Friends, Foes, Family: Who Really Saw Jesus?

Explore The Solid Evidence Of The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ

Robby Lashua
Apr 7, 2024    51m
Do you ever find yourself questioning the core beliefs of Christianity, wondering if there's truly evidence of the resurrection of Jesus? In this thought-provoking message, you'll uncover the compelling historical and eyewitness accounts that provide undeniable proof of Christ's resurrection. From the empty tomb to the multiple appearances to His disciples, family, and even skeptics like Paul, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the transformative event that solidified the Christian faith and its relevance for your life today. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Lillian Cooper: [00:00:07] After my freshman year in college, I kind of started to have a lot of intellectual doubts about my faith, and I thought that Summit and my family thought Summit, would be a really good opportunity to dive deep into the intellectual questions and the faith-based questions that I had for myself. My name is Lillian Cooper, and I'm currently a sophomore at Harvard, and this past summer I went to Summit Ministry and Worldview Conference. This conference kind of consists of Bible study and worldview training. We learned about really popular worldviews, and we also studied some very kind of hot issues going around right now and a lot of pop culture. Especially today, we're faced with so many opposing worldviews, so it's very important to know which one is the correct worldview to have and how to spread the biblical worldview. I kind of wish I was exposed to more of these matters sooner, but I think I'm more ready as a college student or as an upper-level high school student. This was a great conference for 16 to 22-year-olds, and any young adult looking to gain a critical understanding of the Bible and how to challenge the worldviews of today.

Lillian Cooper: [00:01:27] It was really great to walk into the classroom on the first day and see about 170 other young adults who also had intellectual questions about their faith and were looking to just dive into deep issues, so that was very comforting. Well, day one, we dove into some really pressing matters. We talked about abortion. We talked about sexuality and what it means to have holy sexuality. We talked about kind of the meta-narrative of the Bible and the entire story, not just individual passages. And we talked about Islam and how to respond to Islam and things of that nature. I feel extremely equipped. Last year I was definitely very nervous to go to school, I was very nervous about the people I would meet, but now I feel more at peace and I'm ready to go take on classes the second time around.

Lillian Cooper: [00:02:16] Summit also had a really good balance of fun activities. The second Sunday we hiked Pikes Peak, and it was so much fun, and I gained a lot of new friends. We also had a lot of park days where we went to go play volleyball, or we did this thing called the Manitou Incline and that was a really fun and intense hike. So it was a really good balance of study and activities. I encourage young students to go to this conference because after attending, I feel much more equipped to take on college and to take on the world beyond.

Eric Estes: [00:02:53] So Lillian was a student here at 121 and attended Summit, and you kind of heard her story. But I would just encourage you as parents or as students, that is a worthwhile investment of time to go do one of these worldview camps like that, to really be solidified in what we believe and why we believe it. And by the way, that's not just for students, this is for us adults as well, we need to understand what we believe and why we believe it. In fact, in First Peter, Peter says this. He says, "But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." And we're going to do that today a little bit, we're going to dive into some topics on the resurrection and what that looks like. Today we've got Robby Lashua with us, who is with Stand To Reason. And Stand To Reason, if you're not familiar with this ministry, they exist, and they have a passion for equipping Christians to be able to give a reasonable defense for what we believe, for the Christian beliefs and the Christian worldview, and so today we're going to be doing that.

Eric Estes: [00:04:05] One of the reasons that we do things like this, we bring in a guest speaker on some of these topics, this is often called apologetics. Stand To Reason is an apologetics ministry, which just means defending your faith. And the reason we do that is so that we can equip one another to be able to give a defense for our faith. But we want to bring in Robby, and Stand to Reason because also, as you are in conversations, you may not remember everything he says today, but you at least know that there are people who are thinking really well about these things. You'll have Robby's name, you'll have Stand To Reason, and these are resources that you can go to over and over as you get into conversations and maybe get stuck and not sure exactly where to go with it. Stand To Reason is a great resource for just that.

Eric Estes: [00:04:47] So Robby is going to be delivering our message today, and then he's going to be doing a workshop this afternoon. I really encourage you to go to the workshop, it's called Tactics for Defending Your Faith. And I've done a lot of these types of workshops, and this is by far one of the most useful workshops that you will attend in the world of apologetics. It's not just about getting more facts to be able to have more ammo to argue with someone about whether this is true or not, but it's really about resetting the conversation with people and being able to establish the conversation to where it's an equal playing field, to where we're not on the defensive as we're trying to defend our faith and to to help us realize that it takes just as much faith for them to hold their worldview as it does for us, and to be able to have those types of conversations. So today at 3:30, Robby is going to lead us in that tactics workshop, and I really encourage you all to be there.

Eric Estes: [00:05:36] And then you may or may not know this, but we actually have a team of people here at 121 that spends a lot of time researching and doing this. It's led by Rick Townsend, and if you maybe in your life group want to have one of these people come and talk to your life group and maybe lead through some of these challenging topics, in regard to what we believe and why we believe it, then they are certainly available. And they're actually forming a group, it's called an outpost group, associated with Stand to Reason, that we'll be hosting, here. They're going to start to get interest and gain people to join that group to dive deeper into these types of topics. So if what you hear today is of interest to you, what I want you to do is, you can click on that QR code right there and you'll get more information on what that group is going to be like, when that's going to happen to dive deeper into these types of topics.

