Evidence for the Resurrection
by James Jacob Prasch
I’ve got some good news and some bad news; I’m usually asked this question this time of year so I preempt being asked it by answering it before anybody asks it. Did Christ rise today? Did Jesus raise today? No, he did not raise from the dead today. Jesus died erev chag and he rose according to the lunar calendar on Yom Rishon of Chag HaMatzot, the Hebrew Feast of First Fruits. Who said so? Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul in 1st Corinthians 15. Jesus did not die on Good Friday and he did not rise from the dead on Easter Sunday. That came from the Quartodeciman Schism after the time of Constantine when they moved the day of the Resurrection to the first Sunday after the vernal equinox. That was a pagan holiday, or a pagan holy day, as it were, hence the Easter bunny, the colored eggs, the fertility rites and all of that other stuff. That is where it came from. It was pagan; it was not when it happened, it goes by the solar calendar. The actual death and resurrection of Jesus, according to the New Testament, is based on the lunar calendar of the Hebrews. Nonetheless, while they got the day wrong, the event is right. Another question I am inevitably asked at this time of year is “Where do you get the three days and three nights.” You have all heard this. “Was it a Wednesday, Thursday, it couldn’t have been a Friday, we’ve got to get the three days, and nights….” Let us get the questions out of the way first.
Turn with me to Amos, Chapter 8, Amos, HaNavi:
Amos 8:9: "And it will come about in that day," declares the Lord God, "That I shall make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight.”
As I have explained in a couple of our teachings and in one of our books, we have two words for time in the Greek language, two for time in Greek in the New Testament. We have kairos and chronos. Kairos is linear time like a clock. Chronos is a chronology, an order of events, two different words in Greek. In eternity, like in the book of Revelation, you only have chronos, but you have no kairos. Kairos in eternity is not a clock that keeps going; it is no clock at all. The events take place out of time and on our teachings dealing with thanatology, we explain this. What happens when someone gives up the ghost? They enter eternity. Jesus said “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” What happens? You leave the realm of kairos; there is no time. That is why in the book of Revelation you see future events spoken of in the past tense, past events spoken of in the present tense, past, present and future are all the same. The lamb was slain before the foundation of the world” yet there is a chronology, an order. How can we understand this? It is even difficult to fathom theoretically. How do we understand it? Well the scripture never speaks of course of the death of a believer as death. You have heard me say it is always sleep. Paul says “Do not be overly grieved for those who sleep.” Paul tells us that. Jesus said “Lazarus is asleep.” When he raised the little girl from the dead, “Talitha kum!" She is asleep. Unsaved people die. If you are not born again, you are going to die, real death is second death. The only way to escape the second death is the second birth. If you have not had second birth, you are going to have second death. You are going to enter eternity into eternal perdition if Jesus was telling the truth. Well, what happens? When you go to sleep you wake up again. That is the resurrection obviously but there is more to it than that. Neurophysiology tells us we all dream. When you go to sleep your consciousness enters a different realm of existence. You can see dead people alive again; when you dream and even talk to them and it makes sense to you that they are alive again. How can the dead be alive again? Well you can see things happening in a dream that would make no coherent sense, no logical sense in our waking hours but in a dream, it all makes sense. You can see past events happening again, future events happening in the present. It is no mystery when you die, you enter that realm. The scripture uses sleep to show us what happens when you give up the ghost. Now, if you are a believer, are you afraid to go to sleep? No! Well, if you are a believer do not be afraid to die. On the other hand, if you are not a believer, you’re going to need a lot of amphetamine. Drink lots of coffee!
