Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” (Acts 2.22-24).
Most will recognize that the words quoted (above) are the beginning of the first Gospel Sermon ever delivered. Inasmuch as it is the first of such sermons, it contains the essence of the Gospel message. One truth which cannot be eliminated from the gospel and yet maintain any integrity is the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is why Peter started with such an affirmation and that is why believers must confess that they believe that Jesus Christ is (present tense) the Son of God. Without the resurrection, the Gospel message is hollow and has little to distinguish it from any other “be kind to your neighbor” religion.
God raised up Jesus. The Father approved of Jesus' life and work as evidenced by the miracles that were done through His hands. He healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, stopped storms, multiplied loaves and fishes, and performed hundreds of other unnamed signs and wonders. But the final miracle, the coup de grấs of all miracles, was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Witnesses standing in the audience to whom Peter was speaking had seen His lifeless and beaten body placed in a tomb surrounded by Roman soldiers. These same witnesses had later seen Him walk, talk, eat, and function absolutely unimpaired by the trauma that He had endured. If there had been a valid objection to the claim of His resurrection, this would have been the perfect time and place to have raised it.
God loosed the pains of death. This expression is filled with meaning which we can only begin to explore here. The pains of death as spoken of here stand in contrast to the loosing that God performed. The pains of death are permanent, the Gordian Knot if you will, of human existence. Man can stretch the years of his existence, but it is not elastic which cannot be broken. No matter how we try, we cannot discover a formula for eternal youth and vitality because our nature is mortal. God loosed those bands regarding the mortal body of Jesus Christ and in prospect loosed them for all who believe in Jesus according to the Scripture.
It was impossible for Jesus to be held by death. This is a remarkable statement. From a human perspective, we think the resurrection of Jesus is a thing to be marveled at – and it truly is. However, from the Divine perspective, it would have been a marvel had Jesus not come forth from the grave! A few months earlier, Jesus stood before the recently occupied tomb of His friend Lazarus and called for the dead to come forth. Lazarus came forth! We call it a miracle because it was. However, given the circumstances of that day, it was absolutely impossible for that grave to have remained occupied! The same is true, and if possible even to a greater degree, concerning the borrowed tomb of Jesus. Scores of inspired prophecies, an entire system of Divine forgiveness, and all eternity hinged on the fact that the tomb could not hold His body. It was impossible for Jesus to he held by death.
The operative force in all of this was God. God raised Jesus. God loosed the pains of death. God broke the bonds that otherwise hold mortal men captive in their long home. Glory and honor belong to Him!
1. Was Jesus a man? Was He merely a man? Explain.
2. Regarding Jesus, who or what acted to ensure that He did not remain in the tomb?
3. Why was it important that Jesus not be held by the pains of death and that He come forth from the grave without signs of bodily corruption/decomposition?
4. Think and answer carefully. What/who could have kept Jesus in the tomb?
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