Eric Estes: [00:06:24] All right, so today Robby's going to lead us. And as he does that, he's actually opening up for us a whole new series that we're starting. We finished with Titus, and now we're going to do a small three-week series called Why Not? And it's about sharing our faith. And this is a great topic for us to dive into because so many people, here, so many of us, want to share our faith, right, we want to do that more but there are so many barriers that get in the way, and so we want to just address some of those barriers. We want to talk about what does it look like to be more active in sharing our faith with those who do not understand or do not believe. And there are several barriers that keep us from doing that, right? There's a fear factor of what if somebody asked me a question that I don't know. And actually, Robby's going to address some of that today. But then there's also the fear of what happens if I'm rejected. Or what happens if I don't even know how to start these conversations? So we're going to dive into some of those things today.

Eric Estes: [00:07:19] And I realize this is a hard topic, as we talk about sharing our faith, it's awkward sometimes. But we're just going to ask as we dive into this, that God would stir in us a desire to do more and more, to step into those hard conversations. You know, it's really cool because back in January, if you remember, we did a small one of these little series on worship. And in John 4, Jesus tells us that the Father is seeking worshipers in spirit and truth. And then now we'll talk about what does it look like, our call, our role in the privilege that we have to be able to have conversations with people and show them the joy of being a worshiper of God. And so that's what we'll be doing for these next three weeks, as we kind of dive more into Scripture on what it says, on sharing our faith with others.

Eric Estes: [00:08:06] So we're going to kick it off today with Robby Lashua, and he's going to talk, he's going to dive into the resurrection, coming right off of Easter. We're going to talk about the resurrection, and what does that look like, and the evidence that we have for the resurrection of Jesus. As we do this, we're going to anchor into First Corinthians 15, verses 3 through 8, and that's where he'll be in our time today. And my hope and my prayer is wherever you are, if you want to grow more in the understanding of how do I defend my faith, or if just maybe you're struggling and wrestling with it yourself, or maybe you're a skeptic and go, I don't know if I believe any of this. It is our hope and our prayer that that today you would just be stirred afresh to really consider the claims and the evidence that we have for the resurrection, so that we may walk in boldness in our faith.

Eric Estes: [00:08:53] First Corinthians. 15 verses 3 through 8, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me."

Robby Lashua: [00:10:10] Well, hey, thanks for letting me be here today; you didn't have a choice, you didn't have a choice. I am here today, and I'm from Arizona, and so I know when I'm in Texas, people say y'all a lot. I didn't even say that, right, y'all, sorry, I get that wrong, my accent is showing. I am from the mountains of Arizona, up where it snows, from a super small town. And one of the things about being from my small town is that there wasn't really a good school there back in the '80s and '90s when I was a kid, and so my mom and dad did this crazy thing, and they chose to homeschool me and my brother and my sister. And this is back before that was even popular, right, this is back when it was weird to do that. But God is good, right, and I'm alive, and I know how to do arithmetic and read and stuff like that.

Robby Lashua: [00:10:57] But one of the things that comes with being homeschooled is you get into a whole bunch of weird hobbies, am I right? Yes. Amen. And so when I was a kid, I loved learning how to do card tricks. Right? Loved it. So I'd practice, and I couldn't wait until my hands grew and got bigger because I wanted to be able to do better card tricks. So when I was doing these tricks, there were three different types of audiences that I would perform for. The first one was my friends because they loved it. They would always be like, show us another trick. Do you know anything new? Like, they were such a captive audience and they loved it when I would do new magic tricks. And then there were those kids who wanted to show everyone else that they were cooler than everybody else, and they would ruin the trick, because I would do it and they'd say, oh, he did this, he did this, he did that. And, you know, 50% of the time they were right, 50% of the time they were wrong, but I hated doing card tricks for people that were like that because they were so in tune to my hands, and they wouldn't let anything go. They were kind of like my enemy that I was going up against, right? I didn't like doing tricks for them. But the worst audience by far to do magic tricks for when I was a kid was my family. They were sick of it. They didn't think I was that cool. They knew I didn't have any special powers. And so I'd be like, hey, can I try this new trick on you? No, I'd rather not. You know, my siblings, especially, Robby, come on, man, stop it with this magic. Like we get it, okay, we get it, you're not that cool, though, calm down. It was easy to trick my friends. Sometimes I could trick those people who are my enemies, trying to tell everyone my trick. But my family, man, that was tough, that was tough to trick them and to gain their respect.

Robby Lashua: [00:12:39] This morning we're going to talk about the resurrection of Jesus because he convinced three audiences like that, that he rose from the dead and he was God. His friends, his foes, and his family, three different audiences that he convinced that he rose from the dead. Now, I want to explain a little bit, so I'm an apologist, and what apologetics is, is defending the Christian faith with good reasons and evidence. And you can do it in all sorts of ways, you can do it through science, through philosophy, through archeology, through theology. Today we're going to look at history to see how we know Jesus rose from the dead. By the way, he convinced those three specific audiences that he did rise from the dead.

