Jesus Died Twice

Jesus Died Twice. (One A Physical Death and One A Spiritual Death)

Jesus’ death on the cruel cross evokes such details of the physical pain He endured, we often overlook the spiritual agony He suffered. The gory brutality and inhuman mortification is not to be minimized. It was as hideous and despicable as imagined. However, it was only the background for His real suffering. The spiritual agony resulting from His separation from the Father was His primary suffering. It is summed up in His cry:

“My God. My God, why have you forsaken me?”

In that instance He was enduring spiritual separation from the Father. This He was experiencing for us. This was truly His substitutionary death for us. Salvation is based upon this premise. 

Scripture makes it clear He died physically. He “breathed His last” (Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46) and He “gave up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50; 19:30).

Physical darkness enshrouded the area “from the sixth hour until the ninth hour,” that is from 12:00 noon until 3:00 PM. These were the hours preceding His physical death. These were the hours during which He was separated from the Father, His spiritual death.

It was during this time He cried “I thirst.” He was suffering hell’s agony as had Lazarus, the rich man, when he begged for Lazarus to “dip the tip of his finger and cool my tongue.” 

This is not to say Jesus was in hell, but rather that He was suffering the agony of hell resulting from separation from the Father.

It was during this darkness Jesus was made sin for us. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

“Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished” (John 19:28) said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). This was a reference to His separation from the Father that was the reference, not His physical death, for it had not at that moment been accomplished. This cry in effect was the occasion of His spiritual reunion with the Father, that is, His spiritual resurrection.

He endured this separation that we might not have to. What has been your response to this loving provision? Pause and thank Him for this spiritual victory and commit yourself to Him.

The Son Rose Before Sunrise – Easter 4/23/00

Matthew 28:1-7

JESUS CHRIST arose from the tomb on that first Easter morning just before the sun edged above the horizon and its light ignited the indigo sky of a new day.

In that instant He brought into focus a whole new perception of human worth and wholeness. His resurrection emblazoned across the sky of history the final irrefutable evidence that Jesus Christ is Lord of death and Master of Life.

Revisit the scene where gloom had engulfed home, where death mocked life, where angels wept and demons laughed. Covert disciples who had been present and by their silence consented to His condemnation took his body for burial. Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus were the two who under the gaze of the Roman execution squad had buried Him.

His bewildered and despondent admirers having lost hope were disillusioned.

Early in the morning of the third day two grieving followers came to His tomb perplexed as towho might roll away the stone and allow the final preparation of His lifeless body for final and permanent entombment. Upon arrival they were greeted by a stunned detachment of Roman guards.

The stone, to them a seemingly unsurmountable obstacle, was a pebble to the Easter angel who had moved it away.

The correlation of the Greek texts of two different gospels reveals the stone had not simply been tilted away from the cave. It had been moved away a great distance uphill. These stones customarily weighed about three thousand pounds.

When God does something He does it right. He can roll away any stone in your path to spiritual truth and maturity.

Matthew says an angel, one, greeted them. John says there were two. Skeptics say there is a conflict. No there isn’t. This simply shows there was no collusion among the gospel writers. Had there been they would have both used the same number. John who in his writing is known for details gives the total number and Matthew simply focuses on the message of one of the two saying:

Christ alone is the Savior and Master who stands alone as a fulfilled testimony to His validity and worth.

Historian, Arnold Toynbee, in his monumental work entitled, The Study of History, devotes a chapter to saviors. He lists them in four categories:
The savior with a scepter —- the political savior.
The savior with a book —- the philosopher savior.
The savior with a sword —- the militant savior.
The man-god or god-man savior —- those of Greek mythology.

Professor Toynbee points out that each of these finally capitulates to the ultimate enemy, death. Politicians, kings, military leaders, philosophers all die. All of these demi-gods ultimately surrender to death. Then this imminent scholar concludes: “When the last civilization comes to the river of death, there on the other side filling the whole horizon with Himself will be the Savior.”

In the mind of this world renowned historian there is only one who qualifies as Savior who can save. His reason, Christ conquered death.

