What a Difference a Day Makes
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
4 April, 2010 AM
I. Introduction (Acts 25:19)
A. In Acts 25:13-19, the apostle Paul is in chains, and being tossed about in the Roman judicial system waiting for a fair trial about his preaching. And Festus makes this amazing statement about Paul, that he “affirmed” that a crucified man named Jesus, was alive!
B. To affirm is to swear, to confidently say something is true. Paul was affirming something so radical, so unbelievable, that either it was the most crazy thing ever, or it was the most life changing truth of all time!
C. It hadn’t always been this way!
1. It wasn’t that way before the crucifixion, oh the disciples rallied around their Messiah, ready to stand with Him and die for Him (Luke 22:33).
a. They spoke of who would be the greatest in the coming kingdom
b. They argued who would sit closest to Jesus on His throne
c. They brushed off every mention by Jesus of the cross, and rejected every warning that he gave about the future
d. They believed, and I mean REALLY believed in Jesus, and as far as they could imagine, nothing could change that!
e. But they never believed He would actually die, much less get up again!
wasn’t that way in the
a. Jesus was tied up, pushed and shoved through the streets to a midnight court hearing where He was beaten and slapped and falsely accused
b. The mob took him back and forth between the two high priests at that time, and then to the Roman governor, Pilate, with the hope that he would approve of their desire to kill Him
c. Pilate tried His best to find something wrong with this man named Jesus, but the crowds of people called for Jesus’ torture and death on a Roman cross, the people didn’t seem to want Him now!
most surprisingly, none of His disciples fought for Him, and none stood with Him
to defend Him! Except for
e. Nobody believed Jesus was on course and going to win in the end!
3. It wasn’t that way at His death, only two embarrassed men hastily wrapped Jesus’ bloody body up in a cloth, and put it in a borrowed tomb, and left Him there (Mt 27:57-60).
a. And the disciples of Jesus, those men who had been with Him for 3 ½ years; who had seen every miracle imaginable, and had experienced every impossible problem resolved; those disciples retreated to a cold, dark, upper room – scared, and totally terrified
b. Nobody believed Jesus would rise again!
c. And there they hid. Thursday all day, Friday all day, and then Saturday – three days!
d. But, Oh, but what a difference a day makes!
D. But Sunday came (Mt 28:1)! Very early!
1. Several women came to anoint the body of Jesus
2. They felt compelled to honour the person who had saved their homes, and changed their lives, and healed their neighbours
3. And they found the tomb empty!
4. And the world has never been the same!
E. Today, many of the world's distinguished philosophers and “scientists” viciously attack Christianity as being irrational, superstitious and absurd. They class us in with the tarot card readers, and the mystics, and the pole sitters, and the flat earth believers! Many others have chosen simply to ignore the resurrection. And others have tried to explain it away through “plausible” theories.
F. But, as Peter writes in 2Peter 1:16, “we have not followed cunningly devised fables”
1. The truth is, the proof of the resurrection just can't be rejected. Not if you are honest!
2. The followers of Jesus, who were unorganised, demoralised, leaderless, all began to boldly say that the very same Jesus had indeed bodily, physically, truly risen from the dead.
a. They were not angry at the Romans – not any more!
b. They were not bitter against the Pharisees
c. They were only and completely excited!
d. Because SOMETHING had happened! Some extraordinary!
e. They declared that Jesus actually appeared to them over a period of 40 days, showing Himself to them by many "infallible proofs." Unquestionable proofs! Undeniable proofs – facts!
f. The apostle Paul wrote that Jesus appeared to more than 500 believers at one time, the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote.
g. So many security precautions were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ's tomb that it becomes very difficult to believe that Christ did NOT rise from the dead.
from that ONE EVENT, that empty tomb, Christianity spread throughout the Roman
G. What empowered those early believers? What enabled them to go and preach and die with a song on their lips?
H. It was simply, Because He Lives!
1. Hey! The Apostle Paul risked his life for the last 20 years of it because Jesus lives (Acts 25:19)!
Peter, James and
4. Stephen in Acts 7 stood and preached and told the religious of his day that Jesus was very much alive and coming again soon, and prayed for the crowd as they stoned him to death
5. Why did he allow them to do such a cruel thing? Because Jesus does indeed live!
I. Hey! Maybe you really never believed it! Maybe it never really hit you, but Jesus IS alive (Rev 1:18)!
II. Seven Facts for the Resurrection
A. People want facts, we’ve got facts. Of all people, and of all religions, the Bible believer has the facts
Professor Thomas Arnold, 14 years a headmaster of
2. Consider these facts:
B. FACT #1: Broken Roman Seal
1. This guard placed on the edge of the entrance stone the Roman seal, which was meant to prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulchre. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb's entrance would have broken the seal and been killed.
