Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?

Jesus died on the cross. This fact is as historically certain as any fact of history. Jesus was condemned by a hateful crowd of religious leaders who despised Him and His teachings. Instead of believing His claims to be their Messiah they demanded His death. Jesus was sentenced to death by an indifferent politician who found it convenient to bow to the wishes of a mob instead of doing what he knew to be just.

The political and personal reasons for Jesus’ crucifixion explain the motives of the individuals involved, but they do not explain it’s necessity. The “why” of Jesus’ death on the cross can only be explained theologically. Jesus died because of the sinfulness of men. The necessity of Jesus’ death is found at the intersection of God’s holiness and love.

God is holy. Consequently, He cannot have a friendly relationship with anything polluted by sin. Every person is a sinner. Man’s sin separates him from God. Sin is not an offense to God and rebellion against Him. God is holy. Consequently, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. The punishment of sin is death. The only way for a sinful human to have a relationship with God is for the punishment of his sin to be paid. God cannot simply overlook sin. To do so would be unjust. The punishment of sin must be paid, but ne perosn is able to pay the penalty and restore himself to God.

The love of God responded to the helpless sinfulness of man by providing a payment for sin that is sufficient to satisfy the holy demands of God’s justice and reconcile the sinner to Him. “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlsating life.” (John 3:16) “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Because God is love, God the Son willingly died to pay the penalty of our sin and restore us to friendship with God.

God’s system of justice permits a substitute to be punished in place of the offender provided the substitute meets certain standards of perfection. This is not the case in American justice, but it is true of Divine justice. When Adam and Eve sinned God provided a substitute to cover their sin. He then promised a greater substitute who would conquer sin. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice promised as the substitute for sinful men. His death satisfies God’s justice and makes it possible for sinners to be reconciled to God. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) “You, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death.” (Colossians 1:21-22)

Jesus had to die on the cross if sinful men were to be saved from the death they deserved. Through His death Jesus met the demands of justice. His death on the cross made it possible for sinners to be forgiven. If Jesus had not died, no one could be saved. Because He died, all will be saved who receive Him by faith. He promises forgiveness freely to any who will rely entirely on Him to take away their sin and restore them to God. Have you turned to Jesus for salvation? Will you?

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Can you prove the resurrection?

Easter Sunday has just passed and it seems appropriate to take a moment for another consideration of Jesus’ resurrection. The Bible offers a number of facts that are legitimate evidences for the truth of the resurrection. Sufficient evidence exists in God’s Word to convince a reasonable person of the plausibility of Jesus’ resurrection.

The claim of that Jesus was resurrected begins with an assertion: Jesus was genuinely dead. The Roman soldiers guarding the cross would have never let a victim down unless he was definitively dead. The men who transported Jesus to the tomb and wrapped Him for burial would not have buried Him if they found the least evidence of life. Jesus was dead when He came down from the cross. The third day after His death, Jesus was restored to life by God the Father.

The Bible presenets several evidences that Jesus was miraculously returned to life. The guards assigned to watch over Jesus’ tomb told the priests of the angelic visitor, the removal of the stone and the empty tomb. These men were not disciples of Jesus. They were at best unconcerned about Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah. They had no agenda but the protection of their own interests. The priests who instigated the crucifixion believed the Roman soldiers’ testimony, but conspired with them to lie about the actual events. The priests bought off the soldiers and convinced them to confess to what would ordinarily have been a capital crime- falling asleep while on watch- rather than admit the supernatural events of that day. While not conclusive proof for the resurrection, these facts compel one to consider carefully what did happen that Sunday morning.

Seven weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples stood in front of large crowds in Jerusalem and announced that Jesus had risen. The disciples indicted the Jews for their part in crucifying the Messiah and then declared God had restored Jesus to life. Of the tens of thousands of people in Jerusalem who heard this message, including the religious leaders who had condemned Jesus to death, many would have known the exact location of Jesus’ tomb. If Jesus was still in the grave, any of those who rejected the apostles preaching could have readily shown the disciples and the masses the body of Jesus. No one did. The inability of the skeptics to refute the apostles claim gives strong evidence to the empty tomb and points to the genuineness of the resurrection.

