The climax of Jesus’ life occurs with His Passion—Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and resurrection. All four Gospels of the New Testament describe this world changing event. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the heart of the Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15) and the entire truth of the Christian faith rests on Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24:6–7; 1 Corinthians 15:12–58). The resurrection of Jesus from complete death is the unique and central fact of Christian history. Without the resurrection, there would be no Christian church today. The Christian church is built entirely on the resurrection.
The entire New Testament bears witness to the personal and bodily resurrection of Jesus from complete death. The New Testament Scriptures unanimously depict the resurrection of Jesus from the dead by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The four Gospels contain a detailed narrative of evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, focusing on the empty tomb and resurrection appearances (Matthew 28:1–20; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–53; John 20:1–21:25). Furthermore, the Book of Acts is the story of the apostles’ proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1:3; 2:24–35; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30–32; 13:33–37). The Epistles state that Jesus is living and reigning in heaven as Savior and exalted head of the church. The Book of Revelation repeatedly shows the resurrected Jesus as reigning in heaven with God the Father and the heavenly hosts.
Moreover, the empty tomb confirms and verifies Jesus’ resurrection. After His resurrection from complete death, Jesus appeared to many people over a forty-day period (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20–21; Acts 1:3) in Jerusalem, Galilee, and the Mount of Olives. Jesus made physical and bodily appearances to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11–17); several other women (Matthew 28:9–10); to Peter (1 Corinthians 15:5); to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35); to the ten disciples (Luke 24:36–43); to the eleven disciples (John 20:26–29); to seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1–23); to more than five hundred (1 Corinthians 15:6); to the eleven remaining disciples at His ascension to heaven (Matthew 28:16–20); and to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8). Essentially, everyone who saw the risen Jesus went on to turn the world upside down and change history.
Jesus experienced a physical, bodily resurrection from complete death (John 20:20). His body was identified as the same one laid in the tomb (John 20:25–29). Jesus had a physical body that could be touched and handled after His resurrection (e.g., Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:30). The resurrected Jesus proved that He was indeed alive and no evidence has every contradicted His resurrection. Jesus body has never been located!
Jesus rose from the dead as the “first fruits” (1 Corinthians 15:20–23) of a new kind of human life, a life in which the body was made perfect, no longer subject to weakness, aging, or death, but able to live eternally. His resurrection involved all three persons of the Godhead (John 10:17–18; Acts 13:30–35; Romans 1:4). Jesus’ resurrection transformed His humanity to enable Him to appear, vanish, and move unseen from one location to another (Luke 24:31, 36). Jesus’ body was now fully glorified and deathless (Philippians 3:21; Hebrews 7:16, 24).
Jesus’ death and resurrection occurred in Jerusalem around AD 30 or 33. He arrived in Jerusalem one week before Passover, a festival celebrating the Jews’ deliverance from Egypt and the high point of the Jewish’ calendar (Mark 14:1). This trip was Jesus’ third Passover visit to Jerusalem. As He approached Jerusalem for the last time, when Jesus made His triumphal entry, He was recognized as the King coming in the Name of the Lord (Matthew 21:1–11; Mark 11:1–10; Luke 19:29–44; John 12:12–19).
During the week leading up to Passover, Jesus cleansed the Temple of moneychangers and merchants (Matthew 21:12–16; Mark 11:12–18; Luke 19:45–47; John 2:13–16), cursed the fig tree for being unfruitful (Matthew 21:19–22; Mark 11:20–26), and taught the people on the Mount of Olives about the coming judgment. In addition, Jesus debated with the Jewish leaders regarding the correct interpretation of the Old Testament Law. On the night in which Jesus was betrayed and arrested, He introduced the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:17–30; Mark 14:12–26; Luke 22:7–23). The Lord’s Supper (also called the Communion, Mass, or Eucharist) refers to the New Covenant as being sealed by His sacrificial blood on the Cross (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18; 1 Corinthians 11:26). At this Supper, Jesus predicted His betrayal by Judas, His desertion by all of them, and the giving of His body and blood for the forgiveness of humankind.