Robby Lashua: [00:13:20] And this is why the resurrection is so important to us. Paul tells us in First Corinthians 15 that if Christ isn't raised from the dead, we're of all people, most to be pitied. Translation, you are idiots for being here on a Sunday morning if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, that's what he's getting at. You're wasting your life, what are you doing here following after a myth? Jesus isn't just not raised, but he's a liar about who God is, if he didn't resurrect from the dead. But if he did rise from the dead, then Christianity is worth following, then everything follows from it and we need to go out and we need to share it with other people.

Robby Lashua: [00:13:55] So as Christians, we need to know why we believe Jesus actually rose from the dead, that is our call. And I get in a lot of discussions with a lot of people on a lot of different subjects. Right? Why do you think God exists? Why do you think homosexuality is a sin? Why do you think abortion is wrong? Why do you think all these different things? And there are arguments for all of it, and Christians have amazing evidence for all of these things. But sadly, I've wasted a lot of time talking with people about things that don't get them to the Gospel. I spent hours talking to people about God's existence, right? And you know, I pull out all the stops, the cosmological, the teleological, the ontological, the moral argument, all the apologetics arguments, right? And I sat there one day, and I thought, you know, if I convince them God exists, what's that going to do? It's not going to save them. Muslims believe God exists. Mormons believe God exists. And so I thought, how can I get to the Gospel faster? How can I get to the Gospel faster?

Robby Lashua: [00:14:54] And this is my new method, alright, I want to hijack every conversation I can and get to the resurrection. Because Paul says everything about our faith hinges on it, and we have a ton of great reason and evidence for the fact that Jesus did come out of that grave. And so here's how I do it, somebody says, why do you think God exists? I'll say, because a guy who rose from the dead said, God exists. The natural question they follow up with is, why do you think a guy rose from the dead? And now we're off to the races, right, now I've got him where I want them, and I can talk about resurrection apologetics. Why do you think the Bible is God's word? Oh, because a guy who rose from the dead said it was, and said that it won't change, right? Why do you think that homosexuality is sin? Well, because a guy who rose from the dead defined what marriage is for us, and I'm going to go with him on these issues. What have you done to convince me that your opinion is right? A guy who rose from the dead man, that's somebody to listen to because it seems like he knows what he's talking about. So we hijack every conversation to get to the resurrection, but once we're there, we need to know how to defend the resurrection. And that's what this morning is going to be about. What is the evidence we have, what are the arguments we can tell our friends, that Jesus actually rose from the dead?

Robby Lashua: [00:16:09] Well, we've got a whole bunch, and we're not going to be able to go over all of them today because it would take forever, and I know we only have about 35 minutes. But I specifically want to talk about the friends, foes, and family of Jesus. But before we get there, I need to say something about the empty tomb. And I know last week was all about that, right, last week was about the empty tomb. But you have to have two things for a resurrection to occur. You have to have an empty tomb, and you have to have appearances of the person who rose from the dead, one without the other wouldn't convince anybody that resurrection had taken place. An empty tomb without personal appearances would be weird, but it would just be a puzzle. If you saw an empty grave, or if you saw, you know, somebody digging up a coffin, you wouldn't think that person rose from the dead. You would think something weird is happening or they're moving a body, but no way that you jump to the conclusion that they rose from the dead. Well, the disciples wouldn't do that either, they weren't idiots back then, they knew people who died stayed dead. So an empty tomb alone wouldn't convince anybody that a resurrection occurred.

Robby Lashua: [00:17:21] In the same way, appearances by themself wouldn't convince anyone that resurrection occurred. Here's why, you know Peter thinks Jesus appears to him, and then the next morning he goes to the tomb and Jesus's dead body is still in the tomb. He doesn't think resurrection, he thinks hallucination, he thinks I saw a ghost, he thinks I saw a vision, he doesn't get to resurrection. In order for the resurrection to have taken place, we have to have two facts of history. You had to have an empty tomb, and you had to have multiple appearances over 40 days, those two things together compelled the early church to think Jesus actually rose from the dead.

Robby Lashua: [00:18:02] Now, why is the empty tomb a fact of history? Real quick, a couple of reasons, one is because if you were going to start a religion based on a historical event that happened in the town you were in, you couldn't lie about it. For instance, if I told you all, sorry, y'all, if I told y'all AT&T Stadium blew up in an explosion last night and I'm going to start a new religion based off of that event, would you follow it? Hopefully not right. One of the reasons, though, is because you live here and you'd go, actually, if it blew up, I would have literally heard it because I'm not very far from it. Or you'd say I would have heard about it this morning because that's a huge deal in our community. Or you might think, you know, Robby seems like a nice guy, but I'm going to go drive past the stadium later today to see if he's telling the truth. right? The fact that they were preaching Jesus's tomb is empty in the town where people could go and verify whether it was empty or not, proves that it had to have been empty. Christianity couldn't have started unless the tomb was empty, no way anybody believes it unless the tomb was empty.

