I was honoured again last weekend to be called upon to give a short talk on where I Find Christ in my life. Known to ‘us’ at our little church community as ‘My Spot’, it is always a challenge to share with the community something we feel is both appropriate and challenging. But more importantly, we all feel it is something we ourselves know the Lord has asked us to share.
My Spot is very different each Sunday. Because we are individuals, with different backgrounds and life experiences, The Lord speaks to us in very different ways, even though we KNOW without a doubt His message of salvation is the same across the entire globe. I guess there were a few puzzled looks when the above images appeared on the overhead as I was getting up to speak.
I like murder – mystery programs and books, basically because by nature I enjoy investigation, research and the hunt! I enjoy solving the riddle, identifying the criminal, finding the baddie, before the director of the show reveals it to the audience. So it should come as no surprise to you that I enjoy TV shows like Agatha Christies Hercule Poirot and CSI Miami.
Now how could I possibly tie in our friends here (Hercule Poirot and Horatio Caine) with Christianity, with our Loving Saviour Jesus Christ? As an example Hercule and Horatio are two great TV super sleuths, and if I were to ask them to prove Jesus Christ did actually die on the cross at Calvary and rose from the dead three days later they would accept the task, and present me with the proof if it were available — which we all know it is.
Being super sleuths and well trained detectives, they would discover that In the Journal of the American Medical Associate (JAMA) it has been said that ‘The spear, thrust between His right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung, but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured His death’. That was the reason Herod allowed Jesus body to be taken down from the cross for burial. But you know, to this very day there are still people who believe that Jesus never really died on the Cross at Calvary! Muslims do not accept that Jesus died on the cross. They need our prayer!
Our detectives would look for vital evidence to build their case. One place to find that is in the reports of non-Christian historians from around the time when Jesus lived. Three of these historians directly mentioned the death of Jesus.
• Lucian (c.120–after 180 A.D.) referred to Jesus as a crucified sophist (philosopher).
• Josephus (c.37–c.100 A.D.) wrote, “At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man, for he was a doer of amazing deeds. When Pilate condemned him to the cross, the leading men among us, having accused him, those who loved him did not cease to do so.”
• Tacitus (c. 56–c.120 A.D.) wrote, “Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty … at the hands of our procurator, Pontius Pilate.”
This is a bit like going into the archives and finding that on one spring day in the first century, The Jerusalem Post Newspaper ran a front-page story saying that Jesus was crucified and dead. Not bad detective work, and fairly conclusive.
Have you ever wondered why it is that people talk about Jesus as if he was still around? You never hear Jesus spoken about in the past tense do you? Budda is dead. Mohammed is dead; Zeus is dead, Aphrodite is dead; Odin and Thor are dead…. all are spoken of in past tense, yet Jesus, who died a lowly criminals death on the cross at Calvary is spoken of in the present tense. WHY – because he rose from the dead – HE IS ALIVE!
What makes Jesus unique among religious leaders and among great leaders in general, is his relationship with death. Leaders have met with all manner of untimely deaths—assassination, self-inflicted death, accidental death before the world was ready for them to go. But death sought and found them nonetheless. What is not unique about Jesus is that his enemies killed him; what is unprecedented, if the Gospels are to be believed, is that he foretold how and when it would happen and resigned himself to it (actually chose it), stating that death had no power over him.
In advance of his death, Jesus told his disciples that he would be betrayed, arrested, and crucified and that he would come back to life three days later. That’s a strange plan! What was behind it? Jesus was no entertainer willing to perform for others on demand; instead, he promised that his death and resurrection would prove to people (if their minds and hearts were open) that he was indeed the Messiah.
Bible scholar Wilbur Smith remarked about Jesus:
“When he said that He himself would rise again from the dead, the third day after He was crucified, He said something that only a fool would dare say, if He expected longer the devotion of any disciples—unless He was sure He was going to rise. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a thing like that.”
In other words, since Jesus had clearly told his disciples that he would rise again after his death, failure to keep that promise would expose him as a fraud and put a definite end to the growing Jesus Movement. We would not be here today meeting in celebration! There would be nothing to celebrate!
We can assume Jesus’ disciples were both downcast and terrified of being reassociated with a crucified criminal. They ran away and hid themselves. Remember the Upper Room? That was until the morning of the third day, when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene according to the Gospel of Mark. She then ran to tell the others The Tomb is Empty, and the rest – as they say, IS HISTORY! Case Closed – thank you gentlemen!
Jesus kept His promise and we have that promise to keep us going until we ourselves are finally called home. Jesus not only rose from the dead, He ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of Father God, and He prepares a place for us there NOW with them in eternity.
Other so called deities are long gone, dead and buried – not our CHRISTUS, he is alive, He is coming again, and we are forgiven and are truly blessed.