Archives For Historicity

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…

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…

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.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).

In this post, we take the next step and observe that the resurrection of Jesus is the dramatic highlight of each of the four gospels. While the structure of the gospels highlights the resurrection, so does the storyline itself.  Continue Reading…

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…

O darkest woe!
Ye tears, forth flow!
Has earth so sad a wonder,
That the Father’s only Son
Now is buried yonder!

O Ground of faith,
Laid low in death!
Sweet lips, now silent sleeping:
Surely all that live must mourn
Here with bitter weeping.

- Würzburg Gesangbuch, “O Darkest Woe, Ye Tears Forth Flow”

Introduction

In this final post of our series, “The Death of Jesus,” we will explore several aspects of the post-crucifixion burial. Some have claimed that the story we have in Scripture is not credible, and therefore the entire Passion account is untrustworthy. In response to these claims, we will organize our presentation around five questions:

1.   What is the New Testament account of the burial of Jesus?
2.  Were the victims of crucifixion really buried?
3.  Was Joseph of Arimathea a fictional character?
4.  Were there really guards present at the tomb of Jesus?
5.  What does the archaeological record tell us about 1st-century tombs?  Continue Reading…

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

- Isaac Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Biblical Account

Jesus is crucified by Roman soldiers and heckled mercilessly by the crowds. The biblical account is sparse in its details and matter-of-fact in its presentation. New Testament scholar Martin Hengel—after an extensive examination of the practice of crucifixion in the ancient world—concluded, “It was an utterly offensive affair, ‘obscene’ in the original sense of the word. . . . No ancient writer wanted to dwell on the subject too long.” Hence the New Testament writers give greater attention to the significance of the cross than to a physical description of it.  Continue Reading…

The other gods were strong; but thou wast weak;
They rode, but thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but thou alone.

- Edward Shillito

Biblical Account

After his trials, beatings, flogging, and mock worship, Jesus receives back his own clothes and is led out to the crucifixion site. It was customary for criminals to be paraded through the streets, sometimes naked, so the return of Jesus’ clothes may reflect a Roman concession to the Jews for the shame they felt in being exposed in public.

The execution site is called Golgotha, which is Aramaic for “Place of the Skull.” Our more familiar term “Calvary” (which derives from the Latin word calvaria) also means “skull” and was used in the Vulgate (Latin) version of the Gospels. The route of the procession has become known as the Via Dolorosa (“the Way of Suffering”), and we should note—given our hymnody—that there is no specific biblical reference to Golgotha being located on a hill, although it is certainly possible that it was.  Continue Reading…

O sacred Head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown;

- Ber­nard of Clair­vaux

Introduction

As we continue our series, it is important to keep in mind what we mentioned in the first post: 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.

During the season of Lent, believers around the world give deep thought to the sufferings 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. It’s one of the ways we renew our minds.

Believers are especially challenged when we realize that Jesus was tortured by religious people as well as irreligious people. Believers and unbelievers alike totally missed the fact that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19). Therefore, it is the believer more than anyone else who needs to contemplate the cross and relinquish any self-righteousness in the process.  Continue Reading…