Kairos is based on the second heaven, the movement of the planets. Actually, there is one clock, an atomic clock that calculates time by particle emission but it still has to be calibrated in terms of nanoseconds. You need planetary motion to have time, as we know it, kairos. Paul, in 2nd Corinthians writes of the third heaven. The Greeks had this concept, the first heaven being the atmosphere of the earth, the second heaven being outer space where the planets are, the third heaven being eternity. The second heaven makes time, so in the book of Revelation you see the heavens, the shamayim in Hebrew, ouranous in Greek, rolled up like a scroll. Once the celestial cosmos is gone, eternity meets time and space. It all depends on the planets, be it a solar calendar or a lunar calendar. However, there are certain times in scripture where God intervenes with time. With Joshua, a day was 48 hours at one place, Gibeon. When King Hezekiah was granted an extended longevity the sun went backwards and he was given 15 more years of life. God intervened in time.
Well, in the book of Revelation we are told in chapter 9 a day will go from 24 hours down to 16 hours. God intervenes in time. But the reason Hezekiah, a King of the Jews had his life extended by 15 years was at a time when the average life expectancy was about 50, because another King of the Jews had his life reduced by about 15 years. In Amos, the sun would go down at noon. Look with me please, very briefly, to the gospel of Saint Luke, when Jesus, Yeshua, dies on the cross.
Luke 23:44-45 And it was now about the sixth hour, [being 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the sixth hour since sunrise] and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, the sun being obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.
Amos said the sun would go down at noon. This is the fourteenth of the Hebrew month Nissan, or Abib. It could not possibly be a solar eclipse, nor could it be a lunar eclipse, it could not be an eclipse. It was the wrong phase of the lunar and solar cycles. The fourteenth of Abib, it would be diametrically the wrong phase. It could not possibly have taken place as an eclipse. The prophecy of Amos was literally fulfilled. The sun went down. Jewish people to this day tabulate a day based on the creation narrative in Genesis. You have Motse Shabbat, Sabbath is from sundown to sundown. Jews will fast on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement from sundown to sundown. A day is based on the creation, not based on 24 hours. It does not matter how many hours are in the day, once the sun goes down that’s a day, H or Lacoshek, that is a day. So Jesus goes on the cross at noon, the sun goes down, Friday, then the sun goes down. They removed his corpse from the cross, the sun is up again--two days. The sun goes down Friday night again, Saturday is a day, sun goes down Saturday night, raises Sunday morning, no problem, you’ve got your three days and three nights as a Jew counts time. Unfortunately, Hollywood took this Jew named Rabbi Yeshua bar Yosef Minetzeret and gave him blond and blue eyes and a starring role in a Mel Gibson movie. But that’s is not reality. This is reality. Three days and three nights are no problem. Let’s go further.
Last night in the synagogues, lots of synagogues in Los Angeles—what were they reading? I will show you what they were reading last night. Turn with me to the Song of Solomon:
Song of Solomon 5:1 "I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh [what corpses were anointed with] along with my balsam. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk.”
“Come into my garden, my sister, my bride,” that is what they read last night in the synagogues. That is what they read in the Temple, from the megillah Shir Hashirim in the day of Jesus, before the sun went down. But then the sun comes up on Yom ha’rishon of Hag Matzot and in Jesus day, as you have heard me explain, the Cohen HaGadol descended into the Kidron Valley between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. If you come with us to Israel, we will take you there and show you. And he waited for the first pin of light to come up in back of Har Hazeitim, the Mount of Olives when it was still dark. And, when it was still dark, he brought the first fruits. He harvested the first fruits and brought it into the temple. The very hour of the very day, Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 15:20 that Christ is the First Fruits. The very hour of that very day the high priest was bringing the first fruit into the temple, Yeshua was raising from the dead. But then what happened that particular day not very far away? A woman went into the garden. She goes into the garden because in John 19 we read that Jesus had been anointed, in verse 39, with this mixture of myrrh and aloes. Myrrh is what corpses were anointed with. And she comes into the garden. Her name is Mary Magdalene from Galilee. Magdala, the “Village of the Tower” and she was not a very nice girl before she met Jesus but now she was just prim and rosy and she came in looking for his corpse. There was a problem; he was not in the tomb. He talks to her and it says, “She thought he was the gardener. “Come on into the garden.” That is what she read in the synagogue the night before.” The sun comes up and there she is in the garden. “Come on in,” the bridegroom is calling, “Come on into my garden, I’ve got my myrrh, I died in your place.” It is an amazing thing, how Jewish people can have all this heritage, all this culture, God working through them for 2,000 years to set the stage for the coming of Jesus and only a small remnant were ready for it to happen. Mary Magdalene was ready, among others, but the mainstream religious establishment was not ready, and as we have pointed out many times, the mainstream religious establishment, both Jewish and Christian, so called, aren’t going to be ready for his second coming either, but you can be ready.
