Just as it was with our study of Joshua, you are going to hear messages from the Book of Acts morning, noon and night.
I mean: Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night.
But you may have a message from Acts at any time.
As witnesses and ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There may be a time and place for hopping through the Bible,
But it is far more to your benefit to travel through various books in the manner in which the Holy Spirit first gave them – verse by verse.
And I’ve chosen to use tonight for this message because we have in verse 3 an Apologetics lesson.
Apologetics is not the art of making graceful apologies for blunders and embarrassments.
And you have no reason to be embarrassed by your faith in Christ Jesus.
No apologies, in that sense, are necessary.
We note that Acts 1:3 says that the Lord Jesus showed himself alive after his suffering through many infallible proofs, being witnessed by the apostles for forty days.
Christianity is one of a great many major religions.
I’m not talking about the hundreds of denominations and sects within Christianity.
I’m talking about Christianity versus Islam, Hinduism, spiritism, Shintoism, New Ageism, atheism & so on.
And Christianity is not even close to the largest or most dominant religion in the world.
For this reason it is important that the people of God should be able to explain to Muslims or atheists
And what it is that genuine Christians believe.
That means that we need to be able defend what we believe about our Saviour, long before other things.
What we believe needs to be defendable – and it is.
And we’re not just talking about people who met Him 2,000 years ago.
And there is His resurrection from the grave:
And the proof of His death begin with HIS BEATINGS.
As you know it was a part of Jewish law that no man could be beaten more than forty times,
At the end of which were imbedded pieces of bone and metal.
And the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.
In other words, a witness might have been able to see Jesus’ ribs, and possibly even his lungs behind them.
Judging from the hatred that the Roman soldiers heaped upon the Lord, many scholars believe that Jesus was beaten more severely than their ordinary cruelty.
Not even, with the intention of more pain, with salt or wine poured into Jesus; wounds.
And even if a good doctor had begun treatment on Sunday morning, Jesus would not have survived.
As you know it was common for criminals to hang on their crosses for days before dying,
Christ was no doubt in good health, but the beating off-set that completely.
And then there was the fact that He had been working hard and traveling for months.
And He hadn’t slept for at least 36 hours.
But since this crucifixion was taking place during the Passover week, both the Jews and the Romans wanted to accelerate the death of the three supposed criminals.
This would have increased the pressure on their hearts and lungs, speeding up their deaths.
If those soldiers were not absolutely sure that Jesus was dead, they would have broken His legs and left Him to die with the other two.
Christ’s heart had apparently burst and the pericardium around the heart and lung was filled with blood along with the usual serous fluids.
Then following the crucifixion there was THE BURIAL.
The Roman Governor, Pilate was surprised that Jesus had died so quickly,
So Pilate released our Saviour’s body to Joseph, who then made a quick preparation for burial.
And there are many who testify that if Jesus was not dead, then all the linen burial clothes, tightly wrapped around him and drenched in myrrh and aloes would have suffocated him anyway.
Wilbur Smith says, “We know more about the burial of the Lord Jesus than we know of the burial of any single character in all of ancient history.”
We know that Jesus was dead.
And there is much more that could be said about proof of Jesus’ death.
We could talk about the three days in the tomb.
We could talk about the Roman seal and the guards outside the door.
We could talk about the reaction of the disciples of Christ.
There is so much more that I could say about these things, but the point is –
Jesus died on the cross, just as the Bible says that He did.
“His passion,” in order words, His suffering, has been proven over and over again by infallible evidence.
There is absolutely no doubt that the tomb into which Joseph placed the body of Christ was empty 72 hours after the burial.
What they did was debate about how the tomb became empty.
But when we come to the preaching of the Apostles and their letters encouraging the disciples, the subject of the tomb doesn’t come up.
The subject of the sun doesn’t come up very often, because it is taken for granted.
And so it was with the emptiness of the tomb.
Right now I am wearing an undershirt, a dress shirt and a tie over the top. not to mention a lapel mike.
Rarely does anyone, even my wife, ever find my clothes in a pile on the floor after I have worn them.
But assuming that you did some day,
With my t-shirt inside with its sleeves inside the sleeve of my dress shirt
And my tie still tied around the neck of that shirt and synched up-tight on the still buttoned top button?
And do you suppose that this microphone would still be clipped to my tie?
If Christ was still alive and removed himself from those grave clothes, they would not have been left in the manner in which they were.
In fact it would have taken a miracle to leave them that way.
But not even the disciples were convinced by these two things.
John appears to have been an exception, but he was an exceptional person.
The proof for these people was that they actually saw the risen Saviour.
Someone has said,
“It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refute it simply by producing the body of Jesus.”
Imagine the city of Jerusalem, where every eye was upon the Lord Jesus the moment he rode into town.
Remember the excitement that filled everyone’s hearts.
And then Jesus was crucified and buried.
How did they secret it out of the city?
But the fact is, they weren’t looking, because they knew where the body was – it was gone.
But let’s say that Jesus did not die and that He somehow walked out of the tomb during the night Saturday.
Do you suppose that a man in the spotlight like He was could simply walk away without the paparazzi seeing Him somewhere sometime later?
Do you suppose that He who had been preaching and blessing the people, could suddenly become a recluse without ever being seen or heard from again?
And then eventually, Jesus, the fraud, would have died, and we still would have had a tomb somewhere.
The fact that there never was a tomb of Christ, is part of the proof that there was a resurrection from the first tomb.
The resurrected Lord Jesus then spent about five and a half weeks visiting various people and places on earth before finally and spectacularly ascending back to Heaven, as described later in this chapter.
Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, and the two on the road to Emmaus.
Then a week later He appeared to the church again, but this time with Thomas.
After that he appeared to seven of the disciples at the sea of Tiberias and then again to all of them.
At some point He met with five hundred of the brethren all at once on a mountain in Galilee,
Then once to James alone,
And to them all again when he was parted from them and went up to heaven.
And He, through the Holy Ghost, gave them further commandments.
A different body would have change the nature and definition of resurrection.
There was no doubt in the minds of the disciples that it was the same Lord Jesus.
One of the greatest arguments for Jesus’ resurrection is found in the words “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”
The disciples were not looking for the resurrection, although they should have been.
If crucifixion was the end of Christ, then what would be there end, if they said that He was alive?
And they certainly would not have wanted all the problems that fell on them after Pentecost if there wasn’t a really good reason.
During those forty days between the resurrection and ascension,
And together, the resurrection and their new understanding of the kingdom,
Revolutionized those disciples.
Those men feared nothing – not Jewish stones or Roman swords.
There is no adequate explanation for the transformation of those men expect for the resurrection.
And these things are two of the absolute essentials of our faith.