The Resurrection - Hoax or History?

Bible Book: Acts  1 : 1-11
Subject: Resurrection; Easter

It was Easter Sunday morning in 1932 and Pastor Alfred Ackley was getting ready for the service. He happened to turn on the radio and the announcer said, “We will now join the complete red and blue networks for a special programme originating in New York City.” The speaker introduced was a well known preacher who was known for his liberal thinking. He greeted his radio audience with the words, “Good morning. Its Easter. You know folks it really does not make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not. As far as I am concerned his body could be as dust in some Palestinian tomb. The main thing is, his truth goes marching on.” Well, Alfred Ackley started shouting, “It’s a lie, it’s a lie.” His wife came in and asked, “why are you shouting so early in the morning?” Ackley replied, “Didn’t you hear what that good for nothing preacher said? He said, it did not matter whether Christ was risen or not.”

That day in both services Pastor Alfred Ackley shot with both barrels, blasting what the preacher said and proclaiming the truth that Christ was risen from the dead and was alive. But when he got home that evening he was still fuming. His wife said to him, “why don’t you write a song about it and then maybe you’ll feel better. Then you will have something that will go on telling the story.” He went to his study and turned again to the resurrection story and reread the words, “He is not here for He is risen.” He picked up his pen and wrote these words,

“I serve a risen Savior

He’s in the world today

I know that He is living

Whatever men may say

I see His hand of mercy

I hear His voice of cheer

And just the time I need Him

He’s always near.”

My …. Christianity is founded on the empty tomb and the risen Savior. The great evangelist, R. A. Torrey said,

“The resurrection is the foundation stone of Christian doctrine, the Gibraltar of Christian experience, and the Waterloo of infidelity and rationalism.” Here are the salient facts.

1. A man who claimed to be God was crucified on a skull-shaped hill called Calvary. He was certified dead by the Roman Centurion in charge. His death was accompanied by such awesome signs and wonders that His executioners owned Him to be the Son of God.

2. He was buried in a brand new tomb, which was secured by a stone, a seal and detachment of soldiers.

These precautions were taken by the authorities to ensure that no-one tampered with the body.

3.Thee days later the tomb was empty. The stone was rolled back. The guards fled in terror. A visitor from another world proclaimed Him to be alive.

4. All though that day, and onto into the weeks ahead people saw Him alive.

My …. those are the facts. Either they are gloriously true, or else they are a collection of fables and fantasies.

Our subject this …. is “The Resurrection of Christ Hoax or History?” I want to suggest to you that the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus is,


There are those who believe that our Blessed Lord is dead and buried. “We may freely state,” states Professor George Smith, “that the bones of Jesus lie somewhere in Palestine.” “I have not the slightest interest in a conjuring trick with bones,” observes Bishop David Jenkins. So that’s what some religionists think of our precious Savior. Sceptics have gone through heaven and told us there is no gold there. They have gone through hell and told us there is no fire there. They have gone through Christ and told us there is no God there, They have gone through the grave and told us there is no resurrection there. But we believe that the precious body of the Lord Jesus which was reverently laid in that cool grave on the evening of Friday April the 3rd A.D. 33 literally vacated that grave before six o’clock on the following Sunday morning April the 5th ! This nothing less and nothing else is what we mean by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Surely there is no other doctrine so hated by Satan as this. He has attempted always unsuccessfully to ridicule it, downplay it, deny it, or simply explain it away. He has inspired ungodly men to put forward various theories to explain away the bodily resurrection of Christ. The first says,

(a) The Lord Jesus did not really die:

Its claimed that Christ swooned on the cross, was hastily buried but revived in the cool of the tomb and managed to free Himself from His grave clothes. He then escaped into the night and three days later showed Himself alive …. thus giving raise to fables about His resurrection. Now this view raises a multitude of problems. It assumes that a Roman soldier mistook a swooning for a dead man. It assumes that the Lord’s friends embalmed a living man, when surely they of all people would have noticed that Christ was still alive. It assumes that the Savior’s bitterest enemies, who had moved heaven and earth to get Him crucified would leave the scene of execution before making sure He was dead. My …. do you believe that the Lord Jesus did not really die? Well, the gospels tell us that He did. He literally died. To substantiate this we have,

1. The Witness of the FATHER:

For “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” (Matt 27:51) By a divine act that temple veil as thick as two hands put together was rent in twain a sign that the Lord Jesus had “yielded up the ghost.” (Matt 27:50) The work that Christ was given to do was finished and heaven was satisfied.

