Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

The Lord is Risen!

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the great claim of Christians – But can we believe that this event actually took place? Here are some reasons why we can:

1. Jesus spoke openly of his coming resurrection from the dead.

‘[Jesus] then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this…’ (Mark 8:31–32)

Now some say that the early church put these statements in Jesus’ mouth to make him teach the falsehood that they themselves conceived. However there were other witnesses who heard Jesus make this prediction. At His trial some stood up and said,

‘We heard him say, 'I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man’. (Mark 14:58) And after His death, 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.' (Matthew. 27:63)

The fact that the gospel writers place these words in the mouths of Jesus, witnesses at His trial and the chief priests and the Pharisees, make it unlikely that a deluded church made it up. There would have been too many people still alive who could have come forward to deny these words were ever spoken.

2. The tomb was empty on Easter.

‘…when [the women] entered, [the tomb] they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus’. (Luke 24:3) When the chief priests and elders heard this they ‘…devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' (Matthew 28:12-13)

The dead body of Jesus could not be found, and there are four possible ways to account for this:

  • His enemies stole the body. If they did (and they never claimed to have done so), they surely would have produced the body to stop the successful spread of the Christian faith in the very city where the crucifixion occurred. But they could not produce it;
  • His friends stole the body. But would they have begun to preach with such authority that Jesus was raised, knowing that he was not? Would they have risked their lives and accepted beatings for something they knew was a fraud?
  • Jesus was not dead, but only unconscious when they laid him in the tomb. Supposedly He awoke, removed the stone, overcame the soldiers, and vanished from history after a few meetings with his disciples in which he convinced them he had risen from the dead. Even the enemies of Jesus did not try this line. He was obviously dead. The Romans saw to that. The stone could not be moved by one man from within who had just been stabbed in the side by a spear and spent six hours nailed to a cross.
  • God raised Jesus from the dead. This is what he said would happen. It is what the disciples said did happen.

3. The disciples were almost immediately transformed from men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (John 20:19) into men who were confident and bold witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 2:24)

Their explanation of this change is given in Acts 2:32, ‘God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact’. The disciples were sceptics ready to go back to their old jobs after the crucifixion, but became Jesus’ ardent followers risking their lives for Him once they saw the risen Christ.

4. Paul claimed that, not only had he seen the risen Christ, but that 500 others had seen him also, and many were still alive when he made this public claim.

‘…[Jesus] 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). What makes this so relevant is that this was written to Greeks who were sceptical of such claims when many of these witnesses were still alive. So it was a risky claim if it could be disproved by a little first-hand research.

5. The sheer existence of a thriving early Christian church supports the truth of the resurrection claim.

There is general consensus that the apostles founded the church at Jerusalem by preaching the resurrection of Jesus. Yet it would have been impossible for the apostles to have preached such a message if the rulers in Jerusalem, who had every reason to silence this message, could have produced Jesus’ body. If they could have discredited the resurrection then quite simply there would have been no Christian church.

To me, these are points are compelling evidence for the resurrection of Jesus – Can you say with me, ‘The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed!’?

Have a good week praising God for the resurrection of His Son,

Pastor Barry

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