Robby Lashua: [00:19:11] And you also have people in town who had the means and the motive to drag Jesus's dead carcass out of the tomb and squash the rumor that he'd risen from the dead. Isn't that all they would have needed to do, is bring out his dead body and say, he is not resurrected? Look, here he is, here's the corpse. Pilate had the means and the motive to do that, but he didn't, why? The Sanhedrin, the Jewish Sanhedrin, don't you think they wanted to stop this movement? They had the power to bring out the body of Jesus, and they didn't. King Herod, he had the power, but he didn't. The Roman soldiers, they could have brought it out, but they didn't. Why didn't those groups bring out the dead body of Jesus? Because they didn't know where it was because he still had it with him, is what I believe, but they didn't know where it was.

Robby Lashua: [00:19:58] Do you remember in the book of Matthew, the soldiers come to the Jews and they're like, yeah, so, the rock was rolled away, and he came out, we don't know what to do. We were guarding a dead guy, I thought that was going to be an easy job, right? And what does the Sanhedrin say? They pay off the soldiers and they say, if anybody asks, just say the disciples stole the body. That is an admission that they don't have a body, make sense? The fact that the tomb of Jesus Christ was empty is a fact of history, and it's not disputed by even secular scholars today.

Robby Lashua: [00:20:30] So we have an empty tomb, but again, that was what last week was about. Let's talk about the appearances. The first group of people that Jesus appeared to are his friends, the disciples. Well, how do we know he appeared to them? Number one, all the historical documents we have say that he did. They all claim that he showed up to them, and we have multiple different sources in history to this fact. Some people will say, oh, well, that's just the New Testament. Well, the New Testament is not just one historical book, it's 27 different books. But even within the New Testament, we have more sources than just 27.

Robby Lashua: [00:21:09] I want to explain this to you. One of the things that we have are the early Christian creeds that are embedded in the New Testament documents. If I got up here and I'm, you know, preaching and I'm feeling real emotional, and then I say the words amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. And you go, wow, that was really poetic, this guy is good at writing things, maybe he should make that a song. That would be a great song, right? Would you think that or would, you know, I'm quoting something else? You know I'm quoting something, right? I'm quoting Amazing Grace, okay? In the New Testament, the writers of the New Testament do this on multiple occasions, where they quote to their audience something that is older than the book that it's in now. We know they did that with the Old Testament, right?

Robby Lashua: [00:21:57] They quote the Old Testament, but they also quote early Christian creeds and doctrine. One of those creeds is what Eric read earlier for us, First Corinthians 15 3 through 8. Look at what Paul says, he tells us that he's quoting something when he says, I delivered to you, Corinthians, what I first received, then he quotes the thing. He's telling them, remember when I came and hung out with you for 18 months, I told you this. But then he also tells us that he had received it from somewhere else, and this is fascinating because if you trace back where Paul received this creed through Galatians, through Acts, and through First Corinthians, secular scholarship tells us that he got the creed from Peter somewhere about five years after Jesus's death and that the [inaudible] had been around prior to that. And so people think that Jews in Jerusalem were saying this doctrine somewhere between six months to two years after Jesus's death. Well, what does it say? Jesus died. He was buried. He rose again and he appeared to a whole bunch of people. This is some of the earliest Christian doctrine that we have now. Now they put it in a way that's easy to remember, and you can even kind of see it's poetic in English, right, that he died according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he rose again according to the scriptures, that he appeared, that he appeared. It's in an easy-to-memorize way because about 97% of the Jews in the first century were illiterate. How do you teach illiterate people? You teach them easy-to-memorize stanzas, and that's what the Jews were really good at, was memorizing stuff. So this creed is much older than the book of First Corinthians. So when we're going to argue for the resurrection, I think this is the best material to use because it's the oldest.

Robby Lashua: [00:23:48] Sometimes if you go to the Gospels, people will say, well, the Gospels are, you know, later. Okay, we don't need to use the Gospels, I think they're reliable. I think they're great, but let's use this; this is what Christians were claiming from the beginning. And what does it tell us? Jesus appeared to Cephas. So that's Peter, right? That's Peter's Aramaic nickname. It gets so complicated with these names, right? His name is Simon, that's his real name. Jesus gives him the nickname Cephas, I tricked you, it wasn't Peter. He gave him the nickname Cephas because they spoke Aramaic. But what does Cephas mean? It means rocky or pebbles, and we translate that into Greek, Peter. Does that make sense? So Cephas is the nickname Jesus gave him an Aramaic that means Peter, essentially.

