20230408 Shabbat haMo’ed Pesach – The Reality and the Relevance of the Resurrection
Torah Portion Exodus 34:1-7
Haftarah Ezekiel 37:1-9
Brit Chadashah John 11:17-27
Today is the Shabbat that falls during the Passover week. It is called Shabbat Chol haMo’ed. On this Shabbat we take a break from the sequential reading of the Torah portions and revert back to Scriptures in Exodus. The Haftarah reading is from Ezekiel and describes a vision given to Ezekiel of a valley of dry bones being resurrected into a might army. Today I would like to explore the concept of resurrecting the dead.
A few years ago Patricia and I were invited to give a Passover demonstration at a local church on Easter Morning. We got there and were told we had 15 minutes because they had a guy dressed up as the Easter bunny and they were having a big Easter Egg hunt. No sermon, just the Easter Bunny and eggs. Why does the Easter bunny and egg hunts seem to be more exciting than news about Yeshua’s death and resurrection? Because we simply haven’t grasped the significance of the death and resurrection of Yeshua HaMashiach.
I’m paraphrasing Hank Hanegraaff (The Bible Answer Man) here, “The resurrection of Yeshua is the greatest feat in the annals of human history. It is the very “capstone in the arch of the Messianic Movement.” Without it, all else crumbles. When we fully comprehend the significance of resurrection, our lives will be revolutionized. Without resurrection, there is no hope. Indeed without resurrection, there would be no Messianic Movement.”
- The Reality of the Resurrection
We need to come to a conclusion today that the resurrection of Yeshua is more than a fairy tale, more than a legend, and more than some religious symbol. It is a historical fact that is indisputable.
In fact, Billy Graham said that “There is more evidence that Yeshua rose from the dead than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived or that Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three.” How can Billy Graham make such a statement? Is there really evidence that makes believing in the resurrection more than a leap of blind faith? Let’s see…
I’m going to borrow from Hanegraaff’s acronym F-E-A-T to show you the importance of the resurrection.
While each of these points could be studied in more detail, we’ll just stay on each point briefly, but enough to make the point.
– Fatal Torment
One of the first things that we need to realize is, that for Yeshua to be resurrected, first he had to actually die.
Some commentators have posited that Yeshua just passed out and revived later in His tomb. But that’s dumber than dirt! Yeshua suffered horribly. Let me explain how horribly He suffered and eventually died.
He began his suffering at the Garden of Gethsemane where Luke 22:44 says, “his sweat was like drops of blood falling the ground.”
His suffering continued throughout his interrogations before Annas and Caiaphas, where he was hit in the face, spit upon and beaten,
and continued on as he was taken to Pilate, where he was flogged, given a crown of thorns, spit upon and struck on the head again and again. The flogging alone was so brutal that it is amazing he lasted until His crucifixion.
And then there was the crucifixion itself. The Romans had perfected the act of crucifixion to inflict the maximum amount of pain and suffering. The nails were driven into the wrists and ankles, some of the most sensitive parts of the body.
John 19:31-37 gives the account of the guards breaking the legs of the thieves to hasten their death by asphyxiation at the request of the religious leaders so that the bodies would not be left on the crosses during the Sabbath. But when they came to Yeshua, he was already dead, and they speared His side instead. This produced a sudden flow of blood and water. If he wasn’t dead, he would certainly be dead now.
Mark 15:44-45 Pilate was surprised that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him whether Yeshua had been dead for long. (45) When Pilate learned this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.
He was dead. No doubt about it.
– Empty Tomb
In Matthew 27 gives the account of Yeshua’s burial. Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, placed Yeshua’ body in his tomb. This account also says that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting opposite the tomb, so they knew where it was. And the next day the Sanhedrin came up with a plan to specifically thwart any plan the disciples might have of stealing Yeshua’ body and faking a resurrection by getting Pilate’s order to post a guard and seal the tomb (read Matthew 27:62-66).
Some might say that the Romans or the Jews stole the body, but that makes no sense. What motive would they have had? That would only encourage something they wanted squelched. Instead, after Yeshua had risen, and the guards had reported everything that had happened, the chief priests bribed them to circulate a false story that the disciples had stolen the body.
The tomb was discovered empty because it was empty. Nobody got the tombs mixed up. Nobody stole the body. It was empty, period.
One of the greatest proofs of the Resurrection of Yeshua HaMashiach was His many post-resurrection appearances.
While there were many appearances, for the sake of time, I want to look at just one of these appearances.
1 Corinthians 15:6 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.
More than 500 people! There were surely many people that could testify to the trustworthiness of this statement. Several hundred. Paul’s statement had plenty of eyewitness testimony to back it up or to disprove it if it had been false.
The reality is that a transformation in Yeshua’ followers took place. This is evidence of the reality of the resurrection. This little band of disciples went from hiding to preaching in a very short time. They were willing to go through horrible torture and death. As one writer put it, “Nobody willingly dies for something that they know is false”. But they knew it to be true. They knew Yeshua had died, they knew there was an empty tomb, and they had seen Him.
And the reality of the resurrection’s transforming power didn’t stop with the eyewitnesses. For within weeks of the resurrection, not just one, but an entire community of at least ten thousand Jews were willing to give up the very sociological and theological traditions that had given them their national identity.
Some angry Jews in Thessalonica said of Paul and his comrades that “These men who have upset the world have come here too”. The original followers and the hearers of that first century were so radically transformed that they affected their culture big time. And the transformation of people has been continuing for 2000 years.
III. The Relevance of the Resurrection
Now the question is ‘Why should Yeshua’s resurrection be important to me?’
- The Resurrection proves Yeshua is God
Yeshua’s resurrection proves He was God, and not an imposter. In John 2 Yeshua chased out the money changers in the Temple because they’d turned God’s Temple into a marketing venture. The Jews asked Him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” This is what Yeshua told them:
John 2:19 “Destroy this Temple,” Yeshua answered them, “and in three days I will raise it up.”