2. And yet in defiance, it was broken when the stone was rolled away!!!
C. FACT #2: Empty Tomb
1. The body of Jesus after His death on the cross was placed in a solid rock tomb, with an extremely large 1 ½ ton stone rolled against the entrance of that tomb.
disciples of Christ did not go off to
3. Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb.
4. Gamaliel who was a member of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, put forth the suggestion in Acts 5:34-39, that the rise of the Christian movement was God's doing; he could not have done that if the tomb were still occupied, or if the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ's body.
D. FACT #3: Large Stone Moved
1. On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the 1 ½ ton stone that had been lodged in front of the doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it.
2. Those who observed the stone after the resurrection describe its position as having been rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb, but from the entire massive sepulchre. It was in such a position that it looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. Now, I ask you, if the disciples had wanted to come in, tiptoe around the sleeping guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus' body, how could they have done that without the guards' awareness?
E. FACT #4: Roman Guard Goes AWOL
1. The Roman guards fled. They left their place of responsibility. How can their fear he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional?
2. The fear of their superiors' wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs. Dr. George Currie, a student of Roman military discipline, wrote that fear of punishment "produced flawless attention to duty, especially in the night watches."
#5: Grave-Clothes Tell A Tale (
literal sense, against all statements to the contrary, the tomb was not totally
empty--because of an amazing phenomenon.
2. On top of that, the napkin that had lain over the face of Jesus under the wrap of that cloth was folded up and placed neatly by itself
3. No one who would have been rushing in to steal the body would have uncovered the body from its bloody cloth – it would have been stuck to the ripped up body after 3 days, and they DEFINITELY would not have folded up the face napkin!
G. FACT #6: Jesus' Appearances Confirmed
1. Jesus Christ appeared alive and breathing, and hungry on several occasions after the traumatic events of that first Easter.
2. The fact that over 500 people all declared that they had seen, and talked with the living Jesus after He had been declared dead
a. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus
b. Mary Magdalene
c. Ten disciples in the upper room – with Thomas
d. Then, all the eleven as well as 120 other people in the upper room met Jesus
e. Ultimately over 500 witnesses: Mainly believers, But also HOSTILE WITNESSES
1) Saul of Tarsus despised Jesus and persecuted Christ's followers. It was a life-shattering experience when Christ appeared to him. Although he was at the time not a disciple, he later became the apostle Paul, one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.
2) Christians believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected in time and space by the supernatural power of God. The difficulties of belief may be great, but the problems in unbelief present even greater difficulties.
H. GREATEST PROOF: The Disciples' Lives
1. But the most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. We have to ask ourselves: What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ? At such great risk, and without any material drive, or pay-off?
2. As a reward for their efforts, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured, burned and crucified. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking, from singing, from preaching, and from witnessing!
3. Yet, they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message.
4. These fishermen, carpenters, travellers, wives, teenagers, cobblers, unlearned and ignorant people, all had been changed! They became the most powerful force in the world! All because of the power of Christ’s resurrection!
5. Saul of Tarsus, a religious killer and rejecter of Christianity, was adamant against Jesus Christ, and hated Him and everything about Christianity… that it UNTIL he spoke to Jesus! The FACT that Jesus was alive, and talking with Him, and was all powerful, more powerful than the noon day sun, change Saul! It defeated Saul. It saved Saul’s soul! And he became probably the greatest CHRISTIAN who ever lived!
6. THAT was the power of the resurrection in Paul’s life!
I. Well, Let me try and transfer some of the Power of the Resurrection, into your life this morning!
J. You see, if you would just believe that Jesus Christ IS alive, seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding, in control of everything happening around you, ready to work in your life, then you might just start to experience some excitement in your life for the first time!
A. Because He Lives… Every Doubt is Settled
1. The Resurrection settled every Question, every Doubt that has ever been raised against God and the Bible, and eternity!
2. It proves there really IS life after death!
a. He spoke of eternity
b. He then went there, and came back
c. He took the thief on the cross next to Him there
d. He had His disciples handle Him and see that life BEGINS at death – with a perfect body
3. It proves Jesus really IS God in the flesh – He didn’t need anyone to raise Him up – HE GOT UP HIMSELF out of that tomb!
4. It proves The word of God is totally true and dependable (1Cor 15:1-4; 14,15)
a. When Jesus died, all the disciples had believed the Scriptures
b. But to them, death proved that Jesus had failed
c. But the resurrection proved that ALL the promises, and the prophecies, all the details in the Bible are true, and if some have not happened yet, then, THEY CERTAINLY WILL!