We call the day on which we celebrate the resurrection Easter without really knowing why. Though it has a pagan origin it has a very special application to the resurrection. Pagans throughout the Roman Empire believed in gods. They observed there was a great light that gave us day and a lesser light that shone at night. The sun rose each morning giving light and set in the evening ushering in darkness. They believed a goddess governed the light. They named her “Estera.” Her light was first seen on the early morning horizon so they called this area “the East,” meaning “the Eastera place,” or place of light. When many of these pagans were converted they associated the resurrection of Jesus with the dawning of light and called the resurrection celebration Easter. The day of the resurrection was the day —– THE SON ROSE BEFORE SUNRISE.

There are three statements in our text associated with His resurrection that can help us get life into perspective.

The Greek verb tense used means “stop being afraid.” All His little cadre of friends could say was, “We had HOPED that He was the one to redeem Israel…” (Luke 24:21). Their hope had died. When hope died fear was given birth. In the moment of death everything seems frozen to those grieving. There is only yesterday – there is no tomorrow.

They were living on the wrong side of the resurrection. Today those who are still searching for some man-made, humanistic solution to our problem are living on the wrong side of the resurrection also. In the resurrection, the empire of joy, peace, and liberty was brought to light. Biblical Christianity is a faith of promise, not of nostalgia. Its thrust and momentum is always forward. It moves inexorably into the future. It calls us to what lies ahead in Christ.

This inspires and enables one to cope. This is the hope Easter inspires, there is reason to find out how to live through the resurrected Son of God who arose before sunrise.

Death had caused them great fear. It still strikes terror in the hearts of many.

What they were to see was very revealing. They had looked at the cross and saw man’s judgement on Christ. Looking at the empty tomb they saw God’s judgement on Christ.

The Scripture depicts John as looking in the tomb and “believing”. What caused his belief? It was not the empty tomb, but the empty grave clothes. For a short time they had been Christ’s wardrobe. For three days His lifeless body had awaited His new Easter outfit. The position and condition of the grave clothes was convincing. They remained like a balloon with the air let out. Grave clothes were put on with a gummy substance like tar or pitch. To remove them was to remove the skin. John saw the evidence of a miracle.

Later the disciples who were in the upper room when Thomas was absent and Christ appeared said to Him, “We have seen the Lord” (John 20:24, 25). They saw and believed.

A brilliant young advocate who was a member of the Supreme Court of the era named Saul was appointed by the tribunal to investigate the report of a resurrection. Note the record of that young investigative reporter appointed by the Supreme Court.

His assignment was to investigate the resurrection and prove it to be a hoax. After his extensive interrogation of believers under threat of their lives, he concluded “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” (I Corinthians 15:3-8).

A creditable, available body of eye witnesses were still available to testify of having seen the resurrected Christ. Many of those in the first century were so fully accepting of the fact of His bodily resurrection that over 5,000,000 of them died as martyrs rather than disclaim it.

If these people were not absolutely certain of the resurrection they would not have allowed themselves to be tortured to death in order to proclaim it as fact.

Get the big picture. Look around you, not just your immediate setting or this moment in history but through the ages. You who follow Christ march with a mighty army. You will never be a part of anything as powerful and important as this. March with dignity and pride as you follow His wounded feet.

Paul wrote this passage in the life-time of persons who could verify it. Peter preached the resurrection within yards of where it happened days after it occurred to the very people who had been present at the crucifixion (Acts 2). The Jesus who was crucified under the eyes of His enemies was now known by many of them to be alive. Christianity is not the kind of nonsense of which fables, forgery, or fabrication is made. It is based on the empirical evidence sworn to by many eye witnesses.

If someone were to say to you they saw a dead man walking, you might think that person to be a candidate for residence on the “funny farm.” If five were to tell you that you might think it a joke. If ten bonded together with that story you might think it a conspiracy. If 500 said it, at the very least, don’t you think you ought to at least look in the coffin.

These did and so should we.

