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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 30, 2008

“Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:46).

This is what Christ said when He rose from the dead. Although I don’t endorse everything they wrote, I like this statement given by two modern New Testament scholars, Dr. Walter A. Elwell and Dr. Robert W. Yarbrough,

No one pretends to understand [the account] fully, but certain things do stand out as of supreme importance if we are to comprehend [the account] at all. The first is the uniqueness of Jesus. He is not just another religious leader, equal or even better than Mohammed, Buddha, or Moses. He is in a class by himself. The early believers could find no better way to describe him than to call him, “King of kings and Lord of Lords,” indeed, God himself. Although unalterably monotheistic, they felt justified in doing this because Jesus had made such claims himself and the only Jesus they remembered was the Jesus who taught them with absolute authority, as never a mere man spoke.
      Second, the story of Jesus is supernatural from beginning to end. Any attempt to remove this element from the accounts destroys them entirely. The story abounds with references to God, angels, demons, Satan, miraculous events, divine healings, the Holy Spirit, and the eternal dimension breaking into time. The very fabric of all four Gospels consists of many singular occurrences in Jesus’ life, such as the virgin birth, his transfiguration, his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension to heaven. These are not ancient myths, but historical realities, the foundation on which the Christian faith is built. Take these away and there is no Christian faith left.
      Third…if we step out in faith we will become new people in the same way that those who knew Jesus while he was on earth were transformed when they yielded their hearts to him. There is no other way to find out who he really is.
      Fourth, the story of Jesus tells us that death is not the end…Just as Jesus broke the power of the grave, so will death’s power over us be broken as we believe in him. He [said to Martha], “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). These are extraordinary words, but that is the promise. Because Jesus lives, those who trust him will live forever with him.
      Finally, all the above is true because the final point is true – that Jesus is alive and promises to be with us now to the end of the age…The same Jesus who walked on Galilee’s shores, healed the sick of their diseases [and] forgave sinners their transgressions (Walter A. Elwell, Ph.D., and Robert W. Yarbrough, Ph.D., Encountering the New Testament, Baker Books, 1998, pp. 134-135).

And so we come, this morning, to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When He had risen, Jesus said,

“Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:46).

Dr. A. T. Robertson said,

Five appearances [of the risen Christ] are given as occurring on the day of his resurrection, and five subsequently given during the [next] forty days. The five appearances on this day [Easter Sunday] were (1) to Mary Magdalene (John and Mark); (2) to the other women (Matthew); (3) to the two [who were] going to Emmaus; (4) to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34); (5) to ten apostles and others (A. T. Robertson, D.D., A Harmony of the Gospels, Harper and Row, Publishers, 1950 edition, page 172).

1.  First, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene early on Easter Sunday morning:

“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her” (John 20:1-18).

2.  Second, Jesus appeared to some other women who came to the empty tomb:

“And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (Matthew 28:9-10). .

3.  Third, Jesus appeared to two people on the road to Emmaus:

“After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them” (Mark 16:12-13).

4.  Fourth, Jesus appeared to Simon Peter:

“And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread” (Luke 24:33-35).

5.  Fifth, Jesus appeared to ten of the Apostles, with Thomas absent:

“And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:36-43).

6.  Sixth, Thomas was not there on Easter Sunday night. The following Sunday night Thomas was with the other Disciples,

“And after eight days [after 6:00 PM, which began a day by Jewish reckoning, but would still be Sunday by Roman reckoning; so it would be what we call Sunday night] again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:26-29).

7.  Seventh, during the next several days, seven of the Disciples travelled back to Galilee, and were fishing in the Sea of Tiberias (also called the Sea of Galilee), when Jesus appeared on the shore,

“Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead” (John 21:12-14).

8.  Eighth, during this period, Jesus appeared to more than five hundred people on a mountain in Galilee,

“After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep” (I Corinthians 15:6).

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:16-20).

9.  Ninth, He also appeared to His own half-brother James,

“After that, he was seen of James” (I Corinthians 15:7).

10.  Tenth, at the end of forty days, Jesus appeared to the Apostles,

“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:4-11).

11.  Eleventh, He appeared to the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6; I Corinthians 15:8) and in the Temple (Acts 22:17-21; 23:11).