5. In Christ every believer is totally Secure (Eph 2:4-6) – no more fears, no more worries!
a. Most people would give their right and left arms for a good night’s sleep, for freedom from fears, for the ability to just know God is taking care of you!
b. Religions are so mysterious – they never can say whether a man has done enough to be forgiven, and that they are for sure entering into eternal life
c. And so people just “hope” they will go to heaven. They “hope” that they are right, and that they have done enough, and prayed enough, and given enough…
d. But I am going to tell you, they of all people have NO hope! Not without the resurrection!
e. Jesus’ resurrection proved that nothing can separate a born again child of God from God (Rom 8:34-39). Once you trust Jesus to save you, His resurrection proves He can keep you!
f. He has not only the power to save you from death and hell, he has the power to keep you and get you all the way to heaven, no matter how rough the ride may be!
g. That may not seem like much to you right now, but when the storms of life beat against your foundation, the fact of the resurrection, the fact that Jesus is alive, will hold you together!
B. Because He Lives… Every Problem is Light (2Cor 4:14-17)
1. Hey! This life and all its problems mean nothing compared to eternity
2. The resurrection puts it everything in perspective (2Cor 4:14-17)!
3. Jesus is set at the right hand of God, interceding on the behalf of His children – He is on our side
Christian looks forward to death, to trials, to heartaches, to disasters – we
look forward to LIVING. You see, Because He Lives… You will never die (
a. Death has no more dominion over you
b. Yes, your body may die, but you yourself will never die
c. What a thought! Here is real hope! No worries about coffins, about hospitals, about gravestones, about wars, about illness, about aliens!
5. No problem is big anymore – not in the shadow of the empty tomb!
6. Are you alone right now? Are you in debt? Are you wavering and wandering with no hope in sight? Are you hurting inside? Are you like Job, wishing you had never been born?
C. Because He Lives… Every Prayer is Answerable
1. Is there ANYTHING too hard for God?
2. The resurrection proves that NOTHING is too hard!
3. There are no “impossible” prayers – only prayers outside of the will of God
4. We need to get to the place where we believe God for the impossible
a. Not about our economy, or about world peace, or about no more wars, or poverty
b. But about the most distant souls getting under conviction, and repenting and getting thoroughly converted! I’m praying for Richard Dawkins to get saved!
c. We need to believe God for every need – no matter how small, but also no matter how BIG
d. Trust Him for a godly wife, for a godly husband, for a wayward son or daughter
e. Trust God for a sound mind, for your whole family to serve the Lord together
f. Pray for a job, and then believe God for a job, and then start looking for that job that God will give you!
g. Believe God simply because He is perfectly believable!
D. Because He Lives… Every Day is Liveable (Philippians 3:13,14)
1. Because He Lives… Every Day Counts now!
2. You can hazard your life with no regrets (Acts 15:25,26; 2Cor 11:23-27). Paul declared, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind me!” No regrets!!!
3. There is no other way to live – a life without regrets!
4. If Jesus really is alive, and if you are following HIM, then there are no regrets to carry down to the grave! No way!
5. If He is alive, and you are following Him, trusting Him, obeying Him, you will never regret one minute of your life
a. No matter if you lose everything – really, if the resurrection is true, you have lost nothing
b. No matter if everyone mocks you and ignores you
c. No matter if everyone leaves you and abandons you
d. No matter if your health falls apart
e. No matter if your mind fails
f. No matter if no one else in your family ever gets saved
g. No matter of the economy never returns
h. It will be impossible to regret following and being in love with your living and all wise Saviour!
6. Oh yes, you will have sorrows, and remorse, but no regrets!
E. Because He Lives… Every Promise is Sure (1Peter 1:3)
1. Because He Lives… You have a lively hope
a. Difference between a living dog and a lively dog
b. I don’t just have hope, I have a vibrant, lively hope that keeps me looking up!
2. Hope changes your attitude about what you are going through
3. If you thinks will never change, you just give up
4. But if you know something is only for a little while, then you put up with problems
5. You will have an exciting hope
a. In prayer – you can believe God can answer – that nothing is to hard for Him
b. In preaching and witnessing – that people will get saved
c. In patiently waiting on God – knowing He is always at work
d. In pursuing the will of God – excited that it is going to be good
6. And best of all you have someone to look forward to! You will see Him face to face one day (1Thes 1:9,10; Job 19:25,26)
a. This is usually forgotten
b. But the truth is, because he lives, He is coming again!
c. Just as he came the first time as promised, so will He return one day!
d. I am looking forward to that day!
e. Titus calls it our “blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour!”