Robby Lashua: [00:24:32] And then he appeared to the 12. After that, he appears to 500 brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles. It's important that you notice that this James right here isn't James the brother of John, one of the disciples because that James is mentioned up in the 12, he's part of the 12 disciples. This James down here is Jesus's brother James. I guess we would say it's Jesus's half-brother, right? It's how we say it, Mary and Joseph's first son, that Jesus is older then. So from this, we can make great arguments that Jesus actually rose from the dead, and that was the claim from the very beginning. Jesus's friends, the disciples, claimed he had appeared to them, it's in the early Christian creeds. It's in the sermons in Acts. If you read Peter's sermon and Paul's sermons in Acts, it's all about the resurrection, that is their claim, this guy died and rose from the dead. We also have it in the written traditions of the Gospels in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Robby Lashua: [00:25:38] Now they can claim stuff, but how do we know they really believed this, right? We know the disciples believed that Jesus rose from the dead for a few reasons. One of them is that Scripture records all of their suffering. Do you remember who the disciples were before the resurrection? They were scared, they couldn't even stay awake to pray for Jesus the night before he was arrested. Then when they do wake up, they're hacking dude's ears off and the garden, like they're a mess, right? Jesus literally calls Peter Satan, it's not a pretty picture. And then they all abandon him when he's put on trial. And then after the resurrection, they're super bold and they don't care about suffering, they don't care about being imprisoned and flogged and beaten and then eventually killed for their belief that Jesus is God and rose from the dead. What changed in these guys? What happened? Well, they claim it was the guy rose from the dead, which emboldened them to not fear death anymore.

Robby Lashua: [00:26:38] But they encountered so much suffering throughout their lives until they were martyred. And we know from the early church fathers that all of them were martyred. Peter's crucified upside down if you remember that? Some of them were boiled alive. Some of them were stabbed through the stomach with spears. And what's interesting is not one of them ever recanted. Not one of them ever said, okay, it's just a joke, we stole the body, sorry about that. They all went to their deaths claiming Jesus had risen from the dead.

Robby Lashua: [00:27:11] So the question we want to ask is, why would the disciples die for something they knew was a lie? If they were making this up, why would they die for that? Nobody does that, right? Now people die for lies all the time, but they don't die for lies they know are lies. An Islamic terrorist who straps a bomb to his chest and goes and blows up a subway so that he can have eternal security before Allah, he's dying for a lie because it's untrue. But does he think it's true? Yes, that's why he's doing it because he believes it's true, he doesn't believe it's a lie. The question is, why would the disciples die for something they knew was a lie? If they stole the body, why would you die for that? You wouldn't. I've seen enough mafia movies to know this. Whenever they want to get information, they just start torturing them, putting the squeeze on them. Somebody always squeals, right? Not one of them, not one of them recants, even with the threat and then the execution of death.

Robby Lashua: [00:28:17] So the fact that the disciples lived a certain way and died for this claim, actually makes atheist New Testament historians make some interesting claims. I want to show you a couple of quotes. This is from Gerd Lüdemann, he was a German atheist New Testament scholar. He says, "It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death, in which Jesus appeared to them as the Risen Christ." This is an atheist. Now, he's not saying Jesus rose from the dead, he is saying they had some kind of experience that they interpreted as Jesus rising from the dead because there's no explanation for them dying for this.

Robby Lashua: [00:28:58] Paula Fredriksen, who is an atheist feminist professor at Boston University, says, "In their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus. That's what they say and then all the historic evidence we have afterwards attests to their conviction that that's what they saw. I'm not saying that they really did see the raised Jesus. I wasn't there. I don't know what they saw. But I do know that as a historian that they must have seen something." There is no explanation for why the disciples died for the claim that Jesus is God and rose from the dead unless they thought he had risen from the dead. Make sense? And their claim is that he appeared to them.

Robby Lashua: [00:29:39] Now, I think it might be easy to trick your friends, right? And we have seen cult leaders trick their followers into believing some crazy stuff. Maybe not that they rose from the dead, but we have seen them get tricked into some crazy stuff. So let's move on to a tougher audience. Somebody who's an enemy of the cross, a foe of the cross, the Apostle Paul. So Paul claims that Jesus appeared to him in multiple different passages of Scripture. It's in Galatians 1, it's in First Corinthians 15, and then three times in the Book of Acts we have the story of Paul's Damascus Road experience. Once it's in the chronology of the history of the story in Acts chapter 9, but then two times it's when Paul's giving his testimony before different people he's on trial before. We have a ton of evidence that Paul claimed Jesus showed up to him. Jesus knocked me off my horse, I went blind for a while, and he said, you work for me now stop torturing my people, right? This was Paul's claim.

Robby Lashua: [00:30:46] Luke records it three times, and the question that we want to look at is who was Paul before he converted? Who was Paul before he converted? Now he tells us a lot about himself. He says, I was a Jew of Jews. I was from the tribe of Benjamin. I studied under Gamaliel, who was the smartest Jew at the time, like the top professor. He's basically saying, I went to Oxford, right? I went to Harvard. He says I was a Pharisee and a son of a Pharisee. So he's got this heritage of being a religious leader. He says I was a Pharisee according to the strictest religious sect. So he's ultra-conservative, he's not a dirty Sadducee, right? Those guys don't even believe in the whole Old Testament, they don't even believe angels exist. He's like, I'm not that, I was the conservative, the real Jew. And he says, according to the law, I was flawless, I was circumcised on the eighth day, and my parents raised me the right way. And this guy is going around the world extraditing Christians back to Jerusalem so they can stand trial and be killed for blasphemy. He's going around killing Christians. So you want to talk about a guy who had power, a guy who was really prestigious, a guy who had fame, fortune, he had it all in Judaism, and his entire life and religion and career was wrapped up in Judaism. And then all of a sudden, he converts and suffers a bunch, he gets flogged, he gets thrown in prison. The churches he's writing to don't even like him. Do you remember when he went to the Corinthians? He's like, I'm legit, like, listen to me, I'm a real apostle. And they're like, you're not even a good speaker, man. Do you remember this? So this guy has everything in Jerusalem, and now he's going around the world just to be humiliated by people who won't listen to him. Eventually, he has his head chopped off for his preaching and his belief that Jesus rose from the dead. Now it's a fact of history, according to secular scholarship, that Paul converted to Christianity. But the question they all ask is, what in the world caused Paul to convert? That he converted, everybody agrees. Why did he convert? It makes no sense. And from a worldly perspective, it doesn't.

