GOD'S WONDERFUL GAME PLAN - THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
What would you do if you were a high school football player whose coach sent in a play, which called for you to run the ball to your opponent's end zone and score for the other team? It has happened!
With 7 seconds left in the game, Tishimingo High School was leading Falkner High School, 16-14. At stake was a birth in Mississippi's 1988-state class 1A playoffs. Tishimingo had the ball on Falkner's 40-yard line. All they had to do was run out the clock on the next play, and they would win the game by two points.
Coach David Herbert, who has Lou Gehrig's disease and coaches from a seat in the back of a pickup truck, sent in a play to his son and the team's quarterback, Dave Herbert. The play called for a handoff to tailback Shane Hill and for him to run as fast as he could for the other teams endzone and score.
"Your daddy must be crazy!" protested one of the tackles. So, while the argument went on in the team's huddle, a delay-of-game penalty was called on Tishimingo. Finally, the team lined up, the ball was handed off to the tailback, and he ran 55 yards in the "wrong" direction. He laid down in the opponent's end zone and waited for the clock to expire with practically everyone on the field and in the stadium bewildered. The results were a two-point safety for Falkner. Score tied. Time expired.
Was the coach crazy? Was he out of his mind for calling such a play? You see, in order for his team to reach the playoffs, Tishimingo had to beat Falkner by 4 or more points. After thinking about the chances of going 40 yards on one play or kicking a field goal from that distance, he decided overtime was his best bet.
What was the result of the coach's play? Tishimingo won in overtime, 22-16, on a third down, two-yard run by Shane Hill. Hill finished the game with minus 29 yards for the night. But his team won and went to the playoffs.
1. This story sounds a bit like the cross to me. God became a man, was pushed around by His enemies, and was executed as a criminal by the Roman governor of Palestine. Satan appeared to have won. Jesus of Nazareth was dead. His disciples were scattered. On the surface, it seemed that God had suffered defeat. Or had He?
2. Three days later, Jesus was alive from the dead. Over a period of 40 days, He showed Himself alive to hundreds of people. Then, 51 days later, Peter explained that it had all been part of a divine strategy.
3. He continued and cited Old Testament predictions, which had been fulfilled by the resurrection.
4. The finale came when he announced, "God has make this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).
5. There you have it! A game plan that looked to the entire world like craziness. One, which still mystifies disciples in our church-huddles and observers in the world-stadium alike. But the Son executed His father's call to perfection. He died on the cross to take care of our sin problem and was raised from the dead. Through God's perfect plan, through God's perfect strategy, which looked foolish to the onlookers, we have become victorious--we have become winners.
6. Unfortunately, though, there are many people today who still will not believe in the cross and in the resurrection of Jesus. They think it is absurd to believe in something that far feted. They try to explain that the resurrection never occurred and that we are all fools for believing it.
7. Well, ladies and gentleman, call me a fool. Because I believe with all my heart in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
THIS MORNING, WE ARE GOING TO EXAMINE GOD'S GAME PLAN BY LOOKING AT THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST.
I. FIRST, WITHOUT A DOUBT, JESUS WAS RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD.
1. As I told you earlier, many people do not believe in Jesus' resurrection.
2. Here are several arguments people use to support their position.
A. SOME CRITICS ARGUE THAT THE RESURRECTION WAS A HOAX BY SUGGESTING THAT JESUS DID NOT ACTUALLY DIE ON THE CROSS.
1. This theory (which is known as the swoon theory) teaches that Jesus only appeared dead but was revived later in the tomb.
2. I do not buy this theory, and I'll tell you why…
a. Before Jesus was placed on the cross…
(1) The Bible tells us in (Mt. 27:26) that He was flogged which means He was whipped 39 times with leather throngs that contained jagged pieces of bone and lead.
(2) Dr. C. Truman Davis, a medical doctor who has meticulously studied crucifixion from a medical perspective, describes the effects of a flogging. "The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across (a person's) shoulders, back and legs. At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises, which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally, the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.
(3) Before Jesus was even placed on the cross, He was half-dead.
b. After He was almost whipped to death, (Mt. 27:35) explains that Jesus was then crucified on a cross.
(1) When Jesus was crucified, He was laid on two pieces of wood that were spread out to look like a cross. Then, the legionnaire presumable drove four wrought-iron nails through the wrists and feet of Jesus.
(2) Death by crucifixion developed into one of the world's most disgraceful and cruel methods of torture. Cicero called it "the most cruel and hideous of tortures. Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, who was an advisor to Titus during the siege of Jerusalem, had observed many crucifixions and called them "the most wretched deaths."
(3) After Jesus was nailed to the wood, He spent 6 horrifying hours in the hot, blistering sun hanging on the cross until finally He died.
3. Knowing what Jesus went through, how could anyone say that He did not actually die.
A woman once wrote to a well-known radio preacher these words:
"Our preacher said that on Easter Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think? The preacher replied, "Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip for thirty-nine heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then see what happens."
4. Jesus actually died on that cross and was buried in Joseph's Tomb.
5. Further, Pilate was so sure that Jesus was dead, that he made sure himself before he gave Jesus' body to Joseph of Arimathea for burial.
