Why is our world broken? Why is there brokenness in your life and relationships? What is the ultimate solution to the world’s problems? What will ultimately heal your life and relationships? The answer to all of these questions hinges on a Person: Jesus Christ.
Not only early Christian eyewitnesses but also non-Christians from the first century testify that Jesus of Nazareth lived an exemplary life and was crucified on a cross in Jerusalem by Roman soldiers. Of course, the Christian eyewitnesses affirmed more: Jesus lived not merely an exemplary life but an absolutely perfect life. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, wrote that Jesus “committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22-23).
According to the Bible, the brokenness that you experience in your own life and that plagues the whole world is the result of sin, which is rebellion against God, who created and sustains all things by the word of his power. All the problems in the world stem from humanity’s refusal to “honor God or give thanks to him,” as Paul (another early Christian leader) puts it in his letter to Christians in Rome (Romans 1:21). And death is the ultimate brokenness that everyone faces: “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned … the wages of sin is death” (Romans 5:12; 6:23).
You may be wondering: how can Jesus be the solution to the brokenness of the world if he himself also died, as not only non-Christians but also Christians affirm? The Bible answers this question in four steps:
- Jesus did not deserve to die.
- Jesus’ death was a substitute for others.
- Jesus rose from the dead.
- Jesus gives new life to those who trust him for it.
First, Jesus is the solution to the utter brokenness of the world because he did not deserve to die. Paul explains Jesus’ death in this way: “For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Another early Christian leader described Jesus as “a great high priest who is [not] unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
The above quotation of Paul hints at the second reason why Jesus is the solution: he died as a substitute for others. Peter explicitly says, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). He had earlier explained, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).
Jesus’ resurrection is what proves that his death was unlike any other in human history. According to Paul, Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Romans 6:9). Early non-Christian sources affirm Jesus’ death but deny his resurrection. What evidence is there that you should believe that God raised Jesus from the dead?
- Jesus first appeared after his resurrection to Mary Magdalene and other women (Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:11-18). In first century Roman society, women were not allowed to be legal witnesses. The Gospel writers wouldn’t have claimed that women were the first to see the resurrected Jesus if it weren’t so.
- Jesus appeared on numerous occasions to his closest followers, among whom were later New Testament authors Peter, Matthew, John, and James (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:13-49; John 20:19-23, 24-29; 21:1-24; 1 Corinthians 15:7). On some of these occasions, he let them touch the scars in his hands and feet, and he ate food with them.
- Jesus appeared over the course of forty days following his resurrection to hundreds of people “at one time” and various other Christians, “most of whom [were] still alive” when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:5-7).
- Jesus appeared to Paul, “as to one untimely born” (1 Corinthians 15:8). Paul went from persecuting Christians to becoming one of the great Christian leaders and an author of much of the New Testament because the risen Jesus appeared to him in a vision when he was on his way to Damascus to imprison Christians there (Acts 7:58; 8:1-3; 9:1-25; 22:3-21; 26:1-29). As a Christian, Paul had “far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times [he] received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times [he] was beaten with rods. Once [he] was stoned. Three times [he] was shipwrecked; a night and a day [he] was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from [his] own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Why would Paul change so radically and endure all these sufferings (and more) if he did not have a genuine experience with and commissioning from the resurrected Jesus?
All these things and more are evidence for the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. The purpose of Jesus’ resurrection, though, is your own resurrection. Without Jesus, you are broken spiritually, as well as physically. You need new spiritual life and new physical life. Jesus provides both by his own resurrection, and you receive both through trusting him for them. Remember why Peter said Jesus died for unrighteous people: “that he might bring us to God,” and Peter also says how Jesus does this: “being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus’ death and resurrection brings you back to God, if you will turn back to God.
Jesus himself said, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). To repent is to have a change of heart about God. It is to go from viewing God as an enemy to viewing God as your Creator and as the one worthy of your love and devotion. To believe the gospel is to believe this good news that Jesus died in your place on the cross and bore in his body God’s just punishment for your rebellion against him, and that he was raised from the dead so that you, too, could have new life, both spiritually and physically.
When you trust Jesus to make you at peace with God, he gives you new life spiritually. Paul tells Christians, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). If you rely on Jesus for a new relationship with God, he gives you his Holy Spirit, who strengthens you to grow in obedience to God and to do away with rebellious thoughts, words, and actions that remain in your life. And if you have new spiritual life in Jesus, you will have eternal physical life in Jesus, too. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). And Paul confirms, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
We members of Friendship Baptist Church have all received this new life in Christ and are experiencing his power in making us increasingly whole as we await the final, eternal resurrection. Our prayer is that you will meet Jesus yourself by his word, the Bible, and trust him for peace with God and for new, eternal life. If you are in southwest Ohio and would like to learn more about following Jesus, we would love to meet and minister to you in person, so please go to the Visit Us page for information on how and when to visit us.