The shadow of the cross that was raised on Golgotha reaches across the centuries to offer comfort, forgiveness, and hope to us today. The story is almost unbelievable, for it is hard for us to image such love. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" is the message of the golden text of the Bible, John Chapter 3, verse 16. Jesus had to love us beyond measure to give
Himself willingly to die for our sins. And we must complete the story of love by loving Him in return.
Some of the Jewish leaders hated Jesus because He condemned their sins. They did not want to believe the truth He preached, as He urged them to repent and turn back to God. They became jealous of the great crowds that followed Him and believed in Him, and finally decided to get rid of Him by having Him killed.
Since the Jews did not have the right to have a man killed without the approval of the Roman governor, they had to take Jesus to Pilate. At the trial they had no evidence of wrong-doing by Jesus, but put enough pressure on Pilate that he finally agreed to have the soldiers kill Jesus by crucifying Him.
The place where they killed prisoners was outside the city of Jerusalem on a small hill called Golgotha or the place of the skull. Here they laid the cross on the ground while they nailed his hands and feet to it with great spikes. ( Please see poem 'The Cross'). The cross was then lifted and dropped into a hole in the ground. The entire weight of the body tore at the spikes, and the pain was almost beyond endurance. The blood began to pound through the body as the shock of what was happening began to take its toll. As the cells of the body were broken down it became a living death that sometimes lasted for a few hours, and could even last for a few days. Since Jesus had been whipped before they took Him to be crucified, He was already weak from loss of blood. Mercifully, He lived only a few hours on the cross.
Even with all the pain, Jesus thought of others rather than Himself. His first words from the cross were, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". Even though He could have threatened to punish them eternally when they faced Him in judgement, he did not do so. He thought of His mother, who stood by the cross weeping, and asked his beloved friend John to take care of her. On either side of Him there were two thieves crucified with Him. When one of them expressed faith in Jesus, the Saviour answered, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise". (Please see poem
I Was There). As the terrible afternoon wore on and His pain increased he finally moaned, "I thirst", and was offered vinegar, which He would not drink. God blotted out the sun as if to let us know how black the deed which was being done, and out of that blackness Jesus cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?". His final words expressed his complete surrender to the will of God as He said, "It is finished; Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit". He then bowed His head and died.
Even the earth could not accept the death of its Creator and Master without showing grief. There was a great earthquake which shook the countryside and made all people afraid. The only fear which we need to have, however, is that of refusing the love He showed in dying for us. The theme of our lives ought to be, "I'll live for Him who died for me, how happy then my soul shall be. I'll live for Him who died for me, my Saviour and my God".
Crucifixion of Jesus Christ - His Eternal Gift
What does the crucifixion of Jesus Christ have to do with you? God, who knows what you're are made of, knew you could not live the sinless life necessary for heaven. So He decided to offer Himself in your place. He did that by becoming a man in the person of Jesus Christ, His own Son. Jesus lived a sinless life on earth.
God had said the punishment for sin is death. Since we all have sinned (Romans 3:23, 6:23), we needed someone sinless to die in our place. Jesus, being sinless, died in our place and became the saving grace of the world. He died for you! (please see poem ’The Prize’) Romans 5:10 says, "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"
The Bible says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. . ." (Acts 16:31). Attending church or performing good works will not contribute to your salvation. God saves you by His grace. (please see "What the Bible says about The Blood Of Jesus")
Jesus is offering you the gift of eternal life. Will you accept it by faith?
The Last Supper
The Burial of Jesus
It's important to understand the Jewish burial process and what would have been involved in burying Jesus after the crucifixion. It is also important to understand what Jesus would have to overcome, aside from death, in coming back to life.
In the first century, the practice of burying multiple bodies in a common tomb or grave had given way to the practice of placing the body in a hewn-out crypt or chiseled shelf in a wall. After a year, the bones of the deceased were gathered and placed in a box, otherwise known as an ossuary. The crypt or shelf could then be re-used for another one-year burial cycle.
Jews do not embalm the bodies of their dead, but allow them to "return to the earth". It may be for this reason that the Bible and Jewish tradition holds that the dead are to buried on the day they have died in order to avoid defiling the Land God gave them. Anything dead, including people, would affect the purity of the Jew, causing him to have to endure a period of cleansing, during which the individual would not be eligible for worship activities.The responsibility of properly burying the dead typically fell to the relatives, but by Jewish tradition, was also considered a "civic" duty. This responsibility was even observed for criminals'and suicides. The deceased person was cleaned with water and wrapped in a burial shroud usually made of linen. As the body was wrapped, it was not uncommon to anoint it with aromatic herbs and spices. In Biblical times, given the climate of the Holy Land, bodily decay would begin quite rapidly. By using the aromatic materials, the smell associated with decay could be covered for a short time. Next the body was laid in a tomb or shelf to begin the yearlong wait until the bones could be re-interned in an ossuary. It was customary for relatives to visit the body for several days after the death. Often they would add more herbs and spices to the body when they visited to mask the increasingly apparent odour.
