10. The Death And Resurrection of Jesus
Jesus did not only come to teach, to heal end to train disciples. The main purpose of His coming was to open the door of forgiveness for all men by His dying on the cross. Perhaps you find this hard to understand. So it also was with His disciples.
Read Luke 18:31-34.
On at least three occasions Jesus warned his disciples about what would happen, but they did not understand this until much later. But all this was in full agreement with the prophecies concerning Him. (Read Isaiah 53, written about seven centuries before the birth of Jesus.)
It is no coincidence, therefore, that one third of the record of the gospel is devoted to one week of His life: the week in which Jesus was killed. This is one of the best evidenced events of old history, an event that influenced the world and its thinking more than any other. In addition, this event has totally changed the lives of millions of believers throughout history up to the present time.
The Plot Against Jesus
Jesus, despite being foretold in detail in the Old Testament, did not fit the Messiah concept of many of the religious leaders. To them He was an impostor, a blasphemer. They saw His miracles, but ascribed them, at least partly, to Satan (Matthew 12:15-24).
They expected a political Messiah who would deliver them from the yoke of the Roman oppression. These leaders were jealous of Him, because large crowds of Jews followed him. They also saw in Him a threat to the “theocracy” (rule of God) because Israel was largely ruled by the priests and religious leaders. They felt that the future of the nation was at stake. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, they finally plotted to kill Him.
Read John 11:45-53.
The Passover Feast
The Passover is one of the major religious feasts in Israel. It reminds the Jews of their liberation from Egypt under Moses. God had sent different plagues on Egypt to force Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to go free (Exodus 7-11). The final punishment was the death of every firstborn, man and beast. Only those homes which were protected by a lamb's blood painted on the sides and tops of the door frames, were “passed over” and the occupants spared (Exodus 12:1-6).
So the feast was called: Passover. It had to be celebrated every year (Exodus 12:25-27; Leviticus 23:5-8).
This festival also had a deeper meaning. It was not a coincidence that Jesus Christ was killed during the Passover ceremonies, “for Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). As the blood of the lamb on the door post caused the judgement of God to pass over those Israelites, so the blood of Jesus causes the judgement of God to pass over everyone who trusts in Him. As it was done then, by trusting God's word without trying to reason out how and why blood on the door post could save from judgement, so faith works today!
The Last Supper
Just before His capture Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with His disciples. One of them, Judas Iscariot, had already negotiated to betray his Master to His enemies without attracting public attention, but Jesus knew about it and told him so (Matthew 26:25).
By that time the religious feasts of the Jews had become a routine. During the celebrations the same prescribed words were repeated by prescribed people every year. But at this feast Jesus departed from the usual pattern.
Read Luke 22:15-20.
This New Covenant or New Testament means that we no longer have to despair over our sins or fear the judgement after death. When we entrust ourselves to Him and gratefully accept the pardon offered by Him, we may know that His body was broken for us and His blood shed for us. Christians remember this in regular services where this symbolic action is repeated and the believers repent of their sins, but rejoice in the full forgiveness the New Covenant offers (Hebrews 9:16-28; 8:6-13). The New Covenant replaces the old in which the sacrifices were only pointers to God's great and final sacrifice, Jesus.
Jesus' Trial and Execution
That same night Jesus was arrested in the garden called Gethsemane. During the night, contrary to the Jewish law, He was brought before the high priest and the Jewish council (Sanhedrin).
Read Matthew 26:59-66.
The Jews said that Jesus blasphemed when He called himself “Son of Man”, because they refused to accept Him for who He really was. They knew what the term meant from Daniel 7:13-14:
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of Heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
The Jewish authorities were not allowed to pass a death sentence. This could only be done by the Romans, who governed the land. Jesus was therefore brought at first light to Pontius Pilate the Roman governor.
Read John 18:28-19:25.
So Jesus received the death sentence in spite of being declared completely innocent three times in a court of law!
Read about the execution in John 19:17-37.
Jesus Lives Again!
Many people were crucified in those days. If Jesus had only died, He could have been an impostor, in spite of the many prophecies that were fulfilled in detail. But Jesus rose again from death on the third day, in spite of all the precautions of His enemies.
Read Matthew 27:57-65.
If you consider this evidence, as well as the evidence recorded in the other accounts of the gospel, is it very clear that it was impossible for Jesus to have remained alive. It was impossible for His disciples to have stolen the body. If the chief priests and Pharisees had stolen the body, they would have produced it triumphantly as soon as the disciples started to say that Jesus lived. But the facts show that only one explanation is possible: Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today!
Read Matthew 28:1-15.
If one remembers that any Roman soldier found sleeping while on guard duty was executed, the story that was circulated among the Jews is shown to be nonsense.
It is interesting to note that the disciples themselves were caught completely by surprise (Luke 24:1-11), in spite of the fact that Jesus predicted His resurrection again and again. That same evening Jesus appeared to them and convinced them that He really lived (Luke 24:36-44). Even the proverbial “doubting Thomas”, one of the apostles, was convinced in the end (John 20:28-29).
Read John 20:24-29.
In Chapter 14 we will have a good look at this statement when we try to determine who Jesus is.
Jesus Returns to Heaven
After instructing His disciples for forty days after the resurrection, Jesus went back to His heavenly glory. He will return again at the end of time.
Read Acts 1:1-11.
Test Yourself No. 10
Decide whether the following statements are true or false, and compare your answers.
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