1.   In First Corinthians chapter 15, the apostle Paul dealt with those in the Corinthian congregation who had said there was no resurrection.  Turn to that chapter and read along with me while I read aloud:

1      Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2      By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3      For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4      And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5      And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6      After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7      After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8      And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

9      For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

10     But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

11     Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

12     Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13     But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

14     And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

15     Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

16     For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17     And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.


2.   From verses 1 and 2, we see what is the gospel that Paul preached to them, the message that they received, and the means by which they were saved, unless they had believed in vain.

3.   In verses 3 and 4, we see what the content of the vital gospel message is; “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures . . . he was buried, and . . . he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

4.   My friends, you can believe these truths and not be converted.  Indeed, you have to believe these truths before you can be converted.  But you cannot deny these essential truths, which form the foundational historical events upon which Biblical Christianity is constructed, and be genuinely converted.

5.   Not that it is not possible for shock and trauma to dislodge your thinking and confuse you.  But for you to be a Christian you have to believe in Jesus.  And the Jesus you have to believe in must be the Jesus Christ Who “died for our sins according to the scriptures, . . . was buried, and . . . rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

6.   If you deny that Jesus did these three things then, whatever else you may have, you do not have faith in the Savior sent from God to save men from their sins. And, whatever else you may be, you are not a Christian.

7.   I suspect that when Paul wrote, “unless ye have believed in vain,” in verse 2, he was referring to those who claimed to be Christians, who sincerely thought they were Christians, who others thought to be Christians, but who denied that Jesus had risen from the dead.

8.   If you do not believe that my Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day, in a glorified human body that could be seen and felt, then you have believed in vain and you are not born again.

9.   These things stated, let us now review the events that transpired that afternoon and evening following the Lord Jesus Christ’s glorious resurrection from the dead:



1B.    Mark’s gospel commits only two verses to this event, Mark 16.12-13:

12     After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

13     And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.


1C.   This is incredible.  First, according to Mark 16.11, the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ refused to believe Mary Magdalene when she told them the Lord Jesus had risen from the dead.

2C.   Now we find that when told again, this time by two men, the others still refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.

2B.    Luke gives a fuller account in Luke 24.13-32:

13     And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

14     And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

15     And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

16     But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

17     And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

18     And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

19     And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:

20     And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

21     But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

22     Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;

23     And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

24     And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

25     Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

26     Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

27     And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

28     And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.

29     But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

30     And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

31     And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

32     And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?


1C.   Luke’s account focuses on the events that took place on the road to Emmaus and does not, in these verses we have read, record their later testimony to the other disciples.  But what we learn here is instructive.  They first talked to the Lord Jesus Christ, and then He instructed them, covering the entire Old Testament.  This went on, presumably from the afternoon until the approach of evening.

2C.   These two unwittingly recounted to the Lord Jesus Christ the events that had transpired, not knowing who He was.  They recounted His crucifixion.  They mentioned how the women had shocked them with the testimony of the missing body, the angels they had seen, and the assertion by the women that Jesus was alive.  Then they pointed out that some of the men they knew had gone to the tomb to see for themselves, but they didn’t see Him.

3C.   Throughout this conversation Cleopas and his friend, while recounting the whole series of events to the Lord Jesus Christ, were obviously defeated and discouraged.  Why are they so defeated?  Because they did not believe Jesus had risen from the dead until “their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.”[1]

3B.    Turn, if you would, to Hebrews 11, where we will read verses 1 and 6:

1      Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

6      But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.


1C.   No wonder the Lord Jesus Christ called those two men fools.  They did not believe that Jesus was alive from the dead until they had seen Him for Who He was.  In other words, believing only what they could see with their eyes, they did not have faith, which is “the evidence of things not seen.”

2C.   Without faith, they could not please God.  Without faith, they were not pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ.  His rebuke of them was, therefore, quite appropriate.



1B.    This appearance to Simon Peter is mentioned in passing by the apostle Paul in First Corinthians 15.5.

2B.    But, as usual, more detail of this meeting with the eleven is provided by Luke, in Luke 24.33-35:

33     And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

34     Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

35     And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.


1C.   It is really rather sad, when you think about it.  So far, on resurrection Sunday, the Lord Jesus Christ has appeared to Mary Magdalene, then to the other women, then to Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus, then to Simon Peter.  And only now as night falls are the disciples of Jesus Christ, eleven men and others who have spent more than three years listening to Him teach, watching Him pray, observing His countless miracles, and three of them beholding His glory on the mount of transfiguration, beginning to believe that He has done what He said He would do.

2C.   My friends, if faith is the evidence of things not seen, if faith has to do with accepting as true that which is not proven to you, it is very doubtful that these eleven men and others have faith.  They are only accepting the resurrection as true based upon their own observation.

3C.   In the providence of God it proved to be so much more convincing that these witnesses of His resurrection were slow to believe.  They were very skeptical and doubtful at first.  This, no doubt, meant that their eventual belief that He had risen, and their confirmation of the things they had seen, was seen as strong proof that Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

4C.   Praise be to God for His wisdom and providence.  But the evidence that is before us of our Lord Jesus Christ’s glorious resurrection is also proof positive that His chosen disciples were very weak and fallible men.  That those men were so “slow of heart to believe” is strangely comforting to me, for I, too, am so often “slow of heart to believe.”

