Arminian Today

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Jesus Died

Charles Dickens opens A Christmas Carol by stating that old Marley was dead and this fact, writes Dickens, must be understood lest anything wonderful is to come of this story.  Dickens goes on to say that Marley was as “dead as a doornail.”  In other words, Marley was truly dead.  The rest of the story would be nothing without this fact.

The same is true of the resurrection of Jesus.  Before the empty tomb, there is a cross.  Jesus had to die.  He had to be truly dead.  If Jesus is not dead, the resurrection is not true.  The story of the resurrection is only wonderful if Jesus is truly dead.

The Gospel writers go to great lengths to prove that Jesus is dead.  Let us just quickly go through how the Gospel writers present the death of Jesus.

  1.  Matthew – Matthew presents Jesus first being scourged by the Romans (Matthew 27:26) which was a violet process of whipping with a whip with bones on the end.  Many died at this point as their skin was ripped of their backs and their inner organs were often exposed.  Jesus is next taken to the governor’s headquarters were He is mocked and beaten by the soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31).  Finally Jesus is led away to be crucified (Matthew 27:32-44) and He finally dies after hanging on the cross for several intense hours (Matthew 27:50).  Pilate orders the body of Jesus to be given to Joseph of Arimathea who places Him in his own new tomb (Matthew 27:57-61).
  2. Mark – After Jesus’ arrest, He is led before the Jewish council where they mock Him and beat Him (Mark 14:53-65).  Mark records that the Jews hand Jesus over to Pilate so that He might be killed.  Pilate releases Barabbas instead of Christ and has Jesus scourged before His crucifixion (Mark 15:1-15).  The Roman soldiers mock Jesus (Mark 15:16-20) before taking Him to crucify Him (Mark 15:21-32).  Jesus hangs on the cross for several hours before dying (Mark 15:33-39).  Pilate, who is surprised to hear that Jesus is dead already, orders His body to be given to Joseph who buries Him (Mark 15:42-47).
  3. Luke – Like Mark, Luke records that the Jews mock and beat Jesus (Luke 22:63-65).  The Jews condemn Jesus to death (Luke 22:66-71) and bring Him before Pilate (as Jews could not put anyone to death because of the Romans).  Pilate sends Jesus before Herod since that is his jurisdiction but Herod mocks Jesus as well (Luke 23:6-12).  Pilate releases Barabbas (an insurrectionist and murderer) instead of Jesus (Luke 23:18-25).  Jesus is led away to be crucified (Luke 23:26-38).  Darkness falls over the land for three hours while Jesus hangs on the cross (Luke 23:44-45).  Jesus dies (Luke 23:46).  Pilate releases the body of Jesus to Joseph who buries Him (Luke 23:50-56).
  4. John – After His arrest, Jesus is led before the Jewish rulers who question Him (John 18:12-14).  The Jews condemn Jesus and send Him before Pilate (John 18:28-32).  Pilate questions Jesus and releases Barabbas instead of Jesus (John 18:33-40).  Pilate has Jesus flogged (John 19:1) and the Romans mock Him (John 19:2-5) and the Jews join in with this mockery (John 19:6-16).  Jesus is taken and crucified (John 19:17-27).  Jesus finally dies after hanging on the cross for several hours (John 19:28-30).  Pilate orders the legs to be broken of those on the cross which would ensure their death by suffocation (John 19:31-33).  A soldier sees Jesus is dead and to make sure he pierces Jesus’ side (John 19:34).  This likely pierced the sack around Jesus’ heart and revealed that He was dead.  Jesus is buried by Joseph in his own tomb (John 19:38-42).

All four Gospels reveal that Jesus is dead.  People have often come up with various theories about the death of Jesus and most are still with us this day.  For example, many Muslims believe the Gnostic theory that Jesus did not die on the cross but it was made to seem that way and many Muslims believe that Judas and not Jesus died on the cross but God made Judas to appear to look like Jesus.  This theory is simply false without any historical basis.  All four Gospels record that it was Jesus who died on the cross.  Even unbelieving historians acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross.  It is the resurrection they doubt.

Others teach the “swoon theory” in which Jesus merely passes out.  I like the reply J. Vernon McGee gave to a woman about the swoon theory:

A woman wrote J. Vernon McGee, “Our preacher said that on Easter Jesus just swooned on the cross, and the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think?”

McGee replied, “Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip for thirty-nine heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then see what happens.”

To be fair.  Jesus was not embalmed.  Instead, probably about 75 pounds of spices were wrapped with His body to prevent smelling during the decay process (John 19:39-40).  Yet still Jesus suffered much and for Him to rise up, take off the 75 pounds, roll away the stone, fight off the Roman guards placed there by Pilate himself, and be clean and in good health when He appears to the women on Sunday morning is a feat unto itself.

The truth is that the Gospels record the death of Jesus.  Some suppose He remains dead.  I believe with all that is in me that Jesus rose from the dead and He now sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I believe that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 9:28).  I believe that Jesus has conquered death by His resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).  I believe that Jesus arose bodily from the dead and He is alive forevermore (Revelation 1:17-18).

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/25/2016 at 12:13 PM

One Response

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  1. Amen! Thanks for writing, it’s been a help to prepare me for celebrating this coming Sunday. Have a great weekend and may you guys be blessed.

    Gene Brode, Jr.

    03/25/2016 at 10:30 PM


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