“Tell How He Liveth Again”: What Leads Us to Believe That Christ Rose from the Dead?


By Wayne S. Walker

     I enjoy reading good biographies.  Of course, most biographical stories end with an account of the individual’s death.  However, while Jesus certainly died, as we noted in our previous article, the story of His life on earth ends a bit differently.  In 1880, Fanny J. Crosby wrote the famous gospel song which includes the lines, “Tell of the grave where they laid Him, Tell how He liveth again.”

“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.  But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.  Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.  Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”’  And they remembered His words” (Luke 24:1-8).

Several years before Fanny Crosby’s hymn, in 1834 Anne Richter had written another song that included a stanza about Christ’s resurrection.

We gazed not in the open tomb,
Where once Thy mangled body lay;
Nor saw Thee in that upper room,
Nor met Thee on the open way.
But we believe that angels said,
“Why seek the living with the dead?”

What evidence is there which would lead us to believe that Christ arose from the dead?

First, there is the empty tomb.  It was a new tomb in which no previously dead people had ever been laid (Matthew 27:57-60).  One theory to explain away the resurrection has the disciples mistaking the body of Jesus for some other corpse, but there simply could have been no confusion with other bodies.  It was hewn out of solid rock (Mark 15:42-46).  Another theory has Jesus swooning on the cross, reviving in the tomb, and exiting through a back door.  However, there was just no other way in or out.   The location was well known in that the women carefully observed where the tomb was so that they could come back and anoint the body (Luke 23:50-55).  Still another theory has the disciples mixed up as to where the actual tomb was and going to the wrong one, but they made sure that there was no mistaking where it was located.

A watch was set to guard the tomb and make sure nothing happened to the body (Matthew 27:62-66).  The predominant theory is that the disciples stole the body, but everything within the power of human beings was done to avoid the possibility of a stolen body.  Even Christ’s enemies admitted that the tomb was empty (Matthew 28:11-15).  Of course, the soldiers said that it happened while they were asleep, which is silly because no one can testify to what happened while he is asleep, and in fact they had to be bribed to tell such a self-damning story.   Thus, the empty tomb proclaimed the resurrection.  When Peter announced on Pentecost regarding Jesus, “Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:24), not one person arose, spoke up, and presented any evidence to the contrary.

The second line of evidence for the resurrection of Christ is the testimony of eyewitnesses.  In any court of law, eyewitness testimony is considered the best.  “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16; cf. 1 John 1:1-3).   The apostles claimed to be eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ.  Such testimony was one of the qualifications to serve as an apostle (Acts 1:22).  Thus, on the day of Pentecost, Peter declared, “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32; cf.  3:14-15, 4:19-20, 5:31-32).   However, the question is often asked, why basically them?   Why not everyone?  In preaching to Cornelius and his household, Peter explained, “Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead” (Acts 10:40-41).   Having been His constant companions for some three years, they were in best position to identify Jesus and to testify that the same Jesus whom they knew and saw crucified was now alive again.

Some might object that the apostles had ulterior motives for their testimony, but the third line of evidence for the resurrection is the transformation of the apostles.  Notice the attitude of the apostles when they first heard the claims of the resurrection.  After the women found the tomb empty, Luke 24:9-11 tells us, “Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles.  And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.”   However, notice these same apostles a short while later.  “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus Acts 4:13).  In fact, when they commanded by the authorities to stop preaching in the name of Jesus, we read in Acts 5:41-42, “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

What could have brought about such a drastic change?  In Acts 1:1-3, Luke explains, “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”  Some critics want to picture the apostles as credulous, gullible fools who were looking for a resurrection under every rock and behind every tree.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They demanded proof positive.  Remember Thomas?   When told about the resurrection, he said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  But when confronted with the actual evidence, he answered, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-29).

The final line of evidence for the resurrection that we wish to examine is the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.  Consider Saul when we first meet him in Acts 7:58 where it is said of the stoning of Stephen, “And they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”  Following this, we are told, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:1-3; cf. 9:1-2).  Yet, consider what Saul became just a short while later.  “So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God (Acts 9:19-20; cf. vs. 26-29).

To what did Saul/Paul attribute this huge shift?  “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.  After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.  Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).  Men may change their minds for all kinds of ulterior motives, such as wealth, fame, power, etc., but none of those motives may be laid at the feet of Paul.  The only reasonable explanation for his dramatic turn around is that he must have seen Jesus after He arose from the dead.

Fanny J. Crosby concluded her 1880 gospel song, “Tell Me the Story of Jesus,” by saying:

Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see.
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
Love paid the ransom for me.

The story of Jesus, whether we read about it in the Bible, hear it preached in sermons from the pulpit, or sing about it in hymns and gospel songs, is the story of God’s love for mankind in sending His Son that through believing in Him we might have redemption through Christ’s blood and the hope of everlasting life.  What does this story mean to you?