Robby Lashua: [00:33:12] Here's an illustration I want to share with you. So I'm from Arizona, and I've grown up there my entire life, I live on the west side of Phoenix now. And when I was a little kid, the only professional sports team we had in town were the Phoenix Suns, God bless America. Amen. Right. That's all we had, so Phoenix, Arizona is like a Suns town, it's a basketball town, right, because we didn't have football. And it's debatable even if we do have football today, it's not very good. But I love the Suns, and I've grown up watching them since I was a kid, right? Like going back into the mid-80s, and then all the pain through the 90s, and one of the things that comes with being a Suns fan is a hatred of the Los Angeles Lakers. And I mean hatred, like I see purple and gold flowers and I want to vomit, like it's disgusting, like I can't, okay? I will never become a Lakers fan, like, Kobe, Shaq, Magic Johnson, like all of it, it's disgusting to me because they always beat us, they always beat us. We've never won one championship. I don't know if you know that, we've never won. Okay, stop venting. Here's my point, you could never convince me to become a Lakers fan, never. You could give me a lobotomy. I still will not become a Lakers fan. It's deep-seated, do you know what I'm saying? And that's just about stupid sport, that's not my life. My religion is not wrapped up in that, my career is not wrapped up in that, but you'll never convert me to a Lakers fan.

Robby Lashua: [00:34:43] What in the world could have made Paul on a dime, just leave everything he knew to convert to Christianity in order to suffer and die for it? Well, he says that Jesus Christ showed up to him in the flesh, resurrected from the dead, and said, you're going to work for me now. It would take something that miraculous, that out of the ordinary, that crazy to convert a guy like this, to leave everything behind and follow something that didn't bring him money, that didn't bring him sex, and that didn't bring him power. Because that's why people create cults, actually, Paul didn't get any of those things out of it, he got humiliation, suffering, and death. The fact that Paul converted is real strong evidence that something happened, and I think it's that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to him because that's what he says, and then his life backs up that he actually believed that.

Robby Lashua: [00:35:37] But let's move on to the toughest critic, the family, right? The family, Jesus' family, and what they believed about him after his resurrection. Well, the scriptures record that Jesus had siblings, and this is all over the place, right? Matthew 12, Matthew 13, Luke 8, John 2, Acts 1, First Corinthians 9, and Galatians 1 all tell us that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

Robby Lashua: [00:36:07] We know for sure he has four brothers because they get named James, Jude, Simon, and Joseph, and then it says, and sisters, so that means at least two, because it's plural, right? So he could have had more, but he has at least six siblings. James is the oldest, next to Jesus, James would be the first son of Mary and Joseph. And Jesus' family, prior to his resurrection was extremely skeptical of him, they don't really like him. You have these weird passages in scripture, like in Mark, Jesus goes back to Nazareth, remember? And they say we know this dude, like, this is the carpenter, right? We know He has brothers and his sister. Like, who does this guy think he is? And Jesus says a prophet is not without honor. Where? Except in his hometown, among his relatives, and among his household. What is he saying? Hometown, extended family, and immediate family, Jesus tells us his immediate family doesn't think he's a prophet. They don't believe in him, right? There's actually a story when he comes to town and he's preaching, somebody tells his brothers about it, and it says that they went to take Jesus away because they thought he'd lost his mind. Come on, Jesus, it's padded room time. Come on, buddy, come on, come over here. That's what they were doing. That's what they thought of him.

Robby Lashua: [00:37:30] But the most damning passage comes from John 7:1-5, it says, After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Okay, that's a great reason not to go to Judea, right? They're trying to kill you. So he's like, I'm going to stay in Galilee, I don't want to get killed just yet. "Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. 4“For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5For not even His brothers were believing in Him. Do you see that? What are they telling him? Why don't you go kill yourself? Go over there, big shot. Why don't you take your magic act on the road? Why don't you go show everybody how amazing you are? If you want to be this big public star, if you want to be this rabbi who teaches all over the place, what are you hiding out at home for? Go to the big city and let everyone see your wondrous deeds. They don't like him, they don't believe in him, his brothers are not part of his followers, they're not part of the disciples, they're absent. His brothers are not present at his death. His mom's there, and then Jesus leaves his mom with his disciple John, no brothers are present. They didn't like him. And to be honest with you, if Jesus was your older brother, you wouldn't like him either. Have you ever thought about what a tough gig that is? This guy is running around, he's always doing perfect stuff. Your mom's saying, why can't you be more like Jesus? And deep down, you know she's right. Like, do you know how hard that would be? This would be the worst situation ever. You wouldn't like that guy. You'd want to separate yourself. You'd want to be your own person, right? And actually, that's what we see, this is so weird.

