Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Jesus Christ P43 (02-01-21)
Many people have been exposed to much religious teaching. You can be raised in a denomination, and you heard that Jesus died, was buried and rose again. Even if just from the few holidays celebrated every year, by Christians and non-Christians alike, such as Christmas and Easter, you hear those things about Jesus, and maybe even accept that as being true. But have you asked more probing questions as to why he died, why he was buried and why he rose again?
If you were brought up in some religious background, you might have heard more about the cross, with much emphasis on sin and the confession of sin, and the need to be forgiven of sins, but little, if anything at all has been said about the resurrection. Why is the resurrection of Christ Jesus so vitally important to salvation, or for the proper understanding of the gospel message? So if Jesus died on a cross, then so what, or then what? Those deeper questions need to be asked, and the full understanding of what Jesus Christ accomplished for you needs to be understood.
Jesus did come to this earth, born of a virgin, not in Adam, so is without any sin of His own. Jesus came to live a life of love, a perfect life that no other man could do. He came to show us what perfect righteousness is so we might want His. Jesus, as God in the flesh, came to this earth to fulfill the demands of the law, by living a life of perfect love, where love does its neighbor no wrong, and love is the fulfillment of the law. So He fulfilled the law for us since we were unable to do so.
Jesus did also die on a cross so that your sins can be taken away, not covered like the shed blood of a bull and a goat that had to be done year after year, presented to a priest, just to get sins temporarily forgiven, but completely taken away forever, once and for all, from the eyes God, when He shed His blood on a cross. Then He upheld the law, which we also could never do, for we cannot die for our sins and then live. For there to be a law, then there had to be a violation of the law. That violation has a penalty called the wages of sin is death. The sin debt of all mankind must be paid in full. That is why Jesus became sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
So, as important as the death of Jesus on a cross is, without which none of us would have sins forgiven, or taken away, and without which there is not even any hope for redemption. If we are still dead in our sins, then even though all our sins are forgiven, we are like a dead corpse. There is no life in us. The death of Jesus on a cross was a necessary preparation for life to be given. With sin taken out of the way, then the problem of death then has to be solved. Death is only solved by life. Forgiveness of sins cannot give life, although it was necessary for life to be given. That is why the apostle Paul said that without the resurrection, we are still dead in our sins, our faith is futile and we are without hope. When Christ Jesus rose from the dead, He offered the very life that raised Him from the dead to you and me.
So the gospel of salvation is being saved from the consequence of sin, which is death, by the gift of God, which is the resurrected life in Christ Jesus. The demands of the law were fully met in Christ Jesus, and what the law could never do, Jesus Christ could do for man, and did, for those who are in Christ Jesus. That is He came to make man complete in Him. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, He offers to you the gift of eternal life, which is Christ in you, to know God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
No one will ever be made complete through the law. The cross was there in order to take away sins, not to cover it, such as atonement did, but to take it away, so that man could receive life. So that what? So that you can walk in the newness of life. If you are walking in the oldness of life, how are you going to walk in the newness of life? What had to take place? Not only did sin have to be taken away, but life had to come to the dead. Righteousness had to be given and imputed.
All of those things had to take place once and for all, so that, as scripture says, that we, therefore, can have peace with God. Because of what He has done, I can now have peace with God. Why do you want peace with God? So that you can walk in the newness of life and have a relationship, that at any time of day, you can walk in the presence of the living God, the God of this universe, and receive mercy and grace in time of need. You can experience the kind of life that God wants to produce in you and through you, that you too desire by coming to Christ when you were first born again, to experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Christ in you, that communication with the living God, is your only hope of glory.
Now if you had not grown up in a religious background, or you rejected religion, and I do not blame you, for God did not send Jesus to start a religion, but instead of coming to Christ, you were deceived into believing a lie, doubting that Jesus even died, maybe even believing the swoon theory that was told to you, or believing the story that has been told that either the apostles hid the body or the Jewish leaders stole the body way. But if you look at the evidence surrounding the events of the empty tomb, with the testimony of eyewitnesses and with historical evidence, what kind of logical conclusions can be drawn?