—in Search for Truth; 10/25/2015, Vol. VII, No. 13; and 11/1/2015, Vol. VII, No. 14


“Tell of the Cross Where They Nailed Him”: What the Death of Christ Tells Us


By Wayne S. Walker

     Why did Jesus come to earth, be born of a virgin, experience temptation, engage in His labor, and suffer all kinds of sorrows?  One answer might be that He did all these things in order to prepare the way for Him to die—and He knew that this was His ultimate goal.  “Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, ‘Who do men say that I am?’  So they answered, ‘John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.’  He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  Peter answered and said to Him, ‘You are the Christ.’  Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.  And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:27-31).  Fanny J. Crosby, in her well-known gospel song of 1880, wrote, “Tell of the cross where they nailed Him, Writhing in anguish and pain.”  But that brings up another question.  Why did Jesus have to die?  What was accomplished by the fact that He was killed?  In this article, we want to discuss the topic, what the death of Christ tells us.

He died to provide an atonement for our sins.  Over and over, the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments, tells us that the main problem faced by mankind is sin.  The prophet told Israel, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.   But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2).  The apostle Paul confirms this.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24).  The problem is that we cannot make atonement for our sins by our own good works.  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).  Thus, we need atonement for our sins which we cannot provide, and God made it by Christ’s death.   “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

He died to offer us forgiveness.  Because Christ’s death was an atonement, it deals with the problem of sin and makes remission possible.  In instituting the Lord’s supper, Jesus said of the cup or fruit of the vine, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).  Thus, the Bible teaches that Christ died for sinners.  “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).   As a result, He enables us to obtain forgiveness.  Concerning the spiritual blessings in Christ, Paul wrote, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1: 7).

He died to make reconciliation with God possible.  Again, we must understand that when we are guilty of sin we are separated from God by our sin.  This is what is meant when Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).  Also, we need to recognize that there are eternal consequences, being “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).  To avoid this penalty, we need to be reconciled to God.  “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).  And Jesus, because He made atonement and thus offers forgiveness by His death, gives us the access to be reconciled to God.  “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:21-22).

In 1762 Joseph Hart wrote a hymn which we often sang when I was growing up to prepare our minds for the Lord’s supper:

  1. That dreadful night before His death
    The Lamb for sinners slain;
    Did almost with His dying breath,
    This solemn feast ordain.
  2. To keep the feast, Lord, we have met,
    And to remember Thee;
    Help each redeemed one to repeat,
    “For me, He died for me!”

We can talk about what the death of Christ accomplished, but until each of us realizes that we, personally, are sinners and that Christ died for us as individuals, His death will not have much meaning.  What does the death of Christ mean to you?

—in Search for Truth; Oct. 18, 2015; Vol. VII, No. 12

“Tell of the Sorrow He Bore”: What and How Jesus Suffered in Life


By Wayne S. Walker

     The coming of Jesus Christ was prophesied throughout the Old Testament.  Thus, in the fulness of time, the Word who was God became flesh.  When He came, He was born of a virgin.  While on earth, He was tempted in all points as we are.  His life was one of labor for the eternal good of mankind.   Fanny J. Crosby, in her famous hymn of 1880, “Tell Me the Story of Jesus,” mentions many of these facts.  She also wrote, “Tell of the sorrow He bore: He was despised and afflicted, Homeless, rejected, and poor.”  During the time in which Jesus lived on this earth, He suffered many things in different ways.

“So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’   As He also says in another place:  ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek;’ who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.  And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest ‘according to the order of Melchizedek’” (Hebrews 5:5-10).   The inspired writer indicates that the sufferings of Christ have an important meaning for us in relationship to His being a sympathetic and merciful high priest.  So let us see what we can learn as we consider what and how Jesus suffered in life.

He suffered poverty.  Apparently, Jesus was born into a poor family.  In Luke 2:22-24, it is said that at His presentation in the temple, the sacrifice offered was “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”  According to Leviticus 12:1-8, if the mother was too poor to bring a lamb, then she could bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons.  As an adult, Jesus Himself lived in what we would probably call poverty.  When someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go,” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:57-58).  What about us?  There may be times in our lives when have to deal with having less than we desire.  Jesus warns us about the danger covetousness in thinking that the quality of our lives depends on the things which we possess (Luke 12:15; cf. 1 Timothy 6:9-10, Heb. 13:5-6).  His chosen messengers remind us to think in different terms.  “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away” (James 1:9-10).  The next time you seem to have more month left than money, just remember that Jesus had “nowhere to lay His head.”

