All the great religious leaders of history have one thing in common: they are dead. Only one man has risen from a grave never again to taste death. Jesus Christ died, was buried, remained in the grave for 3 days, then was raised to life again.
Jesus is unique. He is the only one proven to be the Son of God because God validated His Kingship and accepted His payment for our sins all with one incredible stroke: He raised Jesus from the dead!
Paul opens his letter to the Romans with this evidence about who Jesus is:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which He had promised before by His prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Romans 1:1-4
Because Jesus Christ is very much alive, five things are true right now that wouldn’t be true if He were just another dead religious leader like Confucius, Mohammed or Buddha.
Because Jesus was raised from the dead and is alive…
1. Jesus’ Persecution Continues
It’s impossible to persecute a dead man—he’s beyond your reach! But Jesus continues to be persecuted to this day. The Bible is clear on this point.
After His death and resurrection, in Acts chapter 3 a miracle occurred right at the door of the Temple. When a lame man was healed and could walk again, the religious establishment was angry. Just in case they missed the point, Peter and John made sure everyone knew Jesus was responsible for it.
Peter…answered… “why marvel ye at this…as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?” (3:12)
Peter says “God has raised [him—Jesus] from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (v. 15). Continuing, Peter’s words cut like saber when he told them this miracle occurred “through faith in His name” (v. 16). Jesus, the one the religious crowd had put to death, had healed the lame man.
Peter says, “This miracle happened because we prayed for the lame man in Jesus’ name, and through the power of His name—the one you put to death, by the way—this man can walk again. God proved Jesus is the Son of God by raising Him from the dead—a fact we are all eyewitnesses to.”
Not surprisingly, the religious leaders’ reaction was to persecute the believers, and through them, persecute Jesus Himself.
…the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Acts 4:1-2
Remember, when Saul had been persecuting early believers, Jesus Himself appeared on the road to Damascus and confronted Saul. He asked point-blank, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”
Because Jesus Christ is alive, He is still being persecuted. The apostles received the brunt of it, but in the truest sense, it was the Lord Jesus being persecuted. When you persecute the church, you’re persecuting Jesus.
If you’re not being persecuted, I wouldn’t boast about it, for the Bible says “all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). If there’s no persecution, it’s not because the world has gotten more “churchy,” but the church has gotten more worldly.
2. Jesus’ Preaching Convinces
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed…about five thousand. (4:4)
How could uneducated fishermen preach, and 5,000 come to Christ? Because He lives. They weren’t depending on their power of oratory but a living Christ inside them.
3. Jesus’ Power Confronts
The religious hierarchy thought they were done with Jesus. At the Crucifixion they’d said, “If you’re the Son of God, come down from the cross.” They should have gone to the tomb and said, “If you’re the Son of God, come out.” Healing the lame man was the power of the living Christ returning once more to confront them.
The living Christ is still doing miracles. “Neither is there salvation in any other…” Not in Abraham, Moses, Buddha or Mohammed. “…for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (v. 12). Jesus is not “a good way” to heaven. Jesus is the only way to heaven.
4. Jesus’ Presence Compels
“And when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (4:13)
In the presence of Jesus Christ, something happens to you. His presence will compel you. Not long ago, this same Peter cursed, swore, and denied the Lord Jesus. But now, having seen the risen Lord, and Peter was compelled to speak boldly.
Today we need an epidemic of holy boldness—people unashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ—because they’ve been spending time in His presence.
5. Jesus’ People Confess
The leaders ordered Peter and John, “You can’t preach that stuff about a risen Lord.” (“…Let us straitly threaten them…” v. 14.) Why would they think they had to threaten Jesus’ followers? Because of the power of His message.
“But Peter and John answered…we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (v. 20). You might as well have told the sun not to shine. Why? Because they’d seen Him. A witness tells what he’s seen and heard. You couldn’t shut them up.
“And daily…and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (5:42). Here’s the way the early church worked:
Leaders: “You can’t do it.”
Disciples: “We’re going to do it.”
Leaders: “We forbid you.”
Disciples: “We’re still going to do it.”
Think about what that early church did—they had no print media, cell phones, radio, TV, sound systems or internet. No church buildings, email, or YouTube channels live-streaming their services. Yet they turned that early world upside down and inside out for Jesus Christ. They did so much with so little. We do so little with so much.
Because Jesus is alive, His persecution continues. Wear that persecution like a badge of honor. Because He is alive, His preaching convinces, His power confronts, and His presence compels.
Are you a Christian? There’s no reason for you to be intimidated. New Testament Christianity is supernatural. It cannot be explained and it must not be ignored, for Jesus Christ is alive.
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