“Seen” as used in the texts means to behold. It can mean to comprehend. They had experienced the power of an elevating presence. Being in the presence of some persons is an elevating experience. Edmund Burke was a writer and statesman of great faith. It was said of him, “If you stand in a doorway to escape a passing shower with Edmund Burke, you would leave that doorway with your shoulders back and your head up and your heart uplifted to face the realities of life.” An encounter with Christ was even a more elevating impact.


This simple statement is Jesus’ intended post-Easter program. We are not simply to give to missions, we are to be on mission. Christianity is like a good disease, an infection that does not produce pain and death, but joy and life. We are to spread it.

The early Christian community was not a memorial society with its eyes fastened on the departed Master. It was a dynamic community created around a living and present Lord. Within seven weeks these hunted, frightened, and cowering fugitives had become flaming missionaries. They were willing martyrs ready to lay down their lives rather than deny the truth of His glorious resurrection and the resulting transforming power.

The highest principle of Christianity is that which happened in their lives can happen in yours. The resurrection gives proof that life is not to be lived as in a rudderless craft or a driver less car. It is to assure the believer of safety. In appealing to persons to give their lives to Christ, we often use the word “accept”. The Bible’s words are trust, commit, follow, and obey. The real issue is not, will you accept Him, but whether He will accept you. Your loving, faithful response to Him assures His acceptance by Him.

The resurrected Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live….” (John 11:5).

You too can join the legion who by faith in Christ have cheated death. You can become prepared today to join the loyalists who have joined the beloved Christ on the far bank of history — ALIVE.

Oh, earlier I said, “There are three statements in our text associated with His resurrection that can help us get life into perspective.” There are actually four. Note, Matthew 28: 9, Jesus Himself, the resurrected Christ gives us the fourth word: “R E J O I C E”

What was seen by those who came that early morning to the tomb gives reason to rejoice. The definitive John says they saw the facial napkin “folded together in a place by itself” (John 20:7).

Like a detective investigating a crime scene John scanned the chamber looking for clues. In that napkin he found a clue with a message. It was the custom of monarchs that upon the completion of a meal they would crumple their napkin and leave it on the table indicating they had finished and would not be back. If they were leaving the table with the intent of returning they folded the napkin and left it neatly in place. In that clue in the tomb Jesus was saying, “I will be back.” He said, “I will come again and receive you unto myself.”

That is reason to REJOICE! Keep your eye on the Eastern sky because the Son may rise before the next sun rise. Those who are ready for His return can and must live in a state of continual rejoicing. Those who do not know Him would do well this day to trust and commit to Him in preparation for that eventually.

An Open Door to a New Millennium 1/2/00

James 4:7-10

JESUS CHRIST, the resurrected Lord of new life, said to the church in Philadelphia, in ancient Greece, that which is applicable to our church today: “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…” (Revelation 3:8).

Together, we the redeemed of the Lord who constitute the membership of this fellowship are called “the church”. What is applicable to the church is related to the individual. No person can shut the door opened by the Lord. We can with cowering and timid spirit fail to go through it. Our negative nature can cause us to question and quibble. We alone can cause what the Lord has in mind to fail. We are often our own worst enemies.

For over a year many persons have been worried they would not survive the millennium challenge. They worried about food, utilities, heat, and other essentials. One person allegedly said, “So many things have gone wrong that if any thing else bad happens it will be the middle of next week before I can worry about it.”

Well, our Lord has seen us through the mythical door of the millennium. Now awaits us the challenge of today. If we are going to be ready to move through the open door in this new year we need to be ready spiritually.

Two posters come to mind in facing the new millennium. One pictures a group of little yellow fuzzy ducklings walking through grass too tall for them with necks stuck out. The caption is “Go forth and conquer!” Let’s! As you enter the new millennium remember these basics:

  1. Anticipate difficulties. Realistic people anticipate they will encounter challenges. Those who do are more likely to work through them as expected opportunities to be an over comer. They know every obstacle is an opportunity disguised as an impossibility.
  2. Do an advantage analysis. What is to be gained?
  3. Take small steps. Life by the yard is hard, by the inch it is a cinch.
  4. Admit your negative thoughts. Don’t leave a topic on which you have been thinking negatively without superimposing a positive thought on the same subject
  5. Give yourself credit. Segment your work and allow time for celebration. That is why God worked at creation six days and rested the seventh. It was a celebration.

