Christ’s Death and Resurrection: The Cornerstone of Our Faith
Scripture tells us that the foundation of Christianity rests in Christ’s death and resurrection:
And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! (1 Corinthians 15:14–17).
The good news it that Jesus did die and rise again—and because of this, we know that there is truly life beyond the grave!
The originator of a new religion came to the French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perlgord and complained that he could not make any converts. “What would you suggest I do?” he asked. “I should recommend,” said Talleyrand, “that you get yourself crucified, and then die, but be sure to rise again the third day.”
Christ’s crucifixion is humankind at its worst.
As the incredible story of the Crucifixion begins, we find that people had treated Jesus—God in human form—in the worst way possible:
- When the One by whom the world was made set foot on this earth, “the world did not know Him” (John 1:10).
- The eyes that sin had blinded saw no beauty in Jesus that He should be desired (Isaiah 53:2).
- At His birth, there was no room in the inn, which foreshadowed the treatment He was to receive at the hands of men (Luke 2:7).
- Shortly after His birth and throughout His ministry, His enemies tried to do away with Him, but “His hour had not come” (Matthew 2:13).
Christ’s crucifixion is the ultimate sacrifice.
Finally, the hour of Christ’s death had come (John 12:23). Jesus had earlier told His disciples, “No one takes [My Life] from Me, but I lay it down of Myself” (John 10:18).
Jesus’ road to Calvary began with a decision in Gethsemane. While Jesus briefly displayed His power to His enemies in the Garden of Gethsemane (see John 18:5), He chose to lay aside His divine privilege and willingly go to His death. In this way, He demonstrated His great love for us (John 15:13).
The crucifixion of Christ
Upon His arrest, Jesus was brought to the High Priest, then passed over to Pilate, then sent to Herod, and then returned to Pilate. Because of the unique charges brought against Jesus, He had become a political problem for the ruling government. In spite of being declared innocent of all the charges brought against Him, He was still blindfolded, ridiculed, and beaten, enduring the cruel scourging of the Roman whip. Ultimately, He was sentenced to death on a Roman cross.
The actual act of crucifixion was incredibly barbaric and torturous. Crucifixion was not simply a means of execution, but also an instrument of incredible pain, anguish, and humiliation. This method of execution fulfilled a number of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah, or Savior of the Jews:
- The Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22:16).
- The Messiah would have wounds on His hands (Zechariah 13:6).
- The Messiah would become a “curse” for us by being “hung on a tree” (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13).
In the Old Covenant, an animal would act as a scapegoat for the atonement of the people’s sins, but it failed to get to the root of the problem. Jesus—the perfect, sinless Son of God—became the final atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2).
Though Jesus was God, He was still human with human emotions. He clearly had the ability to feel real physical pain. Interestingly, when Jesus was offered the “sour wine mixed with gall” to drink in order to numb the pain, He refused it (Matthew 27:34). Earlier in the Garden of Gethsemane, He had contemplated a way to lessen the suffering: “Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done'”(Matthew 26:42).
Jesus chose to experience the full extent of His pain for us. In his article, “The Crucifixion of Jesus: The Passion of Christ from a Medical Point of View,” Dr. Truman Davis gives this description of Jesus during His final hours on the cross: “He experiences hours of limitless pain, cycles of joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins—a deep crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. It is now almost over…the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues. The tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air” (Arizona Medicine, Vol. 22, March 1965, pp. 183–187).