Jesus Christ is Lord and is seated at the right hand of the Father, but in order to get there, the cross had to come before the kingdom.
This week symbolizes the very heart of our faith. Jesus provides a universal offer to mankind. He invited his disciples to commune with him, prayed for all believers at Gethsemane, suffered for six hours on a cross, was laid in a garden tomb, and on Sunday rose again in victory to seal the promise of our hope for all of eternity.
Christianity is the only religion which bases its faith on a verifiable event.
In first Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…was buried, and that He was raised on the third day; he continued naming individual eye-witnesses who saw Jesus, and added that, “He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)
The disciples truly saw the resurrected Christ. Only an event of this magnitude could turn scared, scattered, and skeptical disciples, with no prior concept and expectation of a crucified and risen Messiah, into courageous proclaimers of the gospel willing to suffer and die for their belief that Jesus rose from the grave.
What was their motive if it wasn’t true? Christianity faced huge obstacles as a brand new movement. They had no money, they taught about love, faith, sin, and self-denial, and they were subject to intense hatred and persecution. Most of the disciples were killed for their faith, following the example of their Messiah.
On ‘Good Friday,’ the Lord was brutally beaten, tortured, and crucified. According to Isaiah the prophet, He was barely recognizable as human. So why call it good?
Pastor Allistair Begg commented on Jesus’ sacrifice, saying:
“Did earth or heaven ever witness a sadder spectacle than this? In soul and body, our Lord felt Himself to be weak as water poured upon the ground. The placing of the cross in its socket had shaken Him with great violence, had strained all the ligaments, pained every nerve, and more or less dislocated all His bones. Burdened by His own weight, the impressive sufferer felt the strain increasing every moment of those six long hours.”
He went on to say you and I could not have endured the immense pain Jesus did and remained conscious. Remember this the next time you kneel before your ascended Savior, Jesus, the only way to the Father in heaven. His great work was finished.
Most skeptics have likely never examined the overwhelming evidence of the resurrection, what Luke refers to as “infallible proofs.”
It’s also important to note that even liberal scholars and historians agree on the following basic historical facts:
- Jesus was publicly executed and died by crucifixion
- His tomb was empty three days later; the body was missing
- His disciples believed he rose from the dead and that He appeared to them
- James, former skeptic and half-brother of Jesus, was suddenly radically changed
- The church persecutor, Paul, a Pharisee, was also suddenly and dramatically changed
Next, how do you explain the fact Christianity rapidly expanded in the first century? Eye-witness testimony helps, but it had to be true.
What are the odds of one man fulfilling predictions made hundreds of years earlier? We tend to forget how many Old Testament prophecies Jesus fulfilled and how miraculous this is in itself. For a quick refresher, here are a handful of them:
- The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem of a virgin; He will be called Immanuel and live in Nazareth (Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:23).
- He will be a prophet like Moses, enter Jerusalem triumphantly, riding on a donkey (Deuteronomy 18:15; Zechariah 9:9; John 12:12-19).
- He will be rejected by His own people and betrayed by one of His followers for thirty pieces of silver (Isaiah 53:1-3; John 1:11; Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-16).
- The Messiah will be mocked, taunted, spit upon, severely beaten, and flogged (Psalm 22:7-8; Isaiah 50:6; 53:5). This is pretty detailed!
- He will be tried and condemned to die by crucifixion (Psalm 22:14-16; John 19:15-16).
- His hands and side will be pierced; His garments will be divided by casting lots, but His bones will not be broken (Zechariah 12:10a; Psalm 22:16-18; 34:20; John 19:36).
- The Messiah will bear the sins of many and pray for those who kill Him (Isaiah 53:12b). He will suffer with sinners, die with criminals, and He will be buried with/by a rich man (Isaiah 53:12a; Matthew 27:38, 57-60).
- He will be raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10; 30:3; 1 Corinthians 15:4-8).
Check. Check. Check!
Fulfilled prophecy is more proof of the deity of Christ. Archeological discoveries confirm the reliability of the Bible. But if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then we’re without hope and without God in this world. This life would be as good as it gets.
Fortunately, truth wins, and all the evidence of the resurrection demands a verdict. Anyone living around Jerusalem could have examined the empty tomb for themselves, and thousands probably did go to the tomb of Christ to look for His body.
The Word of God has stood the test of time and as Jesus said, it endures forever.
After thousands of years of attacks, opposition, and scrutiny by critics − warfare that no other work has ever seen − the Bible has withstood the onslaught, has gained credibility, and the Christian faith has continued to thrive throughout the world. No other written work has the power to convict people of their sin, the ability to change human nature, and offers a permanent solution to man’s greatest problem.
Luke declared in Acts 2:36-39,
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all; …as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Do you know Him? This isn’t about religion, it’s about having peace through a relationship with the living God who will one day judge every person, living and dead.
We serve a risen King who is returning soon, as promised, not as a lamb, but as the Lion of Judah worthy of all praise and glory due His name! Trust in Jesus, live for Him and not the things of this world. And fear not!