Christ-Following 101 Vol. 8 – 13

Two thousand years ago, in the Middle East, an event occurred that permanently changed the world. Because of that event, time and history were split into BC and AD. Every time you write a date, you’re using the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the focal point. Easter proved that Jesus was who he claimed to be. He was God in the flesh, and he came to earth to save us.

Jesus went through six trials. In that one night, he was brought before Annas, Caiphas (the high priest), the Sanhedrin (the religious Supreme Court), Pilate (the governor of Jerusalem), Herod (the governor of Galilee), and then back to Pilate. Finally they convicted him on one count: claiming to be the Son of God. It was all part of God’s plan.

Everyone who has ever been presented with Jesus has already made some kind of decision about who he is. You either believe he’s a liar, or you believe he’s a lunatic, or you believe he’s the Lord. It can’t just be, “I believe he was a good teacher.” He couldn’t be just a good teacher, because a good teacher would not say, “I’m God, and I’m the only way to heaven.” A good person would not say that unless it was the truth.

After a night of beatings and mocking, after being crowned with painful thorns, Jesus was crucified. Crucifixion is probably the most brutal and torturous death penalty ever devised by men. His hands were stretched out wide against the cross and nailed through the two bones in each wrist. As the nails went through this part of the flesh, they would strike the nerve that travels up the arm and cause excruciating pain.

If you hung this way for any period of time, the muscles around your chest cavity began to be paralyzed. You’d be able to breathe in but you couldn’t breathe out. Death on a cross would have been a simple matter of suffocation, except the Romans didn’t want to make it that easy. They’d take a person’s knees and bend them a little bit and nail the feet to the cross. So a man would hang there in absolute agony until the pain in his chest was about to explode, and then he would lift himself up on his nailed feet to grab a breath. When the pain in his feet grew unbearable, he’d let himself back down again, until the pain in his lungs became unbearable. It was an incredibly torturous event.
After Jesus died, they took his body down and put him in the tomb, and a giant millstone was set in front of the cave. The religious leaders, worried that Jesus’ body might be stolen, asked for Roman guards to be posted in front of the tomb. They didn’t want him coming out! But of course, he did.

You know the story. But it’s important to remember that Easter is not some memorial to a nice, good religious teacher who lived 2,000 years ago. It’s a celebration of the fact that he is alive today.

What’s your verdict? You see, Easter really boils down to only two issues. One, is Jesus who he says he is? Is he God? Or is he a lunatic or a liar? And two, if he is who he says he is, when are you going to start following what he says to do with your life?

Today, you sit in judgment of Jesus Christ. Just as Pilate asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?” you also must decide whether he was who he said or not. Are you willing to gamble your life that he was wrong?

Christ-Following 101 is written by Tim Rhodus, Lead Pastor of Cross Church, Carlinville-Staunton, thecrossmatters.org and timrhodus.com.