2. The Witness of the FOES:

“One of the soldiers with a pear pierced His side and forthwith came there out blood and water.” (Jn 19:34) They broke the legs of those who were crucified with Christ to hasten their death but when they came to the Lord Jesus they saw “that He was dead already.”

3. The Witness of the FRIENDS:

“And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean line cloth and laid it in his own new tomb.”

(Matt 27:60) My …. Jesus Christ actually died !

(b) Christ’s body was stolen:

Was this not the first rumour to be circulated? The disciples have stolen the body. To support this falsehood the Jewish Sanhedrin paid the soldiers who had reported the resurrection “large money,” to say that while they slept the disciples came and stole the body. This was obviously a lie. For one thing, the penalty in the Roman Army for sleeping on guard was death. If it had been true that they had been asleep, the soldiers would have been the first to deny it. The Jewish authorities assured them, “We can bride the Governor,” they said, “You have don’t to worry.” My …. what a sorry lie this. Imagine someone coming into a court of law and saying to the Judge and jury, “Your honour, and members of the jury, I consider myself a competent witness because when the events I have described happened, I was sound asleep.” My …. a testimony like this would have been laughed out of court.

Maybe Christ’s enemies stole the body. If that were so it seems strange they didn’t produce it. My …. three thousand were saved on the day of Pentecost. Paganism and Judaism were being shaken by the message of the Risen Christ. If Christ’s enemies had the body do you think they would have done nothing when the apostles began preaching salvation through a Risen Savior?

(c) The disciples were given over to hallucination:

They wanted to see Christ, and thought that He would rise so they in their imaginations, imagined that they saw him. But is it likely that hundreds of people were the victims of strange illusion? After all the Risen Lord appeared to Mary (Jn 20:16) To Peter (Lk 24:34) To the two on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13) to Thomas

(Jn 20:26) What about Christ’s appearance to five hundred brethren? (1 Cor 15:6) Were they all

delirious? Were they all give over to hallucination? Not at all. My …. do you see the ridiculous extent to which the modernist will go to explain away the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ? Some of them tell us,

(d) The Lord Jesus had a twin:

An identical twin who at times stood in for him in public. What nonsense. Indeed the very idea is repugnant to anyone who believes in the Incarnation. Mary brought forth her firstborn Son …. not twins. Still again they say

(e) Wild animals destroyed the body or the women went to the wrong tomb:

Surely not. My …. not one of these theories is tenable. Indeed the only conclusion we can draw is this. He is risen, the Lord is risen indeed. For the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not only, (1) it is,


The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is,


David predicted it: He said, “For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy one to see corruption.” (Ps 16:10) Isaiah predicted it, for he said, “For He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied.” (Is 53:11) Job predicted it, he said

“I know that my redeemer liveth.” (Job 19:25) So this great historical fact of the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus is (a) and it is,


Listen to the testimony of Matthew: “The Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall be raised again.”

(Matt 17:22-23) Listen to the testimony of Mark, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests and scribes and be killed and after three days rise again.” (Mk 8:31) What about Luke? “The Son of Man must suffer many things …. and be slain and be raised the third day.”

(9:22) And John says, “Jesus said, destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. He spake of the temple of His body.” (2:19-21) Do you see that Christ predicted His resurrection in an unmistakeable and straightforward manner? No wonder our Lord’s foes remembered such promises as these. The marvel is that His friends forgot them. So the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is (1) (2)


Do you see what Luke says? “He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs,” (1:3) This word is a medical word, its also a word from the field of logic. It means demonstrable evidences, undeniable evidences. You see, for a whole 40 day period of time after His resurrection the Lord Jesus walked on this earth demonstrating to His disciples that He was absolutely alive and He did it with evidences that cannot be denied. Some years ago in England there was a young lawyer by the name of Frank Morrison. He was an unbeliever. For years he had promised himself that one day he would write a book to disprove the resurrection finally, and forever. At last he got the time. He was an honest man and did the work and study. He intended of course to omit any suspicion of the miraculous and utterly discount the resurrection. But when he came to study the facts with care, he had to change his mind.

Indeed after accepting Christ as his Savior he wrote entitled “Who moved the Stone?” A book which sets forward the resurrection as substantiated by fact. You see, “He showed Himself alive …. by many infallible proofs.” What are these proofs?


Luke speaking of the women says, “And they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.” (24:3) My …. the stone was rolled away not to let the Savior out but to let the women and the disciples in. Now the body of Christ was there when the tomb was sealed. It was not there when the seal was broken. I remember the first time I went into the Garden Tomb at Jerusalem and gazed at these words as they were inscribed on the door of the tomb. My …. my heart was pounding. “He is not here but is risen.” No atom of Christ’s body was left within the tomb. It was a nest forsaken. The sweet scent of the spices clung around that rock-hewn burial place, but the cavern was just an echoing void. The body had vanished. “He is not here for He is risen as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matt 28:6)

My …. we cannot visit too often that empty grave, delight in it too ardently, revere it too solemnly, or declare it too loyally. For do you know what that empty grace preaches?