Let's examine Jesus' burial:
Jesus was crucified as a common criminal. Typically, the Romans denied the families of criminals the right to bury their dead, allowing them to decompose for several days on the cross as an example to other "law breakers". This was a terrible insult to the Jews as well as defilement to them. Not only were they considered unclean from handling a dead body, but also one that was "rotten" made the defilement even worse. Archeologists have only found one body, from the Holy Land, which was clearly crucified. I believe the reason behind this lack of bodies was because the Romans disposed of them after they had significantly deteriorated, not allowing for a "normal" Jewish burial.
In Jesus' case, a man named Joseph, from Arimathea, asked special permission from the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate to take possession of the body.It is my opinion that since Pilate did not wish to kill Jesus in the first place, he was more than happy to accommodate Joseph. The Bible tells us that Joseph took the body down, cleaned it, wrapped it in a linen cloth, laid it in a newly carved tomb and rolled a rock in front of it.Since Jesus had made the claim that "three days after his death, he would rise and live again", the Jewish priest asked Pilate to appoint a guard. According to the book of Matthew, Pilate declined, but gave the priest permission to use their guards instead. Along with the guards, the priest also sealed the tomb with their official seal.
At this point, we read in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) that Jesus, quite simply, has overcome death and come back to life, just as He said He would. We find the women going to the grave, most likely to anoint the body with spices and pay their respects to this great man. What they find instead is the stone rolled away from the entrance of the tomb. Either when they arrive or shortly after their arrival, they are greeted by angels who say, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" (11) In the Gospel of Matthew, it is reported that the guards also saw the angels and were so afraid that they fainted. Later on, they were paid by the priest to report that Jesus' disciples stole the body while they were sleeping. (12)
Take a moment to reflect on the great sacrifice Jesus made on the cross in order to erase all of our sins, and keep in the mind the great feat He accomplished in overcoming death after three days in a tomb.(Please see poem 'The Sacrifice')
1. Deuteronomy 21:23
2. Numbers 19:11-15
3. Leviticus 21:10-12
4. Deuteronomy 21:23
5. 2nd Samuel 17:23
6. Matthew 27:57-61
7. Matthew 27:11-26
8. Matthew 27:57-61
9. Mark 8:31
10. Matthew 27:62-66
11. Matthew 28:1-15, Mark 16:1-13, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18
12. Matthew 28:11-15
The burial to the Resurrection of Christ Matthew 27:57 to 28:20
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very heart of Christianity. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. . . .We are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead." In that same chapter he says "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen sleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." But then Paul triumphantly declares, "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor. 15:14-20).
The First Easter:
Jesus Christ came into this world to die as a substitute for our sins. The sinless Son of God came to give his life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). On that first Good Friday, Jesus was crucified. We know he died because one of the Roman soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear to ensure his death. Some of his disciples then buried his body in a new tomb (John 19:30-42).
While Jesus was alive, he had predicted that he would rise from the dead. ( see poem "The Resurrection") He challenged his enemies: "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." He was speaking about his body (John 2:19-22). Jesus also told his disciples many times that he would be killed by the leaders in Jerusalem, but be raised to life on the third day. The leaders who killed Jesus were aware of this prediction that he would rise from the dead. Although they did not believe it, they wanted to ensure that it would not happen, so they set a guard around the tomb. In Matthew 27:62-66 we read, "The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 'Sir,' they said, 'we remember that while he was still alive, that deceiver said, "After three days I will rise again." So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body, and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.' 'Take a guard,' Pilate answered. 'Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.' So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard."
Did the strategy of the chief priests and Pharisees succeed? No! Despite their efforts, Jesus rose from the dead. Remember how Jesus had said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life"? During his ministry on earth, Jesus brought a number of people to life from the dead, including Martha's brother Lazarus, who had been dead for four days (John 11). But the resurrection of Jesus Christ was different. It was not just resuscitation, as was the case with Lazarus, who later died again. On the third day Jesus was raised from the dead with a transformed body that was clothed with immortality and glory. His resurrection body could appear and disappear, go through material objects, and ascend to and descend from heaven.
On Easter morning some women and apostles went to Jesus' tomb, expecting to find his body. But the tomb was empty, and the angel at the tomb told them, "He is not here; He has risen!"They saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, and the face cloth, that had been around Jesus’ head, not lying with the strips of linen cloth but rolled up in a place by itself. (see "Why did Jesus fold the Napkin???")Later they saw their risen Lord face to face. The gospels record these events, but the earliest written report concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ was written by Paul within twenty-five years of Christ's death in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. 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." Later Luke the historian wrote in his introduction to the book of Acts, "After [Jesus'] suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
Because of the miracle of Christ's resurrection, Jesus' depressed and disappointed disciples were instantly transformed. They began to preach the gospel with power, and the resurrection of Jesus was at the heart of their preaching. Why? Without the resurrection, there is no Christianity. These disciples of Jesus willingly suffered martyrdom for their faith. The enemies of the gospel were totally unable to refute this central claim of the gospel. They could not produce the body of Jesus Christ and put a stop to Christianity. The Jewish believers, meanwhile, were so impressed by this miracle that they began to worship on the day of Christ's resurrection, Sunday, rather than on Saturday, as their custom had been.
Disbelief and the Resurrection of Christ:
Many people do not believe in the resurrection. Even in New Testament times we find those who refused to believe in the resurrection. The Sadducees were materialists who did not believe in resurrection as the Pharisees did. Even in the church, some people did not believe in the resurrection. Paul wrote concerning this in 1 Corinthians 15. In 2 Timothy 2:17-18 Hymenaeus and Philetus were mentioned by Paul as people who did not really believe in the resurrection of the body.
Therefore, unbelief in the resurrection is not a recent idea, but especially beginning in the latter part of the seventeenth century, some in the church began to question putting faith in miracles, particularly in the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ. In England deists like John Toland refused to believe in the resurrection. Rationalists like H. S. Reimarus refused to believe in miracles, and questioned the authority of the Bible and the church. The theologian David Strauss systematically denied any miracles in his work, Life of Jesus, and in the twentieth century Karl Barth, along with Rudolf Bultmann, also denied the resurrection of the body. Today most liberal churches deny the resurrection as well as any miracle as recorded in the New Testament.
Such people deny the resurrection. They do not say it is not historical, or it is not recorded in the text of the New Testament. They deny it simply out of unbelief. They reason that normally the dead do not rise, and therefore Jesus could not rise from the dead. In spite of all textual and historical evidence, such people refuse to believe in the resurrection because they trust in the ultimate authority of fallen human reason rather than in God's Holy Scriptures.
Although they may be members of churches, such people are really pagans who are without hope. St. Paul speaks about them in 1 Thessalonians 4:13: "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope." They are "without hope and without God in the world," Paul says in Ephesians 2:12. They will not believe the New Testament, which declares the resurrection of Christ with great clarity.
(This video was created by me for Easter; 'On the Third Day' by Matt Maher)
How Does the Resurrection Affect Us?
If we believe in the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament, what significance does the resurrection have for us?
In the resurrection of Jesus Christ we see the clear demonstration of the power of the true God. Ephesians 1:19-21 tells us that it is the power of our heavenly Father that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
The resurrection proves that Jesus Christ is God. That is exactly what God the Father wanted to communicate to us, as we read in Romans 1:4. The Jews crucified Jesus Christ because, to them, he was blaspheming when he said that he was the Son of God, equal to the Father. The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates the truth that he is who he said he was.
Our salvation depends on our faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Romans 10:9, we are told how to be saved. It says that "if you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." This means that you cannot be a Christian unless you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This should tell us that even if some people are in churches, if they reject the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they are not Christians.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates to us that all the teachings of Jesus Christ are true.Everything Jesus taught was true, including his great promise in John 6:40, "Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." Jesus' teachings concerning his person, his work, heaven, hell, and the future judgment are all true.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ secured our justification. "Christ died for our sins and he was raised for our justification," Paul says in Romans 4:25.
Our own resurrection depends completely on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:14: "We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." There are a number of other verses concerning this, including 2 Corinthians 4:14, and others.
The power for our Christian life in the present is the power of his resurrection. We read about this in Ephesians 1:19-21, as well as in Romans 6:4: "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." People ask me, "How can we live this Christian life?" We can live it by the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates that this Jesus Christ is going to be the appointed judge of all the wicked people in the world. In Acts 17:31, Paul told the Athenians, "'For he [God] has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.'" We see the same idea in John 5:22 where Jesus said, "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son." In verses 27-29 he continued, "And he has given him authority to judge, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out-- those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." The resurrection of Jesus Christ means that he will raise up everyone who ever lived--some to eternal life and some to eternal damnation--and Jesus Christ will be the judge of the wicked. All who have trusted in their fallen reason and rejected the claims of Jesus Christ will be raised up from the dead by Jesus Christ himself. He will judge and damn them.
How Do We Respond to the Resurrection?
How do we respond to the resurrection of Christ? I urge you to repent now and believe in him who is the Judge of the whole world. "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved," Paul told the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31). The Lord Jesus is the Son of God who became man. He is very God and very man. He was crucified, he died and was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures. This same Lord Jesus Christ ascended into the heavens, is ruling and reigning even now, and will come again to judge the living and the dead. Will you bow down before him and be saved forever?
May God give you faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and particularly in
the fact that God raised him from the dead. May you come to know that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour and there is no other. May we all remember that Jesus is the Judge whom we will all face, because it is appointed to man once to die and then comes judgment. May God have mercy on us, that we will beg for mercy and pardon from him and be saved. Amen.
Why did Jesus fold the Napkin???
This is very interesting. Why did Jesus fold the burial cloth after His Resurrection???
The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded and placed at the head of that stony coffin.
1. Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.
2. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other Disciple, the one Jesus loved. She said "They have taken the Lord's body out of the tomb, and I don't know where they have put Him!"
3. Simon Peter and the other Disciple ran to the tomb to see.
4. The other Disciple outran Simon Peter and got there first.
5. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in.
6. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus' head was neatly folded and lying to the side.
Is that important? Absolutely!............Is it significant? YES!
In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly as the master wanted it. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished. Now if the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin, and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, "I'm done". But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because...........