2016-07-27

The Story of How Jesus Conquered Death

By Max Lucado

In "His Name Is Jesus" author Max Lucado tells the resurrection story through excerpts of some of his well-known books such as "He Chose the Nails," "Come Thirsty," "Next Door Savior" and more.

 

Reluctant During Christ's Life

Reluctant during Christ’s life but courageous at his death, Joseph and Nicodemus came to serve Jesus. They came to bury him. They ascended the hill bearing the burial clothing. Pilate had given his permission. Joseph of Arimathea had given a tomb. Nicodemus had brought the spices and linens. John states that Nicodemus brought seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes. The amount is worth noting, for such a quantity of burial ointments was typically used only for kings.

Mary Magdalene at Jesus' Tomb

Mary had been there. She had heard the leaders clamor for Jesus’ blood. She had witnessed the Roman whip rip the skin off his back. She had winced as the thorns sliced his brow and wept at the weight of the cross.  In the Louvre there is a painting of the scene of the cross. In the painting the stars are dead and the world is wrapped in darkness. In the shadows there is a kneeling form. It is Mary. She is holding her hands and lips against the bleeding feet of the Christ.

We don’t know if Mary did that, but we know she could have. She was there. She was there to hold her arm around the shoulder of Mary the mother of Jesus. She was there to close his eyes. She was there.  So it’s not surprising that she wants to be there again. In the early morning mist she arises from her mat, takes her spices and aloes, and leaves her house, past the Gate of Gennath and up to the hillside. She anticipates a somber task. By now the body will be swollen. His face will be white. Death’s odor will be pungent. A gray sky gives way to gold as she walks up the narrow trail. As she rounds the final bend, she gasps. The rock in front of the grave is pushed back.

John Stayed Close By

Could there have been a greater tragedy for John than a dead Jesus? Three years earlier John had turned his back on his career and cast his lot with this Nazarene carpenter. Earlier in the week John had enjoyed a ticker-tape parade as Jesus and the disciples entered Jerusalem. Oh, how quickly things had turned! The people who had called him king on Sunday called for his death the following Friday. These linens were a tangible reminder that his friend and his future were wrapped in cloth and sealed behind a rock.

John didn’t know on that Friday what you and I now know. He didn’t know that Friday’s tragedy would be Sunday’s triumph. John would later confess that he “did not yet understand from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead” (John 20:9 NCV).

His Resurrected Body

Jesus appeared to the followers in a flesh-and-bone body: “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39 NASB). His resurrected body was a real body, real enough to walk on the road to Emmaus, to be mistaken for that of a gardener, to swallow fish at breakfast. In the same breath, Jesus’ real body was really different. The Emmaus disciples didn’t recognize him, and walls didn’t stop him. Mark tried to describe the new look and settled for “[Jesus] appeared in another form” (Mark 16:12 NKJV). While his body was the same, it was better; it was glorified. It was a heavenly body. And I can’t find the passage that says he shed it. He ascended in it.

“He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9 NASB). He will return in it. The angel told the followers, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11 NASB). ) The God-man is still both. The hands that blessed the bread of the boy now bless the prayers of the millions. And the mouth that commissions angels is the mouth that kissed children. ) You know what this means? The greatest force in the cosmos understands and intercedes for you. “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1 NASB).

Jesus' Burial

When Pilate learned that Jesus was dead, he asked the soldiers if they were certain. They were. Had they seen the Nazarene twitch, had they heard even one moan, they would have broken his legs to speed his end. But there was no need. The thrust of a spear removed all doubt. The Romans knew their job. And their job was finished. They pried loose the nails, lowered his body, and gave it to Joseph and Nicodemus.

Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus the Pharisee. They sat in seats of power and bore positions of influence. Men of means and men of clout. But they would’ve traded it all for one breath out of the body of Jesus. He had answered the prayer of their hearts, the prayer for the Messiah. As much as the soldiers wanted him dead, even more these men wanted him alive. As they sponged the blood from his beard, don’t you know they listened for his breath? As they wrapped the cloth around his hands, don’t you know they hoped for a pulse? Don’t you know they searched for life? But they didn’t find it.

So they do with him what they were expected to do with a dead man. They wrap his body in clean linen and place it in a tomb. Joseph’s tomb. Roman guards are stationed to guard the corpse. And a Roman seal is set on the rock of the tomb. For three days no one gets close to the grave.

And the Angels Were Silent

The idea that a virgin would be selected by God to bear himself...The notion that God would don a scalp and toes and two eyes...The thought that the King of the universe would sneeze and burp and get bit by mosquitoes...It’s too incredible. Too revolutionary. We would never create such a Savior. We aren’t that daring...In our wildest imaginings we wouldn’t conjure a king who becomes one of us.

But God did. God did what we wouldn’t dare dream. He did what we couldn’t imagine. He became a man so we could trust him. He became a sacrifice so we could know him. And he defeated death so we could follow him.

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