I am so excited about what God has given me to talk about today. I am excited, because it is what brought me to a saving faith in the Son of God Jesus Christ as I read the scriptures. It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ! The proof of Jesus' resurrection is found in the changed lives of His disciples.
Many in the time of Jesus considered Him to be a good teacher and a prophet, but He began to say a lot of things that people just could not stomach. He angered the religious leaders of the day who thought they were good people by showing them they were not good people. He began to claim He was God and told people that the only way to heaven was through Him. He called himself the bread of life: “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh." (John 6:51). He called Himself the door: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9). He called Himself the good shepherd: "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (John 10:11). He told people that He has the power to lay down His life when He wants to and take it up again when He wants to: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18). He goes on to tell people that He is the only way to Heaven: "Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6). He a claimed to be God: "Jesus *said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9). Jesus said many other things like this, can you imagine how hard it was for some people to swallow? Actually I can, because it was hard for me to swallow as well. During Jesus’ time the people were looking and hoping for the Messiah, the chosen one of God who was promised by God through the Law and the Prophets to save them. Therefore, when the people saw the qualities of the messiah being exhibited in Jesus they began to follow Him, but when He began making these outrages claims about Himself many deserted Him. He was left with a very select few that held on to the hope that He was the Messiah.
Then came the capture, arrest, trial, and death by scourge and crucifixion on the Cross at the hands of the Romans; this left the remaining disciples without hope. If you read in combination the four Gospel Accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John you will get a real picture of what happened. These men left Him, they completely deserted Him and were scattered, they were not even together as a tight net group anymore. Some of them as friends hung out together, but the group as a whole was dispersed. They were not even to be found during the crucifixion, it was the women who stood by and watched. Peter who later became a great leader in the church denied three recorded times that he even knew Jesus. There is strong indication that these men no longer believed Him to be the Messiah and went back to their normal lives. After Peter and John see the empty tomb the bible tells us that they went home: “So the disciples went away again to their own homes." (20:10). The bible talks about two men on the way to a village called Emmaus: "And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:13). When asked what they were talking about they said that they were discussing Jesus and had hoped that he was the Messiah, indicating that they may have lost that hope. In the Gospel According to John: Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John were all back in Galilee fishing, they had gone back to their everyday lives. They were referred to as the sect of the Nazarenes, and all indications were that this sect of the Nazarenes had died at the death of their leader Jesus.
So then we move on to “THE ACTS of the Apostles” The book of Acts. You have Peter who had previously denied in his cowardice three times that he even knew Jesus, stand up and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in front of thousands of people. The bible tells us three thousand souls were saved that day. (See Acts 2) Then you have Peter and John both going into the temple in broad day light professing the name of Jesus before everyone without fear. They are arrested and brought before the religious leaders, even the religious leaders marvel at the speech and boldness of these two men. The city of Jerusalem is in an uproar, because these men who formerly followed Jesus where back, and they were back boldly proclaiming throughout Jerusalem and all Judea that the Messiah had come, and His name is Jesus. They were preaching to everyone "Repent of your sins and trust in Jesus". They were doing this without fear of man. All of these men who were formally cowards preached salvation through faith in Jesus Christ their entire lives without wavering one iota. They did this even under the real threat of death, torture, and imprisonment.
So why would these men who were cowardice suddenly be full of boldness? I’ll tell you why, they saw a dead man come back to life! That’s right, they saw a dead man rise from the grave! The same Man who said: “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh." (John 6:51). The same Man who said: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9). The same Man who said: "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (John 10:11). The same Man who said: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18). The same man who said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6). The same Man who said: "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9). After His resurrection they saw Him with their own eyes, they walked with Him, talked with Him, ate with Him and touched Him. They could do nothing else, they had to go tell everyone that Jesus died for our sins and is raised, no matter what the threats were against them. The rulers threatened and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. “But Peter and John answered and said to them, " Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19-20). So I tell you here and now Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and He is risen from the dead.
The proof of Jesus' resurrection is found in the changed lives of His disciples! If Jesus is risen, then all His claims about Himself and His promises are true. So change your mind just as I did. Your own conscience tells you that you have broken God’s law, that you are a sinner fallen short of the glory of God, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) and what you deserve for breaking God's Law is death: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)! That is the bad news, but there is good news: “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23)! How are we saved? "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus said: "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:40). Just like when Thomas saw and touched the risen Savior he believed and proclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Therefore when you believe, you will also confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. As it was with the disciples, you cannot truly believe in the Son of God Jesus Christ and remain the same: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (1 Corinthians 5:17). If you do remain the same you have not truly believed. Repent, turn away from your sin, and put your trust solely in the Son of God Jesus Christ.