There have been hundreds of so-called prophets and false messiahs in the almost 2000 years since Jesus ascended back to the throne of God. All of them eventually die, and NONE of them have ever come back from the dead! Jesus was very specific in His warning for us not to be deceived by any of the many frauds that would appear. The closer we come to the return of our Lord and Master, the greater the deception that mankind will face. One reason so many people are deceived is because “real” truth is often inconvenient and so it is rejected. We find a warning in the first chapter of Romans that makes this very clear.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. (Romans 1:20-22, NKJV)
I have heard it said that Jesus Christ either truly rose from the dead or the concocted story of His resurrection was the most elaborate and well-crafted hoax in the history of mankind! The fallen nature of man rebels against the thought of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are several reasons for this. Many refuse to accept the fact of the resurrection of Jesus because they have never honestly researched the evidence. Others find an aversion to the thought of submitting to His authority and His claims. Still others reject anything miraculous; in fact, refuse to consider anything supernatural. Yet, this supernatural event did in fact happen, and there is an abundance of evidence. Many articles and books have been written on the subject but below are just a few proofs of Jesus’ resurrection that need to be considered:
- Jesus body was not stolen. Who would have stolen it? The women certainly could not have done so. They could never have gotten past the Roman guards, and they certainly could not have overpowered them! Neither could the disciples have taken His body away. All of the disciples had fled the scene of the crucifixion except John. They showed more cowardice than bravery at this point in time. Even if the disciples had had the courage to try such a thing, they could not have overcome the battle-hardened Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb anymore than the women could have. The Roman soldiers would not have stolen the body. They were ordered on pain of death to see to it that the tomb was not disturbed. How about the Sanhedrin? The last thing the Jewish leaders would want was for Jesus’ body to disappear; after all, He had predicted He would rise from the dead. They had been party to His death and needed Him to stay dead!
- Jesus’ tomb was empty. I find it interesting that it was some of Jesus’ most faithful followers, two women, were the first to find the empty tomb. I believe God did this on purpose! In the culture of the first century, women were considered to be second class citizens. Nothing they would say would ever hold up in court. Yet, God saw to it that it was these loyal women who were first to find out that the tomb was empty.
- Over 500 people in one place saw Him. 1 Corinthians 15:6 tells us: “After that He was seen by over 500 brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.” The Apostle makes a strong point when mentioning this because most of these witnesses to the resurrected Christ were still alive at the time he wrote 1 Corinthians. These people either all had the same hallucination or they really did see Jesus! It would not even be reasonable to believe that this many people agreed to report a fabricated story.
- Testimony of 1st century Jewish historian, Josephus. “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man (if indeed one ought to call him a man). For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. (He was the Christ.) When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. (On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him). And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.”
- Testimony of numerous secular historians, including Tacitus, the Roman historian. Many ancient writings and records are available that refer to the Christians, and their leader, Jesus Christ. These were not supporters of Christianity; in fact, there were many that were enemies of Christianity. Tacitus was not a friend of Christianity but he verified the explosive growth of the movement and spoke as well to the persecution of Christians by Nero. Several writings referred to the story of the resurrection of Jesus.
- Dramatically changed lives. Jesus’ own brothers had difficulty believing in Jesus actually being in the Messiah. What was it that changed them so much that two of the brothers actually wrote New Testament books? What turned the disciples from the cowards they had been during the time of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion to the fearless and unapologetic apostles they became just days later? It was the resurrection of Jesus! These men became ambassadors of the Messiah. They now understood that Jesus had come the first time as the suffering Messiah to set the world free of sin. They also understood that they were now to preach the Good News of His life, death, and resurrection to the whole world until Jesus came back again to collect the harvest of souls to be reached.
- A religious movement that should have died, did just the opposite. Jesus, the God-Man, who healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, raised the dead back to life, and even controlled nature’s fury, was brutally murdered, and seemingly everything that He had accomplished, was dead. All of His followers were scattered and some of His disciples were already thinking of going back to fishing. Within 50 days of Passover, Peter took on the mantle of an Apostle and preached a fearless sermon on the Day of Pentecost that reached over 3,000 souls. The rest of the apostles, as well as all that had waited in the upper room, were all filled with the Holy Spirit and became powerful witnesses, just as Jesus had predicted. Christianity was not just a small “flash in the pan”, but grew exponentially. The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus also was not confined to Jerusalem, but was spread clear around the known world. What was the key to such an unusual metamorphosis? It was the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Luke 24:1-8 we find these words:
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’” And they remembered His words.
I can’t imagine the shock of the two Mary’s when they went to the tomb and found the stone rolled away from the opening. The two “men” in shining garments were of course angels. They told the women that Jesus had risen from the dead and then they went in to see for themselves. This is the very best part of the whole story. Jesus was not dead! He was alive—just as He had said He would be! Without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Christianity would be just another dead religion! Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:12-20:
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus defeated sin, death, and the grave. Jesus is ALIVE! The resurrection of Jesus makes it possible for all those who put their faith in Him, accepting His free gift of forgiveness, and allowing Him to be the LORD of their lives, to also be free of the stain of sin, the dark finality of death, and the hopelessness of the grave! As Christ-followers, we of all people would be the most miserable if the whole resurrection story were a fraud. But since the tomb of Jesus was empty and Jesus really did rise from the dead, we are the most blessed of all peoples. Our Hope is in our Messiah and coming KING. Death means nothing, and no matter what happens in this life, next to eternity, it only lasts for a moment. Our entire eternity is in the hands of the One who defeated the cross, sin, and the last enemy of death! And this message is the message Jesus has commissioned His followers to give to the entire world. Let’s look at Acts 4:33; 1 Peter 1:3-8a, and John 11:25-26
And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. (Acts)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love…(1 Peter)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John)
The disciples, who had seen things that had not been seen anywhere in the world, much less in Israel, were still caught off guard when Jesus was taken and crucified. Amazing! These men had seen Jesus raise the dead, yet did not expect Him to rise from the dead—even after He had told them He would! But after they spent much of the next 40 days or so with Him after His resurrection, they had no more doubts! Jesus rose from the dead…and even though they also saw Him leave this planet, they knew He was coming back!
