By Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO
It is easy for Christians, even Christian leaders, to waste time and energy on the unbearable lightness of Twitter. Let’s just say the idea of meditation and Twitter do not often go together. But, occasionally, some tweet turns out to be a nugget, even a jewel, that should be turned every which way in our minds as a matter to meditate upon. This is the week to be thinking about the resurrection. Yesterday on Twitter, the great Christian theologian Charlie Daniels wrote:
Almost 2,000 years ago, another great theologian explained the good news of the Christian Gospel in a similar way. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul outlined the Gospel message in 1 Corinthians 15. Just a few quotes will go a long way.
Paul wrote, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (v.3). First, meditate on this title: “Christ…according to the Scriptures.” This name reminds us that Jesus wasn’t just some random man or another religious leader. The Hebrew Scriptures predicted a Jewish Messiah thousands of years before the incarnation and Jesus fits those prophecies like hand in glove. In this sense, Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
Second, think about this act: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” As the appointed Messiah, Jesus died a substitutionary death, like an Old Testament sacrificial animal. When Jesus took the sin of the world upon Himself at the cross it was a fulfilment of his mission as the “lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). So we wouldn’t have to, the chosen Man paid for our sins.
Third, consider this fact: “He was buried” (v.4). All four Gospels record this. All the historic creeds state this. Why is it important? His burial proves that Jesus actually died, and that is important because He had to die to “taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). Knowing that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), we must also know “that one man should die for the people” (John 11:50).
Fourth, meditate on this surprise: “He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (v. 4). As certain as the Gospel is about Jesus’ atoning death and burial, the Gospel is equally certain about His victorious resurrection. The resurrection is the means of victory (v. 57). As well, it shows the payment for sin was accepted and that Jesus Christ has the power to save sinners. Additionally, His resurrection guarantees our own resurrection (v.22) and takes away the sting of sin and death (v. 56) for every believer as they cross the river.
To the contrary, Paul said if Christ did not arise from the tomb, our preaching is in vain (v.14), our faith is vain (v. 14), we are false witnesses (v. 15), we are still in our sins (v. 17), there is no hope for those who have trusted him in death (v. 18), we are of all men most to be pitied (v. 19), and we should just live for today, “for tomorrow we die” (v. 32). Yes, the resurrection matters.
Fifth, because it matters, Paul verifies the authenticity of the resurrection. Following Paul, consider the evidence. The risen Jesus appeared to Peter, to the Twelve, to more than 500, to James, then the apostolic witnesses when He ascended, and last of all to Paul in a miraculous visitation. Those who knew Him recognized Him after the resurrection. Those who deserted Him found their courage and faith after the resurrection. The main opposition leader – Paul himself – was converted by Jesus after the resurrection. The risen Christ changes lives – this is the power of the resurrection, and one of its main evidences.
So, this Good Friday and Easter, remember the Gospel message: Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah who died a sacrificial death for our sins, was buried, rose again, and was seen alive by hundreds of witnesses who were changed by this experience. No other religious leader and no other religion comes close to this claim or this level of evidence. Truly, the resurrection marks Jesus out as “the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4).
Of course, you have probably heard of Charlie Daniels, but not as a professional theologian. Indeed, he is not one. Mr. Daniels is a country music star. However, I stand by the statement that he is a great theologian, because Daniels believes and states a great theological truth, a multifaceted diamond of meditation. It bears repeating and retweeting:
By Dr. Jerry A. Johnson
President & CEO, National Religious Broadcasters
Published: April 13, 2017