Test your conclusions based on the evidence. Look at it as if you were at a crime scene, a detective, or maybe even a historian who wants to accurately record what really happened. Do the research and ask the probing questions. As you do, I believe you cannot help but come to the conclusion that Jesus really is the one He claimed to be, God in the flesh. Listen as Bob George talks you through this and asks many of the types of questions that can be asked, and comes to what he thinks are reasonable and logical conclusions.
As we were talking last week, we were dealing with some statements made by the apostle Paul in regard to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:15-17
16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
The resurrection is the pivotal point of all existence. It was through the resurrection that everything took place, even though the cross was before that. The cross is where all men were reconciled to Himself where their sins will never be counted against them again.
2 Corinthians 5:19
19 God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s sins against them.
He did that so that He could give you life. There are so many instances that I have just come to grips with lately, where there is an event that takes place, and you ask yourself, “So what?” or “Then what?”. In other words, is there a response for that? Why did Jesus die on a cross? For the forgiveness of your sins? For what? Then what? Am I just a forgiven sinner? Am I just a forgiven religionist? Am I still under the law? Did Christ die for me so I could obey the law more? What is the reason for that?
There has got to be more of a reason than the fact my sins are forgiven. You can imagine the emptiness that had taken place for an Israelite prior to the cross. For a thousand years, diligently marching back to the temple, whenever it was there, and religiously and with full dedication, engaged in the ceremony of atonement, of the killing, the shedding of the blood, of a bull or a goat or a lamb, and having that blood shed on an altar by a priest, who was there as representative between man and God, and going to that event, having your sins forgiven, and walking away from that altar the same empty man you went to the altar. You went there empty, unforgiven, left empty, forgiven, until the next sin. Then you would have to go back again, an empty man, unforgiven, becoming temporarily an empty man, forgiven. So there had to be something more added to that. So in order for God to do something for man that man could never do for himself, and that is to make him complete. As scripture says to make someone perfect, or complete, not perfect in behavior, but complete.
In order to do that, the demands of the law must be met, but the law could never make a man complete. No one will ever be made complete through the law. Something else had to occur. So the cross was there in order to take away sins, not to cover it, such as atonement did, but to take it away, so that man could receive life. So that what? So that he can walk in the newness of life. There is your goal. Your goal is if you are walking in the oldness of life, how am I going to walk in the newness of life? What had to take place? Sin had to be taken away. Life had to come to the dead. Righteousness had to be given and imputed. All of those things had to take place once and for all, so that, as scripture says, that we, therefore, can have peace with God. Because of what He has done, I can now have peace with God. Is that a goal? Yes, that is a goal. Why do you want peace with God? So I can walk in the newness of life and have a relationship, that at any time of day, I can walk in the presence of the living God, the God of this universe.
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
To have peace with God to walk boldly into His presence and find mercy in my time of need. To know that I have a relationship with God who created me, to be loved by Him and to respond and love Him back. There is the ultimate goal of man. In order to bring that about, all of these things had to take place. All of these provisions had to be made for man in order for that to take place.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
The centrality of all that is in the resurrection. As Paul was saying. If it were not for the resurrection, or faith in all of these things, it would be worthless and we would be still dead in our sins. We dealt with that last week. What does this have to do? I thought the cross had to do with forgiving our sins. It did have to do with taking away your sins, but without the resurrection, you are still dead. It is through the resurrection you receive that forgiveness. It was provided for you but it is received in His resurrected life.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Someone comes along and says, “I just dumped $10 million dollars in the bank account and it is a rotating gift. In other words, as you spend a thousand, a thousand is put back in. It is there forever. It is your inheritance forever. You cannot outspend it because it keeps getting replaced.” “Well, you mean that is mine. It has been provided for me?” “Yes.” “When was it provided for me?” “Last year.” “Well, I did not know about it.” “I know you did not know about it. That is why you have been living like a pauper.” “Where do I get that money?” “In the bank. That is where you get it. It has been provided, but you are going to receive it in the bank. So if you want to get any of it, you have to go where it is, in the bank.”
