It’s Easter! This is the Sunday we celebrate the most amazing thing in human history – Jesus bringing Himself back from the dead. Tune in today to learn some surprising reasons you can trust that this is a historical reality and what it means for your life. Help us advance the Kingdom, support our online ministry (harmonychurch.cc/give). Got kids? Check out Harmony Kids online (updated weekly) https://www.harmonychurch.cc/harmony-kids-online/!
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OPENING ILLUSTRATION: Anyone in here love April fools jokes? I LOVE them! I was telling our kids when they were all young enough to pick them up and move them, we took them out of their beds and switched them to different rooms. They all woke up like, “where am I?” Last year we made miniature peanut butter balls for our kids out of cheese balls.
Growing up in our house is either awesome or terrible, I’m not sure which… I love a good joke…
But I don’t care for them when they are something serious…
You know, I think a lot of people don’t want to admit it but deep down, they wonder if this God and Jesus stuff isn’t just a big joke…b I mean, it sounds fanciful, right?
I get up every week and talk about God becoming a person. I tell stories about him walking on water, or healing people, etc. I talk about how he died – that’s not so spectacular but then, I talk about how He brought himself back from the dead…
Christianity sounds crazy b Unless it’s true…
Paul understood this, he wrote to the Corinthian church about this because there were people saying that there was no resurrection of the dead… That once you die, you are dead…
Paul says this…1 Corinthians 15:19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
If it’s all a joke, then Christians are dumbest people on the planet…But I have to tell you something. I don’t think I’m dumb…So, how do you know if this is all just a big joke? B What if Jesus really did rise from the dead? What would the implications of that be for your life? What if I could give you some evidence that is worth considering?
One of the first things we would have to consider is whether Jesus was even a real person who really died like the Gospels said He did…
MUNICH TALMUD. In the 1500’s the Pope told the publishers of Jewish works to destroy any mention of Jesus – because they were always negative -so, in the 1500’s the family that had the rights to print Jewish Talmud’s removed any mentions of Jesus in ancient Jewish lit.-later on they burned all the other manuscripts. Except for the manuscript known as the Munich Talmud-Munich Talmud, existed outside of reach of Pope remained in tact-so, what does it say about Jesus that was worth getting rid of? what’s a Talmud? the Torah = Old Testament. Mishna = oral traditions handed down from Moses. Jesus will talk about traditions of fathers – = traditions are the Mishna. Talmud = rabbinic commentary on the Mishna – make sense?- the Wikipedia of Jewish religious life. Here is what the Munich Talmud says about Jesus…“It was taught: On the Eve of Passover they hung Yeshu the Notzri. And the herald went out before him for forty days [saying]: ‘Yeshu the Notzri will go out to be stoned for sorcery and misleading and enticing Israel [to idolatry]. Any who knows [anything] in his defense must come and declare concerning him.’ But no one came to his defense so they hung him on the Eve of Passover.’ read 26 page paper on this one paragraph – what basically came down to was because of the nature of the Talmud that most of this paragraph is later additions (like 1300’s kind of later) but there is a portion of it that they believe comes from before 70AD – that would mean that there is a portion of this statement that comes directly from Jewish leaders who were familiar with the trial and death of Jesus. Here is the part they believe comes from Jesus’ time…On the Eve of Passover they hung Yeshu the Notzri for sorcery and enticing Israel [to idolatry].We literally just read the charge notes of Jesus that the Sanhedrin wrote down…Pope didn’t want people thinking Jesus was a sorcerer and idolater -but instead of being negative about Jesus -tells us there really was a Jesus of Nazareth performing acts they considered sorcerer so popular that believed Him to be leading all of Israel to worship God in a different way-this is huge – that they hung him – only way would have hung him would have been Roman crucifixion. Non-Christian source, from time of Jesus telling you Jesus existed, on the night before Passover -was crucified because He was performing miracles and claiming to be God…This is huge…Jesus existed, but that doesn’t mean He rose from the dead. cut to the chase -most convincing reasons I believe in the resurrection
ILLUSTRATION: James brother of Jesus – camel knees because he would go to the temple to pray for the forgiveness of the sins of Israel. The leaders of the day told him they would take him up on the top of the temple and that He could from the pinnacle confess for all that Jesus did not die and rise again. James instead got up on top of the temple and began preaching a sermon. They immediately realized their mistake and they threw him off the temple.
James didn’t die – so they started stoning him as he prayed that God would forgive them. Finally, someone grabbed a club and beat James over the head.
I want you to be clear. James died because he believed he had seen Jesus raised from the dead. Period. b Lot’s of people will die for a lie they don’t know is a lie b A crazy person might die for a lie they know is a lie. But normal people, will not die for a lie they know is a lie. listen to this…All the apostles (except the apostle John) died because they claimed to have seen Jesus alive after He had died. This is why I’m a Christian
ILLUSTRATION: In 2017 around Christmas time in New York city a fire broke out in an apartment building. The fire started on the first floor and quickly engulfed the 5 story building with flames. A 28 year old soldier, Emmanuel Mensah was on leave for Christmas and was staying in the apartment with his friends a couple and their 4 children. Mensah immediately snapped into action and helped get the family of 6 out of the apartment building. But then he did something heroic. He went back into the blaze to rescue four more people. He ran in to try and save a 5th and never returned. He died in the blaze, a hero, giving his own life so that others could live, dying trying to rescue.
As I thought about how the apostles died, clinging to the truth that they witnessed Jesus alive after his own death. b It hit me that they Stood in the Gap, giving their life so I could trust the life Jesus offers me. Offers you…
I told you, I believe in the resurrection because they were willing to die for it. If they hadn’t have died and suffered as well, I don’t know that you could convince me that Jesus rose from the dead.
But they went into the burning building of death in order to rescue me. To rescue you.
Can you imagine someone who was saved by Mensah talking to his dad and saying “eh, it’s not that big of a deal that he died to save me…
My guess is for the rest of those peoples lives they will remember the man who went in after them to save their lives.
I’m telling you, not only did God come down after you to rescue your life and give you new life b But those who witnessed His life gave their life as well, so you could trust the testimony.
why turn back to life as you’ve known it? Listen, my hope is that today you’ve been challenged in a way you didn’t know you needed to be challenged.-challenged to find true life
I want to ask you to consider making a commitment this morning. over the next several weeks, I’m going to be doing a sermon Series called Standing in the Gap, and we are going to be talking about how you can stand in the Gap for future generations as well – and you don’t even have to die for it.
So, my challenge is this. Would you try a new experiment and choose to come to church for the next 4 weeks in a row and see what God can do? see if you connecting with the resurrected Jesus isn’t as life changing for you as it was for me?