The four gospels and the letter of First Corinthians dedicate significant sections to Jesus’ resurrection. The first gospel was written less than 20 years after Jesus’ death. The letter to the Corinthians was written about 25 years after Jesus’ death. Many eyewitnesses of Jesus death and resurrection were still living. The gospel writers and the apostle Paul mention specific individuals who saw the risen Jesus. Any of these eyewitnesses could testify to having personally seen Jesus alive after His resurrection. Besides the specific ones named, Paul cites an additional five hundred Christians who saw Jesus alive after His death. The multitude of witnesses gives strong evidence that would be practically incontrovertible in any case today. When one considers the intense persecution the first believers faced because of their commitment to Jesus the possibility of a conspiracy to dupe the world seems incredibly unlikely.

The resurrection is a certain event that can be attested to by strong evidences. The claims of the Bible about Jesus are believable. He is the Savior who died for sin and now lives forever. Because Jesus is alive, those who believe Him will have eternal life.

Why is the resurrection so important?

Christianity stands unique among all the religions of the world. Only Christianity claims that it’s God became human, died and then returned to life. The claim that Jesus rose from the dead is one celebrated and remembered every Sunday of the year by Christian churches all across the world. The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in all human history. The resurrection of Jesus is the seminal moment in Christianity. That event changed everything.

The New Testament is filled with declarations that Jesus died and then rose again. The resurrection is explained in all four gospels and the book of Acts. Jesus’ resurrection is expressly taught in many of the epistles and in the book of Revelation. The resurrection of Jesus is a crucial truth on which Biblical Christianity is built. Without the resurrection there is no Biblical Christianity. Without the resurrection there is no forgiveness of sin. Without the resurrection there is no salvation. Without the resurrection there is no eternal life. Without the resurrection, God is a liar, Jesus is a fraud and every gospel preacher is a charlatan.

The resurrection is important because without the resurrection the gospel is a lie. “And if Christ be not dead, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)

The resurrection is important because without the resurrection the Christian life is pointless and worthless. “What advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32)

The resurrection is important because without the resurrection the Christian has no hope of eternal life. “And if Christ be not raised, then they which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-18)

The resurrection is important because it is the ultimate display of the power of God that is now at work in the believer. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.” (Ephesians 1:19-20)

The resurrection is important because it is the evidence that Jesus is the Savior He claimed to be and that the Bible declares Him to be. “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” (John 2:18-22)

The resurrection is important because it is the powerful declaration that Jesus is God. “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead:” (Romans 1:3-4)

The resurrection is important because if it is untrue, God’s Word is a lie. “We are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.” (1 Corinthians 15:15)

The resurrection is the lynchpin on which all the gospel hangs, the certification that all the gospel promises are true and the certainty that God is true. Rejoice every Sunday because Jesus the Savior has risen.

Did Jesus Have Blue Eyes?

During a recent children’s activity one of the little boys asked his teacher if Jesus’ eyes were blue. The question amuses, but it addresses some deeper considerations that may normally be overlooked. What did Jesus look like?

No pictures of Jesus were ever taken. If any paintings or drawings of Jesus were made while He was on earth they have long been lost. Archeology has found no first century busts of Jesus and no texts describing His appearance. Much European art depicting Jesus is demonstrably inaccurate. Jesus was not European. The more He looks like King Arthur, the less accurate the image is likely to be. Other people groups have depicted Jesus in their own unique style and have fallen into the same errors as the Europeans. This author has seen images of Jesus with distinctively African features, including very dark skin, and of Asian Jesus’, including epicanthic folds. Jesus was not European, African or Asian.

The Bible gives a few descriptions of Jesus that guide our speculations of what He looked like. Jesus had a beard. Isaiah 50:6 prophesied that the Messiah would allow His abusers to pluck out His beard. Jesus was average looking. Isaiah 53:2 indicates that the Messiah would not be spectacular looking or exceptionally handsome. Nothing about Jesus’ appearance attracted others to Him.