He is indeed risen! When he went to the cross, he did not just say “I’m going to die in your place.” Oh, he said that, but he said something else; he said “Pick up your cross and follow me, die with me.” We have, today in California, an explosion of Twelve-Step programs. Somebody was teasing me the other day about Twelve-Step programs because they know I do not have a very high view of these things. I do know people who were destroyed alcoholics who never would have gotten saved had they not gone to Alcoholics Anonymous but then I have known those for whom Alcoholics Anonymous became their religion instead of salvation. Twelve-Step programs always say the same thing. “Hello, my name is Fred.” “Hi Fred.” “And I am a recovering alcoholic.” “Hello, my name is Hazel.” “Hi Hazel.” “And I am a recovering compulsive gambler.” Well, my name is Jacob and I am not a recovering cocaine addict, that poor loser from New York is dead; I am a new creation in Christ. But because his death is our death, his life is our life. As the Hebrew prophet Hosea put it in Chapter 6:2: He will revive us after two days, he will raise us up on the third day that we may live before him.
He is the first fruit. He is the first one out of the grave, but he is not the only one. It is proliphic. He is the prototype; he is the first fruit of a much bigger harvest. That is quite a thing.
This church, we were told this morning by the pastor that it’s a church that has both Jews and gentiles. That can cause one or two cultural complications. But I have a more challenging dilemma; my family is a mixture of Jew and gentile. I understand things from both perspectives. I see things the way Jews see things and I see the way Gentiles see things. I am bicultural, I am even bilingual, my family sees things from both perspectives. I see the blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus of Hollywood, but I see the Jewish rabbi and neither one does him much justice. Let’s go further.
What else happened this particular day, or at least the day we commemorate as being the day? Turn with me please to the Gospel of Saint John:
John 20:21-29 Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." This was after he rose from the dead. [This is where we get the word apostle, Shalom aleikhem, the one who is sent.] And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. [It is at this point that the apostles were regenerate, it is at this point they were born again.] "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained." [Notice that this is not the Roman Catholic sacrament of penance, confession, that is also something of pagan origin that was adopted centuries later as a way to get money out of people.] But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, [which means twin] was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days [the number of the resurrection] again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, “Shalom aleikhem, peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." [And a verse the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t like] Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jehovah’s Witness do not believe in a literal, physical resurrection, neither do they believe in his deity, that he was God. Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
Once again, what we call a corporate solidarity, Thomas. We even have the colloquialism, a doubting Thomas. He gets the blame for doubt. But when we read the synoptics, he gets a bum rap. (For people in England, I am using bum in the American sense). No, when we read the synoptics, it is quite different. Luke chapter 24: They were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. “Why are you troubled? Why doubts arise in your hearts?”
Thomas simply personifies the doubt of all the apostles, but more than that, he personifies human doubt. He says something I have heard a thousand times, witnessing, doing evangelism, sharing my faith, giving my testimony, passing out tracts, he said something that everyone of us have heard from a non-believer at some point. Every saved Christian has heard this in trying to share their faith some time; most of us have heard it many times. “Seeing is believing, show me.” You can say he said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed,” and that is true, but they are going to say “Show me, show me this crucified body that has been resurrected. Show me somebody that was dead and is alive and then I will believe you. If I don’t see, I am not going to believe.”