Robby Lashua: [00:39:29] But when you study church history, these two old dead historian dudes, Eusebius and Hegesippus, they tell us about James, Jesus' brother, and they called him James the Just because he followed the Jewish law really, really well. They talk about how he had long hair and he never had it cut and he didn't drink wine. So it seems like he took a Nazarite vow, and that's unlike Jesus. Jesus drank wine, do you remember, like, we know this for sure in Scripture, it tells us this. So you can almost see this like sibling like psychology, rivalry, like, James is like, I'm going to be my own person, I'm not going to be like that loser. Right? And he like sides being more like his cousin John the Baptist, to be honest, than being like his brother Jesus. James and his brothers are skeptics to Jesus prior to the resurrection.

Robby Lashua: [00:40:18] And then all of a sudden in Act 1, we're told that they're praying with the disciples to their brother as if he's God. One week, one week later, they're in. What happened? James actually becomes the head of the church in Jerusalem, right? He becomes the guy that everyone goes to, this is so crazy. James, the brother of John, gets killed in Acts 12, and then the James that's talked about through the rest of Scripture, through the rest of Acts, is Jesus' half-brother, James. He's the head of the church in Jerusalem, and he actually is the one who decides the theology that the rest of the world of the Gentiles needs to follow in Acts 15. It's not Peter, it's not Paul, it's not John, all of those guys are at the Jerusalem Council, but it's James who says, this is what we're going to do.

Robby Lashua: [00:41:08] Okay, how did this guy get to such a high level of leadership, and why does he start teaching that his brother is God? Did he get rich from it? No. Did he get prestige from it? No. Did he get multiple wives from it? No. What happened to him? He gets killed for it. The Jews took him out and they said, hey, listen, this whole Jesus is God thing is getting out of hand. You follow the law well; can you just preach and tell everybody like it was all a joke? And he's like, I'll preach. And so they put him up on the Temple Mount, and he's standing there, and he basically says, it's all true, my brother's God, you got to believe that. And the Jews get so mad, they shove him off of the mount and he falls. And it says that he fell on his knees, but he used to pray so much that his knees were all calloused over. One of his nicknames was Old Camel Knees, no joke, and that the callous is saved him from the fall. And then a mob surrounded him, stoning him to death, and then a guy hit him on the back of the head with a club and killed him. What changed in this man's life to go from telling Jesus to go kill himself, not believing in him, thinking he was crazy, to now heading up the church in Jerusalem, teaching his theology, and dying for the belief that your brother is God? What happened? First Corinthians 15 says Jesus appeared to him.

Robby Lashua: [00:42:31] Let me ask you a question. What could you do to convince your siblings that you're God? Have you ever tried that? Be honest. Have you ever tried that? I've thought about it before. I have a younger brother and a younger sister, they don't believe that I'm God, and I don't know what I would do to convince them that I'm God, right? And now, but we're in church, right, so we're supposed to say, well, if your brother or sister rose from the dead, then you must believe that they're God, because that's what happened to James, right? If your brother or sister rose from the dead, would you believe they are God? I wouldn't. We actually have examples in Scripture of this very thing happening. Remember, Lazarus comes back from the dead to his sisters, Mary and Martha. Do they think he's God? No. What about Jairus's daughter? She gets raised from the dead. Does Jairus think she's God? Nope. What about the widow's son who gets raised from the dead? Does the widow think her son is God? No. Resurrection doesn't seem to be enough to convince people that their sibling is God. So why did James believe it? Why did Jude believe it? Why did they write books in the Bible claiming this and die for it? What could have convinced them? Well, I think there are two things that must have happened. Resurrection for sure, but the other thing is, you would need to know that Jesus was sinless, or you'd never believe he was God. These were strict Jews, James, especially, follows the law well. He knows what the Old Testament says that God is holy, holy, holy, that he's perfect, that he cannot lie, that he doesn't go back on his promises, all the things the Old Testament says, James knows it and he follows it. There's no way he would believe his brother was God, unless he also knew that his brother was perfect.

Robby Lashua: [00:44:18] Now growing up with the perfect sibling. We've talked about that, that would be horrible. But think about this, brothers have an unspoken code, and this isn't good as part of our depravity, but you will cover for each other's sins, right? My brother and I, like we know more about each other's bad stuff than we did when we were kids than our parents know. Sometimes we'll be talking, and my mom will be like, I didn't know that one. And we're like, oh yeah, sorry about that. Right? That's how siblings work, isn't it? Brothers have a front-row seat to each other's depravity, more so than parents do, more so than friends do, brothers know.

Robby Lashua: [00:44:56] And the fact that you have James converting means he saw the resurrected Christ, but that alone wouldn't compel him to believe his brother was God, he'd also have to know that he was perfect, that he was holy, holy, holy. So the fact that James and the brothers and the sisters converted, I think, doesn't just prove that the resurrection happened, but it also proves that Jesus was sinless and lived a perfect life on our behalf, and those two things together would compel you that your brother is God.