Afterwards, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by Roman officers and Temple guards (Matthew 26:47–56; Mark 14:43–52; Luke 47–50; John 18:3–11). After His arrest, and before His death, Jesus had four “trials”—a meeting with Annas (John 18:12-13), then with the Sanhedrin, a trial before Pontius Pilate, and a meeting with Herod Antipas (Luke 23:7–12). At His trial, His accusers made many false charges. Although Pontius Pilate knew that Jesus was an innocent Man, because of the demands of the Jewish crowd, he sentenced Him to death by crucifixion.
In the New Testament, atonement refers specifically to the reconciliation between God and humanity as a result of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:19–21). The focal point of God’s atoning work and the heart of the Gospel is Jesus’ death on the Cross at Calvary and His shedding of blood for humanity. God the Father, through His Son Jesus, entered our world to die and pay the penalty for all human sins. The Apostle Paul wrote, “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). Jesus paid the penalty that we deserved to pay for our sin. In essences, Jesus bore God’s wrath on the Cross for the sin of all humanity. Through faith in Him, Jesus takes away our clothes of sin and replaces them with God’s righteousness (Zechariah 3:1–10; Ephesians 4:24; 1 John 1:9). A person is made right and reconciled to God through faith in Jesus’ atonement for sin on the Cross (Romans 3:21–23).
Because Jesus shed His own blood for humanity, His sacrifice is greater than any Old Testament offering (Hebrews 10:5–10). Through His own death, Jesus cast aside the Old Testament ceremonial system of sacrifices that involved shedding and offering the blood of unflawed animals. The ceremonial law of the Old Testament prepared people for Jesus’ coming. There was no longer a need for that ceremonial system after Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, Jesus did not eliminate God’s moral law (e.g., the Ten Commandments).
The New Testament regularly refers to the perfect blood sacrifice of Jesus for human sin (e.g., Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 1:5). As the perfect sacrifice for sin (Romans 8:3; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 1:18–19), Jesus’ death was our redemption that paid the price to free humanity from the enslavement to sin and God’s wrath against sinners (Romans 3:24; Galatians 4:4–5; Colossians 1:14). Jesus’ death was God’s act of reconciling us to Himself, and sweeping away His own hostility to us that our sins provoked (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians. 5:18–19; Colossians 1:20–22). Essentially, Jesus’ death on the Cross propitiated God (e.g., quenched His wrath against our sins and removed our sins from His sight).
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was identified as the Old Testament Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). John the Baptist expressly proclaimed Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” which takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus lived a perfect, sinless human life in full obedience to God. Thus, Jesus was the sinless, spotless Lamb of God or the Passover Lamb (Exodus 29:38–46; Isaiah 53:7; John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32–35; Revelation 5:5–14) without any defects or sin (Exodus 12:5; Hebrews 4:14–16; Hebrews 7:26–28; l Peter 1:19). As the perfect and sinless lamb, Jesus voluntarily sacrificed His life on the Cross to atone for humanities’ sin (Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24) and create a new way to God (Hebrews 10:20). Jesus voluntarily bore upon Himself all the sins of those who would one day be saved (Isaiah 53:12). It is because of Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice on the Cross that humanity can have Jesus’ sinless life counted for their own through faith in His work (Romans 3; Romans 5:19).
The purpose of Jesus’ coming was to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Jesus came into the world to save people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). In fact, Jesus saved humanity of sins both through the obedient life that He lived for God and through His death on the Cross. Jesus’ death on the Cross absorbed, soaked, and quenched sin and God’s wrath against sin. On the Cross, Jesus took our place for our sins and He bore the curse due to humanity (Galatians 3:13). Through His death, Jesus made peace for us with God (Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20). In this context, peace means a pardon for all the past, present, and future sins through faith in Jesus’ work on the Cross reconciles or unites us to God through faith in Jesus’ work (Romans 5:1–11).