This morning I was reading something on the internet with Danny called the “Rescript of Nazareth,” written by the Emperor Claudius, which bears witness to it being common knowledge in the Roman Empire, by the Roman government and even by the emperor that Christ’s corpse was not in the tomb. The Roman assumption was that his disciples must have stolen the body. The way I got saved was by trying to disprove the scriptures. When your followers say you rose from the dead, or did miracles or something like that, or walked on the water, when your followers say you did this, so what? The Mormons say that kind of thing about Joseph Smith, the Moslems say that kind of thing about Mohammed, etc., etc., so what? “They have got Joseph Smith, they’ve got Mohammed, and you’ve got Jesus, so what? “You all say stuff like that, “Show me.” No one can doubt, however, that the two biggest enemies of the gospel were the pagan Roman government, Imperial Rome and the Sanhedrin, the unbelieving Rabbis, the Jewish religious establishment of the day. Yet, according to Roman historians, you can read Suetonius, Tacitus, all of them, you can read the Rescript of Claudius. It was common knowledge throughout the Roman Empire that it was believed He rose from the dead. “Oh, but they stole his corpse.” Aside from the problem that those Roman soldiers who were guarding his tomb would have been executed for sleeping while on duty, there is a much bigger issue. Roman historians also admit that hundreds of these Jews were voluntarily martyred. Not all in the same place at the same time, drinking Cool-aid in Guyana, some in Israel, some in Europe, some in North Africa. They were willingly martyred and they saw their families martyred, testifying with their dying breath “We are not afraid to die because He is risen.” You are going to get hundreds of people, hundreds of Jews to die in different places, at different times, for something they knew to be a lie? That is ridiculous. That is absurd, but the Roman government admitted it. Rabbi Shaul of Tarsus, Paul, one of the rabbis who persecuted Jews who believed in Jesus, went on to write this. “I delivered unto you of first importance that which I received, that the Messiah died for our sins according to the scriptures and that he was buried. He was raised on the third day, according to the scripture, he appeared to Cephas and then to the twelve and he appeared to more than 500 brethren.” That was written by a rabbi who hated Jesus. That was written by a rabbi who hated Jews who believed in Jesus. And on my own spiritual journey, trying to disprove the scriptures, I eventually came across something called the Avodah Zarah. Up to 25 percent of the Jews in Jerusalem believed that Jesus was the Messiah by the time of Bar Kochba’s rebellion, the time between 120-132 AD, one out of four Jews in Jerusalem alone believed that he was the Meshiach. The rabbis were getting frantic; they had to explain certain things, so they wrote the Avodah Zarah, which is a Hebrew idiom for idolatry, by the way. And in the Avodah Zarah, these rabbis said the following: That Yeshu, a derogatory acronym, short for Yeshua, but it was a derogatory acronym, “may his name be blotted out,” “He did miracles as no other rabbi. He healed the sick, he raised the dead. His disciples, his talmidim, did miracles in his name and after the Romans executed him at Pesach (Passover), he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. That is quite a thing for your enemies to say. If you were trying to pursuade people, if you were a rabbi trying to pursuade other Jews not to believe he was the Messiah that would not be the most clever thing to say. But they had to say it because they could not deny it. It is one thing when your followers say it, but when your enemies admit it is true? Now later on, other rabbis, centuries later, came along and said Jesus knew Kabbala, Kabbalistic secrets, he had the tetragrammaton under his foot and all this other stuff that was hundreds of years later. At the time of the early church his enemies admitted it! The Romans knew it! The rabbis knew it! The evidence is there. Nobody denies the historicity of Caesar’s conquests but we have 420, exactly 420 manuscript fragments of Caesar’s conquests. We have over 10,000 of the Gospels alone, over 10,000! There is nothing even remotely approaching it in terms of manuscript evidence from the ancient world. Nothing even comes close! Nobody denies Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon. Why would you deny that Jesus rose from the dead? But people are still going to say “Well, that may be true but I didn’t see it, show me. Show me this one who was dead, you say he died in my place and rose to give me eternal life and he is alive? Show me.” Seeing is believing; the proof of the pudding is always, proverbially, in the eating. “Show me a crucified body that was dead and is alive and then I will believe.”