6. Brethren, we can have rock solid faith that Jesus actually died on the cross.
B. SOME CRITICS ARGUE THAT THE RESURRECTION WAS A HOAX BY SUGGESTING THAT SOMEONE STOLE THE BODY OF JESUS.
1. Some say that the Roman or Jewish authorities removed the body of Jesus.
2. If that were the case, don't you think that on the day of Pentecost, when the Church was established, the Roman or Jewish authorities would have produced the body of Jesus in order to disprove the claims of Christianity.
3. Some say that Jesus' disciples stole the body.
a. The question that I have is how could they have accomplished this?
(1) The Bible says in (Mt. 27:62-66), that Pilate had a guard to secure the tomb.
(2) We must understand that a Roman guard was not a one, two, or three man force. A Roman guard was a 4 to 16 man security force. The 16 men in a square of 4 on each side were supposed to be able to protect 36 yards against an entire battalion and hold it. Normally, what they did was this: 4 men were placed immediately in front of what they were to protect. The other 12 were asleep in a semi-circle in front of them with their heads pointing in.
(3) These guys were well trained and took their jobs very seriously. In fact, Roman guards were immediately put to death if they ever left their night watch, or fell asleep.
4. There is no way that Jesus' disciples stole His body away from the well-trained and well-alert Roman guards.
C. SOME CRITICS ARGUE THAT THE RESURRECTION WAS A HOAX BY SUGGESTING THAT THE WOMEN WENT TO THE WRONG TOMB WHILE IT WAS YET DARK AND THAT, SEEING IT EMPTY, THEY REPORTED THAT JESUS HAD RISEN.
1. If they went to the wrong tomb, why didn't the authorities go to the right tomb, produce the body of Jesus, and disprove the disciples' claim?
2. Why is it Peter later made the same so called "mistake" in broad daylight.
(1) How is it that both the women and Peter saw the empty grave clothes, if they were at the wrong tomb?
3. The reason why all of these theories are wrong and without merit, is because Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
4. The Bible teaches that after Jesus was raised from the dead, He appeared to over 500 different people at many different times throughout a 40-day period.
5. The only conclusion that we can come up with is that God raised Jesus from the dead. Here is the only theory we can trust in:
6. By sharing the resurrection account with you, I hope that our faith has increased and that we have gained a better understanding of the events of the resurrection and how God's game plan was executed perfectly.
II. SECOND, HOW CAN WE BENEFIT FROM THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS?
A. SINCE JESUS WAS RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD, WE CAN ALSO BE RESURRECTED FROM SPIRITUAL DEATH IN ORDER TO LIVE A NEW LIFE HERE AND NOW.
Last year, Mary and I saw the movie, "Dead Man Walking." At the end of the movie, as Sean Pean was being transported to the electric chair, one of the guards yelled out, Dead Man Walking.
1. What caught my attention was even though he was still physically alive, the guard recognized him as a dead man.
2. Ironically, the Bible teaches the same thing. You can be alive physically, but spiritually dead.
3. Most people are not aware of this, but unless a person believes in Jesus Christ; repents of their sins; confesses faith in Jesus; are baptized for the forgiveness of sins; and are living faithful lives in Christ; they are spiritually dead. They are "dead men walking."
4. However, the good news is that since Jesus was resurrected from the dead, we can be raised to a new life here and now.
5. When we are baptized, meaning immersed in water, we are burying our dead sinful lives. When we come up out of the watery grave, we are given a new life. Our sins are done away with. We are literally raised from the dead!
6. Jesus came to give us life and have it more abundantly (Jn. 10:10). If you would like a new life and new beginning, through Jesus' death and resurrection, you can be raised from spiritual death this morning.
B. SINCE JESUS WAS RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD, WE TOO CAN BE RESURRECTED AND LIVE FOREVER IN HEAVEN.
1. My friends, the good news is that we can escape death.
Twenty-seven people are banking on the idea that modern science will someday find or engineer a fountain of youth. Those twenty-seven people, all deceased, are "patients" of the Alcor Life Extension Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, where their bodies-or merely their heads!-have been frozen in liquid nitrogen at minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit awaiting the day when medical science discovers a way to make death and aging a thing of the past.
Ten of the patients paid $120,000 to have their entire body frozen. Seventeen of the patients paid $50,000 to have only their head frozen, hoping that molecular technology will one day be able to grow a whole new body from their head or its cell.
It sounds like science fiction, but its called cryonics.
Thomas Donaldson, a fifty-year-old member of Alcor who hasn't yet taken advantage of its services, brushed aside the naysayers and explained to a reporter why he's willing to give cryonics a try: "for some strange reason, I like being alive….I don't want to die."
2. For those, like Donaldson, who like being alive, God has good news. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead with an eternal, resurrection body. He has conquered death. All of those who believe in Jesus and obey God's will, will someday also be raised from the dead with an eternal resurrection body. Jesus, not cryonics, is the only sure hope of eternal life.
1. In closing, many people have a hard time believing that salvation is obtained by believing in a man who was convicted as a criminal, and executed on a cross.
2. But the truth is that Jesus died on the cross to take care of our sins and was raised from the dead. Through God's perfect plan, through God's perfect strategy, which looks foolish to some people, we have become victorious--we have become winners.
3. The world thinks that we as Christians are running in the wrong direction…headed for the wrong end zone. But we are running in the right direction. We are headed for the right end zone.
4. My friends, God's wonderful game plan is for us to give our lives to His son Jesus Christ. This morning, if you would like to be apart of God's winning team, then please come down front and devote your life to the Lord. Come now as we stand and sing.