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Where is our forgiveness? In Jesus. When was it provided for us? 2000 years ago. Where do I get it? In Jesus. Where do I get the money? In the bank. Where do I get this forgiveness? In Jesus. What Jesus? The resurrected life of Jesus. It is in His resurrected life, now that He has completed all the work necessary for you and me. Through His physical life, He fulfilled the law. Through His death, He upheld the law. For a law to be upheld, a violation had to be paid for it. He paid for it.
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
He paid a debt He did not owe to us who had a debt we could not pay. So the law was upheld. In His burial, He died to the thing that killed Him, the law that demanded death for sin, ours, not His, for He had none of His own. But He died to the law. He was raised again to the newness of life, so that we too, joined in His resurrected life can walk in a newness of life, no longer walking after the flesh under the law but now walking in the newness of life. Christ is the end of the law so that we can walk in the newness of life, and that is by faith in a loving relationship with a loving, giving and merciful God, who said I came so you may have life and have it abundantly.
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
All of this took place by the resurrection of Christ. That was the completed work. “I died for you. I was buried to die to the law. The law has been fulfilled. It has been upheld. I have now been buried and I am now raised again so you can be raised again.” How do we enter into all of those things? Through our attachment, being joined together, our identification with the one who loved us and gave Himself for us, the resurrected Christ. Our faith is worthless and still in our sins until we come to understand that.
2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
If Christ was not raised from the dead, then your faith is worthless and you are still dead in your sins. So what would Satan want the world to believe? That Christ was not raised from the dead so we can have a worthless faith and man would still be wandering around in sin that Satan has bound us up in to begin with.
Let us now look at some reasons for the empty tomb. Ever since that event took place, the empty tomb, Satan has begun to plot trying to con people into believing that really did not happen. Remember last week, we talked about that in Matthew 27, what the chief priests, Pharisees and religious said to the people.
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
We also read in John 11:47-48, why they were that way. What was their motive?
47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
Politics makes strange bedfellows. And when you are trying to crucify someone, that also makes strange bedfellows. It is amazing who people join with when they have a common enemy. The Sadducces and Pharisees were people that hated each other.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs.
You talk about politics making strange bedfellows. So does religion. When you get ready to crucify somebody, you get strange bedfellows out there, people that otherwise would not like each other at all. They join forces together for a crucifixion act.
We are not accomplishing anything together. We are Sadducees and you are Pharisees. But here they got together. Here is Jesus making the blind to see and healing the sick. We cannot have this. God forbid.
48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
So what was it that killed Jesus? Job security. Envy, strife, selfish ambition, job security. We cannot let this guy continue on, or they will not like me. People will not follow me because I am not with Him. We cannot let this guy go on because He is popular. People will not think well of me if they think well of Him. So let us get rid of Him so they will think well of me.
That mindset is still prevalent today in the hearts of evil people. That is what envy is all about. I do not want it. I cannot have it, but I do not want them to have it either. That mindset has always been around and will continue to be around and anyone who is involved in the proclamation of the gospel will be subject to that kind of thing. Satan has always been there to negate the reality and truth of the empty tomb.
One of the things, of course, that people come up with is that the apostles stole the body. Take a look at that, and we covered that earlier. What benefit would the apostles have for stealing the body? In other words, then we could be the founder of this new religion whereby our founder was raised from the dead, and that verifies what we are out here talking about. Yes, that could probably happen, although it would literally have been an impossibility for the apostles to have stolen the body when you had security guards and a seal on the tomb. How would that have taken place? Then to keep a secret of where you hide a body between twelve people? You have got to be kidding. You could not keep a secret among three people at Watergate, much less like an incident like that.
