Who is Jesus? | Easter
Monday—He was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 1:4
“I love Jesus!” exclaimed Marni. “He was all about social justice. He and Gandhi are my favorite historical gurus.” Dax nodded. “Yeah, He probably existed, but I think it’s more about experiencing the Christ consciousness than revering the Man Himself.” Elenore smiled at them. “You’re both right. Personally, I pray to Him and lots of other great men and women of the past. It doesn’t really matter who people thought He was then, He’s the essence of whatever we want Him to be now.”
This narcissistic brilliance comes to us courtesy of 21st– century spiritualists who wouldn’t know the real Jesus if He gave them an autographed photo. But it’s easier to invent a “Jesus” than bow to the real one. So, was Elenore right? Does it matter who Jesus is, or is His existence defined by personal preference? C.S. Lewis answered that in his classic work Mere Christianity:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Final Thought: Who do you say Jesus is?
Prayer: Lord God, the most critical question in the universe is: Who is Jesus? There is only one right answer and it matters for all eternity that I accept that answer. He is the Son of God, crucified and risen. I choose Him for my Lord. In His name, amen.
Tuesday— He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25
“Guilty!” The gavel bangs and shock waves ripple through the courtroom. “You are sentenced to death by hanging,” says the judge. The verdict is just; you were caught red-handed. The worst decisions of your life were paraded across the big screen and there was no doubt you deserved death. But the judge is rising. Slipping out of his robe, he comes to stand beside you. “I’ll pay it,” he murmurs and holds out his hands for the cuffs. “The laws I uphold, you violated,” he says. “But I’ll die in your place.”
The Judge of all the earth has done that for us. Those are His laws we violated. We were caught red-handed and the just verdict is eternal damnation. But that same Judge slipped out of His royal robes and came to stand beside us. “I’ll pay it,” He said and held out his hands for the nails. The price for our sin was paid by the One we’ve offended. When we bow at the cross, His suffering is credited to our account, His righteousness considered our own. His resurrection will also be ours one day and heaven is a gift paid for in blood. God doesn’t force anyone to accept His offer, but only a fool would turn it down.
Final Thought: We accept God’s offer by surrendering our own agendas and receiving what Jesus has done for us.
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for paying the price I owe. I deserve your wrath and justice, but you sent your Son to take it in my place. I receive Him as my only Lord and my God. May my life from now on demonstrate my gratitude. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:21
“How could you rape babies! How could you lie, cheat, kill, and steal! How could you con the elderly and pervert my gift of sexuality! I cannot look at you!” Moral outrage poured like hot lava over the Man hanging between heaven and earth. His Father’s wrath tortured His soul as the nails tortured His body. For six hours the perfect Son of God who’d never had a hateful thought BECAME sin itself. Every vile, debased, violent act of humanity tortured His body and mind while His Father turned away. It had to be this way, the Perfect dying for the sinful. The sinful had no way to satisfy justice except dying forever in hell.
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” it wasn’t just His life He meant. He knew in three days, He would rise from the dead. “It is finished” meant that He’d paid in full the debt every human being owes God. God’s righteous wrath was satisfied so that every individual who comes to Him in faith and surrender can have our sin debt nailed to the cross. Then God takes Jesus’ perfection and credits it to us in a divine exchange. Jesus BECAME our sin so that we can BECOME His goodness. When we stand before the righteous Judge, He will ask for our rap sheets. Those who belong to Jesus have only one—His. The debt is paid.
Final Thought: Has your debt been cancelled by God or will you have to pay it yourself?
Prayer: Lord, search my heart. I want to know the truth about where I stand with you. It’s not enough for me to believe the historical facts; Satan knows those. Is Jesus Lord of my life and choices? I choose that now. Save me. In His name, amen.
Thursday— And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:17
“Sure, I think there was a guy named Jesus and He was crucified,” Curt said. “Learned that in history. But this rising from the dead stuff…I dunno. Sounds pretty far-fetched to me.” Bud nodded. “Yeah, I don’t think it matters one way or the other. Just believe in what Jesus taught and try to do your best. That’s all God wants, am I right?” Are they right? Does the resurrection matter? Can’t you be a Christian without believing in ALL of it, like the bodily resurrection of Jesus? Paul says no.
Dozens of leaders have come and gone. Many taught great ideas, led revolutions, and changed the world in some ways. But they all have one thing in common: they’re dead. They died and are still dead. None of them predicted his own resurrection and then proved it. The single fact that puts Jesus Christ in a separate category is His resurrection from the dead, witnessed by over 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6). If He had predicted a resurrection but failed to deliver, He could rightly be classified with other great thinkers and left in history. But His resurrection proved to even His disciples that He truly was God (John 20:24-31). And if He was truly God, then He had the authority to forgive sin on God’s behalf. He had the right to take our place on the cross and offer salvation and eternal life. No other leader comes close. Because He rose again, He can promise the same for us.
Final Thought: Are you convinced that God physically raised Jesus from the dead? If not, you have no hope of salvation.
Prayer: Father, thank you that I can call you that because of what Jesus did for me. Thank you for raising Him from the dead so I can have hope of eternal life with you. Thank you for making it clear who He is so I can believe. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies.” John 11:25
He’s an angel now…She’s watching over us…He was a mean old coot, but he’s in a better place now…We’ll see ‘em again…
People say a lot of things when someone they care about dies. If we ask them why they believe what they do about death, we often get blank stares and a stammering, “Well…that’s just what I think.” Then they launch into a fantasy about what they hope is true about life after death—most of it wishful thinking. Wouldn’t you prefer to have a solid foundation for your beliefs?
Jesus gave us one and told us exactly what to expect. Imagine being on a train with the rest of humanity. There are two destinations ahead: Heaven or Hell. You spend your time on the train fantasizing that it won’t stop at Hell. You create a fantasy about Heaven, but when the train pulls up at Heaven’s gate, the Conductor demands a ticket to get off. “A ticket?” you cry. “I thought this was all was free! Can I buy one? Bribe somebody? This isn’t like I imagined!” The Conductor smiles gently. “The tickets were free. I posted signs all around. You had to accept them before you got on the train. No one gets off at this stop without a ticket.” Jesus has already paid the ticket for us and when we receive it by faith, our place in heaven is secured. That ticket makes us friends with the Conductor. We don’t become angels, we don’t “watch over” earthlings, and no one gets into heaven without a ticket paid for by the blood of Jesus. If He is our Lord and Savior, that means we have a ticket waiting for us. But if we tried to craft our own tickets, we have none the Conductor will accept and the train continues to its next stop.
Final Thought: Your ticket into God’s presence was paid for by His Son. There is no other way in.
Prayer: Jesus, I’ve been guilty of saying some of those dumb things about death. I’m ready to educate myself on the truth of what your word says. Thank you for buying me a ticket into heaven. Help me tell other people how to get one. Amen.