The Lord is Risen Indeed
By David R. Barnhart
Volume 30 Spring 2015 Issue 2
The Greatest News Ever Reported...The Lord is Risen, Indeed!
Jewish lives were little valued in Israel during the first century when it was under the heavy hand of Roman rule. Executions were so frequent, in fact, it is likely the crucifixion of Jesus Christ went unnoticed by most people who were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of the Passover. Three days later on the morning of the Feast of First Fruits, however, rumors began to circulate across Jerusalem about a dead man who had come back to life. Later that same morning, rumors of Jesus’ resurrection were being discussed even in the Temple precincts by the rulers of the Jews. Worried about the Nazarene’s continuing influence over the people, these Jewish leaders fabricated an assortment of lies to help explain the mystery of Jesus’ missing body from a grave that had been both sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers.
Even so, over the next forty days, 500 followers of Christ saw the resurrected Savior. In fact, these followers of Christ became so convinced that He was alive, they willingly laid down their lives in defense of their faith in His death, burial and resurrection. Interestingly, there is no record that Jesus was ever seen by unbelievers following His resurrection.
In the early days of Christianity, countless believers were persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 11:36-40 reveals how Christians were “stoned to death, sawed in half, while others were put to death with the sword.” This same passage of Scripture identifies and honors these martyrs with the words— “of whom the world was not worthy.” Such a fitting epitaph is rightly given to all who have died for the name and cause of Christ throughout the centuries.
Sadly, the killing of Christians has never stopped. Even now, thousands of Christians are being persecuted and put to death for their profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God help us to uphold our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ with help and unceasing prayer.
In Syria and Iraq, the terrorist organization ISIS is committing egregious crimes against humanity that have not been seen since the Jewish Holocaust in World War II.
These Islamic terrorists are even crucifying Christian children and burying them alive. This past February, ISIS in Libya publicly beheaded 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt. The Obama administration refused to identify those beheaded as “Christians” or to identify their killers as “Islamic terrorists.” This is tragedy compounded!
The list of Christian martyrs grows daily in China, North Korea, the Arabian Peninsula and across the continent of Africa. One is reminded of the martyrs who cry out to God, “‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging or avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ And there was given to each of them a white robe, and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also” (Revelation 6:10-11).
The truth of Jesus’ victory over death is able to keep us from despair as we hear reports of these and other despicable acts presently unfolding in this troubled world. One day, the resurrected Christ will right every wrong and bring to justice all who schemed with Satan to perpetrate such crimes upon His beloved Church.
While the great tribulation may be very close, closer still is the resurrected Christ who refuses to be separated from those He has redeemed with His own precious blood.
When the Apostle John inquired about “a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes,” one of the elders answered him: “These are the ones who came out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Be assured that the resurrection of Christ offers hope not only to the martyrs but to every believer in all circumstances.
Hold on, dear Christian warrior! Stand firm in your faith, and always remember the words of Jesus: “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Jesus, the resurrected Christ, is coming soon!