You see that James, the brother of John, was put to death with a sword.
2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
Stephen was stoned to death.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
The apostle Paul was flogged thirty-nine times, among other things that he faced by his enemies.
2 Corinthians 11:23-25
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea
Can you imagine what his body looks like. About after the first lash, the gig is up, folks. Let us get down to some reality here. You can do a lot of things and con a lot of people until you have to go through something like that. No one would go through something like that after one time, if it was not a total reality of their life as to the risen Christ. So what would be the motivation for doing those things? None. Would you be willing to go through those things for a lie? Absolutely not. So the apostles stealing the body is ludicrous.
Other people say that the Jews stole the body. What motivation would a Jewish person have for stealing a body? If that body ever gets out of that tomb, we will be in worse shape than before and the last deception will be worse than the first. If they had stolen the body, and then all of this talk about the resurrection coming about, messing them up. In other words, destroying their place. The Romans are going to come and take our place from us. What would they have to do to dispel the lie? Just produce the body. They could put an end to this spreading of this resurrection story by just producing the body. Was it ever produced? Absolutely not.
So the thought in mind that the apostles would steal the body is ludicrous. The fact the Jews would steal the body is absolutely stupid because there would be no motivation at all for them.
So what else have people come up with? This swoon theory that Jesus was not dead. This theory expounds on the idea that Jesus was not dead. But he was only wounded and was revived in the coolness of the tomb and then he escaped. Well, you look at that. How in the world could a man be tortured, weakened as Jesus, as it said, beaten as no man, and beyond recognition, with a spear in his side, producing water and blood, which is a sign of a heart break and of a death.
The Roman soldiers are also quite well equipped at spotting death. They were very aware of death and life. They declared him to be dead. Nails driven through his feet and hands. How in the world could someone like that going to get out of his grave clothes, with 75 pounds sitting on him. Figure that out. How can Arnold Swarzenneger get out of 75 pounds of grave clothes. Now, maybe some magician can pull a trick like that. But besides that, you cannot get out when myrrh and aloes hardened like cement.
How are you going to get out of that thing? How are you going to remove a stone from inside out? You cannot even begin to budge something from inside out. One man could not budge it from the outside! It would take several strong men to get it out of that gully when they finally secured the tomb. How are you going to do that with hands pierced with spikes? How are you going to stand and walk on your feet that have been ripped open by spikes? How are you going to do that so that the guards did not even hear you leave? How are you going to do that? The answer to that is that theory is really stupid.
A lot of people will go along with that, and justify and rationalize that, that some way, with guards not hearing him, and with guards outside the tomb, and do that thing outside the groove it was in, and got the stone all moved away, and hobbled out on feet torn apart by spikes and moved the stone with hands that were totally damaged by spikes and then got out without anybody hearing him. Makes a lot of sense doesn’t it?
What is the other explanation you have. It is not up for grabs the tomb was empty. Even the Pharisees admitted that. History certainly proves that. The only other explanation you have is that Jesus did exactly what He said. He rose from the dead.
What significance does that empty tomb have in your life? It has everything to do with it. If He was not raised from the dead, then how could you be raised from the dead?
A few years ago, when Amy and I went over to Israel, we were near the garden tomb. There is something about visiting that garden tomb, the one outside the city where Jesus was crucified and buried. There is something about that that comes over you, that I cannot explain. It was impossible for me to sit there and look at that place, which to me logically is very much where Jesus was buried, and not to be totally overwhelmed with emotion. We were there, and one of the Billy Graham representatives was there with the tour.
I saw a black man, and two sisters just sitting over there. He was crying his eyes out. He happened to be the guy who was the doorman at the country club at Fort Worth. This man had such an impression at that country club with his gentleness, kindness and friendliness, that all knew he was a Christian. He did not hesitate to let people know that was His life and God.
