One of the best ways to understand history is through the life stories of great people. In fact, as the 19th century philosopher and social commentator William Hazlitt wrote, “No man is truly great who is great only in his lifetime. The test of greatness is the page of history.”
If this is true, the greatness of Jesus surpasses that of all other men. No other life has left such a lasting impression upon the sands of time. However, His greatness is of a different kind to those often considered influential in our world. Napoleon Bonaparte reportedly said:
Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist.
There is between Christianity and other religions the distance of infinity.
Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men will die for Him.
Jesus was not a warrior king. He never led troops into battle nor did he sit on any earthly throne.
A rugged cross became His throne;
His kingdom was in hearts alone.
He was the loving Saviour of mankind and the response of billions to His loving self-sacrifice has been to submit to His authority and live for His glory.
However, while Jesus never brandished a physical sword in anger, He fought the greatest battle that could be fought, and gained the most decisive victory ever won. In my previous blogs I have shown that Jesus is special because He fulfilled prophecy and claimed deity. In this post I want to consider how:
Jesus gained the Victory
Death has been called ‘the king of terrors, and the terror of kings’. It is the king of terrors because it robs us of everything in this world. Our relationships, wealth, success, position, and life itself, are stolen by death. It is the terror of kings because no one is exempt from it. Millions in the United Kingdom and across our world have been mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Her life was long, and her legacy is great, but her death was sure, as is the death of all.
Human death is the result of a universal sin problem, “death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Everybody dies. But what happens then? Do we cease to exist? No. According to the Bible, “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27)
We all know that people are not what they should be. When we call murder ‘wicked’ or stealing ‘wrong’ we’re not just expressing a personal opinion; we’re showing that we are moral beings. It is God who gave us this moral awareness. He has done so, not for us to spend our lives judging others, but so that we might apply it to ourselves.
Imagine you had a micro-recorder implanted in your body. Every complaint you made about the deception, unfaithfulness, theft, pride, selfishness, and hatred of other people was recorded. Then, when you stood before God, the recording was played back and you were judged by the standards by which you judged others! Would you be innocent? No, you would be guilty. You would deserve punishment because you knew the difference between right and wrong yet still did what was wrong.
God has that recording, and each of us fears death because justice demands that our sins be punished. However, Jesus has gained the victory over death and there is hope for us all. “Christ died for our sins … He was buried … He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
He who was God “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). His name was Jesus. Just as the Old Testament predicted, He died for our sins, offering Himself as the sacrifice for sin and the substitute for sinners. However, He did not remain dead. He emerged physically from death as its mighty conqueror on the third day.
Some have, of course, denied the resurrection. However, in 2000 years, skeptics have failed to come up with any plausible alternative explanations for the facts. The majority of historians are convinced that Jesus did die upon the cross, that His body was placed in a Roman tomb, that on the third day the tomb was empty, and that many claimed to see Him after His resurrection. Add to these facts the sudden explosion of Christianity upon the world stage and the transformation of ardent opponents of Christianity into believers, and the question of Paul is worth considering: “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8)
Jesus lives! And because He lives we can face the future, even death itself, without fear. How?
His resurrection confirms that God has accepted His sacrifice as the full payment for our sins. Death for us does not need to be the entrance to judgment in hell. Because Jesus has taken the punishment we don’t have to. Death for us can be the entrance to eternal bliss in heaven.
Thine be the glory
Risen conquering Son
Endless is the victory
Thou o’er death hast won.
No one can compare with the Lord Jesus. Trusting Him brings freedom from the dread of God’s judgment.