “They declare that Judas, the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of betrayal; by him all things both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion.”
We, as Evangelical believers totally reject this or any other manuscripts that reveal Jesus in any other way than how He is described by traditional Christianity. The Gospel of Judas is the doctrine that spawned The Da Vinci Code!
Can we trust our Bible? Is it the true account of Jesus life, teachings, death, burial and resurrection? Or are we to follow those who that have misled us and claim to have secret knowledge? Those whose writings have been deemed as heretical for the past 2000 years?
God Himself has provided a stronghold, a place of fortification and survival for these days when everything is being shaken. That stronghold is His Word:
•Proverbs 30:5,6, “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”
•Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
•Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
•2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Inspiration means “God breathed.”
•Luke 11:28, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
•John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
•Proverbs 30:5: “Every Word of God is pure…”
John 20:1-18; Matthew 28:6, “He is not here; for He is risen…”
Four Factors in Evidence:
FACT 1: Jesus died. How do we know that Jesus actually died? There are those who believe that Jesus did not die on the cross, but only fainted and in the cool of the tomb He revived. His crucifixion was under the supervision of Roman soldiers, the best executioners in the world, experts at putting people to death with as much pain as possible. Believe me, they knew when someone was dead! John writes of the breaking of the legs, “But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs” (John 19:33).
•Romans 5:6-8, “For when we were still without strength, in due time CHRIST DIED for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, CHRIST DIED for us.
•Romans 14:9, “For to this end CHRIST DIED and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”
•1 Corinthians 15:1-3, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that CHRIST DIED for our sins according to the Scriptures…”
•1 Thessalonians 5:9,10, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who DIED FOR US, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”
FACT 2: Jesus was buried.
•John 19:38-42, “Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they LAID JESUS, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.”
•1 Corinthians 15:3,4, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that HE WAS BURIED, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Matthew 27:62-64, “On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”
So, they found a huge boulder (megalith), large enough to cover the opening of a cave. Then Pilate ordered the tomb to be sealed with the seal of Rome. No one would dare break that seal, under penalty of death! To even touch it without permission meant an immediate death sentence. Then they posted sixteen professional soldiers sworn to protect the seal of Rome with their lives. Four on duty at all times while the other twelve slept in a semi-circle around them.
Why is it so important that we believe that Jesus was buried? The Jews were saying that the disciples got confused and went to the wrong tomb, or the other incredible lie, that they stole the body.
They went to the wrong tomb? I know from experience it’s hard to find a grave in any cemetery. But, Jesus was an important political person. With the crowd and the tumult surrounding His execution, there was a not a person in Jerusalem that didn’t know where He was buried. And if anyone did not know all they had to do was ask! The disciples knew! Mary knew where to go. When Mary went to the tomb early on Sunday morning, she said, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him” (John 20:13).
Not only would Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Joanna, Salome and the other women had to have mistaken the tomb, so would Peter and John, and the Roman guard, and the Jews, and the disciples, and everyone else who ever tried to produce his body. With the uproar that the proclamation of Christ's resurrection stirred, it is impossible to believe the whole world was never able to find the tomb!
His disciples stole the body? Matthew 28:1-17, “Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”
In order for the disciples to have stolen the body, they would have had to overpower sixteen Roman guards, remove the huge stone and take Jesus’ body away. Matthew 27:66, “So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. A watch consisted of four Roman soldiers which was changed every four hours (sixteen total). They would die if their prisoner escaped. Sixteen soldiers to guard a dead man, or as the Jews were saying and empty grave! Totally absurd!
Make the tomb secure? Secure against almighty God? Secure against the life-shattering power of the risen Christ? NO WAY! The stone was rolled away, not to let Jesus out, but to let the disciples in!
What was the result of the empty tomb?
•The seal of Rome was broken.
•Rome was no match for the power of God.
•Jesus rose from the dead. “He is not here, He is risen.”
•The Jewish leadership was no match for the power of God.
•The Kingdom of God came to earth.
•Christ’s death assured me that my sins are covered by His blood.
•His resurrection assured our future with Him.
FACT 3: Jesus Rose from the Dead:
1 Corinthians 15:12-20, “But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.”
Why is it important that we believe in the resurrection?
If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the entire Bible falls as untrustworthy. The resurrection gives meaning to the whole plan of redemption. Without Christ’s resurrection there is no salvation. Without the resurrection, the virgin birth is meaningless, Christ’s life was a failure, and His death a horrible, ruthless tragedy. And if Christ did not rise from the dead then every cardinal doctrine of the Bible falls: The infallibility of the Scriptures; creation; the virgin birth; the atonement; justification; sanctification, and the church. Either Christ rose from the dead as the Bible says or He is the biggest liar in history and the most colossal fraud who ever lived. The resurrection is the proof that God accepted Christ’s work on the cross.
The resurrection shows the immense power of God. Philippians 3:10 “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
To believe in the resurrection is to believe in God. If God exists, and if He created the universe and has power over it, He has power to raise the dead. If He does not have such power, He is not a God worthy of our faith and worship. Only He who created life can resurrect it after death, only He can reverse the hideousness that is death itself, and only He can remove the sting that is death and the victory that is the grave’s (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). In resurrecting Jesus from the grave, God reminds us of His absolute sovereignty over life and death.
As believers we take comfort in the fact that Christ died for our sins, and was raised on the third day. Death could not conquer Him, the grave could not hold Him. He lives, and He sits today at the right hand of God the Father in heaven.
