As a college student, I doubted the resurrection of Jesus in a sense. I believed it in a spiritual sense–whatever that means–but “just knew” that there was no real evidence for this historically and that Christians had to take this doctrine, this “truth,” by faith. Which means of course that I had a lousy foundation for my faith in Christ.
And then when I was 25 years old and a seminary student, I opened the latest issue of Christianity Today magazine–they gave free subscriptions to seminarians–and read a life-changing article by a British law professor named J. N. D. Anderson on “Evidences for the resurrection.” I was stunned, and blessed out of my socks to learn there is genuine, I-can-prove-it-to-you evidence for the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. My faith grew by a mile in one hour.
Later, when Professor Anderson enlarged the article into a book, I bought it and reveled in it. Since then, I have been delighted to see many have written such helpful books. See below for a couple.
Here are some favorite Scriptural texts on the resurrection of our Lord….
(This was first posted in 2009 as I was preparing to retire from the active, paid ministry. I’ve tweaked it a little. –JM)
Margaret and I were talking about my upcoming retirement from this position with our association. I said, “What do you want me to do when I retire?” She said, “Clean out the garage.”
And then? “The attic,” she said.
My wife has learned to lower her expectations concerning tasks around the house by her spouse of nearly 47 years.
The other day, our oldest son Neil was over. He’s being ordained as a deacon in our church on Sunday night, April 5. We’re all excited; if ever a man had a servant heart, he does. He said, “I decided that being ordained deserves a new suit, so I’m going to treat myself.” After suggesting a good men’s store, I said, “I’ll give you some financial assistance on that suit if you will help me clean out the garage.”
“And a mixed multitude went up with them.” Exodus 12:38
“And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires, and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, ‘Who will give us meat to eat?’” — Numbers 11:4
The unbelieving world is attending your church.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is sometimes we turn it over to them. Not good.
When the Israelites left Egypt under Moses, they were not alone. Exodus 12 says a large company of riff-raff seized the opportunity to flee the Pharaoh’s harsh rule also. (Various translations refer to them as “a mixed multitude,” “a motley mob,” “a mingled array of other folk,” “a crowd of mixed ancestry,” and “a great rabble.”)
Did we think the Hebrews were the only slaves in Egypt? Doubtless there were slaves from many countries. So, in the same way a jailbreak might free all the prisoners, many of the Pharaoh’s “inmates” decided they had had enough, that anything was better than the slavery of Egypt, and they threw their lot in with the Hebrews and the fellow named Moses.
Before long, the wisdom of that decision would be put to the test.
Bear in mind that these people, being outsiders, had no idea who Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were. They had no inkling that the great I AM was doing something mighty in their midst. They had no knowledge of Moses and no loyalty to him. Their thoughts were of themselves and their wants.
Don’t miss that.
“And all in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things….” (Luke 4:28).
“These things they will do because they do not know the One who sent Me” (John 15:21).
My notes from that church business meeting a quarter-century ago are fascinating to read from this distance, but nothing about that event was enjoyable at the time.
Our church was trying to clarify its vision for the late 1990s and into the 21st century. What did the Lord want us to be doing, where should we put the focus? Our consultant from the state denominational office, experienced in such things, was making regular visits to confer with our leadership. For reasons never clear to me, the seniors in the church became defensive and then combative. No assurance from any of us would convince them we were not trying to shove them out the door and turn over the church to the immature, untrained, illiterate, and badly dressed. To their credit, the church’s leadership, both lay and ministerial, kept their cool and worked to answer each complaint and every question.
My journal records a late Sunday night gathering in my home with 30 young marrieds from a Sunday School class. They were a delightful group. They wanted my testimony and had questions about the operation of the church. Then someone asked the question of the day.
Jesus showed Himself alive by “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3).
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (I Thessalonians 4:14).
If Jesus really did rise from the dead, then nothing is the same and everything has changed forever.
The reason Christians are positively giddy about the Easter Event–the resurrection of Jesus–is that in walking out of that tomb and leaving it forever empty, He broke the stranglehold in which death had held humanity.
We are free. We are free forever. We are free to live forever.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
Clearly, everything stands or falls on whether Jesus rose from the dead that first Easter Sunday morning.