Another poster pictures a caterpillar looking up at a beautiful butterfly. The caption is: “You can fly but that cocoon has got to go.” You can reach new heights, but there are old limiting things in your life that have to go.

Will James, the father of modern psychology, said, “The greatest discovery of the Twentieth Century is that you can change your life by changing your mind.” In doing so, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ…” James 4:7-10 lists some steps of preparation we each need to take. Therefore, now comes the practical personal part of this new millennium year’s challenge.

To be ready to go through the open door of opportunity there must be:


A. First, positively. You must “Submit yourselves therefore to God.”
This calls for a conscious willful action on your behalf. It requires you making a choice. Some persons arrogantly refuse to submit themselves. Each of us must respond to the self asked question: “Whom shall I serve, God or myself? Shall I make it my chief concern to do the will of my Heavenly Father, or shall I demand and assert my own way?”

It is said that when Aaron Burr, one of the most controversial personalities in early American life, reached the age of 21, he squarely faced the issue of whom to serve. Resolutely he decided to turn his back on the God of his fathers. As a disgraced murderer and tried for treason his body was laid to rest at the foot of the grace of his grandfather, Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was one of the most revered clergy/statesman of his era. The graves of the two illustrate the difference between one who seeks first the kingdom of God and who chooses slavery to self.

B. Second, negatively. “Resist the devil…”
The devil and his allies, the world and the flesh, have designed and do desire your spiritual destruction.

A couple of decades ago the concept of the devil was thought to be simply a clinical form of paranoia suffered by Christians. Today too much evidence exists regarding a personal devil. Devil worship even proliferates today. Its existence is a modern Frankenstein created by a society that decided it could go it alone without God. It should be expected for a decadent society always turns back to the gods of decadence. Foremost among them is devil worship.

You can’t please God while playing games with Satan. You can’t fly with the eagles by day and the owls by night. Resist the devil:
Through prayer
Bible study
Regular public worship
Association with friends who are committed Christians


A. “Cleanse your hands” = outward actions.
Review your lifestyle. What needs to be adjusted? Does Christ have first place in your life? Are you too busy for Him? If the devil can’t make you bad he will make you busy.

God’s will never includes more for you to do than the time allowed you will enable. If you are too busy for Him you are out of His will and out of your mind.

B. “Purify your hearts” = inward attitudes.
Medical science had not progressed in that day. A common concept was that blood carried in it ideas. They became conscious thoughts when the blood flowed through the brain. It was known that the heart pumped the blood. Therefore, it was thought that the heart was the point of origin of all creative thoughts. Hence, an appeal to cleanse the heart was a directive to change the thought pattern. Don’t let your mind dwell on evil ideas. Purify your thoughts by driving out the wrong concepts and ideas with Bible oriented ideas. A critical negative spirit is a common one which needs to be purified. If you are going to think Christ thoughts the mind must be purified of negativism. “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (I John 3:2, 3).

There is a new book entitled “The Theory of Twenty-One.” The author shows as a result of research that out of every 21 people, 20 think negatively about everything. Only one is a positive person. In another book by a different author entitled “Hide-N-Seek”, persons are urged to inventory their 16 closest relatives. Be objective who among them was negative and who are positive. Most persons will conclude they were reared in a negative environment. Pray to be the “one” among 21.

C. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” This is a wonderful invitation containing a wonderful promise. God has promised He won’t back off. This enables us to become more like Him.

These are three evidences of repentance. Don’t waste your pain. Let it be used of the Lord to draw you to Him.

Verse 9 in summary is speaking of repentance and a changed attitude. The expressions “laughter” and “joy” as used here are terms related to the temporary kicks a person without Christ gets out of sin. Often pious people pretend sin has no pleasures. The sinner knows better. The Bible puts it in perspective however: “the passing pleasures of sin,” (Hebrews 11:25).