In conclusion, I would like to address the soon return of Jesus Christ. As Jesus was about to leave His followers, they asked Him if He was now going to restore the Kingdom of Israel. He answered them before leaving their presence.
And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold , two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.
Jesus’ followers must have had many questions, not the least of which had to do with the future of Israel. They knew that there was trouble ahead, but the first order of business for them was to wait for the Father to send the Holy Spirit to them. Jesus had told them in John 16 that the Holy Spirit would not be sent until He, the Son, was back with the Father. Jesus then told them what the work of the Holy Spirit would be.
The fledgling Church then went to the upper room and waited for the Holy Spirit as Jesus had instructed them to do. There are 50 days between Passover and Pentecost. It was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came and rested upon the group that had gathered. There were a number of miraculous supernatural manifestations that were seen and experienced, but the promise of power for witnessing was most important. The Church received the “Giver” of the gifts. As the days, weeks, months, and years unfolded, the Church grew in power and then also in numbers. The message Jesus had instructed them to share with the world was delivered with great power from on high. Soon, the Gospel was spread outside of Jerusalem, and then outside of Israel. The apostles themselves went in every direction into the world, all of them except for John dying a martyr’s death. The Roman Emperor’s attempt to kill John failed more than once. He was finally confined to a penal island—which is exactly where God wanted him so He could record the powerful vision of the Apocalypse.
In the very first portion of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (The Apocalypse), John, the beloved apostle, saw Jesus in a way He had never seen Him. He remember the years of Jesus’ ministry; he remembered the horrible crucifixion and the days around it, and of course he also remembered the days he and the rest of the disciples had spent with him in that forty day period of time after His resurrection. But, what He saw in the very first part of his vision of the Apocalypse stunned him; in fact, caused him to pass out. Starting in verse 9 of Revelation, chapter 1, we find these words:
I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea. Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and his countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:9-18, NKJV)
What John saw here, literally overwhelmed him. The Master had allowed John to see Him in a way that no one had to this point. The description of Jesus, the Son of GOD, here in this passage is very close to the description of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7: 9-10, which reads:
I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened…
I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed. (verses 13-14)
I find it interesting that, not only do we find the description of the glorified Son of God, Jesus Christ matching the description of the Ancient of Days, the Father, but then in verses 13-14 above, the Son of Man, Jesus, approaches the Ancient of Days. The Father then releases the entire Kingdom into the hands of the Son—an everlasting Kingdom over which Jesus Christ will reign as All-Powerful High Priest and KING, yet, every bit God. Since we know that there is only one God, which is expressed in three distinct Persons, God will literally be on Planet Earth, with the human race surrounding Him.
As is the case with so many things we find in the Word of God, this sounds like something out of a book of myths. It is however no more myth than Jesus having been crucified on Golgotha 2,000 years ago. The same Jesus who died, rose again, and ascended back to the throne of heaven, is coming back again, and this time as a conquering King!
There are many Scriptures that speak of Christ’s return. Many of them describe a large segment of earth’s inhabitants reacting in a very negative way. Below are two of these passages:
At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:30-31, NKJV)
I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him, who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of his wrath has come and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:12-17, NKJV)
We know that there are two parts to the return of the Messiah. The Rapture happens just before the Great Tribulation begins and then Jesus literally returns to Earth, to defeat the combined armies of the world aligned against Him, and then to set up His millennial kingdom. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 tells us this about the Rapture of the true Church:
But I do not want you to be ignorant brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
This passage specifically speaks of the Rapture of the remnant of true believers just before the Day of the Lord actually begins. Those that will have died in Christ before that time will be resurrected first, and those of us who are alive at that time, will meet them in the air, a split second later. This is a very real event and is very imminent. The Church today needs to be about the Father’s business, and doing this with a genuine awareness of the fact that we as the people of God must live lives of true, Godly holiness, walking circumspectly, and having daily intimate communion with Him. We must live lives led by the Spirit of God, not allowing ourselves to be defiled by the world we live in. This is why the Scriptures tell us that we are in the world but should not be of it.
We must be aware that the great heavenly horn could blow at any moment now. As Christ-followers who walk by the Spirit of God, we need not be caught unawares. It is the world around us that is caught off guard.
In days past, we received many admonitions from the Lord telling us that the time is short. Then the messages changed to the time being very short. Now, the Spirit of God is saying that time has literally run out. God is not telling us that we should sell all of our belongings and move out into the desert so as to be positioned just right for His call. What He is telling the Body of Christ, however, is that we need to run the last lap of our race as believers, knowing that the finish line is now visible in front of us. There is an ominous sense that comes with the urgent message from the Lord God in this hour. It is telling us that great and terrible things are now on the way, and they are not going to be stopped. These are not things meant to cause the true believer fear, but to urge us to a circumspect walk, a walk that redeems, or makes most of what little time we have left. Our Master is coming after a Church without spot or wrinkle! Folks, we are going home SOON. In Luke 12, we find these words:
It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. (verses 37-38)
It is a wise person that recognizes the seriousness of the day and time we are living in. The person who ignores, or refuses to recognize it, is a fool. All things in heaven have been prepared for the Bride of Christ to be retrieved from the Earth. For those that are not ready, TODAY is the day of salvation!
Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!