Jesus died the most humiliating death imaginable. On the Cross, Jesus suffered four kinds of extreme pain: (1) physical pain and death by crucifixion (one of the most horrible forms of execution ever devised by mankind); (2) the pain of bearing the evil and sins of humankind; (3) God and His disciples’ abandonment (Mark 14:34; Matthew 26:56; Matthew 27:46); (4) bearing the WRATH of God on the Cross at Calvary, Jesus was stretched out and fastened by nails and His arms supported most of the weight of His body. Even more, with His chest cavity pulled upward and outward, breathing was grueling. He forcibly endured a slow death by suffocation, brought on by the weight of His own body. The crucifixion of Jesus portrays Him as the Righteous Suffering Servant of the Lord as predicted by the Prophet Isaiah of the Old Testament (see Isaiah 52:13–53:12). At Jesus’ death, the Roman officer cried out, “Surely this Man was innocent” (Luke 23:47). Nonetheless, Jesus died this horrific death to save humans from their sins and separation from God (Matthew 1:21).
Jesus’ death was as the perfect Man and the perfect offering. He gave all of Himself to God and others so humans could have fellowship, peace, and reconciliation with God—both now and for all eternity. Because of Jesus’ death, our sins have been completely forgiven and fellowship with God restored. Because of Jesus’ final sacrifice on the Cross, there is no longer a need for animal sacrifice, as previously practiced in Old Testament times and many Middle Eastern cultures. Now, all people can be freed from the penalty and consequences of sin by simply believing (faith) in Jesus and accepting fully His atoning sacrifice on the Cross. There is no other path to salvation from God’s wrath against sin than faith in Jesus’ life and atoning death (Acts 4:12).
The death of Jesus made these Old Testament sacrifices unnecessary. On the Cross, Jesus became a substitute for and the salvation of sinful and guilty humans so that we would be spared the punishment our sins deserved (Hebrews 10:1–14). The blood of Jesus brings atonement (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20) and obtains eternal redemption for believers (Hebrews 9:12). Jesus as God’s Lamb reconciles believers to God (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:14). Jesus paid the debt that our sins deserved (expiation) and in doing so, He satisfied God’s judgment against us and our sins (propitiation). Thus, Jesus’ death on the Cross was as our substitute or in our place. This simply means that Jesus died in the place of and for the benefit of sinners (2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 3:18). Even more, Jesus’ death on the Cross reconciles or merges people to God and we are no longer alienated from Him (2 Corinthians 5:19). In essence, through faith in Jesus and His atoning work, a former state of hostility and estrangement from God changes into one of becoming a member of God’s family.
As holy, God hates all sin. The atoning death of Jesus propitiated (appeased or satisfied) God and His wrath against our sins (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2). Because Jesus died on the Cross as an atonement for our sin, God is satisfied forever because He is propitiated (appeased or calmed down) by the death of Jesus. With the sacrifice of Jesus, God is completely satisfied and His wrath against our sins, as a believer of Jesus, is taken away or averted.
Even more, the death of Jesus takes away from believers the reigning power of our sinful nature (Romans 6:1–10). The Apostle Paul teaches that our wholehearted love, faith, and union with Jesus takes away our sins and makes sin effective in our lives. The blood (death) of Christ is the basis of our constant cleansing from sin (1 John 1:7). The once-for-all death of Jesus provides constant and continually cleansing of our sins as believers by our confession.
Moreover, Jesus’ atoning death provides redemption to believers (Romans 3:24), reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:19–21), forgiveness (Romans 3:25), deliverance (Colossians 1:13), acceptance (Ephesians 1:6), future glorification (Romans 8:30), and justification (Isaiah 53:11; Romans 3:24). Anyone can accept all these benefits simply by accepting through faith Jesus’ life and atoning death on the Cross as our Lord and Savior (see Romans 10:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21). A person’s evil and sin is removed forever through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 4:22–24).