Other translations refer to the temporary nature of sin’s pleasures in these ways: “The short-lived pleasures of sin,” and “the fleeting enjoyment of a sinful life.” Get the picture? Sin does afford kicks, but they have a kick-back. Whereas, in the will of the Lord there are pleasures forever more. Pick your pleasures: those with a kick-back or those providing a delight in the moment with lasting joy. In picking your pleasures be kind to your tomorrow self. Grant enjoyable memories to yourself free from regret.

The word “covenant” means an agreement or testimony. Actually, our Bible is divided into a New and Old Testament, literally, new and old covenants. A covenant is an agreement. Therefore, agree with the Lord that you are going to “humble yourself.” It can result in a new beginning. “The Land of Beginning Again” by Louise Fletcher Tarkington: So I wish that there were some wonderful place Called the Land of Beginning Again Where all out mistakes and all our heartaches, And all our poor selfish grief Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door And never put on again. A renewed covenant will result in guidance.

King George VI of England during World War II made the following words vital in his new year’s address: “I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year – ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.'” The Lord will guide persons who make a covenant with Him.

Again I say this calls for a willful personal commitment from you. You are called on to make a choice.

George Beverly Shea, a name well known in Christian music, had to make such a decision as a young man. He was offered a significant secular recording contract and a major media job. During the time he was wrestling with this decision the Lord used his Godly mother to help make the decision. She copied two verses of Scripture and placed them on the piano. Shea came in and found them and sat for a time meditating on them. Slowly his fingers began to wander across the keyboard as ever so gradually his commitment as expressed in his newly emerging song beloved by millions.
He wrote and said:
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-scared hand.

Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

Beverly Shea made a covenant with God. He decided to follow Jesus and that decision has influenced every other decision he has made.

Make your decision today. “Boast not thyself of tomorrow” (Proverbs 27).

God has set before us an open door, a new millennium. No person can shut it. You can refuse to go through it, however. Likewise, you can choose to go through it with Him.

Two Trees In Eden

There were two significant trees in the Garden of Eden.

TREE NUMBER 1, The tree in the midst of the garden: “…of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die’” (Genesis 3:3). Tree number one is the tree of knowledge.

This was not a reference to physical death because he did not die immediately. He actually lived for a long time (Genesis 2:15-17; 5:4). Upon eating of tree number one Adam died spiritually as soon as he sinned by eating from it.

The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden indicated their spiritual separation from God. This expulsion indicates their spiritual alienation from God.

TREE NUMBER 2, The tree of life. Of the second tree God forbid Adam to eat of it saying, “…lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22).

Tree number two refers to physical life and death. It is logical that Adam did not eat of tree number two because he ultimately died physically. Their expulsion from the garden, symbolizing their spiritual separation from God, preceded the opportunity of eating from the tree of (physical) life.

Had they eaten from this tree, the tree of life, it would have made sinners immortal. We are blessed God expelled them before they could eat of this tree of life enabling them, and us living forever in an imperfect world.

The tree on which Christ died, the cross, proved to be the antidote to the expulsion. Thereby, death is defeated and our estranged relation restored. By His spiritual and physical deaths eternal life is once more made possible for all who repentantly rely on Him.

Our trust of and obedience to Christ reverses the result of Adam’s disobedience.

Christ’s cross is often looked upon as an instrument of death. It is actually the tree of life.

I Will Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills — from whence comes my help? (Psalm 121:1).

A traditional old Hebrew understanding of this suggests this Psalm of Ascent represents a time when David was engaged in a battle in which he was out manned. He had sent for reinforcements, and knew the direction from which they would come. They would be coming from the direction of a ridge of mountains behind him. It is in that direction he is looking. That is the direction from which help is coming, but in reality it is God who is providing the help.

This is a psalm of confidence. David cannot see his help, it is beyond the mountain ridge, but he is confident it is there and coming to his aid. So confident is he in God.

In our lives we have needs and can’t see how they will be supplied, but we can have confidence “God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory” (Phil. 4:19). He already has it in reserve, out of sight just over the mountain.

Remember …

“… those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31