Jesus, dead or alive?
J. M. Roberts - The History of The World
“Christianity’s influence runs through all the great creative processes of the last fifteen hundred years; almost incidentally, it defined Europe. We are what we are today because a handful of Jews saw their teacher and leader crucified and believed he rose again from the dead.”
Jesus defined his mission as;
Matthew 20:28 “The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
This is so central to the gospel message that quarter of Matthew, one third of Mark, one quarter of Luke and almost half of John deal with just the last week of Jesus’ ministry.
John’s eye -witness account
Read John 19:33 - 20:31
19:25-27 John standing near the foot of the cross.
19:33-35 The soldiers saw that Jesus was already dead, (a crucified man has to raise himself up to breathe using his legs and eventually dies from suffocation and collapsed lungs when he is too exhausted to do this any more - the soldiers broke the thieves’ legs to cause them to collapse and die), and so did not break his legs but pierced his side with a spear; bringing a flow of blood and water.The blood had already started to coagulate and separate into blood clots and serum--good evidence of death.
20:1 Early on the Sunday morning, the women found the stone removed from the entrance of the tomb and the body gone. There had been a guard of Roman soldiers and the Bible says that an angel caused an earthquake and rolling the stone away, causing the soldiers to run away in terror. The Pharisees never disputed the absence of the body.
20:3-9 Peter and John run to the tomb and also find it empty, but they still did not understand that Jesus must rise from the dead, and return to hiding.
20: 19-20 Something transforms the disciples from people hiding in fear of the authorities to those who would go out and fearlessly preach about Jesus in Jerusalem, Israel and all over their world. Jesus appeared to them risen from the dead.
20:24-28 They were not easily convinced peasants but more really sceptical and it was only the physical reality of Jesus’ presence that convinced them. At first they thought that he was a ghost and it was only when they touched him and he ate with them that they believed.
20:30 Jesus appeared many times to convince them.
At least 11 over a period of 6 weeks to over 500 people, many of whom could have been consulted about it.
Paul uses this argument when he writes in:
1 Corinthians 15:16 “After that, he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers at the same time, most of them are still living ..........”
Written around 54 AD, - 20 years after the resurrection.
Preaching of the early Church
The Apostles did NOT preach that Jesus had been a good man and that he should have not been killed. But preached that his death was predestined by God and that they were witnesses of his resurrection, for example, Peter says this in his first sermon on the day of Pentecost in:
“Surely he took up our infirmities
Acts 2:32 and 36; “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
In preaching to the Greeks in Athens, Paul says in:
Acts 17:31 “For God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” Paul spoke so much about Jesus and the resurrection,( anastasia in Greek),that the Greeks thought that he was talking about two gods, a male god Jesus and a goddess ‘Anastasia’.
The teaching of Jesus’ resurrection would have been hard and would have made an extra barrier to people accepting Christianity and so would not have been preached if it was not true.
Many of the Apostles and other witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection were persecuted and eventually killed for their testimony; people do not usually give their lives for something that they know to be a lie.
Jesus is Alive Today and people can meet him.
An exciting consequence of Jesus’ resurrection is that He is alive today and we can actually meet and interact with the same Jesus who walked the streets and roads of Israel 2,000 years ago.
Many have had visions of Jesus down through the centuries but all those who trust their lives to him begin a real relationship with him, this is something objective, not just imagination, and is the same for people from all ages and religious and cultural backgrounds.
Why did Jesus Die and Rise Again?
A perfect God must destroy evil so that it does not triumph or go on hurting what is good.
We began with Jesus’ own words that he came to give his life as a ransom for many and it says in:
Hebrews 9:15 “Christ has died as a ransom to set them free from sins”
A ransom is an exchange paid to release a prisoner and Jesus’ life was an exchange for ours, paying the price we owed for the things we have done. wrong in order to free us from judgement If a boy has stolen from a shop and is being chased by the shop keeper, his father will pay the shop keeper in order to save the boy from a beating. The boy goes free but his father paid the price. Our punishment was put on Jesus on the cross and in Isaiah 53:4-6 written about 750 BC, the Bible predicts this about Jesus:
And carried our sorrows,
Yet we considered him stricken by God,
Smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
And by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on him,
The iniquity of us all
This is a mystery!
There is an exchange by trusting in Jesus; we become united with him and he takes our sin and we take his righteousness - Holiness.
Romans 3:22 says: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe”.
Romans 4:5 says: “To the man who .... trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as ighteousness.”
“Justified” means “just as if I’d never sinned;” declared “not guilty” in court, forgiven. By faith in Jesus as our saviour from our sins, (asking his forgiveness,) and as Lord and master of our lives, (giving our lives to him), we can receive forgiveness of sin and a new life by receiving his Holy Spirit, Who will change our hearts and lives.
The Bible says in 11 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, The old has gone, the new has come!”