Friday, April 15, 2011

HAPPY EASTER - Awesome Truth about Jesus' Death and Ressurection

EASTER ( The Passion Story )

Jesus of Nazareth stepped on the scene in the first century BC making extraordinary claims that no man has ever made in the history of the world. As a Teacher to the Jewish people he introduced a radical new covenant, proclaiming the Kingdom of God was at hand and it is revealed through him and him only. He acted with such divine authority that he would perform exorcisms and miracles in front of thousands of people by using nothing but his voice. Jesus would forgive sins on earth as if he acted in place of the God of Israel. For this he was tried for blasphemy by certain Jewish leaders and was sentenced to death on a Roman cross for treason. Jesus' ministry lasted just 3 years in the first century BC but his teachings and followers thrive to this very day.

 Were the claims Jesus made true? Was he God's divine revelation to mankind? Is he the Jewish Messiah? The answer is found in the single most important question ever asked in history ; Was Jesus Christ raised from the dead? Many people affirm this belief by faith, but we believe the plain evidence  from both scripture and from historical evidence clearly point to Jesus being raised from the dead. We will look at 5 key points starting 1000 years before Jesus died and ending with his followers in the first century AD.

I. Fulfilled Prophecy  - Hundreds of prophecies were fulfilled about Jesus, written anywhere from 400 to 1000 years before Jesus was ever born. There is no way any of these men could have known so much information about the Messiah without God's divine foreknowledge.

1. King David visualized the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, 600 Years before crucifixion was invented

a. Psalm 22:16 dogs have surrounded me;  A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.  17I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18They divide my garments among them,  And for my clothing they cast lots. (King David  1000 BC)

b. Crucifixion was invented by the Persians between 300-400 b.c. It was "perfected" by the Romans in the first century b.c. It is arguably the most painful death ever invented by man and is where we get our term "excruciating." It was reserved primarily for the most vicious of criminals. (Azuza Pacific University)

c.  John's Gospel account of the crucifixion day ( AD 33) Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be"; this was to fulfill the Scripture: "THEY DIVIDED MY OUTER GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS."

2.  The Prophets Issiah and Zechariah foresaw Jesus Death 600 years prior

a.  Issiah 53: 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,  and by his wounds we are healed.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

b. Zechariah 12 10"I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

II. Historical Figures Involved in Jesus' Death - These men would have been well known by many people during the life and years after Jesus' death, the historicity of these men checks out 100 percent.  If any of the Gospel stories about these people weren't true, people would have come forth and said so.

1. Joseph of Arimathea

a. A member of the Jewish Sanhedrin (the religious leaders who sentenced Jesus Christ to the cross) A secret believer in Jesus Christ, gave his tomb for an executed "blasphemer". This would have been completely unheard of and unacceptable by the council members. These actions would ruin his political status, and his name in the temple community. 

b. Gospel account, John 19:38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body

2. Pontius Pilate  (the judge in the crucifixion trial)

a. JOHN 19:15 So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar"

b. Pilate's biographical details are unclear and some Biblical scholars believed that he was a mythical character. Then in 1961 an inscription with his name was found confirming the historicity of Pontius Pilate, and adding to the credence of the Biblical accounts.  

3. Nicodemus a Pharisee 

 a. Written about by the Historian Josephus, and  in the Jewish Talmud verifying Nicodemus existence and the Gospel's credibility

b. Gospel account, John 19:38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body.39Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 

4. LUKE the Physician

a. Credible and well known in his day. He was a medical Doctor and known for the accuracy of Historical writings. Known for his books the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the apostles.

III. Embarrassing Witnesses 

1. The empty tomb was discovered by a group Jesus' women followers

a. Gospel of Mark (the earliest dated Gospel) 16:1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. 2Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3They were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" 4Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 5Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. 6And he said to them, Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. 7"But go, tell His disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'" 

b. Any attempt to fabricate such a story would have never involved women, in those days a woman's testimony would have meant nothing, and still the Gospel writers stuck to their story. If they wanted to make up a story, they would have said Peter or one of the others discovered the empty tomb. To further ruin the credibility of the women, Mary Magdalene was known for quite a shady past.. This makes for an embarrassing but obviously true story.

IV. Post Mord em Appearances - After Jesus' tomb was found empty, he appeared to many of his followers. His resurrected body verified the claims that he made about himself as God's divine revelation to man.

1. Multiple eye witness accounts of the "risen Lord"

a. The Gospel Accounts - All four Gospels give accounts of the tomb found empty and Jesus interacting with many people. 

IE. John 21:7   Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

b. Luke the Author of ACTS - Writes in Acts of the apostles:  1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

c. Saul of TarsusA Jewish pharisee who made it his life to track down the earliest followers of Jesus Christ and bring them to court where they would be convicted and killed for their crimes. On the road to Damascus he met the risen Jesus Christ and was transformed spiritually. He went on to become the author of the majority of the New Testament Bible and was later killed for his beliefs. Paul also wrote the earliest account of the seeing resurrected Christ, 20-30 years before any of the Gospels were written,  just 3-5 years after Jesus' death. 

 CORINTHIANS 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

V. Conviction or Concoction 

1. The Rise of the Church
a. The Jewish people did not believe in the physical bodily resurrection of the dead, it would have been completely unorthodox for them to start proclaiming such a belief. Unless of course they were so sure without a shadow of a doubt that what they saw was true.  

b. The Great Commission  Mathew 28 -  16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

c. They Holy Spirit was given - To the Apostles to prove the claims that they made were true. The reason so many of the Jews joined Jesus' followers was because they witnessed the many miracles the apostles were able to perform. 


4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

2. Willing to die for what they knew to be true 
 a. The final and greatest fact we can share about Jesus Christ, is that his earliest followers were willing to die for what they believed to be true. This wasn't the same as radical Islamic militants being trained their whole lives to commit suicide. These were jewish people who knew no such thing as martyrdom. 

No one in their right mind (if you read the new testament Epistles you will know for sure they weren't crazy)  would die for a concoction. What these men would die for, is a conviction,  they knew that life didn't end at the grave and they were glad to die for the name of Jesus Christ.

Read this story from LUKE's book of Acts:

ACTS 7:54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
 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.

Read this Letter Paul wrote to his followers:

2 Corinthians 11:21  Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 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, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

VI. CONCLUSION - the heart and honesty read in these letters is apparent, the evidence for God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is clear. We urge you to really look at the evidence and see where it takes you, we know what the truth is and hope you will too. 

JOHN 8:32

 "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”