Above all, my greatest desire is that my children will be faithful and devoted followers of Jesus Christ. We live in a world that battles against that outcome. As parents, we have to be very intentional about living out our faith with integrity. Furthermore, we also have to be very intentional about teaching and discipling our children in the faith.
One critical area of understanding is about Jesus, His death, and His resurrection. The world would have you believe that Jesus was just a good teacher. As Christians, we know that He was so much more! There are five vital resurrection facts about Jesus that lay the foundation for a biblical worldview of who He is and what Jesus is about.
Vital Resurrection Fact #1: Jesus’ Resurrection was Real
Last week my Sunday School class took the time to look directly at all the resurrection stories in the Bible. We put on our detective hats and looked at what each of the Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) writers wanted us to know about the physical reality of Jesus’ resurrection.
Together, they a more magnificent us some use details viewed by eyewitnesses and held to be true by the first century Christians.
- The tomb was empty.
- The cloth used to wrap his body was lying there in the tomb. (Grave robbers would not have bothered to unwrap the body first.)
- Multiple people touched Jesus.
- Jesus ate food.
- Jesus was able to pick up objects and break them.
- People were able to carry on conversations with him.
- He appeared to some people multiple times.
- His appearances were inside and outside.
- His appearances were moving. In one account, He is walking quite a distance and talking with some disciples.
Indeed, the rich physical details and descriptions of the gospel accounts lend to their authenticity. This would be an easy study for a family. Only in John does the resurrection account take more than one chapter. Study one chapter each session and write down the physical details that you notice.
Vital Resurrection Fact #2: His death was Real
Jesus really died on the cross. The authorities flogged Jesus and then paraded Him through the streets. He was lifted up on a cross with his hands and feet nailed to the cross. Finally, the soldiers pierced His side.
Roman soldiers, whose professional careers were all about violence and death, attended the death of Jesus. Their job was to see that Jesus was dead. Indeed, they would not have taken him down from the cross until their assignment was complete.
Jesus’ friends and family were present at the crucifixion. Jesus’ mother, Mary, was there. Several other women were there. The beloved disciples, John, records that he was there along with Mary. After what they had seen first hand with their own eyes, these followers firmly believed that Jesus was dead. Consequently, these same women came with spices to prepare the body because they knew that Jesus was dead. When they discovered that the tomb was empty, they did not ask about the resurrection. Instead, the women asked where the body had been moved.
Even though the disciples had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the tomb after four days, they still did believe that a man could be raised from the dead. Today, with all of our modern medical technology, we cannot bring people back from the dead. Even one of the disciples wanted to see his hands and his feet, to prove to himself that this dead man was truly alive. This critical vital resurrection fact lays the foundation for the next key fact below.
Vital Resurrection Fact #3: Death like His, Resurrection like His
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” – Romans 6:5
As Christians, we need Jesus’ death to be real. The Gnostics were a heretical group that the early Christians had to deal with. They believed that Jesus only pretended to die. They struggled with the idea that God could die and so they concluded that He didn’t really die, he only appeared to die.
Ultimately, one day we all will die for real. Jesus was fully human so that we, who are fully human, might have an appropriate sacrifice for our sins. His resurrection followed an actual death. As a consequence, this gives us the confidence to know that we can believe in a real resurrection after our real death.
Vital Resurrection Fact #4: His death was His choice
Jesus death was a perfect sacrifice on our behalf. Although Jesus death was necessary to our salvation, God the Father did not kill Jesus. Every day Jesus faithfully chose to follow the will of the Father. He endured poverty and hardship. Jesus persisted despite persecution and slander. Clearly, He was a real man who experienced hunger, thirst, sadness, tiredness, and betrayal. Despite it all, He persisted in his ministry and in the calling that the Father had given Him.
Jesus did not want to die on a cross. Before his arrest, Jesus went to a garden to pray. In Luke 22:42 Jesus prays and says: “Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ His prayer was so intense that Luke goes on to say that “his sweat become like great drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) Jesus did not want to die on the cross, but He understood the will of the Father and so He allowed it to happen.
Early in Jesus’ ministry, the Devil tempted him in the wilderness. Jesus had the power to turn stones into bread and to command the angels, but He did not exercise that power. He did not use that power when He was arrested. Nor, did Jesus use that power when He was questioned and flogged. Finally, He did not exercise his authority over the angels when He was crucified on the cross.
Jesus final act before death was His choice as well. “‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46 In the end, Jesus was not killed but gave up His Spirit. It is clear that it was His choice to die for us sinners.
Vital Resurrection Fact #5 Lamb of God
John the Baptist introduces us to Jesus for the first time in the gospel of John by announcing when he sees Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 For the Jewish people, it was the practice to sacrifice a perfect lamb as an atonement for their sins. Likewise, the blood of such a lamb was painted on the doorways of their homes each Passover to mark their liberation from slavery in Egypt.
Jesus was the only perfect sacrifice. Without question, we are all sinners. The most essential vital resurrection fact is this one. Romans 8:28 tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Because we are sinners, we cannot enter into the presence of God until the price of our sin is paid. There is a gulf between God and us that has been created by sin. It doesn’t matter if you have sinned a little or sinned a lot, all are tainted and unable to be in the presence of the Holy One.
In the temple, God showed the people that sin has to be paid for in blood. Each day – morning and night – a lamb was sacrificed in the temple for the people’s sins. Subsequently, for our sins to be paid once and for all, a perfect sacrifice of a more magnificent lamb was required – Jesus, the Son of God. For Jesus to be perfect, he had to be without sin. His sinless status qualified Him to be the spotless Lamb of God. Because Jesus was fully human and fully God, He was able to be the sacrificial bridge that can bring us back into right relationship with God.
The Truth will save you
Believing in Jesus just as a good teacher will not save you. The Bible tells us clearly that even the demons confess that Jesus is the Son of God. Mark tells us the story of a demon in the temple in Capernaum who confesses: “I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1:24) What sets us apart from demons? It is our belief in Jesus Christ and our willingness to follow Him.
If we live in a world that seeks to twist the truth, then we must hold tight to the truth about Jesus. Paul often speaks of the gospel as Christ Crucified. In Romans, we hear the clear biblical truth about what we are to believe regarding Jesus death and resurrection. Each vital resurrection fact forms together as a shield against the attacks on our children’s faith.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10
Dear Christian parent, hold fast to the truth. Teach the truth. Most of all preach Christ Crucified. Preach His Resurrection. Finally, believe in His return.