Jesus: Above and Beyond Any Other
- 2006 6 Jan
Editor's Note: "Creed" is an ongoing article series that discusses the core beliefs of Christianity as expressed in the Apostle's and Nicene creeds. Links to other installments are listed at the end of this article.
In 1990, my then 14-year-old daughter was volunteering at a humane society. One afternoon in early July she came home, excited about a puppy that had been brought in. She was practically on her knees, begging her father (who was anti-pet) to allow us to adopt the sweet thing.
My husband, usually a rigid man in his decisions, broke under the strain of an adorable daughter. He looked at me. “Go look at it. If you like it, bring it home.”
But the following day, the puppy had been adopted. Still, the staff of the pound was eager to have me adopt a dog. Any dog. I called my husband who was at work. He didn’t care, he said, as long as it wouldn’t be a big yard dog or a small housedog. Oh, and no dog on his last leg, he added.
My choices were limited. And, of course, the pound brought out every large yard dog, small housedog, and dying one-eyed, three-legged dog they had. My heart was breaking and I wanted them all, but I was under strict orders.
Exhausted, I headed for the exit door when suddenly…yip yip! I looked down to see a cage with six precious puppies, no more than four weeks old and two pounds each. I knelt down, opened the cage, and reached in, palm up. One of the pups—a girl—jumped into my hand and wrapped her paws around my index finger.
“I’ll take her,” I said with a smile, not caring if she would grow to be big or small. I just knew that this one was special. I was right. Nearly 16 years later, she has blessed our family with love and devotion. She has been our companion in difficult days and pranced about happily during our times of joy.
She is “Aimee.”
What Sets Jesus Apart?
Do you know what sets Jesus apart from “all other gods?” It’s not that He died…it’s that He didn’t stay dead. Any old god can die.But how many do you know actually came back to life, walked among the living (and the used-to-be-dead) and then ascended into the skies with a promise to return for His bride?
Um…I honestly can’t think of another! Can you?
Jesus, Himself, was the not the first to receive His miracle of re-birth in the physical sense. He had raised Jarius’ twelve-year-old daughter shortly after her death (see Matthew 9). He raised Lazarus from the dead daysafter his death (see John 11). According to Matthew, at Jesus’ death, many were brought to life.
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (Matthew 27: 50-53)
Why Were They Surprised?
Jesus’ resurrection came just as He said it would.
Isn’t it surprising that on the first day of the week (Sunday), the women headed to the tomb with spices?
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" (Mark 16:1-3)
These women, who had sat under his teaching, clearly expected Jesus to still be dead. Their faith was about to advance to a whole new level; they were about to see—more than ever and literally—that Jesus was a man and God of His word. Not a god to be killed and then to stay buried. Jesus—the Creator of life—had complete control over death, especially His own.
He was no ordinary god. He was special.
More Than Five Hundred
Do you know how many people saw Jesus after His resurrection from the dead? According to Paul, more than five hundred.
After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:6)
In the scriptures that precede this verse, Paul states that the death (not for anything He had done, but rather for our sins), burial (to show that He really was dead), and resurrection (proving He is the Christ) of Jesus were of first importance because they verify the Scriptures.
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)
Paul states that if we do not believe these things, we have believed in vain. He also gives a list of those who saw the Risen Lord.
Peter. It’s interesting that Peter is listed first. Perhaps Paul wants to verify that the leader of the church—and the one who’d denied Jesus so vehemently—was one of the first to both see the empty tomb and the Risen Christ.
The Twelve. Meaning, the disciples, since Judas was already dead.
Five Hundred. An impressive number, meant to so astound the Corinthians, Greeks who would not have believed in the resurrection of the dead.
James. The half-brother of Jesus who had not initially believed in his brother’s claim to fame.
Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? (Matthew 13:55)
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1:14)
James later became a leader of the church and is possibly the writer of the Book of James.
The Apostles. This term is used for those who followed Jesus in the early days of Christianity, apart from the Disciples.
Paul. Paul’s vision of the Lord was so dramatic, it temporarily blinded the accuser of believers. (Reference Acts 9)
And Other Than That?
Jesus’ ascension is described in the first chapter of Acts and the 16th chapter of Mark.
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
As Christians, we believe that we are in a time of preparation, as a bride prepares for her wedding day. We are waiting for our Bridegroom to return to us as the angels proclaimed He would.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:10,11)
When this time is over, He will return for His bride, who has been comforted, guided, loved, and blessed by His Holy Spirit. With all the other religions out there, we have chosen the One True Lord because, for some remarkable reason, He has leapt into our open palms and latched on. We are drawn to Him for both explainable and unexplainable reasons.
He is special.
He is Jesus.
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