We have branches in many countries. We have branches in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Japan, countries in the developed world. But we have missions in Africa, Asia, Philippines, and Thailand. I see where churches are growing, where people are believing, and I see where Christianity is flat and even declining. Just look around. If it were not for the influx of Latinos and Asians, evangelical Christianity in America would be dying. Protestantism is in decline. In Europe it has already declined. Europe is post-Christian, neo-pagan. It is being Islamicized. We had all these lies the week before last about there being 501 million Roman Catholics in Latin America. Let us call it questionable accounting methods; sharpen the pencil. The Catholic Church counts anybody that was sprinkled as a baby; once a Catholic, always a Catholic, that is how they tabulate their population statistics demographically, how they arrive at the 501 million. Let’s look at the real figures. Apart from the ones that don’t even practice Catholicism, they don’t tell you that the evangelical population of Brazil, the worlds biggest Catholic country has gone from 96 percent to about 72 percent because of the growth of Pentecostalism, Evangelicism, etc. From the Mexican border to the tip of Patagonia you will find the same thing, millions and millions of people have left the church of Rome and become Pentecostal or some other kind of evangelical throughout Latin America. They are still being persecuted in areas of Mexico, down in the Yucatan and places like that, but then another groups were persecuted by the Peronistas in Argentina, persecution incited by the Opus Dei Jesuit cult. It is only in the last 20-25 years they have not been as actively persecuted but Pope John Paul II tried to trigger a new persecution. In the 1950s, they were persecuting believers terribly in Columbia, burning churches and killing people. In the Philippines the same, churches are growing.
I was just in Uganda; Uganda is like the rest of Africa, they have got nothing but trouble. The churches in Africa, like most of the third world, have all kinds of problems, poverty, ignorance, a lack of qualified leadership, sometimes persecution. Since the mid-1990s, three-and-a-half million black African Christians have been butchered by the Moslems in Darfur and Sudan, three-and-a-half million! One-and-a-quarter million murdered since the 1960s in northern Nigeria. But, in Sudan and in Nigeria, although they have got a lot of problems, a lot of problems, I do not make light of the problems, but evangelism is not one of them. Growth is not one of them. I was just in Viet-Nam recently. We have a ministry that we don’t talk about too much pubically because the Hmong people are persecuted by the Communist regime and I can’t say too much now because of the internet, but, I speak to these Hmong pastors and I ask them “How many of you were arrested and put in prison for your faith? How many of you have people in your churches that you pastor, arrested, taken away?” Every one of them. In Indonesia, the biggest Moslem country in the world, three thousand churches were burned to the groun last year. Can you imaging a mid-week bible study under the equator in Nedan, Indonesia, the biggest Moslem country in the world and there are thousands of people in it, sitting on the floor? A country where every year, not thousands, hundreds of thousands of Moslems, reject Mohammed and the Koran and turn to Christ, every year! You are talking about a 25% Christian population in the biggest Moslem country in the world, I have been there, I’ve seen it! Of course, there is a price to pay. A price to pay in Indonesia; a price to pay in Vietnam, a price to pay in Sudan. Then I ask Australia, why is it the only growth in Australia is Hillsong, which is not real growth, it is people leaving one church for another to see the circus. Hillsong, a mecca of sex scandal and financial corruption exposed in the national media; that is the growth. People leaving one church for another. Why can’t we see this happening in Britain or other Western countries—it is transfer growth, people leaving one church for another and they imagine that to be growth. Why can’t I see what is happening in Latin America or Africa, or in Asia, why cannot it happen here or Britain. At one time it did happen in America, it did happen in Britain because they can answer the question. Out there in the anteroom, there is a book on the shelf called “Foxes Book of Martyrs.” You have got the scriptures in the English Language? It is because of those people written about in that book paid with their lives to give us this book in the English language. You see, they could answer the question. In the days of William Tyndale and Ridley, Latimer, Hooper, and Cranmer, they could answer the question. “Show me, show me a crucified body dead to itself but alive in Christ, living and walking in the power of his resurrection, something fearless, something invincible. Show me the crucified body that is alive.” I asked that question in Vietnam, “Show me.” “No problem, here it is.” I asked that question in Sudan. “No problem, here it is.” I asked that question in Indonesia. “No problem, here it is.” Do you want to see a crucified body of Christ that is alive and walking in the power of the resurrection? We have got one. We do not have any money, we do not have any power, don’t have any media, we have got a lot of problems and we are persecuted but we are growing. People are looking at us. They are leaving communism, they are leaving Buddhism, they are leaving Islam and they are leaving Catholicism and they are turning to Jesus Christ, why? Because they can say “Here it is.” “Do you want to see a crucified body? Here it is, no problem, we can show you that right away” and everybody knows it. I am not singing the praises of persecution, it comes from the devil, the book of Revelation tells us. But remember, in the last days it becomes a necessary evil.