They took a collection and financed his trip over to Israel. There he was crying his eyes out. I cannot believe I am staring at the tomb of my Lord. I will never forget that experience sitting with this sincere dear brother with arms around each other weeping together, in the realization we were standing in the presence of the very place the Lord God of this universe was buried and was raised from the dead. I do not think it will be an experience I personally will ever forget even with the event, and even more important to the degree of seeing that dear humble brother, who had been financed by a group of people, as to his testimony of his relationship to his God. Marvelous experience.
There are more places in scripture where appearances of Jesus took place after His resurrection. In other words, His post resurrection appearances. Not only was the tomb empty but He showed up in many, many places in the New Testament as it was recorded.
(So look up these passages for other appearances of Jesus with men after He rose from the dead and was seen walking on the earth for a certain period of time before going back to His Father. Now, He is seated at the right hand of God until He comes again.)
- Matthew 28:1-10
- Matthew 28:16-20
- Luke 24:13-15
- Luke 24:33-36
- John 20:11-14
- Mark 16:9
- John 20:26-28
- John 21:1-2
- Acts 1:1-3
- Acts 7:55
- Acts 9:3-6
There are all kinds of passages of scripture that talked about post resurrection appearances. These people, who claimed to see Jesus after His resurrection, what would you have to conclude about them? First of all, they were either a little bit nutty, you, who walked around, thinking you have seen someone raised from the dead and saying you talked with someone raised from the dead. If that were not so, then you would be talking to someone totally deranged, or talking to someone who knew full well they had not seen Him. So they are then a perpetrator of a lie. Or they literally saw Him.
Again, it is not just what Jesus claims about Himself, of being God. If He was not God, He would be a maniac, thinking He was when He isn’t or a liar, knowing full well He wasn’t, but claiming. Or He is God. Those are the only options. And the same things are true with those who said they had an encounter with Jesus after His resurrection. They are either total liars, imposters of the worst degree or the most deranged, deceived people on the face of the earth. I do not know how anybody in that deranged condition, or a liar, who could be considered to be worthy of writing something in a book like we call the bible. So to me, it is either a total rejection of all of it or an acceptance of all of it. You cannot play spiritual hopscotch with the scriptures. Either it is or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then pitch it away.
There is other evidence that bears our resurrection of Christ, that is the change in Peter. Circumstantial evidence that took place in Peter’s life. As an example, look at Matthew 26:69-74, prior to Pentecost, before the resurrection.
Let me explain something first. Until the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given to man to live within man, prior to that time, the Holy Spirit came upon man. Thus you would have someone like David praying, “Lord, please do not take your Holy Spirit from me”. But after the cross and after Pentecost, men were spiritually regenerated. What that means is that they were restored to true life here on this earth. Others were saved by faith, but were not spiritually regenerated.
So the issue was, were the apostles spiritually regenerated prior to Pentecost? The answer to that is absolutely not. If there was ever a group of men who were able to have the necessary power and information to proclaim this person of Jesus Christ, it would be the apostles. They talked with Him. They saw Him perform miracles. They saw him make the blind to see and the deaf to hear and the lame to walk. They heard His words and heard Him speak as no man. They went through that unbelievable experience of seeing Him walk on water. All kinds of things they saw and heard, feeding the five thousand and miracles after miracles. They knew in their mind that this was God, but had no power to that.
No power to that at all. And head knowledge of that will not do anything for you either. We do not realize the power of God. We know about God but we absolutely do not know the power of God living in you. There is a world of difference from being a possessor of Christ and being a professor of Christ.
There are people listening to my voice right now who do not know the reality of the living Christ living in them. Otherwise, they would have love for their brother. If you do not have love for your brother, it is evidence of something. Christ is not living in you. It is that simple.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
If you do not have it, it is because you are not a disciple. There is a world of difference in these two. It gives you the courage to tell the truth. It gives you the boldness to proclaim the truth about Jesus.
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed.