Image © Depositphotos.com/ filmfotoOn Good Friday, we remember Jesus' crucifixion. Did Jesus really die on the cross? Jesus really died and He really came back to life again. Why does it matter? Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says to talk about God’s Word with your family. Why not do it now? Call the kids and get ready to dig into the Bible with this week’s family Bible study. This Easter weekend, we talk about how Jesus died on the cross and rose again. The past few weeks, we've looked at some eyewitnesses of these events. We saw that the Bible can be trusted in its report (see this post), looked at some reliable eyewitnesses (see this post), and followed how the disciples' lives changed (read more here). Some people look at all the evidence for Jesus' resurrection (how He came back to life again) and think, "Well, maybe Jesus didn't really die in the first place. Maybe that's why He was seen alive by so many people." Have you ever heard someone say that? How would you answer that person? Today we are going to look at some reasons we know for sure that Jesus died as well as why that is so important. (For a more in-depth discussion, check out The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. It comes in a children's edition and student edition.)
Jesus was executed by professionals.
Image © Depositphotos.com/ innervisionWhat does that mean? Jesus died with two other criminals. The people who killed Him were soldiers who had seen a lot of death. Their job was to make sure the worst criminals couldn't hurt anyone anymore. They were told that Jesus was one of these criminals. They didn't know until later that He wasn't (Luke 23:32-49). Why is this important? It was their job to make sure the criminals died. Their job. They knew a dead man when they saw one and Jesus was dead. They even double checked (John 19:31-37). Jesus really died and He really came back to life again.
Jesus was sealed in a tomb for three days.
Image © Depositphotos.com/ Lindasj2Have you ever seen a graveyard? Graves back in Jesus' day looked a little different than they do today. Jesus didn't have a lot of money, but a friend put Jesus in the fancy tomb that this man had bought for himself. This tomb was a small cave in a garden which had been prepared inside to be a grave (John 19:38-42). That wasn't all. Jesus' disciples had forgotten, but the Jewish religious leaders remembered that Jesus said He'd come back to life again. While many didn't believe this was possible, they didn't want Jesus' disciples stealing His body and pretending Jesus had come back to life. They took their worries to Pilate (the head official guy in the area). By the way, did you notice that even Jesus' enemies confirmed their eyewitness report that Jesus died? People don't usually have a problem with that. It's His coming back to life that is hard for some people to believe. When these religious leaders came to him with their concerns, Pilate ordered guards to watch the tomb. As if that wasn't enough, Pilate said to put the seal of Caesar (the man in charge of the entire Roman Empire) on the door of the tomb. Everyone who saw it would know that you would be killed if you broke that seal. Only Caesar himself could do it without that punishment (Matthew 27:62-66). It sounds like Jesus was locked up tight in His sealed tomb, doesn't it? In general, the human body can survive three weeks without food and three days without water, but only three minutes without air. Let's say those numbers were off a little bit. That still can't stretch to three days without air. Jesus was already worn out from being beaten and hanging on a cross. Even if He fainted and somehow tricked the professional soldiers (read again John 19), He wouldn't have survived three days locked up in an airless tomb. Jesus really died and He really came back to life again.
Why is Jesus' death important?Jesus died to take our punishment for sin, the wrong things we do.
The law says that almost everything must be made clean by blood. Sins cannot be forgiven without a blood sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 (ERV)
Image © Depositphotos.com/ vitanovskiThis is serious business. Jesus died to take our punishment for sin. That means if He didn't really die, believers have no hope. Does that mean people made all this up? No. (Remember our posts on why we can trust the Bible, the eyewitnesses of these things, and their changed lives?) It means that God did something amazing here. Not everyone wants to admit they have messed up and need someone greater to fix the brokenness in their lives. (See more in this video.) Some of them are so convinced they can live without God that they pick on those who choose to live for Him. Does that change the facts? Think about it this way. What is 2+2? Are you sure? What if I don't want that to be the answer? What if I've decided I think 2+2 should equal 3? There's nothing you can say that will change my mind. Does that mean I am right? Somethings are true whether we want them to be and believe them or not. To close, here is some encouragement from an eyewitness of Jesus' resurrection.
We tell everyone that Christ was raised from death. So why do some of you say that people will not be raised from death? If no one will ever be raised from death, then Christ has never been raised. And if Christ has never been raised, then the message we tell is worth nothing. And your faith is worth nothing. And we will also be guilty of lying about God, because we have told people about him, saying that he raised Christ from death. And if no one is raised from death, then God never raised Christ from death. If those who have died are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised from death, then your faith is for nothing; you are still guilty of your sins. And those in Christ who have already died are lost. If our hope in Christ is only for this life here on earth, then people should feel more sorry for us than for anyone else. But Christ really has been raised from death—the first one of all those who will be raised. 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 (ERV)Are you thankful Jesus really died and really came back to life again? Why don't you pray and tell Him? Thank Him for taking your punishment for sin.