1. The Father was so well pleased with His Son’s sacrifice on our behalf that He raised Him from the dead

2. It pledges that my loved ones who have died in Christ will rise also. “Up from the grave He arose.”


It wasn’t just that the grave clothes were there, it was their shape, position, undisturbed condition. Do you know what the disciples saw? The clothes lying.

(Jn 20:5) The head napkin was not with the linen clothes but in a place by itself. Also, the head napkin was wrapped together or twirled. It describes the rounded shape which the empty napkin still preserved. Now do you see what the disciples saw? The stone slab, the collapsed grave clothes, the shell of the head-cloth and the gap between the two. These clothes had not been touched nor folded nor manipulated had they been so the spices would have been all scattered all over the floor but nothing was disturbed. My …. a glance at this grave clothes prove the reality and indicate the very nature of the resurrection. Sure there was no way this could have happened but by bodily resurrection ! My …. when the Lord Jesus arose, He passed through the shroud without it being unwound. Hallelujah ! (a) (b)


If you one day saw a man looking sad and dejected and the next day you found him excited and exuberant would you not look for a reason. And if you discovered that he had come into a fortune you would say, “well, that explains it.” My …. the disciples of Christ were like. After Calvary the hopes of the disciples were at rock-bottom. Do you recall what John says? “the doors were shut where the disciples where assembled for fear of the Jews.” (20:19) What a picture of fear, despair and shattered dreams. Yet seven weeks later these same despondent disciples are preaching with such power that three thousand are saved. Their fear was replaced with courage, their timidity with boldness. What had happened? Christ had risen. For only a risen Savior could have such transforming power in a person’s life.

Are you getting the facts? Do you see the undeniable evidences of the resurrection? What about,


The existence of the church. When Christ said, “I will build my church,” (Matt 16:18) only a few months remained of His earthly life. He knew that and He knew that He would not take months but centuries to build His church. My …. does this declaration not demand the resurrection? Does not His declaration of intent presuppose a rising from the dead? My …. the church of Jesus Christ is proof positive that Jesus Christ lives.


The change from Saturday to Sunday as the main day of worship. My …. how are we to explain the change from Saturday to Sunday worship without the resurrection? The Jews original day was Saturday that commemorated Creation, but the Christian’s day of worship is Sunday and that commemorates Resurrection. Now the Jews of Christ’s day were fanatical about the Sabbath. Yet thousands of these Jews who became Christians abandoned their holy day to worship on the first day of the week (1 Cor 16:2) Why? What would cause them to change? Only one fact. The fact that echoed from the Garden Tomb that first Easter. He had risen. My …. I know He lives because of (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) and I can say this …. I know He lives because He lives within my heart. Tell me, does He live within your heart? Are you saved? Is this Risen Lord your Savior? The empty tomb has a message for us this …. ! It say to Science and Philosophy “Explain this event,” it says to History, “Repeat this event.” It says to Time, “Blot out this event.” It says to Faith, “Believe this event.” Will you believe?


At the University of Chicago Divinity School each year they have what they call “Baptist Day.” On this day they bring a lunch and eat outside on the grass. On this day some of the greatest minds would be invited to lecture to the students. One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich. He spoke for two and a half hours seeking to disprove the resurrection of Christ. He quoted scholar after scholar, book after book, he said that Jesus Christ never rose from the dead. He then asked if there were any questions. An old dark skinned preacher with a head of short cropped woolly white hair stood up at the back. “Docta Tillich I got a question.” All eyes turned upon him. He reached into his lunch bag, pulled out an apple and began munching it. You could hear his teeth crunching the apple. “my question is a simple question. Now I ain’t never read them books you read and I cannot recite the Scriptures in the original Greek,” as he finished his apple, “but all I want to know is this, this apple I just ate, was it bitter or sweet?” Dr. Tillich paused for a moment and answered in an exemplary scholarly fashion, “I cannot possibly answer that question for I have not tasted your apple.” The white haired preacher dropped the core of his apple into his crumbled paper bag looked up at Dr. Tillich and said, “Neither have you tasted my Jesus.” The one thousand people erupted as Tillich promptly left the stage. My …. have you tasted my Savior? Have you thanked my Savior for dying and rising for you? Will you trust my Living Savior as your Savior now?