12.  Twelfth, He appeared to Stephen, outside of Jerusalem (Acts 7:55), and to John on the Island of Patmos
       (Revelation 1:10-19).

One of the strongest proofs that these men saw the risen Christ is that all of them suffered death as martyrs for preaching that they had seen Him after He rose from the dead. Only John escaped martyrdom, but he barely did so, having been thrown into boiling oil.

James, the Lord’s half brother, was thrown more than 100 feet from the top of the temple and then beaten to death with clubs for preaching that his brother rose from the dead.

Jude, another half brother of Jesus, was shot to death with arrows for refusing to deny that Jesus, his half brother, had risen from the dead.

James, the son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman soldier who guarded James listened in amazement as James told of the resurrection of Christ at his trial. Later, that Roman soldier walked beside James to the place of execution. The soldier was so overcome with conviction that he declared his own faith in the resurrected Christ to the judge, and knelt beside James to accept martyrdom, and was beheaded as a Christian with James. James was beheaded for preaching that Jesus rose from the dead.

Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound, because he preached the resurrection of Jesus.

Mark died in Alexandria, dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead, because he too preached the resurrection of Jesus.

Luke was hanged by the neck in Greece for preaching the resurrection of Jesus.

John was scalded alive in a large basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution, because he preached the resurrection of Christ. He miraculously escaped alive, but was horribly scarred for the rest of his life. He was later sent into exile on the Island of Patmos for preaching the resurrection of Christ, where he died at over 90 years of age. He was tortured and exiled for preaching that Jesus rose from the dead.

Peter was crucified upside down on an X-shaped cross, because he told those who killed him that he was not worthy to die the same way Jesus died. They killed Peter for preaching that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel, was a missionary to the Roman province of Asia. He was whipped to death for preaching the resurrection of Jesus.

Thomas at first doubted Christ’s resurrection, but then he met the risen Saviour. He was speared to death in India for preaching Jesus’ resurrection.

Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas, was stoned and then beheaded for preaching the resurrected Jesus.

Barnabas was stoned to death at Salonica for preaching that Jesus rose bodily from the dead.

Paul was tortured and finally beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment. While he was in prison, Paul wrote the Prison Epistles. Mrs. Hymers and I climbed down a ladder into the Mamertine Prison, in Rome, a few years ago, into the cell where Paul was kept while he wrote I and II Timothy. Paul was taken out of that dark prison dungeon and beheaded by Nero for teaching and preaching that Jesus rose physically from the dead.

All of these Apostles laid down their very lives for preaching Christ’s resurrection. After Jesus rose from the dead, these Apostles preached everywhere, “We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25). They all died proclaiming what Peter and John said when they were arrested for preaching Christ’s resurrection,

“We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

They knew Christ after He arose, and “shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days” (Acts 1:3). They could not be stopped from speaking about the things which they had seen with their own eyes.

You can also know the risen Christ, as they did. As Dr. Elwell and Dr. Yarbrough said, “If we step out in faith we will become new people in the same way those who knew Jesus while he was on earth were transformed when they yielded their hearts to him. There is no other way to find out who he really is.”

To close this service, Mr. Griffith will come to sing that song by evangelist Paul Rader again. Please join in on the chorus.

Mary beheld Him, and “Master!” cried,

After He came from the tomb;

Suddenly Jesus stood in their midst,

Entered the tight shut room.

He who was dead is alive again!

He who was dead is alive again!

Broken the strong, icy clutches of death –

He who was dead is alive again!

Peter beheld Him there on the shore,

Ate with Him there by the sea;

Jesus was saying, with lips once dead,

“Peter, dost thou love Me?”

He who was dead is alive again!

He who was dead is alive again!

Broken the strong, icy clutches of death –

He who was dead is alive again!

Thomas beheld Him there in the room,

Called Him his Master and Lord,

Put forth his fingers into the holes

Made by the nails and sword.

He who was dead is alive again!

He who was dead is alive again!

Broken the strong, icy clutches of death –

He who was dead is alive again!

   (“Alive Again” by Paul Rader, 1878-1938).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I Corinthians 15:1-8.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Alive Again” (by Paul Rader, 1878-1938).