When we trust in Jesus, we make a great exchange—Jesus trades His righteousness for our sins. In other words, Jesus became the offering for our sin (or sin itself; see Isaiah 53:10) on the Cross—when He took sin’s penalty on Himself and died. Our sins were poured into Jesus at His crucifixion. Although He never sinned, Jesus made this exchange (John 8:46; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5), so that we would be made right and thus be accepted by God (see Galatians 3:13). Consequently, with faith in Jesus’ work on the Cross, Jesus’ righteousness pours into us humans. This great exchange is what is regarded as Jesus’ atonement for our sin.
Jesus’ atoning death confirmed the beginning of the New Covenant. The Old Testament spoke of a New Covenant where people would know God and the Law of God would be written on their hearts (see Jeremiah 31:31–34; Ezekiel 37:1–14; 2 Corinthians 3:1–18). With His sacrificial death, Jesus established this New Covenant between God and those who respond in faith. With the arrival of Jesus and His death on the Cross, the Law of Moses, which formerly ruled over God’s people, has been left behind. Our new relationship with God stands separate from the Law of Moses and now in Jesus Christ, who perfectly obeyed the law (Matthew 5:17; John 1:17; Romans 6:14, 15; Romans 7:4–6; Romans 10:4; Hebrews 10:1). Jesus is the guarantor and mediator of this Covenant and our sacrifice of atonement (Romans 3:25). Through faith in the atonement of Jesus on the Cross, any person can have full acceptance, reconciliation, and fellowship with God (Romans 3:25; 2 Corinthians 5:19–21). All who come to Jesus in faith will find mercy (John 6:35, 47–51, 54–57; Romans 1:16; Romans 10:8–13).
On the eve of the Jewish Sabbath (Friday), outside the city of Jerusalem (John 19:20), Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world (Mark 10:45) at a place called Golgotha (Mark 15:22). He was crucified at 9:00 a.m. on Friday morning. By 12 noon, the Golgotha site in Jerusalem had turned completely dark. Jesus died at 3:00 p.m., hanging on the Cross at Golgotha between two thieves (Matthew 27:38). He gave up His life before the Jewish Sabbath arrived (Saturday), so there was no need to hasten His death by crurifragium (e.g., breaking His legs (John 19:31–34). With His sacrificial life and death, Jesus has been called “Man of Sorrows.”
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Jewish Council, requested (from the Roman government) the body of Jesus after He was crucified. Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43; John 19:38) on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath (Friday evening). That Friday, before dusk, Joseph gave Jesus a royal burial in the unused tomb (Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42). Jesus was in the tomb until Sunday morning. By Jewish calculation, three days and nights equals as follows: Friday to 6 p.m. = 1 day; Friday 6 p.m. = day 2; Saturday 6 p.m. to Sunday a.m. = day 3).
On the first day of the week, which was the third day and Sunday morning, the GREATEST miracle of the world occurred (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 1-12; John 20:1-10). God raised Jesus from complete death by the Holy Spirit. Discovered on Sunday morning, the empty tomb of Jesus was undeniable evidence of His resurrection from the dead. Jesus rose victorious from the dead, just as He had predicted. Jesus’ death and resurrection confirm that He is truly the Son of God and the Christ (Messiah). No other religious leaders had ever predicted their own death and resurrection.
Jesus’ enemies went to great lengths to prevent the news of the Resurrection. In reality, no real evidence has ever been found to refute the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus lives! He is the Risen Lord No evidence in history found the recovery of Jesus’ body! Jesus’ resurrection demonstrated His victory over death (Acts 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:54–57) and revealed His divine identity (Romans 1:4).
