Monday, March 4, 2013

The Real Truth About Jesus Christ (Part 5)

His Death And Resurrection 
Why did Jesus Christ come into this world? This is a very important question. During His life He taught how to live a pure life and keep away from evil. He taught that we should live a life of love and sacrifice for others. He taught us to live a life of faith and trust in God. This is all wonderful, but no matter how hard we try to live such a life we fall far short. 

The main reason why Jesus came was to give His life for us; to die for our sins as our Substitute, to put away sin and to give us eternal life. He makes it possible to live the life He taught about. 

There are many proofs that He actually died and also that He arose from the dead: 

1. We have the witness of the Old Testament prophets. David wrote about Christ’s hands and feet being pierced, about the soldiers dividing up His clothing and the fact that they gave Him vinegar to drink when He was thirsty (Psalm 22:16, 18, 21). We know this didn’t happen to David himself, so it is quite obvious that he was writing about someone else by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The crucifixion of Jesus was the fulfillment of this prophecy. 

The prophet Isaiah wrote about the purpose of Christ’s death over 700 years before He came. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities … We all, like sheep, have gone astray … and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all … Though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth … He made His soul an offering for sin … He bore the sin of many” (Isaiah 53). 

These are some of the prophecies that were recorded about Christ hundreds of years before His coming. There are many others. God saw to it that these prophecies are available to us today in the Old Testament of the Bible. 

2. We also have the witness of the death and resurrection of Christ in the New Testament by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Two of the writers of the four gospels, Matthew and John, actually witnessed the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. 

3. Just as the prophets of the Old Testament foretold what would happen to Him, Jesus Himself announced to His disciples that He would be crucified and then rise from the dead. For example: “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem (the Holy City) and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21). 

Luke writes, “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. And they will scourge Him and put Him to death. And the third day He will rise again” (Luke 18:31-33). 

Just as Jesus was perfect in His life, so He was perfect in His death. He voluntarily gave up His life for us. When Jesus was arrested, one of His disciples tried to defend Him. Jesus told him that if He wanted to be defended, He could call for twelve armies of angels to cut down His enemies. Actually He could have destroyed His enemies with one word, but He chose to die so that we might have eternal life. 

When He was on the cross He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” When we read about some famous political and even some religious leaders being persecuted or attacked, they were determined to get revenge on their enemies, but not Jesus. He practiced what He preached, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). 

Just before Jesus died He said, “It is finished.” His work of redemption was finished; He paid the full price for our sins. “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). 

Have you heard of anyone else who died in this manner? But this unique God-Man arose from the dead on the third day, just as He promised. After His resurrection He showed Himself to His followers over a period of forty days, speaking and explaining to them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). 

Later the Apostle Paul declared, “Christ died for our sins … He was buried … He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (the sacred writings) … He was seen by Cephas (Peter), then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). Forty days after His resurrection He went up to heaven. This is recorded in Acts 1:9-11: “While they (the disciples) watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” While they were looking at the sky two angels stood by and announced: “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” 

Importance Of Faith In Christ 
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ was not just a man. He was born miraculously of the virgin Mary, He said several times that He came down from heaven. Twice God spoke from heaven: “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 17:5). John declared: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). 

Paul tells us what a great mystery this is: “He [God] was manifested in the flesh [or came in a body]” (1 Timothy 3:16). This is the reason why faith in Christ is so much more important than faith in a prophet or any other messenger that came. They were only announcers of a message. None of them claimed as Jesus did that they were the way to eternal life. 

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). He also said, “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). 

The Apostle Peter said, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). He also stated, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission [forgiveness] of sins” (Acts 10: 43). 

Now let me ask you a very important, personal question, “Do you believe in Him? If not, why not?”

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