Jesus and the Resurrection

Let’s face reality; it is not every day you hear a claim that someone rose from the dead!   We would rightfully doubt a claim that a person was raised from the dead, if it involved only mere men. Mankind doesn’t have the power to cause one to rise again. We would rightfully laugh or mock if a human claimed to have that power. But there was a man who walked this earth that was not just an ordinary man.  This man was not just fully human, but He was also fully God.  He made the world and everything in it.  He, who gives to all life and breath, became one of us in the person of Jesus Christ.  And the truth that He rose victoriously from the grave is the primary proof that the Apostle Paul uses in witnessing to the unbelievers in Acts 17 that Jesus Christ is not just an ordinary man, but rather that He is God, the One who will judge the world in righteousness.

The spiritual state of the people of Athens in Acts 17 is that they were very religious and very polytheistic.   Their lives were marked by idolatry and therefore they were ignorant of the one true God.   So how does Paul address their idolatry?  He preaches “to them Jesus and the resurrection.” (Acts 17:18).  The reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ confronts the idolater with the reality that Jesus is the true God.   To the ears of the philosophers of the city this was a strange and new doctrine.  This was a teaching that didn’t fit the description of any of their idols.

Ironically, the philosophers invited Paul to explain this new doctrine to them at a location that was called the Areopagus or Mars Hill.   The Areopagus was the supreme court of the city of Athens.   And it was on this hill that the Supreme Judge of the earth was going to be preached to them.   Paul, in response to their idolatry confronts them with the true and living God by proclaiming to them Jesus and the resurrection.

Now why did Paul preach to the people Jesus Christ and the resurrection?   First, Paul was addressing the idolatry and false teaching of the city. For example the Epicureans (vs. 18), believed that after death man just ceased to exist. None of the false gods of this city taught resurrection. Their gods were “like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising (vs. 29).   Their gods were like mere men and didn’t allow for a supernatural Creator. The resurrection confronted their false gods. Secondly, Paul wanted them to know and worship the true God.   The focus of his message is God.   And he used an object lesson of a city altar with the inscription:  “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” to proclaim to them, their Creator God whom they worshipped without knowing (vs. 23).  This leads to the conclusion of calling the false worshippers to repentance (vs. 30).   But why have repentance, if there is nothing after death?  Verse 31 gives us the answer, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”  After death is the judgment and that judgment is going to be done in righteousness, by the God-man, Jesus Christ.  The proof that Jesus is not just an ordinary man is that He rose from the grave.  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and He is Lord.

Without the resurrection,  the Christian’s faith is in vain!  But because of the resurrection the idolater’s faith is vain!   Preaching Jesus and the resurrection not only confronts idolatry, but it also gives hope to the idolater!  Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again and all those who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.   Praise God for those who believed (vs. 34) in Jesus and His resurrection. May we proclaim the same message in our communications today!
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