After Jesus’ resurrection, He was on earth for forty days (Acts 1:3). Then Jesus led His disciples to Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, and “lifting up His hands blessed them.” While He blessed them, He ascended from His disciples, and was carried up into heaven (Luke 24:50–51; see also Acts 1:9–11). Jesus did not suddenly disappear from His disciples; instead, He ascended into heaven and then a cloud (apparently the cloud of God’s glory or the Glory Cloud) took Him from their sight. However, the angels with the disciples at Jesus’ ascension also said that Jesus would come back in the same way in which He had gone into heaven (Acts 1:10-11).
When Jesus ascended into heaven, He received glory, honor, and authority (Acts 2:33; Philippians 2:1-9; Ephesians 1:20–21; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:4). Jesus is now in heaven at the right hand of God, the Father (Psalms 110:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 4:14–16; Revelation 5:12). Jesus reigns in heaven with God the Father, as our Great High Priest, interceding or mediating with God on the behalf of believers (Hebrews 4:14–16). Furthermore, Jesus is preparing a place in heaven for all true believers (John 14:2). This ascension into heaven with God the Father indicates the completion of Jesus’ work of human redemption. As promised during His public ministry (John 15:26; John 16:7), Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on the Church at Pentecost to spread His Good News of God’s saving love to the world (Matthew 28:18–20; John 21:1–25; Acts 2:33).
Jesus said, “I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14:62 (NLT). One day, Jesus will return to earth on the clouds of heaven (see Daniel 7:13) to judge the world (James 5:7–9; Revelation 20:11–13; see also Isaiah 26:21; Micah 1:3). Jesus will shine like a star in His full glory (see Luke 1:78; Ephesians 5:14; Revelation 2:28). No one knows except God the Father of Jesus’ second coming (Matthew 24:36). The time of Jesus’ return remains completely unknown and no dates can be determined from Revelation or any other book of the Bible. The return of Jesus will be the end of life on this world and the start of a new life (John 14:2–3). When Jesus returns to earth, the promises of God’s Kingdom will finally be complete. All of creation will also be rescued from the curse that started in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve disobeyed God (Genesis 3:17–18). Sorrow, tears, mourning, and death will no longer exist (Revelation 21:4–5).
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, the Apostle Paul describes Jesus’ second coming as taking the form of a descent from the sky, heralded by a trumpet fanfare, a shout, and the voice of the archangel. Jesus will raise His followers to a resurrection and life like His own (1 Corinthians 15:20–23; Philippians 3:20–21). His followers who are alive at His second coming will be instantly transformed (1 Corinthians 15:50–54), while those who had already died will experience a glorious recreation (2 Corinthians 5:1–5).
Until Jesus returns, the Holy Scriptures instruct all believers to endure (James 1:4), resist evil (James 4:7), continually pray (Matthew 6:10; Revelation 22:20), remain faithful to God (James 5:13–17), and wait patiently for Jesus’ return (James 5:7–8). Jesus instructed His followers not to speculate as to the dates for His second coming (Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7), but they should live honorably (1 John 2:28) and be prepared (Matthews 24:36–25:30). At Jesus’ second coming, all true believers will receive the crown of eternal life (James 1:12).
After Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus made a number of appearances to different people. Jesus appeared to:
(1) Mary Magdalene and some other women at the tomb on Sunday morning (Matthew 28:8–10; Mark 16:9–11; John 20:11–18);
(2) Peter in Jerusalem on Sunday (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5);
(3) Disciples on the Emmaus Road on Sunday (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13–35);
(4) Disciples in Jerusalem, except Thomas, in the upper room on Sunday (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36–43; John 20:19–25);
(5) Disciples in Jerusalem, including Thomas, on the next Sunday night (John 20:26–31; 1 Corinthians 15:5);
(6) Disciples beside the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1–25);
(7) 500 people at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6);
(8) James, the brother of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:7);
(9) The disciples who witnessed the ascension of Jesus to heaven (Matthew 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–19; Luke 24:44–53; Acts 1:3–12).
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