When Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection, Thomas had not been with them and refused to believe their testimony. However, when Jesus appeared to Thomas and proved that he was alive, Thomas’ doubts soon evaporated and he freely confessed his faith. John’s purpose in writing what he did about Jesus was for this very purpose; that we too may believe God’s testimony concerning His Son.
When the disciples of Jesus had all but given up hope, because they had seen Jesus die and be buried, God changed everything by raising Jesus from the dead. Their perception of death, their perspective of Jesus and their purpose in life were all radically altered – and all for the better! The same change can come to all who believe God’s testimony concerning His Son Jesus who conquered sin and death.
Jesus spoke seven times from the cross. The sixth of His sayings was the short and plain, ‘I thirst’. These woulds could be taken in a very simple sense and quickly passed over. Of course he was thirsty! Dying is hard work. But there’s a whole lot more to it than that! What did jesus mean when He said what He said?
It has been reported in recent years from the UK that a student in a Religious Education class asked his teacher if he could stay behind after class and ask her a question about her Christmas lesson. (The student probably didn’t want to ask the question in class for fear of being embarrassed in front of his classmates). The question he asked was this, ‘Why would Mary and Joseph name their baby after a swear word?’
The truth that this story conveys is striking. When a student has never heard the name ‘Jesus’ apart from as a swear word, then we know for sure that general knowledge about the Bible or even about Jesus is at an all time low. It must be the greatest irony of all times. Human history is divided into two great sections – ‘BC’ (Before Christ) and ‘AD’ (Anno Domini – Latin for ‘the year of the Lord’) with Jesus Christ the very centre of it all, and yet two thousand years later, in many cases He is ignored, despised, hated and greatly misunderstood!
At Easter time, we are forced again to consider what the Bible says about Jesus. We simply cannot afford to ignore Him although many continue to do so. The great writer C.S.Lewis once summed up the situation logically like this – Jesus has to be one of three things. Either he is a liar (He deliberately went around telling people that he was the Son of God when He wasn’t) or he is a lunatic (He thought He was the Son of God but he was badly mistaken) or he is Lord (He really was and is the Son of God.)
The accounts of his life in the New Testament’s 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), clearly help us know which of the above options best fit the facts that are recorded about Him. To come to some other conclusion other than the evidence the Bible gives and the conclusion it reaches would be ludicrous! But even if we agree with who Jesus said He was, it will not be enough just to have the right idea about Him, or just to be sympathetic to Him, or be more or less in favour of Him…If He is Lord as He says, then He can be nothing less than your Lord and having Him as less than your Lord will never be good enough for Him. It’s all or nothing.
Jesus once asked his disciples this question, ‘Who do you say I am?’ (Matthew 16:15). This Easter, He is still asking us the same question.
The facts of the cross are plainly recorded in all of the gospels, but John has his own special emphasis on the events that unfolded that first Good Friday when the worst that man could show met with the best that God could give. The end result was and is a story of amazing sacrifice in which Jesus completed all the Father had sent him to do – to secure the salvation of all of God’s people.
Getting pounded by insults is one thing in life that I hope you will never ever have to face. The old saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’ is simply not true. Remember how poor old Charlie Brown copped a verbal barrage of ‘nyah, nyah, nyah’ one day from a girl? His response was, ‘I just hate it when those nyah, nyah, nyahs just lay there in your stomach and burn’.
The same could be said of course for Jesus. All through his life he copped a few of them – accusations that he was a drunkard (which was not true) or that he was a friend of sinners (which was true – but was never said simply as fact). He even copped this one when he was dying, ‘If you are the Son of God, come down from there and we will believe you’ (Mark 15:32)
Why was it that Jesus refused to do what they said? Logically it was a good idea. He could have done with some more followers. But Jesus knew better than what logic suggested. He could have got down quite easily, but that would have nullified the reason He came. See, it was more than nails that held Him there.
It was more than the ropes by which He was bound to the wood. It was more than that, much much more that held Him there despite the taunts of the crowds. It was out of His love for sinners, the greatest love for sinners ever known that caused Him not to get down and caused Him to die a death and pay a debt that He did not owe. It was for the purpose of our salvation that He endured these threats and hostility.
Logic said ‘get down’. Insults taunted him to do likewise. The devil also. All would entice him down except for His strong love for sinners, like you and me. Love would not let Him give up that easily. And by staying up there and not getting down, he proved that He was who they said – the very Son of God. This Easter, seek Him.
Pontius Pilate was a cruel and often uncaring Roman governor in Jerusalem who had plenty of opportunity to ask Jesus questions, but failed to do anything with the answers Jesus gave to him. In fact, Pilate had the greatest opportunity to know the truth but succumbed to the pressures placed upon him the Jewish religious authorities and the vengeful crowd. Even yet, his question, ‘what shall I do with this man called the Christ?’ is a question everyone must answer.