The Death of Jesus, Part 2: Bloody Sweat?

For me it was in the garden
He prayed, ‘Not My will, but Thine.’
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.

- Charles H. Gabriel, “I Stand Amazed in the Presence”

Our series, “The Death of Jesus,” continues with the phenomenon of Jesus’ bloody sweat. In our last post, we argued that the multiple, independent attestation of Jesus’ sufferings and death argues for authenticity. Specifically, we noted that:

1. Jesus’ execution is referenced in all four gospels.
2. Jesus’ execution is referenced in the earliest writings of the church.
3. Jesus’ execution is referenced in extra-biblical, non-Christian sources. 

In the next several posts, we will contend that the description we have in Scripture of Jesus’ physical sufferings is historically, medically, geographically, and archaeologically credible, which also argues for authenticity. Our first consideration will be what happened to Jesus moments before he was arrested.  Continue reading

The Death of Jesus, Part 1: Authentic History?

Did you mean to die like that?
Was that a mistake or
Did you know your messy death
Would be a record breaker?
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?

- Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar

To ponder the death of Jesus is to probe the loving heart of God. It was Jesus himself who connected the two: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16a). This divine giving encompassed the cross.

In large measure, the Old Testament anticipates the cross, the Gospel documents the cross, and the rest of the New Testament explains the cross. During the season of Lent, believers around the world give deep thought to the death of Christ. Our purpose in doing so is not to be macabre but to increase our gratitude and enhance our generosity. It’s part of our discipleship.

But did the crucifixion of Jesus really take place as described in Scripture? Various “swoon” theories and “mistaken identity” theories have been proposed over the years by skeptics. The former claim that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross, and the latter claim that the man who did die on the cross wasn’t really Jesus. What are we to make of such competing and contradictory theories?
Continue reading

Risen Indeed, Part 5: Just As He Said

You lived, You died,
You said in three days You would rise
You did, You’re alive!
You rule, You reign,
You said You’re coming back again
I know You will
And all the earth will sing Your praises

- Paul Baloche, “All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises”

Introduction

That venerable theologian Yogi Berra once said, “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” History has proved him right on numerous occasions. Here are some famous examples of failed predictions over the years:  Continue reading

Risen Indeed, Part 4: The Essential Condition (and Hope) of Christianity

There in the ground His body lay;
Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious Day,
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine,
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

- Stuart Townend & Keith Getty

Introduction

There are not very many chapters in the Bible that can stand alone to give a complete articulation of a biblical doctrine, but 1 Corinthians 15 is one of the few that comes close. Believers often refer to this as “the resurrection chapter.” The label is well deserved.

The famous New Testament translator J. B. Phillips once called it the most important chapter in the whole Bible—which is no small compliment when there are chapters like Genesis 1, John 3, and Romans 8 in the canon from which to choose. But 1 Corinthians 15 has permanent relevance because death never goes away. In fact, Paul’s message here is essentially this: “Accept the resurrection or reject all hope.”  Continue reading

Risen Indeed, Part 3: A Central and Dominant Theme in the Book of Acts

If the Lord had never risen,
We’d have nothing to believe.
But His promise can be trusted:
‘You will live, because I live.’
As we share the death of Adam,
So in Christ we live again;
Death has lost its sting and terror,
Christ the Lord has come to reign.

- Ni­co­lás Mar­tín­ez, “Christ Is Risen, Christ Is Living”

Introduction

We have seen that the resurrection of Jesus is both the literary and the dramatic highlight of each of the four gospels. This trend continues beyond the first four books of the New Testament. We observe in this post that the resurrection of Jesus is a central and dominant theme in the book of Acts. In fact, every apostolic sermon recorded in the book of Acts features the resurrection of Jesus as its centerpiece.  Continue reading

Risen Indeed, Part 2: The Dramatic Highlight of the Gospels

risen.04.empty.tomb

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

- Charles Wesley, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”

Introduction

In our last post we noted that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the literary highlight of each of the four gospels. More than 28 of the 89 chapters in the gospels (32%) are devoted to the period of time between the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and his ascension back to the Father. Yet this period is less than 1% of Jesus’ entire 3½ years of public ministry.

Martin Kähler, a late 19th-century German New Testament scholar, stated that the four gospels are “passion narratives with extended introductions.” While perhaps somewhat overstated, this assessment does strike at the ultimate goal of Jesus’ earthly career. The Gospels are all about Jesus, and Jesus is all about his resurrection (and the much neglected ascension that followed).  Continue reading

Risen Indeed, Part 1: The Literary Highlight of the Gospels

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once he all doth save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

- Charles Wesley, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”

A Good and Glorious Morning!

Christians around the world today are greeting one another antiphonally with the universal Easter declaration:

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

It is a triumphant statement of faith and hope, rooted in the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Given the fragmented state of the church, it is heartening to know that we still have one thing in common that we all agree on. The resurrection has to be that one thing because it is the very foundation of Christianity. Take away the resurrection, and Christianity collapses. Keep the resurrection, and Christianity has something of eternal value to offer the world.  Continue reading