Most importantly, the Bible plainly declares Jesus to be a Jewish man. Consequently, He would have had the features, skin, hair and eye coloring typical of an Israelite. A broad range of skin, hair and eye coloring can be found in any people group, but Jesus was most likely dark skinned (though not “black”), with dark hair and dark eyes. This is not at all certain, but Jesus most likely looked like an average Jesus man.

This question is important because Jesus was fully God and fully human. As a human Jesus descended from David, Judah, Jacob and Abraham. He was as genetically Jewish as any other Israelite. He might even have resembled His mother’s side of the family. Though blue eyes can be found in modern day Jews, Jesus probably did not have blue eyes.

Why does God sometimes refer to Himself as “Us”?

In Genesis 1 the Bible quotes God as saying, “Let us make man in our own image.” The next verse says, “So God created man in His own image.” Why does God speak of Himself in the plural but other places in the Bible refer to Him in the singular? This is seen in other places in Genesis. In Genesis 3 God said, “ Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” In Genesis 11 God says, “Let us go down, and there confound their language.” Why does God sometimes refer to Himself in the plural when the Bible says there is only one God?

Two answers can be suggested for this question. First, God is using the “royal we.” Kings and Queens sometimes referred to themselves in the plural. Wikipedia gives an example of this, “Now, we, Edward, by the grace of God, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. . .” Queen Elizabeth once proclaimed, “Know you that it is Our will and pleasure . . .” The royal we also shows up in literature. In the book Prince Caspian King Peter proclaims, “It is our pleasure to adventure our royal person. . .” This formal way of speaking could be the reason God is referred to in the plural, but it does not seem likely.

The Bible contains few plural references to God, though it contains many direct quotes from God in which He refers to Himself in the singular “I”. If God was using the royal we in Genesis, readers would expect to find it appear in later Scriptures and more frequently throughout the Bible. The small number of plural references to God suggests another reason for God saying “we” and “us” in Genesis.

The other suggested answer to this question is that God is both singular and plural. Which is what the Bible teaches. God is One God who is Three. He is One God in Three persons. This is known as the doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible teaches that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are each fully God and each are three separate persons, distinct from one another in their being, work and intellect. The Bible does not teach that God is three Gods, or a three part God. The Bible teaches that God is One, who is made up of three persons. This is a incredibly difficult concept to understand, but the Bible’s teachings are clear. There is One God, who is Three.

The Bible teaches that God is One God. “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:34) “There is one God, and there is none other but He.” “I am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me.” (Isaiah 46:9) “There is one God; and there is none other but He.” (Mark 12:32) “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men.” (1 Timothy 2:5)

The Bible also clearly teaches that the Father is God. “There is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things.” (1 Corinthians 8:6) The Bible teaches that Jesus is God. “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30) “In the Beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Bible also declares the Holy Spirit is God. “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost . . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:3-4) Scripture says there is One God and there are Three who are God. This is not a contradiction, but a declaration that God is a Trinity- One who is Three.

The God who created the universe is God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. Genesis records that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters, creating the land and all that is on it. Colossians, John and Hebrews declare that Jesus, God the Son, created all things. Isaiah, Psalms and Jeremiah proclaim that the Father created all things. When God said, “Let us make man in our own image” He was speaking to Himself. These plural pronouns for God in Genesis are not proof of the Trinity, but when read in light of the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity it becomes apparent that God’s plurality and singularity is reflected in the pronouns in Genesis. God refers to Himself as “us” because He is One God in Three Persons.

Repost: In what way is Jesus begotten of God?

“For God so loved that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

At Christmas we remember the birth of Jesus. His birth is of paramount importance because He is God who set aside His Divine prerogatives, clothed Himself in humanity and suffered the punishment of man’s sin so men could be saved. John 3:16 famously describes Jesus as the “only begotten Son.” That Jesus is begotten of God may seem to be at odds with the Biblical doctrine that Jesus is the eternal God. If Jesus is the eternally existent God in what way is He begotten of God?