He suffered rejection.  In fact, His entire life was basically one of being rejected.  “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:10-11).   Just consider some specific examples.  When He returned to His hometown in Nazareth, the people became so angry that they tried to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:28-29).  On one occasion, many of His disciples did not like what He was saying, so they turned back and walked with Him no longer (John 6:60-66).  Even His own brothers did not believe in Him during His earthly life (John 7:1-5).   We may also suffer rejection, even by some we love.  “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:34-37).  So the next time some neighbor slams the door in your face when you try to hand him a tract or a dear relative says, “If you’re going to talk this religious stuff with me, then just get out of my house and don’t ever come back,” remember that Jesus suffered rejection too.

He suffered hatred.  You can almost feel the hatred that most of the Jewish leaders had for Him.  In John 9:28-29, they told the blind man whom Jesus had healed, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.”  They hated Him so much, they wanted to kill Him (see John 11:45-53).  Of course, throughout history, the world has always hated those who stood for righteousness.  “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.  Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:11-13).   Therefore, we can expect that the world will hate us too.  “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).  The vast majority of the world hated Jesus, so those of us who are trying to be His disciples should not be surprised that the world will hate us too.

He suffered persecution.  As a result of the rejection and hatred expressed towards Him, Jesus suffered outright mistreatment as well and was even the subject of more than one attempt to kill Him.  On at least two occasions, the Jews took up stones to stone Him (John 5:16-18, 10:30-33).  He again warned His disciples to expect the same kind of treatment.  “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).  Other passages of Scripture remind us of this.  “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12; cf. 1 Peter 1:6-7, 4:12-16).  Oh, they may not crucify us, or even try to stone us, but if men persecuted Jesus Christ our Master, we might as well expect that they will persecute us who are His disciples as well.

The problem of suffering is one of the most perplexing issues which mankind has faced and puzzled over.  And we may never know or understand all the answers to this question in this life.  But it is certainly comforting and helpful to know that our God, in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, suffered on this earth for us.  “For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.  Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:16-18).

—in Search for Truth; Oct. 11, 2015; Vol. VII, No. 11

“Tell of the Years of His Labor”: What Do the Life and Ministry of Christ Mean to Us?


By Wayne S. Walker

    In this series of articles thus far we have studied about Christ in prophecy (“Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word”); the nature of Christ’s coming (“Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard”); the birth of Christ (“Tell how the angels in chorus, Sang as they welcomed His birth. ‘Glory to God in the highest! Peace and good tidings to earth’”); and the temptation of Christ (“Fasting alone in the desert, Tell of the days that are past: How for our sins He was tempted, Yet was triumphant at last”).   Another line in Fanny J. Crosby’s well-known 1880 hymn says, “Tell of the years of His labor.”  The first thirty years of Jesus’s life are pretty much a mystery except for a couple of quick glimpses.  However, following His baptism and temptation, Matthew tells us how Christ began His earthly labors.

“Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.  And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’  From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:12-17).  The purpose of this article is to answer the question, what do the life and ministry of Christ mean to us?

First, He taught us God’s will.  Jesus was not a “community organizer,” as some have lightly said, but first and foremost a preacher.  Mark’s account of the same event in Christ’s life as we found in Matthew tells us, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15).   Even many unbelievers agree that Jesus was one of the greatest teachers of mankind.  Consider such principles laid down by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount as the importance of loving even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) and how to conquer the problem of anxiety (6:25-34).  Then notice the effect of His teaching on His hearers.  “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (7:28-29).   We see, then, that Jesus’s teaching was more than just good, moral principles.  “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).  When we hear or read the words of Jesus, we need to remember that “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2).  Everything that Jesus said or taught is from God.

Second, He left us an example.  We have His example of servitude.  When His apostles argued among themselves as to who was greatest, He told them, “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28).  Later, He showed them what He meant by washing their feet (John 13:3-15).  We see His example of love.  “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2).  He is also an example of humility.  When Paul tells the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others,” he points them to Jesus, saying, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:3-8).  Finally, Peter cites the fact that when we suffer, we should remember how that “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth;’ who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

Third, He qualified to be our perfect sacrifice.  Each animal sacrifice of the Old Testament had to be “a male without blemish” (Leviticus 1:1-3).  Jesus came to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  This means that He also had to be “without blemish.”  And He was because He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:14-15).  Thus, His sinless life enabled Him to shed His precious blood and be offered as “a lamb without blemish and without spot” so that He might redeem us from our sin (1 Peter 1:18-20).

There are other aspects of Christ’s life that could be discussed, such as His miracles.  “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).  However, about 28 years after Fanny Crosby wrote her famous hymn, J. Wilbur Chapman wrote another hymn, the chorus of which sums up the life of Jesus.  “Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me; Buried, He carried my sins far away; Rising, He justified freely forever; One day He’s coming—O glorious day!”

The Hebrew writer said of Christ, “Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.  And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:7-9).  That is what the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ was all about.

—in Search for Truth; Oct. 4, 2015; Vol. VII, No. 10