Seven Proofs of the Resurrection of Jesus

  • Jeff Crotts
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Peter’s sermon at Pentecost offers a series of proofs that Jesus indeed rose from death.  You remember from Acts 2 that in Jerusalem the Holy Spirit descended on the early disciples and they all began to speak in “tongues” which were known languages.  The manifest power of the Holy Spirit drew the multitudes around the Apostles, and this crowd found they could understand the various languages communicating the Gospel, being that each people group came from “every nation under heaven” (see Acts 2:5). Peter seeing, had everyone’s attention, stepped up to the plate and began to preach a sermon and the topic he chose was Christ’s resurrection. 

Peter began his sermon by first commanding everyone’s attention:

ESV  Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.

He then proceeds to quote Joel 2:28-32 to explain why the Holy Spirit had just come in such a demonstrative manner.  “What was really going on here?”  God was beginning his last days program with the formation of the New Testament church.  Now having set the stage, Peter takes aim on winning this crowd which made up thousands, to Christ, so they can come into God’s kingdom and join up with this new group called the church.  The key for Peter was preaching for their repentance – for them to see their sin, turn away from it, and turn to Christ. 

The modern-day church has created three categories to characterize where people (who call themselves Christians) believe they are spiritually.  Two of these categories are legitimate and one very much is not.  You have those who are “saved” and those who are “unsaved” and the newer category in the Christian conversation called the “carnal Christian.”  This fake category allows unrepentant people to feel safe with God and in church, while under the surface harbor secret sin.  They cruise in and out of church with unrepentant sin patterns.  Recent titles for this category are: “homosexual Christians” or “millennial Christians” or “liberal Christians” or “casual Christians.”  I am not saying someone who names the name of Christ cannot be tempted toward homosexuality, but a true follower of Christ will have the desire and power from the Holy Spirit to defeat, fight, and mortify (kill) this sin and they will do that very thing.  This is exactly Paul’s point from Romans 6 where he says sin no longer has dominion or power over a true Christian.  Attaching any title to Christian, in effect cancels its meaning.  A seemingly harmless cultural title like “millennial” as a type of Christian will invariably become the forum for excuses to be lazy, detached, or even unaccountable to any local church at all.     

I could go on, but back to Peter’s sermon.  I want you to see (especially in view of this Sunday being Easter) that Peter unpacks seven proofs for Christ’s resurrection which drive people to repentance and to being saved! 

1. Jesus’ crucifixion and his subsequent resurrection were planned and foreknown by God.

ESV  Acts 2:22-24 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know–   this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 

2. Jesus is God making it impossible for death to keep him dead.

ESV  Acts 2:24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 

3. David, 1000 plus years before, predicted in the Psalms, that Jesus would rise from the dead.

ESV  Acts 2:25-29 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;  therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

4. God made an oath/promise that Jesus would one day assume David’s throne, meaning Jesus could not stay dead.

ESV  Acts 2:30-31 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,  he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 

5. The early church was made up of eye-witnesses who testified, Jesus rose from death.

ESV  Acts 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

6. The Holy Spirit bears witness in believer’s hearts that Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and that he ascended to God’s right hand.

ESV  Acts 2:33-36 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.  For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 

 7. People, over and over again, are convicted, repent, believe, and are baptized when they hear the truth that Jesus was raised!

 ESV  Acts 2:37-41 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.