To the Death


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Bible Reading: Philippians 3:7-11

I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him.   Philippians 3:8-9

As his wide receiver flies into the air and pulls down the football in a one-handed grab, the coach of the home team leaps just as high in celebration of the game-winning touchdown. An instant later the coach of the visiting team shouts for an instant-replay review of the catch. So an official trots to the sideline and peers into a monitor. The fans hush. The players hold their breath. An announcement echoes over the loud­speaker. Like it or not, the touchdown stands.

Instant replay lets you see a sports play all over again. That won’t work with the events of history. But there’s still a reliable way to figure out the facts. You dig into the testimony of eyewitnesses.

A real eye-popping picture of Christ’s resurrection comes from the lives of the early Christians—the people alive when it happened.

Talk about this: What would early Christians have gained by making up a false story about Jesus rising from the dead? What would they have lost?

For decades after Jesus died on the cross, life looked grim for those who claimed to be his followers. Authorities used every imaginable method to stop them from talking. The early Christians were beaten. Stoned to death. Thrown to lions. Tortured. Even nailed to crosses.

The early Christians didn’t react like we would expect. They didn’t say, “Hey, we were just kidding about that Jesus dude. He’s still dead.” Instead, they gave their lives as proof of their total confidence in the truth of their message.

Some people say the disciples must have made up the story about the Resurrection. But if the Resurrection were a made-up story, don’t you think at least one of the twelve disciples would have admitted the so-called lie for which some of the apostles were beheaded or stoned or crucified? Or what about the dozens of Christ followers who refused to crumble under torture? Or the thousands of first-century believers who were thrown to the lions for refusing to stop believing in Christ? If the Resurrection were a lie, somebody would have cracked, spilled the truth, sold out, and blown their cover-up plot.

Nothing less than the truth—the real-life appearances of the resurrected Christ—could have caused these people to maintain to the death that Jesus is alive and that he is Lord. Are you glad for their faithfulness—so that you can know the truth?

TALK: Do you think the disciples would have died for a lie? Why or why not?

PRAY: Jesus, help us experience the Resurrection power that kept the early Christians faithful to you until the end.

ACT: Log on to www.opendoorsusa.org to find out about Christians who still suffer for their faith today.

 

 


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