You have got crazy people in California, crazy people, mystics, total New Age mystics telling people they are practicing Christianity, like Bill Johnson, absolutely crazy! People teaching heresy and false doctrine like Mark Driscoll and people think that is Christianity. The idiot box, TBN, people think that is Christianity--no it is not. That is not Christianity. This is Christianity, a crucified body that has been resurrected. “Show me.” I’ve seen it; I’ve seen it more than once. I have seen it in Asia, I have seen it in Africa. I have seen it in the Far East. At one time you could have seen it in the Western world, you cannot see it now. Religious con artists prostituting the Word of God on television, you can show them that. An ecumenical betrayal of the true gospel like I heard on KKLA the other day, the Christian radio station in California. “Oh, our differences with the Catholic Church are only peripheral.” Either you do not know the true gospel or you do not know anything about Catholicism. You can show them that. But a crucified body that has been resurrected? I can’t show them that anymore, not now, not here. But where they see it, the churches are growing. Nothing can stop it. Satan cannot stop it and he has tried and is trying desperately. As Tertullian said “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” No, I am not praying for persecution, thank God for our freedom but persecution is coming because we have abused and misused that freedom and taken it for granted. A crucified body, show me.
The intellectual evidence for the resurrection is there. There is a book written by a famous rabbi, an academic called Pinchas Lapide, professor from Bar-Elan University in Israel. He said that from a Jewish perspective, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is unquestionably true. He is not a believer, but just based on the scholarly evidence, as a Jewish academic he says the resurrection of Jesus is true. This professor, Rabbi Pinchas Lapide, wrote a book. More and more rabbis are saying that. The evidence is there, it happened. We can show them the evidence that it did happen, but can we show them the evidence it is still happening? In Africa I can, in the Far East I can, a lot of places I can. “Show me. Seeing is believing.” That is the message of Easter, if you want to use that term. That is the message of the Feast of First Fruits. “Show me!”
Until we can show them, we have no place to go but down. When we can show them, we will have a place to go and that is up. I wish I could tell you “Happy Easter” and in one way I can. He is risen. He is coming again but if you don’t know him, your future is not happy, be you Gentile or be you Jew. The evidence is there. Please do not walk out that door today without giving your life to the Messiah, Jesus, Yeshua. When the Romans nailed him to that cross it was by the prophetic ordaining of God that he would pay the price for your sin and mine. When he rose from the dead it was to give us eternal life. He did it, he did it. But now he wants to show you. Please, if you don’t know him, please stay and talk to Marco or myself. Chronos and kairos, the clock is ticking away. My friend, if you don’t know Jesus the Messiah, I can tell you one final thing. For those who do know him, we don’t have to be afraid to go to sleep, but if you don’t know him, you’d better be afraid to die. Don’t be a fool, don’t be a loser, the price is already paid, he has already made the way, that is Easter, that is the Resurrection; that is the truth!