Robby Lashua: [00:45:29] James is an interesting case study for the resurrection, but it's also an interesting case study for the sinlessness of Jesus. If you remember, James wrote the book of James, and in it he says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows". Do you remember that? There's no evil in God? God doesn't sin, he said, God doesn't show partiality. Like all of these things about the perfection of God, because he knows God's perfect. Oh, and by the way, that's my brother. There's no way that you would convert to believe that your sibling is God unless you knew they were perfect, and you knew that they had risen from the dead.

Robby Lashua: [00:46:13] So those three different audiences help us to defend one of the reasons why Jesus rose from the dead. There are multiple other reasons. I mean, the fact that you're sitting in church on a Sunday morning in and of itself, you right now are evidence that Jesus rose from the dead, I hate to tell you that. If you're a non-Christian and you're here, you're like, no, I don't want to prove it, but you are. Because why are you here on a Sunday morning? What's Sunday morning? Where did that come from? If you trace it back in church history, you get all the way back into the New Testament, and everybody just met on Sunday mornings. And the disciples were doing it, remember when Paul was preaching on Sunday, and he preached so late that the dude fell out of the window and died? Do you remember that? I've never had that happen in any of my sermons, by the way, so take that, Paul. But they met on the first day of the week. They met on the first day of the week. Why? Well, they don't ever tell us why, there's just like this shift from Sabbath on Saturday to worshiping on Sunday. And they expect that you know why, and it's because Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. If he didn't rise from the dead, wouldn't they have picked Friday, the day he died, to commemorate him? Would you just arbitrarily pick a few days later? That doesn't even make sense. Where did Sunday come from? An event happened early on Sunday morning. Jesus's tomb was empty, and he appeared to a whole bunch of people on that very first Easter Sunday too. There would be no day more emblazoned in their minds about Jesus’ conquering Satan, sin, and death on that first Sunday morning, and every week after that the Church of Jesus has been meeting to worship him. You're evidence right now that something happened 2000 years ago on a Sunday morning.

Robby Lashua: [00:47:52] But what do we do with all this? It should build our confidence as Christians, number one. A lot of people are walking away from the faith because they don't know what it is, they don't know the reasons we have for it, they don't know the evidence that we have for it. We need to know deep down that this is true because you know what? Our emotions are going to go up and down, and some days I really feel like being a Christian, and other days I don't feel like it. Some days I feel like coming and worshiping God, some days I don't feel like it. But we're not Christians because it works for us, we're Christians because it's true. Our emotions are going to wane, but is this the way the world really is, or is it not? And we get to that point where we say, I'm just not feeling it anymore. You'll move on to something else unless you're compelled that no, this is reality, not dependent on how I feel about it. Christianity is the way the world really is, for all people, and all times, and all places. We need to know that because it grounds us in our faith, it encourages us, and it gives us hope in the darkest of times because we know that this thing is true. But that knowledge should also compel us to go out, let's go to our neighbors, let's go to our friends, and let's go to our family who don't know Jesus and show them the reasons and evidence to persuade them to the truth, like it says all throughout the book of Acts.

Robby Lashua: [00:49:11] That's our job as ambassadors for Christ, to go out and persuade them with evidence and reason to see who Jesus is and what he did in time, space, and history, 2000 years ago. And I'd encourage you, I know Rick Townsend is starting that outpost group here, that's something that we do at Stand To Reason. Get involved in it, because it's going to give you apologetic answers like we did today on the resurrection, on why God allows evil, on homosexuality in the Bible, on are the Gospels reliable, on all the big topics. You're going to go through that, and you're going to be better equipped to give a good reason for the hope that is in you, like we're told to in First Peter 315. So I'd highly encourage you to get into that. I know Rick said that there's going to be more information going out about that group that's starting up soon, so be on the lookout for that. But don't just hold this to yourself, sometimes as Christians, I feel like we're perpetually sharpening the sword that we never intend to go out and use. The reason we come here is to be encouraged and to be edified and equipped so that we can go out six days of the week and we can be ambassadors for Jesus. Amen?

Robby Lashua: [00:50:18] All right, let's pray together. Lord Jesus, we love you and we're thankful that you are a God who gives us reason and evidence. You don't tell us just to listen to you because you say so, but you show us the reasons. You give us the why behind the what? And, Lord, I'm so grateful for that. Help us to be a people who don't just hide this information or just treasure it in our hearts but help us to go out and share it with others, Lord, because other people need to know who you are, they need to know what you've done, they need to know what type of world they're living in, Lord, so that they can be redeemed from sin. Lord, we're so grateful for your word, we're so grateful for the lives of the disciples, for the life of Paul, for the life of James, and, Lord, the evidence that it's left, the mark that it's left on history that we can look back at and we can deduce things from, Lord, I am convinced that you have risen from the dead. Lord, thank you for giving us this truth.

Robby Lashua: [00:51:20] We just want to take some time now to silently stay in your seats and just pray. Maybe the Lord's stirring in your heart something or someone that you need to talk to about this. And it's always good to just take some time as the people of God to pray and to allow the Spirit to speak into our lives. And so just take a few moments right now and just silently pray and speak with the Lord and see what he has for you.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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