Rethinking Jesus: Jesus actually died and actually rose

by Kyle
published April 4, 2015


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A pastor friend of mine has a catchphrase I’d like to borrow. He says his job is to “make much of the name of Jesus.”

Lately, I’ve been considering who this man we worship and praise and serve really was. If we are to make much of his name, we should know what his name stands for.

I’ve discovered Jesus dealt with people based on their humility or pride, he was supernaturally punctual and how he handled anger. Jesus asked questions to help people think for themselves, he always put people first, he lived a really hard life and he never gave up.

After all of that, though, Jesus literally died and he physically came back from the dead.

This is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, but the idea has often been watered down or ignored over the past two thousand years. Some have suggested Jesus didn’t actually die. He only appeared dead and recovered from the trauma of crucifixion. Others have suggested Jesus didn’t physically rise from the dead. Either he came back as some kind of ghost or the resurrection is simply a metaphor for his memory living on in the hearts and minds of his disciples.

The statements of Scripture contradict both of these ideas, however, and both ideas bear out terrible consequences if followed to their logical end.

Roman soldiers were experts in killing people. John 19:33-35 offers a proof of Jesus’ actual, physical death. When Jesus seemed dead, a Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side with a spear to confirm his death. The fact that water mixed with blood flowed from his side seems to confirm that the soldier pierced the lungs and pericardium, which would normally fill with fluid as a result of crucifixion. If Jesus wasn’t already dead, a punctured lung and heart would kill him pretty quickly. John 19:35 said John saw this happen for himself and he heard the Roman soldier — an expert in killing — declare Jesus to be dead.

On the other hand, if Jesus hadn’t actually died, then no penalty was actually paid. Romans 6:23 said the penalty of sin is death. If Jesus didn’t actually die on our behalf, then we still owe a debt of death to God. That’s a debt I’m not really keen to pay. Praise God Jesus actually paid it for us.

Jesus dying for us is one thing. Everyone dies. But Jesus coming back from the dead is a wholly separate thing. Not everyone does that, and that Jesus did it is admittedly hard to accept.

But Jesus was not a phantom and his resurrection was not a product of wishful thinking. John reported seeing Thomas touch Jesus. Thomas put his finger in Jesus’ wounds. The disciples all saw, heard and touched Jesus. It’s hard to see how a testimony of such physical evidence could be interpreted as suggesting a ghost or spirit instead a physical person. In Acts 12:2, John’s brother James was killed because he insisted he saw Jesus’ physical resurrection. The disciples all seem pretty convinced Jesus literally and physically came back from the dead. So did the other 500 people who saw Jesus raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:6).

In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, Paul points out if Jesus has not been raised from the dead, we serve a dead God and there is no hope for the sin problem. He even goes so far as to say that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” Translation? If Christ has not been raised from the dead, I have wasted almost my entire adult life because I have served a god who was actually a homeless carpenter who managed to do a few neat tricks, but was executed two thousand years ago and is rotting in the ground somewhere. But if Christ was raised from the dead, he is exactly who he said he was: God himself who created the universe.

It is not possible to “make much of the name of Jesus” unless Jesus’ death and resurrection are true. If they are not true, there is no name to make much of. If they are not true, there is no hope. We live, then we die and that’s it.

This Easter, please take the opportunity to remember, or perhaps consider for the first time, taking Jesus’ death and resurrection seriously.

What do you think?

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