If Jesus Rose from the Dead, then (#10) God Would Have Recorded the Events Inerrantly

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We have already dealt with several events that have come under the charge of critics: the guards, the women and the angels. There are others that involve a supposed contradiction in where they took place. These are the most difficult, and we will leave those for tomorrow.

Today, we will look at the remaining events that have been called into question. You should notice this gets easier for us as we go along, because we have already laid much of the groundwork.

For example, there are two events that come under fire because they are not found in the Gospel accounts at all! This may be surprising to some, but it is not until we get to 1 Corinthians that we are told they occurred:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

This is the famous “creed” that we find already well developed before Paul pens it to the Corinthians—very early in the church. We will refer to this often in later posts, for it is a key piece of testimony that every believer should understand and wield. 

But, for our purposes today, we want to deal with the two events that were left out of the Gospel accounts. I have put them in bold above.

The first is the appearance of Jesus to more than 500 “at one time”. Critics have argued that if this were true, the Gospel writers would certainly have highlighted it. But we have already made the case that a historical record is not bound to include things we want included and one cannot then declare the record to be false because it does not. One might certainly argue their disappointment that an author chose not to include some particular event, but you cannot then throw it out because of your preference.

Notice something wonderful about this brief mention. Paul tells us, in essence, that if his readers of that day wanted to check this fact out, there were a whole lot of people who were part of that group that saw Jesus. And, most of those folks are still alive and running around! This is historical gold and is great evidence for the risen Jesus.

The second is the appearance to James. There is no other mention of this—when or where, just that it happened. It too, is a remarkable event recorded in just a few words. We will return to it later. But, here again, the same argument holds regarding selectiveness of historical records. However, even though none of the Gospel authors includes it (or the “creed”), Paul finds it of importance to note. With good reason, as we will see shortly.

There is also a mention in this “creed” of the appearance of Jesus to Peter (Cephas). It is only briefly mentioned in Luke after Cleopas and his companion see Jesus on their way to Emmaus:

And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Luke 24:33-34

This, too, has seen its share of critics, and for the same old argument: an appearance to Peter had to be huge. Why was it not elaborated?

The answer to this, again, is the reality of selective history from the author. But humanly speaking, I wonder if this meeting with Peter, who had only a few days before denied His Lord, was so special, so deeply reconciliatory and full of grace, that it was meant to be kept private, mentioned only in this small way and so very briefly by Paul.

But I would like to return to this incredible mention of Jesus appearing to James.

This is James, the younger, half-brother of Jesus. Here is a good idea of what James thought a few years earlier:

Then [Jesus] went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:20-21

There is a spiritual principle here that each of the Gospels records for us. When Jesus went home, He was not well received, even to the point of the Scripture saying that He could do no great work there. The principle is presented here by Jesus:

And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Mark 6:4

This is a very sad principle from which, no doubt, many of you suffer. Many of us have a son or a daughter, a dad or a mom, brother or sister, who are on the other side of a huge spiritual wall because of “Jesus”. We address this in The Engagement Project and offer some guidance, but for us now, it is amazing to think that James had, at one time, thought his older brother was “out of His mind!

But then, the risen Jesus comes to him.

And he is never the same again.

We next find that James is present in the final meeting with Jesus before His ascension. Later, when Peter is miraculously delivered from prison by an angel, he wants to make sure that James knows: “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this” (Acts 12:17). In the end, James is referred to as an apostle and eventually as the head of the Jerusalem church and the council of elders. He penned the epistle we title “James”.

What brought about this radical transformation? 

The risen Jesus. 

Some of the most skeptical critics of the New Testament, shake their heads at this one and admit that it is one of the most powerful evidences of the resurrecstion.

Has the risen Jesus transformed your life?

Meet with Him, and He will!

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If Jesus Rose from the Dead, then (#1) the Seal Was Broken
We don’t spend much time talking about the seal that was placed upon the tomb, but I think it is significant. Here is the historical record: The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. Matthew 27:62-66 The historical account states that the chief priests and the Pharisees “made the tomb secure by sealing the stone…”.  This seal was most likely several ropes that were drawn across the stone and then affixed to the tomb walls with a soft clay imprinted with some symbol of authority. It was also likely that the ropes were also sealed at their juncture in front of the stone. In this way, no one could move the stone or the ropes without breaking the dried clay and destroying the “seal” affixed upon the clay.  The seal was there to “put on notice” that no one was to mess with the tomb. Rome could deal quite nastily with those who did so. Now, this doesn’t mean much to us today, for we are long past the norm of using “seals” as they were utilized in ancient times. but in those days, a seal was inviolable[1]. It represented authority, authenticity, and finality. No one messed with a seal. In the book of Esther, when King Ahasuerus issued the order to save the Jews, he commanded them to “seal it with the king's ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked.” (Esther 8:8) When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, “… a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel." (Daniel 6:17) In the vision concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, the Scripture says this: And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Isaiah 29:11 The permanence of a seal against all who were unauthorized to break it was an inviolable part of their world.  It becomes even more apparent when John is caught up to heaven and there beholds the scroll with seven seals. John begins to weep because there was “no one worthy to open the scroll or to look into it” (Revelation 5:4). Of course, we find that the Lamb, “standing as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6), was worthy to break the seals. And when each of those seals were broken, great calamity came upon the earth. Seals in the Scripture mean something. And John had wept, because the seal represented an inviolable wall to anyone who did not have the authority to break it. Seals show authority. They show authenticity. And they show finality for all except the one who had the authority to break them. And so, we now come back to the tomb. The seal, whether it was a Roman seal or the High Priest’s seal, represented a fixed closure that no one was allowed to breach. When it was set upon the tomb, there was a finality, a stamp of ultimate authority, that said, “this tomb is closed”. Ah, but God is not subject to the laws or seals of man. I can imagine that when the earth began to shake and the stone was rolled aside, that those clay seals with the authority of man impressed upon them broke into a thousand pieces and lay as trash littering the ground. If Jesus rose from the dead, then the seal of man, meant to keep Him in the grave, had been utterly and completely destroyed. But there is one more thing that must be mentioned regarding “seals”. It is important to note that God has given us this detail in the record to help substantiate the reality of the accounts of the empty tomb and the risen Lord Jesus. But it also brings our minds to something quite wonderful. In John 6:27, Jesus said this: Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” If God seals something, it is sealed! In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:13 “… it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21 This is God’s seal of authority, authenticity, and finality. You are His, sealed with His guarantee. Oh, my, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! How deep is the steadfast love of God that He should do such mighty things to secure us to Himself and then tell that He has put His own seal upon you and me. As David writes: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:6 [previous] [next]     [1]Inviolable /ĭn-vī′ə-lə-bəl/: never to be broken, infringed or dishonored; unassailable; secure from violation or assault or trespass
If Jesus Rose from the Dead, then... (#0)
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