Media Illustration: More than ten years ago, millions of filmgoers watched in awe as “Titanic” disappeared beneath the waves. The James Cameron film had a huge global audience; many people attended six or seven times, according to reporter David Ansen. A cartoon strip had a mom saying to her family: “I’m going, uh, shopping. I’ll be back in about four hours, maybe.” The family exchanges knowing glances: “Titanic—again.”
Three Popular Stories: historians and statisticians report that the three most commonly told stories in the world are:
1. The life and death of Jesus
2. The Civil War
3. The sinking of the Titanic
Especially with the first and third stories, one element has captured the world: the possibility that a person who goes down with the ship into the icy Atlantic and drowns—can someday live again. People wanted to believe that the ill-fated lovers, Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater, could actually be united again on the grand staircase of Titanic. That heroic dads who put their wives and children into lifeboats and then perished might someday experience the Bible’s promise of a Resurrection Morning.
Faith Decision: Is what the Bible says about resurrection true? Did a dead person named Jesus come out of the tomb on Sunday morning? Or did His disciples steal the body, hide it, dry their tears, and then concoct this tall tale to beat all tall tales?
The Bible Witness: It’s not just the fate of “Jack and Rose” which rests on Bible truth. All of us are intimately affected by what we read in I Corinthians 15 The possibility of US ever living again rests entirely and completely on the doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. . . . For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for THIS LIFE we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”
Two Elements: first, the general doctrine of the resurrection, which can affect all of us who believe. Second, and more specifically, the resurrection of Jesus after Calvary And what Paul tells us in emphatic language is that you absolutely cannot get one without the other A gives us B and B gives us A. The two are inseparably linked.
Reject One—Reject Both: If we reject the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection or begin to doubt that He really did come out of that tomb, then you immediately have to also embrace—or at least wince and acknowledge—the reality that when you sink into your own Atlantic Ocean and close your eyes in death, that It’s all over for you . . . forever. Every funeral we attend has a terrible finality to it.
Isn’t the Resurrection Doctrine a “Given”?
Amazingly, a growing number of “Christians” are abandoning this pillar of the faith. What’s more, many of these same people don’t consider their non-belief to be a crisis or a problem with their Christianity “I can still believe in the Christian message without accepting this ‘myth’ of the Resurrected Christ,” they say Which is hard to comprehend considering the statement by Paul that without the Resurrection of Jesus, our faith is futile and we’re still in our sins (v. 17).
Jesus Seminar in 1994
“What happens when some of the world’s leading scholars of Christianity agree that the man behind the religion was just a man? ‘He [Jesus] wasn’t born in Bethlehem (Nazareth is more likely), his mother wasn’t a virgin, he didn’t come back from the dead, and He never fancied Himself a divine being. Further, He may not have been a carpenter, may well have been a husband and father, and He never delivered the words ‘I am the way, the truth and the light’ or any of the rest of the Gospel of John.’” From the “Jesus Seminar” think tank’s released book, The Five Gospels, quoted in “Crossfire,” published in Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine, June, 1994, by Russell Shorto.
According to these professors and scholars, the Virgin Birth is gone. Also the miracles and the Resurrection. The entire Bible is a shoddy and unreliable report. In case we think this is just one or two liberal, weak-spined professors from some obscure college, the bibliography informs us that these are 73 major theologians from prestigious schools and religious universities. The writer for GQ calls these men and women the “advance guard of what has become the hottest and most controversial area of religious studies: historical Jesus research.”
Voting About Jesus: These 73 scholars used red, pink, gray, and black beads to vote on whether or not Jesus said or did this particular thing that’s found in the Gospels. Red means He for sure said those words, and black means absolutely no way did He say or do that. According to the votes, 82% of all that Christ said was determined to be fabricated. Words put in His mouth by later sources or ghostwriters or maybe just plain made up.
All 73 voted that Jesus never raised a widow’s son back to life, as told in Luke 7. A 100% rejection of a clear Bible account. They simply did not believe this miracle ever happened. In their “expert” opinion the Bible writer Luke simply made up the entire experience to impress people who might be thinking of becoming Christians. To “wow” them, as one of them put it
Bottom Line: No Miracles. These scholars just could not believe that a miracle could ever happen. ANY miracle. Jesus Himself, they thought, could not ever once perform a miracle.
John Dominic Crossan of DePaul University, one of the major forces in this movement, completely discounts both the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. Both of those events are miracles, and so, to him, are completely impossible. “I don’t believe anyone in the history of the world was born as the result of divine-human conjunction.” To him, Jesus was nothing more than a “peasant Jewish Cynic,” a “Jewish Socrates.” Even God in heaven wouldn’t be capable of a Calvary resurrection.
Appeal: Do we want chocolate eggs and bunnies or the plain Word of God? Do we want Jesus the wandering poet or Christ the Risen Lord? Do you want your end to be when a ship goes down or the lights go out . . . or do you look forward to a wonderful and everlasting life in God’s eternal kingdom made possible by Jesus Christ breaking through the walls of that garden tomb?
I AM the Resurrection and the Life, Jesus promises. Do we believe Him today? He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. John 11:25, 26.
Submitted by David B. Smith. Better Sermons © 2005-2008. Click here for usage guidelines.