It’s not enough for Jesus to be the greatest leader of all time if you’re left behind. Yes, Jesus is the central figure of the human race, the mightiest war hero and the most highly honored veteran of all time, the only survivor in the war against death itself. Jesus’ death and resurrection marked the beginning point of a whole new era in the history of our universe. He is the inspiration to the forces of love and the standard par excellence of all gentleness and humility.
Upon Jesus have focused the sharpest criticism, the bitterest resentment, the most passionate controversy, as well as the most scholarly research, leaving some of the world’s foremost authorities of every discipline among his allies. But this is all insignificant if you’re left behind. Though Jesus fills the universe he is patiently looking for you and wants to hear from you. He wants to be in charge of your life. Just call out to him now: “Jesus, take charge of my life!”
The Good News in a nutshell is this: 1) Because of our sins we are hopelessly lost, 2) Jesus died on the cross for our sins, 3) Because of Jesus’ death for us we are forgiven and have the free gift of eternal life. There is no better news on Earth than this!
This Good News of salvation and eternal life is the most important news you will ever hear. I am so glad someone told me the Good News. There is no greater treasure to be discovered on Earth. In Jesus we have both forgiveness and eternal life. You could own the whole Earth but still not have forgiveness and eternal life. Yet even though you own no earthly possession, with Jesus you have much more than all the Earth put together. This is Good News!
We human beings are determined to do everything for ourselves. From infancy we want to do things by ourselves and for ourselves. By the time we are grown-ups we are deeply set into a stubborn independence. We want everyone to know that we are adequate, that we are capable, and that we are sufficient to make it through life all on our own. Imagine how hard it must be for God to get our attention when we’re so sure we don’t need him. That’s why Jesus was sent to invade planet Earth and to upset our self-sufficiency.
When Jesus came to planet Earth he was invading enemy territory. Earth had fallen into the hands of Satan, God’s enemy. Jesus was chosen for a mission to the heart of Satan’s enemy kingdom. Jesus appeared in the form of an earthly human being yet he was fully God in both essence and in nature.
Jesus’ task was to grant to everyone a change of citizenship from Earth to his Heavenly kingdom. Multitudes of people realized who Jesus was and took him up on his offer. They canceled their loyalty and allegiance to Satan. They began severing their earthly ties in preparation for going home to the Heavenly kingdom with Jesus, their new Commander-in-Chief. This made Satan furious. Satan feared that everyone might follow Jesus as their Heavenly Commander-in-Chief.
From the beginning of time Satan knew of God’s plan to send Jesus to Earth to plunder his kingdom. Satan launched a series of counter-measures to protect his kingdom. One of Satan’s counter-measures was to destroy Jesus’ life as an infant. Wicked men had been sent to kill all male children in the land where Jesus had been born. Jesus’ earthly father was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt. As soon as those wicked people were dead Jesus’ parents returned to their homeland. Jesus was protected and God’s plan progressed.
There were many incidents in Jesus’ life when he was threatened with harm and loss. Jesus lived a life of much suffering on Earth. Satan used the people of Jesus’ day to attack Jesus’ life, his reputation, his credibility, and his mission of love for the people. Satan even offered Jesus his whole earthly kingdom if Jesus would only bow down and worship him. But Jesus held true to his mission. He was neither side-tracked by temptation nor overcome by his many sufferings.
When the right time came God allowed Satan to deal the ultimate blow against Jesus – the death blow. Satan used many wicked people to bring lies against Jesus. Judas the traitor was one of Jesus’ own disciples who sold Jesus into the hands of the liars and murderers. They couldn’t see his Heavenly kingdom, so they ridiculed him as though he were a phony. In mockery they put a king’s purple robe on him. They stood back and slapped him, while they laughed. They put a crown made of thorns on his head, and they laughed some more. Then they whipped him with whips interlaced with fragments of metal and they spat on him. Jesus’ earthly life ended after a few hours hanging on a shameful cross to which he had been nailed like a criminal. What Satan did not know was that this too was part of God’s plan to destroy his kingdom.
In our place
When Jesus died on the cross his pure life was given in exchange for ours. Jesus’ pure, sinless life was destroyed under a death penalty that was reserved for wretched criminals. This was part of God’s plan to allow Jesus to die in our place. We were the ones who had done crimes against God. Jesus had done no crimes, neither against God nor against mankind. Jesus allowed himself to be treated as a criminal in order to take the death penalty that we deserve.
While Jesus was hanging on the cross a most significant transaction took place between Heaven and Earth. Jesus took upon himself the sins of the whole world, the sins of every one of us. There Jesus hung, bleeding and dying a death he did not deserve. Jesus could have commanded an army of angels to come and rescue him, but he didn’t. Jesus did not save himself because he knew that in saving himself we would have to die for our own sins. Jesus took our plight to heart and gave up his life for us. Jesus’ dying on the cross for us has become the greatest act of love of all history. There is simply no other chapter in all of history where a greater love has been demonstrated. God in the form of Jesus, almighty, all-holy, all-knowing, and everywhere present died for his people who had gone astray. This is love in its highest form.
Jesus was forsaken
During Jesus’ last moments, hanging on the cross, he called out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It was at this moment Jesus realized that God the Father in Heaven had forsaken him, which means he had turned his face away from him. But why?
Why would God in Heaven turn his face from Jesus? God turned his face at that moment when Jesus became sin. God cannot tolerate sin, so he looked away. That left Jesus hanging there on the cross, facing death, totally alone and totally rejected. Rejection is one of our greatest fears. Imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to have been rejected, not only by men, but also by God, the Father, for sin and wickedness that he had not committed. We simply cannot comprehend the greatness of God’s love for us. All we can do is tell him: “Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life.” This is the Good News! #
The ladies who had loved and helped Jesus went early Resday (a.k.a. Sunday) morning to pay their respects and place spices at his grave. Jesus’ grave had been hewn out of the side of a hill of rock and a huge stone had been fashioned to serve as a door.
As the ladies were arriving at the grave, to their great astonishment, the Earth began to shake, the stone was rolled to the side and upon it sat an angel from Heaven whose appearance resembled both lightning and blinding snow. The angel spoke to the ladies:
Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus who died on the cross, but he is no longer in his grave. He has come back to life from the dead. Come, see where his body had been laid. Now go quickly and tell his followers that he is risen from the dead. Tell them also that he will be meeting with them in Galilee.
The ladies were very glad and very afraid at the same time. They ran quickly to spread the Good News.
It is reported that Jesus met with 500 people after his resurrection, that is, after coming back from death to life. He showed himself to them and proved to them that he was really real. Jesus’ friend and follower, Thomas, doubted that he was genuinely alive, so Jesus urged him to feel the sword wound in his side and the nail scars in his hands. Only then was Thomas persuaded.
Jesus met others of his followers as they walked home one evening. Initially they didn’t recognize it was Jesus, but offered him shelter and accommodations for the night. At the supper table Jesus opened the eyes of his friend’s spiritual understanding so that they could see him for who he really was.
Then he instructed his followers about receiving God’s power, the Holy Spirit, which would be provided to strengthen them so that they could STAND FIRM in the face of unimaginable opposition.
Jesus told his followers to go everywhere telling everyone the Good News, and that he would return. Jesus promised to take everyone with him back to Heaven who would depend on him for deliverance from sin and death. #
[Article from a Jesus newspaper, 2nd edition, 1992 A.D. (revised 2003 A.D.)]