Psalm 2:7 presents a powerful promise of the coming Messiah. God comforted His servant David with the promises He would establish His own Son as King of Jerusalem. The Son of God would reign from Jerusalem over all the earth. God’s promise to send a King was certified by the Divine decree, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” In the New Testament Paul declares that Jesus is the Son who was promised by God in Psalm 2. The begottenness of Jesus is the eternal decree of God to establish God the Son as the Messiah of Israel who would reign as King over the entire earth.

John 1:14 connects the incarnation- God the Son’s taking upon Himself humanity- with His being begotten. Jesus was begotten of God in His birth into the world. Jesus was not conceived by natural means but by the power of God uniquely working to generate a child. Jesus’ begottenness is the working of God to miraculously create a body for the Son within Mary’s womb. Jesus is begotten of the Father thorugh the work of God to send make the Son of God the seed of the woman and the Savior of man.

God the Son is the eternally existent God who created all things. He is fully God and equal with the Father in existence, eternality, infinity, majesty, power and glory. The begottenness of Jesus does not imply any inferiority of person or existence. The begottenness of Jesus does not imply a point in eternity in which the Father existed alone without the Son or the Spirit. Jesus is begotten because of the Divine decree that the Son would take upon Himself humanity. Through His humanity Jesus became the Savior of those who trust Him. He is the conquering King who will one day rule all the earth. Jesus is begotten in His human personage and in His Messianic work.

God the Son did not spring into existence on Christmas day (or nine months before His birth). God the Son has no source nor origination. Jesus is the Son of God. He is fully God, the second person of the Trinity, who shares entirely in the identical, eternal essence and existence of the Triune Godhead.

Repost: What’s so important about the virgin Mary?

Every Christmas, we are confronted with images of a manger, a little baby, loving parents, a few vague men in the background, an angel or two and a collection of miscellaneous farm animals. Otherwise known as the nativity scene. Of course, the baby in the manger is the central character, but one other person gets nearly as much attention. The virgin Mary gets nearly as much attention as the baby Jesus.

In our day of sexual freedom, being a virgin is not generally considered a praiseworthy thing. To identify someone as “the virgin Charlene” would most likely be viewed as an slur. So why do we call Mary “the virgin”?

The answer to this question is found in Biblical prophecy, in the angelic pronouncement and in the character of Jesus. Over 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The prophecy of a virgin birth is one of many prophecies in the book of Isaiah that describe the coming Messiah. God promised through Isaiah that the sign of the Messiah will be a son born of a woman who had never entered into sexual relations with a man.

About nine months before Jesus birth angels visited the loving parents from the nativity, Mary and Joseph. Luke 1 describes the angelic visit to Mary. The angel declared to her that she was going to give birth to a son. Mary responded with a pertinent question, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” “Know not” means “never had sexual intercourse.” Since Mary understood the process by which children are conceived, her question is very logical. Mary, being a virgin, knew she could not have a baby. The angel goes on to explain that God’s power would cause Mary to miraculously conceive a child without any human father.

Matthew 1 tells of the angelic visit to Joseph. When Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant he intended intent to call off their impending wedding. Before he could act on his intention the angel declared that Mary was not pregnant through on immoral action, but “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” The angels declared that Jesus was conceived in the womb of a virgin.

Mary’s virginity is not important for Mary’s sake, but to show the character of Jesus. Mary later conceived other children through natural means. Mary did not remain a perpetual virgin. Her virginity at the birth of Jesus is of importance because of what it says about Jesus. Jesus is God who became human, but He became man without taking on Himself the sin nature. Romans 5 teaches that sin has passed to all men from Adam. The implication is that the sin nature is passed from one generation to the next by the father. For Jesus to be born without sion, he must have been born without a human father.

Through Mary God kept His Word to give His people an unmistakeable sign of the coming of His Messiah. Mary is important because her lack of sexual contact makes plain that the child born of her was not Joseph’s or any other man’s. Mary’s viriginity leaves no room for the baby Jesus to be anything but the Son of God.