How do we know that Jesus really rose from the dead? How do we know that it was not just a figment of an overactive imagination? Acts 1:3 NLT, “During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.”
Proof # 1: JESUS HIMSELF:
Mark 9:9,10, “Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.”
John 10:17,18, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
Matthew 12:40 NLT, “Like Jonah, three days and nights in the fish’s belly, the Son of Man will be gone three days and nights in a deep grave.”
Proof # 2: THE APOSTLES:
A Prerequisite for apostleship was a witness of the resurrection. Acts 1:22, “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
Acts 4:33, “The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.
Paul defines the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:4 NLT, “Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.”
Paul writes in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Peter: Acts 2:32 NLT, “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.” 1 Peter 1:3, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.”
Mark 16:14, “Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.”
Mary, the women and the angels: Matthew 28:1-8, “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
Fact #4: EVERYONE WHO COMES IN CONTACT WITH THE RISEN LORD BECOMES A CHANGED INDIVIDUAL:
Jesus rose and in rising He provided for each of us a perfect righteousness. He has covered me with the garment of salvation so that when God looks at me He sees only the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. My past is forgiven, my sins are hidden behind God’s back, buried in the deepest sea. Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Micah 7;19 NLT, “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” Isaiah 38:17, “For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.”
Jesus death met all of God’s demands against our sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Philippians 2:8 NLT, “He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
Jesus death and shed blood provided a covering for our sins. Hebrews 9:22, “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Matthew 26:28 NLT, For this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.” 1 john 1:7, “The blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” Ephesians 1:7 NLT, “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”
In the Old Testament the High Priest took the sacrificial blood of the slain lamb in the Holy of Holies, the most holy place in the Temple. He went through the veil (the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the congregation), took the blood and sprinkled it on the Mercy Seat (The covering of the Ark of the Covenant). This act would set the sins of the people forward for one year. When Jesus died, the veil was torn from top to bottom to give access. Metaphorically, His blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat. Hebrews 9:11,12, “But when Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. Once for all sin, once for all men, once for all time!
How many reading this have been born again by His blood? I’m here to testify that every person who comes in contact with the risen Lord becomes a changed individual! 2 Corinthians 5:17,18 NLT “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.”
HOW CAN I KNOW JESUS CHRIST PERSONALLY?
First and foremost, believe that the Bible is God’s Word, and that He is speaking to you through His Word! That’s what faith is…BELIEVING GOD’S WORD! Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Everything that God has to say to mankind is found in the Bible, the Word of God!
The Bible says there is only one way to Heaven! Jesus said it in John 14:6, “I AM the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 3:16, “ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Your good life or your good works cannot save you. Ephesians 2:8,9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; so that no one may boast. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
Only Jesus Christ is able to save you and give you eternal life! Listen to Jesus: John 10:28-30, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” Acts 4:12 NLT, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” 1 John 5:11,12, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life.” In other words, the way to possess eternal life is to possess God’s Son. The question is, how can a person have the Son of God?
Trust Jesus Christ today! Here's what you must do:
Admit you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 NLT, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” 1 john 1:10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. Jesus said in Luke 13:5, “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Acts 17:30, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.”
Repent…Greek: “Metanoeo” To change one's mind or purpose. This change is always for the better, and denotes a change of moral thought and reflection; not merely to repent of, nor to forsake sin, but to change one's mind regarding it. It denotes to reform, to have a genuine change of heart and life from worse to better.
Believe that Jesus Christ died for you:
John 3:16 NLT, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His is one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 5:8, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners..” John 15:13-14. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 1:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” Romans 4:25 NLT, “He was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised to life to make us right with God.”
Believe that he was raised from the dead:
Romans 10:9 NLT, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
ASK GOD, THROUGH PRAYER:
Pray in your own words, or pray this prayer with sincerity to God:
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I admit that I have sinned and fallen short of Your glory. I am sorry. I thank You that in Your love for me You took the blame for my sins upon Yourself and in my place suffered the punishment that I deserved for them. With Your help, I now choose to turn from my sins and I ask You to come into my life to be my Lord and Savior. You gave Your life for me and now I give my life to You, and I will not take it back. Thank You for the good things that You have for me in this life and in the life to come as I keep my commitment to You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
The Bible says: When someone becomes a Christian, they become a brand new creation, a whole new person. They are not the same anymore. A new life has begun. 1 Corinthians 5:17 NLT, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!.
If you sincerely asked Jesus Christ to come into your life to be Lord and Savior, you are totally changed. I know you may not feel any different, but you can’t depend on feelings, you can only depend on what God says: Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” God's plan for your life will begin to unfold as you continue to live for Him. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Proverbs 3:5-9 MSG, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own give him the first and the best.”
A few suggestions for your growth in God:
BAPTISM: Christian baptism is one of two ordinances that Jesus instituted for the church. Just before His ascension, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20). Find a church were you can express your new-found salvation through baptism.
CHURCH: Ephesians 5:25,27, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Find a church that preaches and teaches the Bible, God’s Holy Word. I do not know about your neighborhood, but usually, a Bible Church, Community Church, and many Baptist churches teach God’s Word.
READ: Set aside a quiet time to read the bible and pray every day. Start by reading the book of John in the New Testament. Read one chapter from Proverbs every day for wisdom and direction. Read a chapter from the Psalms every day for comfort and encouragement.
PRAY: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Prayer is simply talking to God. Talk to Him as you would a friend.
Bible Translations: New King James Version (NKJV), New American standard Bible (NASB), New Living Translation (NLT), The Message (MSG).
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