The resurrection of Jesus was Heaven’s imprimatur on Jesus’s ministry, the Father’s validation of Jesus’ every claim, eternity’s “amen” to Jesus’ promises, and convincing evidence that Jesus Christ is everything He said He was.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6).
In normal times–that means non-pandemic days–preachers tend to log a lot of miles on their cars.
And, in my opinion, most preachers tend to drive aggressively.
I’m a preacher. In a typical, “normal” year, I will log 35,000 miles on my car, mostly traveling to preach.
Now, I work hard at driving well, and my wife says I do well. But sometimes I wish someone would ride with me and point out if I’m doing something wrong or a bad habit I’ve fallen into.
My notes remind me of three occasions when I found myself riding with pastors as we drove to their churches.
In each case, I did unto them as I want someone to do unto me. That is, I helped the pastor with his driving. (smiley-face goes here)
What we are attempting here is to walk a fine line between the fun of humor and hyperbole and the conviction of truth and righteousness.
The Lord called you to preach the gospel and you answered. You went off to a Bible college or theological seminary of one kind or the other, and you earned yourself some degrees which are now prominently displayed on your wall, right beside your high school diploma and the certificate of appreciation from the supermarket where you led the prayer of dedication for their grand opening. That was a long time ago, and these days, well sir, you are somebody. You finally got past those tiny churches which many consider boot camp for the pastoral ministry and now you are uptown in a fine facility–or even better, out on the interstate in a spacious new campus–with your name boldly plastered on the sign out front as the senior pastor.
Have you “arrived” in the ministry? From all appearances, you have. But here are some ways you can tell for sure….
1) You have a Bible published with your very own commentary notes.
“The Official Roger Bigshot Bible.”
This is for pastors and other church leaders in particular.
When Jim went to his church as the new pastor, he told me, “They have a bad history. Every two years they run the preacher off.” He paused and said, “Let’s see if we can change that.”
He didn’t. Two years later, in spite of the wonderful growth the church was experiencing, a little group informed him that his work there was done and it would be better if he left.
I served one church where a small group of leaders–some elected and some not–met from time to time to make important decisions for the church. The poor pastor had little or no say. When I, the new preacher, suggested that this is the type of thing a congregation needs to know about and make the decision, the spokesman said, “We don’t like to upset the congregation about these things.”
These days in my retirement ministry, since I’m in a different church almost every Sunday, I see all kinds of congregational setups. In one, the pastor seemed to be an appendage and was considered irrelevant by the lay leadership. In another, he was the good old boy expected to not make waves.
Since my ministry in a church (as the guest preacher) is usually confined to preaching a sermon and extending the public invitation, I try to find out certain things before the service begins:
(In leading church conferences, I often present Ephesians 5:21 as the secret key to a thousand good things in a church fellowship. See what you think.)
“Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
I leaned over to my grandson in church and whispered, “I remember when Brother Ken brought the drum set into the church. Some almost died. Now look.”
On the platform sat a dozen musicians–pianist, keyboard, several guitars, two or three drummers, one violin, a couple of horns, and this time, for a special emphasis, a mandolin and banjo. The church music that day was absolutely outstanding.
I sat there thinking, “What if we had given in to the naysayers? What if Dr. Ken Gabrielse and I had feared the criticism and buckled?” (Note: At that time, in addition to being our minister of music Ken chaired the Music Department at our New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Later he headed the Fine Arts Department at Oklahoma Baptist University. These days, he is a professor of Truett-McConnell University in Georgia. As fine a colleague as I’ve ever served with.)
There are times when church leaders need to pay attention to the criticism, and times to ignore it.
Critics of the Scriptures want to have it both ways.
If they find an inconsistency in Scriptures–the numbers seem not to agree, or a story is told in two or more different ways–it proves the Bible is man-made, filled with errors, and not to be trusted. If however they could find no inconsistencies this would prove the church authorities in the distant past conspired to remove all the troublesome aspects of the Bible in order to claim it to be inspired of God.
Either it is or it is not.
When one is determined not to believe a thing, nothing gets in his way. He can always find a reason not to believe.
Take the matter of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar of Jericho. His account is told in three of the gospels, but he is named in only one (Mark 10:46).