They thought he was referring to the Temple building they were in. But verse 21 tells us He was referring to His body. He delivered on His miraculous sign, thus proving who He was.
Paul opened the letter to the Romans like this:
Romans 1:1-4 Paul, a slave of Messiah Yeshua, called to be an emissary and set apart for the Good News of God, (2)
which He announced beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.
Concerning His Son, He came into being from the seed of David according to the flesh. (4)
He was appointed Ben-Elohim in power according to the Ruach of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. He is Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
The Resurrection proves Yeshua to be the Son of God and brings us face to face with the fact that He is who He claimed to be, God. The founder of every other religion died and stayed dead. Yeshua rose again. This is important to you because it forces you to make a decision in your life. Since Yeshua is who He claimed to be, how will you respond to Him?
- The Resurrection makes your salvation possible
Without the Resurrection of Yeshua every person is still dead in their sins.”
Romans 4:25 NIV says, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
If Yeshua died and was never raised, then his death did nothing to accomplish justification. God raising him from the dead showed acceptance of Yeshua’s sacrifice. If God left Yeshua in the grave, then the sacrifice was not accepted and no one has received cleansing from sin. The condemnation for sin is death (Romans 6:23).
To still be under condemnation means that all people will be given the ultimate penalty for their sins.”
1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Messiah has not been raised, then our proclaiming is meaningless and your faith also is meaningless.
1 Corinthians 15:17-18 And if Messiah has not been raised, your faith is futile—you are still in your sins. (18) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Messiah have perished.
If Yeshua did not rise then you are still dead in your sins and your faith in him is worthless and anyone you’ve known who died a believer is just as damned as an unbeliever.
If there had been no resurrection, then Yeshua proved Himself nothing more than a self-deceived prophet or crazy man and all of us are fools for trusting Him. BUT, as we’ve already seen, thankfully, the resurrection of Yeshua is a historical fact. Faith in Yeshua is not in vain. This is important to you this morning because Yeshua being alive means the way to God has been ‘paved’ by Yeshua and you can be made right with Him and have relationship with Him this morning.
- The Resurrection makes your resurrection possible
You and I are spirit and body. We are spiritual and we have physicality. Unlike the beliefs of the Greek philosophers who thought the body was evil and something we should want to be released from, God made our bodies as part of who we are and they complete us. Right now our bodies are affected by sin and die, but God has a plan to resurrect our bodies to perfection.
These resurrected bodies, our current bodies transformed, will be bodies completely perfect and dominated by the Spirit rather than the sinful nature. Granted, the resurrection will not take place until Yeshua’s Second Coming, and 2 Corinthians 5 lets us know that our disembodiment at death, for the believer, results in being in God’s presence.
But the same passage also lets us know that Paul desired to be “clothed” with his heavenly dwelling and not “naked,” or disembodied. So we can conclude that while our family members and friends that have died who were believers are very much enjoying the presence of the Lord, this is not their final eternal state. God has their bodily resurrection planned because He never planned permanent disembodiment for us.
Romans 8:23-24 and not only creation, but even ourselves. We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Ruach, groan inwardly as we eagerly wait for adoption—the redemption of our body.
(24) For in hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
Our spirits have been saved, but we are awaiting the day our bodies are completely made new and free of the weight of sin and totally dominated by the Holy Spirit. “For in this hope we were saved.” Resurrection is our hope.
And 2 Corinthians 5:5 says, “Now the One who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Ruach as a pledge.”
This ‘first fruits of the Spirit’ spoken of in Romans 8:23 is elsewhere referred to as a guarantee and pledge that we, who are His followers will be resurrected and will be forever with Yeshua.
And our resurrection is only made possible by the resurrection of Yeshua. Yeshua’s resurrection guarantees our own bodily resurrection. The Bible refers to Him as being the ‘first fruits,’ which guarantees the whole harvest, of which you and I are a part if we are in Yeshua. In other words, since He was raised first, we know we will be raised.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
(21) For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also has come through a Man. (22) For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah will all be made alive.
(23) But each in its own order: Messiah the firstfruits; then, at His coming, those who belong to Messiah;
When will our resurrection take place? The passage we just read said, “when he comes.” This second coming is referred to in Titus 2:13 as the “blessed hope.” Philippians 3:20-21 tells us that we are awaiting a Savior from heaven who “will transform this humble body of ours into the likeness of His glorious body.” When Yeshua returns we will see Him and we will be transformed! What a blessed hope indeed!
Now, just look at yourself. Take a minute. Do you feel too fat? Too thin? Got hurting knees or allergies? Losing your hair? Whatever problems and imperfections you have are temporary and will one day be changed in the twinkling of an eye if you are in Yeshua. That is our hope. It is the completion for us of the ultimate extreme makeover. A heavenly body for eternal living.
Do you ever feel like your life is like Humpty Dumpty’s. Remember, he sat on a wall and fell and all the king horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put him back together again?
You and I are broken because of sin. And there’s not a thing anyone can do to fix us. We are utterly helpless and hopeless and stand in judgment before God because of our sin.
You may be broken like Humpty Dumpty because of sin and unfixable by anyone in the world. But that tomb is genuinely empty and Yeshua is alive! What He did on the cross paid for your sins and you’ve been given an opportunity to not just be fixed, but to become a NEW CREATION and to have fellowship with God.
SLIDE 41: JOY OF RESURRECTION MORNING
That’s the joy of Resurrection morning. God can fix you spiritually and you can have the hope that He will one day complete your redemption by redeeming your body to be like Yeshua’s body! Do you see how relevant the resurrection is to our lives? Without it we have no life.