The Reality of Salvation: He Rose!
- Thursday, April 14, 2011
The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:26
People have always been haunted by the thought of death. But now that Christ has been resurrected, there’s no need to fear death anymore. Death has lost its sting; we can escape everlasting punishment for sin and, with it, eternal separation from God.
Physical death is now but a transition into our new and glorious existence in God’s presence; it’s the shedding of our weak and frail bodies and the receiving of new resurrection bodies. That is, if we choose to accept the gift of salvation, to repent of our sin, and to make Christ the Lord of our lives.
Our resurrection life hinges on the fact that Jesus really did rise from the dead to new life. And if that fact isn’t established, our faith is in vain.
So did Jesus rise? Did He truly die and then come back to life? This is a valid question that must be addressed.
The fact that Jesus lived has been clearly established. He’s not a figment of the imagination but a historical person. No educated person contests this fact; Jews, Muslims, and atheists all believe as a fact of history that Jesus lived. So there’s no need to argue this point. But many deny that the historical Jesus was the divine Son of God, and they deny He rose from the dead.
There are many approaches to answering such objections. Before we consider a quite unique and rather unexpected approach to this which we find in Scripture, let’s approach the issue from a purely historical examination.
Jesus died on the cross. This needs to be established because some argue that Jesus didn’t actually experience physical death on the cross. They suggest that He passed out, then later woke up in the tomb and walked out. They suppose that after all the torture and physical suffering He went through, He awoke from His stupor, unwrapped Himself from the burial wrappings, rolled away the stone, and left.
Not likely! But for those looking for a rational explanation, they’ll even hold on to the irrational rather than accept the miraculous. The physical suffering Jesus endured left Him in a physical condition of injury and trauma that was inescapable. His suffering began in the Garden of Gethsemane, where His sweat became like drops of blood, a detail recorded by the physician Luke in Luke 22:44. Jesus endured a medical condition known as hematidrosis, in which tiny capillaries in the sweat glands rupture, causing the skin to be extremely fragile and sensitive to the touch. This condition is rare but has been known to occur when a person is suffering under extreme amounts of stress.
Shortly thereafter, Jesus was arrested, then questioned in a series of “trials” that lasted through the night. He was whipped with a cat-o’-nine-tails that would have torn open the skin of His back (John 19:1). Soldiers pressed down upon His head a crown of thorns that would have cut deeply into His scalp (verse 2). He was beaten at the hands of the Roman soldiers (verse 3). Then they placed a heavy cross upon His back as they led Him to Golgotha (verse 17). It was there that the soldiers nailed Him to that cross with thick iron spikes in His hands and feet (verse 18). And the world watched as His tortured body hung there for hours for all to see. The word excruciating—which literally means “out of the cross”—is a fitting description of the ordeal of crucifixion.
After such an ordeal, can you imagine Jesus having the strength to loosen Himself from under a hundred pounds of burial spices (verse 39), unwrap Himself from the linen strips that tightly bound Him (verse 40), and roll away the stone that sealed His tomb (20:1)? Neither can we.
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