5C.   Additional proof, I think, that God does not use great men.  Rather, God uses men greatly.  And these we so used that they turned the world upside down.



Three of the gospels record the evening’s events, in varying detail.  Let me read each account and then make a brief comment or two:

1B.    Let us first read Mark 16.14:  “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.”

1C.   Mark 16.14 informs us that the Lord Jesus Christ “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.” 

2C.   To “upbraid” means “to reprimand.”[2]  It translates a word that refers to rebuking someone, or insulting them.[3] 

3C.   My friends, if you do not believe Jesus rose from the dead on the third day in a glorified physical human body you, too, are in need of a strong rebuke.  Whatsoever is not of faith is sin, Romans 14.23.  These men were, or recently had been, in sin.  Anyone who does not believe that Jesus rose from the dead, anyone who does not have faith, is sinning.

2B.    Now, turn to Luke 24.36-43:

36     And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

37     But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

38     And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

39     Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

40     And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

41     And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

42     And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

43     And he took it, and did eat before them.


1C.   My guess is that these 8 verses record the moments before the Lord Jesus Christ unbraided the disciples.

2C.   Consider, if you will, the lengths He went to so they might be convinced that they had not seen a spirit, but that He had risen, bodily, from the dead.

3C.   He appeared to them.  He spoke to them.  He challenged them to handle Him.  He reasoned with them.  And, finally, He ate broiled fish for them.

4C.   Perhaps it was this occasion that John years later referred to in First John 1.1-2:  “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us).”

5C.   Let it not be doubted that the risen Savior is not a spirit, but has flesh and bones.  Why is there no blood mentioned?  He shed His blood for the remission of sins.

3B.    Finally, turn to John 20.19-25:

This final account mentions facts not referred to by the other gospels:

1C.   Verse 19:  “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”  Jesus appeared in the midst of them, even though the doors were shut for fear of the Jews.  Timid souls, these disciples.  No boldness to testify and serve as yet.

2C.   Verse 20:  “And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”  After blessing them and showing them His hands and side, they were glad to see Him.

3C.   Verse 21:  “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”  As Jesus had been commissioned by His Father, so He commissioned these men.

4C.   Verse 22:  “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”  What do you think happened when He breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”?  Was this a fresh enduing of power to enable them to fulfill their commission?  It could be, with the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost occurring for the benefit of the unsaved Jews who were to be in attendance.  John R. Rice thought that their unbelief concerning the resurrection was evidence that they were not born again, and that this was the moment those present were regenerated.  Whatever happened, this was a life-changing event for those present.  They would never be the same after this.

5C.   Verse 23:  “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”  What authority has been granted by the Son of God.

6C.   Verse 24:  “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.”  Thomas witnessed none of these things.

7C.   Verse 25:  “The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”  Notice that last statement again:  “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”  Can this man be saved?  I don’t think so.  How can a man be saved who utterly rejects the truth of one of the foundational truths of the gospel?



1.   And so, the first day of the Christian era comes to an end.  How would you characterize the Sunday evening after Jesus rose?  Was it anything like you expected it to be?

2.   There was, of course, stupendous victory.  Christ, the Lord, rose up from the dead.  But for most of the day, only a few women had the strength of faith to believe.  The disciples only slowly came around; reluctantly, timidly.

3.   And even after they seemed to be convinced they were afraid of the Jews.  Imagine.  The Lord Jesus Christ proved Himself to be Who He said He was, who they had hoped He was, the Messiah of Israel, and still they were scared and doubted.

4.   Let us concede that those disciples were born again when Jesus finally appeared for the last time that first day.  If they were, what lesson can we learn from their experience?  We can learn that being a Christian is no guarantee that you will be able to serve God.  Those men were worse than useless until they had received the Holy Spirit of God.  Therefore, the power and enablement of the Spirit of God is absolutely crucial to Christian ministry and service to the King.  Thankfully, everyone who knows Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit, and can serve God effectively with reliance and dependence upon the Spirit of God.

5.   But let us also learn a lesson from Thomas.  It is possible to think you are a Christian, as no doubt Thomas did.  It is possible for others to think you are a Christian, as no doubt others thought about Thomas.  But as the first day of the Christian era drew to a close Thomas was not a Christian.  How could he be?  He denied the resurrection of Jesus Christ, meaning he did not believe the gospel.

6.   Thankfully, Thomas was later converted to Jesus Christ, and until his martyrdom enjoyed fruitful service and ministry.  But there is still the issue of your own conversion, is there not?

7.   Search the Bible from beginning to ending and you will find that not one single child of God would ever claim that he had always been a Christian.  Abraham was converted in his old age.  Jacob was converted past the age of 70.  Paul was converted as an adult.  Each of the Lord Jesus Christ’s disciples was converted as an adult.

8.   This does not mean that only adults get converted.  But it does mean that no one is a Christian until he places his own faith in Jesus Christ.  Are you a Christian?  Can you tell me when you, convicted of your sins by the Holy Spirit of God and persuaded that only Jesus could save you from those sins, trusted Jesus and were born again?

9.   If that is not your experience then you are not a Christian, because you have not become a Christian in the way described in the Bible.  Let me invite you to a time when we can open the Word of God together so I can show you how to become a Christian.

[1] Luke 24.31

[2] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 710.

[3] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 135.

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