Lord, we believe in Your resurrection.
Read ACTS 2:22–28
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[a] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’[b]
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles’ (1 Cor 1:23).
Most Muslims do not accept that Jesus died on the cross. They think that God would have protected such a holy man from this humiliating death. Similarly, most Jews of Jesus’ day would never have believed that a genuine Messiah could end up hanging on a cross. We have become so familiar with Jesus’ death that we forget how shocking the message of a crucified Savior is. The Jews expected their Messiah to defeat their pagan enemies, not be killed by them! Jesus’ execution was a massive stumbling block to be overcome before they could accept Christ. This is why Peter’s message stresses that Jesus’ death was no mistake but part of ‘God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge’ (23).
Yet, if all that Peter has to offer is the belief that the crucifixion was God’s plan, he would have persuaded very few. As Tom Wright points out, other would-be Messiahs have died in similar ways, both before and after Christ, yet no one continued to follow them afterwards. Instead, their deaths are seen as indications that they were not the genuine Messiah after all (http://ntwrightpage.com/2016/07/12/jesus-resurrection-and-christian-origins/). Peter needs something remarkable to get the Jews over this stumbling block. Therefore, he does not leave his argument with the crucifixion but continues it by saying: ‘But God raised Him from the dead’ (24).
Belief in the resurrection can be difficult for many in our secular age. Indeed, a BBC poll suggested that even some who classify themselves as Christians do not believe in it. However, as Paul says, ‘if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith’ (1 Cor 15:14). The resurrection is not an optional belief and neither is it a foolish one, for there is nothing else that convincingly explains why so many people gave up everything to follow a crucified Messiah.
‘The resurrection is just a fairy tale.’ How would you answer this statement? What reasons would you give for believing in the resurrection?
Father, we thank You for giving us the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, according to Your good pleasure.