Old Brick Reformed Church, Organized 1699

490 Route 520 • P.O. Box 153 • Marlboro, NJ 07746

Office Phone: (732) 946-8860

Secretary's Email: secretary@oldbrickchurch.orgInfo

Sunday Worship: 10:00AM - 11:00AM

Pastor Kaden's Sermon Notes for Sunday April 19th

Christianity's Heartbeat, Do You Feel the Beat?

In 1982 theologian Michael Green wrote a wonderful book entitled: "Christ is Risen, So what? Is it true? Does it matter?" It's a wonderful little book, only 95 pages, but if you're wondering what life's all about and you’re searching for answers, Michael Green's book can help.

Michael Green lays out a case for the resurrection of Christ and the implications the resurrection has upon our lives. Green says: "... the crux of Christianity lies fairly and squarely in this single issue of the resurrection of Christ. If you want to pierce into the heart of the mystery of life, if we want to discover what human existence and destiny are all about, there is one place, and one only, to start. Did Jesus of Nazareth rise to a new life after three days of death, or did he not? If it is false, the entire edifice collapses. If it is true, the consequences for our world and for our individual lives are immense."

It was certainly true for Jesus' disciples. Christ's resurrection meant everything to them. Following Jesus’ death, we find them hiding, in voluntary "lock down" from the world. Not only were they grief stricken because of Jesus' death, they were also frightened, afraid that, because of their allegiance to him, they might also be arrested and suffer the same fate he experienced. So, they were hunkered down and hiding that is until...

Sunday comes... and the disciples find... The tomb was empty. Jesus' body was gone. Mary tells them she's "seen the Lord" outside the tomb. And then, that same evening, the risen Lord appears to them in the room in which they're gathered and issues his assurance of peace. It was all quite overwhelming to them. It will take some time to process.

The disciple Thomas, however, missed all of this. For whatever reason, the gospel doesn't indicate why, Thomas is not with the other disciples when Jesus visited them that evening. When he finally does return to the room and the others tell him they, "had seen the Lord", Thomas is full of doubts. He refuses to believe and says: "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it".

What was Thomas demanding? Proof, right? He wanted proof. Just as jurors demand proof in court cases or medical science demands proof in their discipline. "Give us proof", "Show me the facts so I can draw my own conclusion", people will say. People often demand proof like this. They want to know the facts; they want to see the evidence so they can come to their own conclusions about things. That's what Thomas was demanding here.

Skeptics demanded evidence too as it relates to the resurrection because skeptics have their doubts and have provided a whole host of theories in an attempt to disprove the resurrection. For example, there's the:

"Swoon Theory". It suggests, Jesus was not really dead when his body was placed in the tomb. He was only unconscious for a while. When he revived, he left the tomb. This theory is full of holes because it can't explain things such as, "How did Jesus emerge from the nearly 100 pounds of grave clothes he was embalmed in?" And, "How did he escape from the tomb that was sealed with a huge stone?" And, the theory also fails to address how Jesus got past the Romans guards stationed outside the tomb or, how Jesus was able to manage all of this after suffering scourging by the Romans and six hours hanging on a cross under the blazing Middle Eastern heat? Make no mistake Jesus was dead when his body was removed from the cross.

And then there's...
"The Theft Theory", which suggests Jesus' disciples stole his body away in the night. This theory is also full of holes. The disciples stole his body? These guys ran away like scared jack rabbits when Jesus was arrested. They were petrified the Roman authorities would arrest them and put them to death too. I'd like to suggest they "didn't have the guts" to head to the tomb to steal Jesus' body. And, let's not forget, they would have had to contend with the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb.

And then there's...
"The Hallucination Theory", which suggests all of Jesus' disciples were "only imaging, hallucinating" that they'd seen the risen Christ. Grief can cause many strong emotions, but the gospels describe at least eleven "post resurrection appearances" by the risen Lord to hundreds of people in various settings. Eleven appearances to individuals and groups, to men and women, in country and in town, in the upper room and by an open lake and others. He actually appeared to some five hundred people at once.

Not really dead? His body stolen away? Hallucinating? You decide! Take a look at the following passages, John 20: 1-18, Matthew 28: 1-10, Luke 24: 13-34, John 20 and 21, 1 Corinthians 15: 5-6, Acts 9: 1-19, and 1 Corinthians 9: 1, 15:8.

While there are many "evidences" for the resurrection of Christ I could point to, let me suggest one that, to me, is the most credible evidence to the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead that first Easter morning, it's the lives and witness of the disciples themselves following their encounters with the risen Christ.

Before the resurrection... locked behind closed doors. After the resurrection... out in the streets, putting themselves at risk, proclaiming the Lord was alive.

How can we explain that? Would you be doing anything like that if you knew you were believing a lie? How did this dramatic transformation occur? What happened that caused this change?

In Thomas' encounter with the risen Lord, one week after the resurrection, we find an explanation of how this transformation occurred. The account is found in John 20: 24-31. Jesus appears to the disciples once again in the upper room. Thomas is with them this time. Jesus says to Thomas, "Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Seeing the nail marks in Jesus' hands and the scar where the spear pierced his side, Thomas says, "My Lord and my God!" Thomas has moved from doubt to faith.

Many people think Christianity is a religion; but Christianity is much more. It's more than knowing facts; it's a relationship people like Thomas and you and I experience when we have an encounter with Jesus Christ. It’s a relationship that moves us past our doubts, to a place of faith, love, and trust.

It's a life changing encounter you can have anywhere, even in your home while you're in "lock down". It's asking Jesus Christ to make himself known to you and in doing that the risen Lord Jesus will transform your life forever! As with Thomas you will shout: "My Lord and my God!"

Christianity's Heartbeat, the Resurrection. Do you feel the beat?

Yours in Christ,

Pastor George Kaden

Reformed Church
In America
RCA The Reformed Church in America is a fellowship of congregations called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the very presence of Jesus Christ in the world.


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