F. Because He Lives… Every Sin is Forgiven (Romans 4:25; 5:10; Acts 13:37-39)! past, present and even the future ones!
1. You can be Forgiven
2. People have a funny idea about sin – to most people sin is not really so bad
3. They have even a funnier idea about forgiveness
a. God, to most people just overlooks sin – sort of blind to it
b. Everybody basically is going to get into heaven – God is not so strict
4. But the truth is, we are all messed up. Sin has done it in us bad!
5. And our sins, no matter how small will forever separate us from our Creator in a place called hell. You go right ahead and call that archaic, and old fashioned, but the truth is, it’s the Bible! It’s the word of a loving God who doesn’t want ANYONE dying and going to a place called hell, and definitely doesn’t wish for you to live in the bondage of sin!
6. So, the dying Jesus, on the cross prays, Father, FORGIVE them…!
7. Hey! Freedom begins with forgiveness! Not perfection! But nobody would no the power of that forgiveness until the resurrection!
8. When Jesus was being beaten and whipped, Peter lied and cursed the name of Jesus – and it killed him inside!
if ANYBODY should have been defeated, it would have been Peter, but three days
later, in Acts 16:6,7 the angels tell the women at the tomb to tell the
disciples AND Peter to meet Him up in
10. And because Jesus lives, He can completely forgive you!
a. No matter how many drugs you have taken
b. No matter how much pornography you have fallen into
c. No matter how bitter you may be
d. No matter how many lies you have told
e. No matter how deep you have sinned, Jesus went deeper to pay for your forgiveness
11. All you have to do is ask Him, and He will help you start all over again! But this time, by the power of the resurrection
G. Because He Lives… All Change Is Possible! You CAN Change (Romans 6:9-14)
1. The resurrection proves ANYONE can change! Even YOU CAN change
a. Not by will power, or by meditation, or by drugs, or by a new environment
b. But by the resurrection – by plugging into it!
c. The resurrection is what you plug into for the power to change (Rom 8:11)
2. How can you change? Three key words that we will look at this month
a. Know… (6:1-3) the truth about the crucifixion, the burial, and the resurrection
1) Not just the facts
2) But the reasons why, and the purpose of it all
3) Take it is a package that is to be believed with all your heart!
4) That’s why we preach the Bible! Because of all the things you need to KNOW, the Bible is the MOST important Book to know from cover to cover
b. Reckon… (6:11) apply, add up all the truths and apply it to your sins, and your past
1) It is kind of like a cure you apply to an illness
2) It is kind of like applying the strength of a dam to the flow of a river – it takes control of a mighty river – just as the truth about Jesus takes control of all my sinful habits!
c. Yield… (6:12,13,18) to the new way that God has for you to live, free from the bondage of your old habits, and empowered by the same Holy Spirit that raised up Jesus
1) You used to so easily yield to sin and temptation
2) By the power of the resurrection, you can yield to righteousness, and godliness, and have a restful spirit, and a joyful attitude
3) You say, just believing that Jesus really is alive can change my life? Yep!
4) Because He has the power to change you!
3. I can affirm, I can say with confidence that you can change. The resurrection PROVES it! The question is, Do you want to?
A. Where Do You Stand?
1. What do you think about all the overwhelming historical evidence for the resurrection?
2. What is your conclusion about the fact of Christ's empty tomb? What do you think of Christ now? Was he just a teacher, just a religious leader?
a. When I was confronted with the overwhelming evidence for Christ's resurrection, I had to ask myself: “What difference does all this evidence mean to me? What difference does it make whether or not I believe Christ rose again and died on the cross for my sins!”
b. The answer is put best by something Jesus said to a man who doubted--Thomas. Jesus told him: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (Jn 14:6).
3. On the basis of all the evidence for Christ's resurrection, and considering the fact that Jesus offers forgiveness of sin and an eternal relationship with God, who would be so foolhardy as to reject Him?
4. My friend, Christ is very much alive! He is living today.
5. You can put your trust in the God of the resurrection right now by faith through prayer. Prayer is talking with God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. If you have never trusted Christ enough to let Him save your soul from your sins, you can do so right now.
6. You can pray something like “Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my heart and I now trust You as my Saviour. I ask you to forgive me for all my sinful deeds. I want to know you, and especially, know the power of your resurrection! Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life simply because I have now asked. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. I know that I can trust You, so I will follow you for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name! Amen!"
Craig Ledbetter | Pastor |