The Death and Resurrection of Jesus
Jesus lived with a profound sense of purpose. He spoke and act in ways that show he saw himself as the culmination of the story of Israel, as the one through whom God’s purposes would be achieved. In Jesus, God was finally acting to restore the world— now distorted by sin, death and decay— just as he promised Abraham long ago. But this restoration would come at a cost. Jesus knew restoration could only happen if he faced death himself, exhausting it, and demonstrating his victory over it by coming back to life. In all the Gospels, the cross stands at the centre of history – the pivot point around which everything revolves.
The remainder of the New Testament explores the significance of the cross through many lenses, in differing contexts, unpacking in various ways of what Jesus achieved for the world and for us.
As you read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection this month, consider what the authors are trying to tell us about the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. What does it mean? What is its impact? According to the Bible, how is your life different because of what Jesus did on the cross?
Jesus goes to his death: Luke 22-23
The Last Supper stands in all the gospels as an event fore-telling the significance of all that follows in Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. The Passover – the Jewish feast celebrating the exodus – was infused with so many ‘types’ and symbols which found their fulfilment and completion in Jesus’ death and resurrection. His death will be a new exodus in the way that a new covenant comes about.
As you read, consider all the ways in which the Old Testament foreshadows these events. List them down so that you can continue to meditate on them. Remembering that these are actual historical events, place your yourself in the shoes of the disciples who watched Jesus go to his death. What would they have felt and thought? What do we learn in this passage about their understanding of Jesus’ death?
John’s testimony to the Crucifixion: John 19
The apostle John brings fresh insights on the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. Undoubtedly he is describing the same event, but his personal ‘eyewitness’ account supplies additional details and perspective to that of Matthew, Mark and Luke– which share commons sources.
Compare each of the four gospel accounts, noting their differences and similarities. Notice how each brings a fresh nuance and thematic approach, and see what conclusions you draw from each.
The first day of the week: John 20–21
Resurrection Sunday was the first day of the week, most appropriate for making all things new. Jesus’ defeat of death is more than the defeat of Satan and sin. Jesus is also crowned king of God’s kingdom, the ruler of Life which will ultimately restore all creation.
Early on that Sunday morning, beyond all hope, the tomb was empty. John paints the scene beautifully: the confusion of Mary; turning to a dawning acceptance among all the disciples.
The details of this passage are all significant. What is John trying to tell us about Jesus’ resurrected body? What possible misunderstandings is John trying to guard against?
The Road to Emmaus: Luke 24
Two of Jesus disciples are walking away from Jerusalem in despair. With Jesus execution, all the hopes have been dashed. A stranger appears beside them, walking with them. By retelling the whole story of Israel, he explains why Jesus had to die, and why he must then enter into glory. Over a shared meal that evening, before suddenly departing, the stranger drops the hint that he is actually the resurrected Jesus!
What is the significance of this Emmaus Road conversation for understanding both the resurrection, and the biblical story?
Shedding light on the scene
Everything reconnected: Ephesians 1:7-10; 2:1-18
In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he paints a broad picture of the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. How might these verses give the believer a framework big enough to embrace human experience, in all its complexity? How might the believers at Ephesus to see the world and their lives differently, because of what Jesus has done?
Life and death: Colossians 1:15-20; 2:13–15
Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae speaks about Jesus’ death and resurrection, combining the personal and the cosmic. It issues a challenge to us today to live in the new reality created by death and resurrection of Jesus.
According to Paul, what did God achieve through the cross?
Victory and Empathy: Hebrews 2:14-18
The writer of Hebrews sees that in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God is fulfilling his promises to Abraham. Further, we see that, in Jesus, God has entered into our struggles, and shares with us in them.
What encouragement do you take away from this portrayal of Jesus?
Understanding Ministry and Humanity: Philippians 2:1-10
This passage includes what is probably an early Christian hymn of worship. It wrestles with one of the most powerful questions of the Christian faith: if we are to understand Jesus as fully God and fully human, what does the cross tell us about the life of a Christian? Consider this question deeply. What should this mean for your life today?
Looking forward and backward
The death and resurrection of Jesus appears, on first reading, to come out of nowhere. But as Jesus himself explains in Luke 24, it’s actually the culmination of the entire story of Scripture. Profoundly woven into the fabric of the biblical narrative are powerful themes of restoration, the conquering of death, and salvation through suffering. Patterns and ‘types’ are established which find the fulfilment in the gospels.
What light do the passages below shed on the significance of Jesus death and resurrection? What do we learn about God and his plans for us and for creation?
The problem of death: Ecclesiastes 1:1-11; 12:1-8
After the Fall, humanity is seemingly consigned to a short and futile life, followed by certain death. Without God’s intervention, existence itself is meaningless.
Is there any hope for humanity outside of the reversal of death? If death is the certain consequence of human sin, how can it possibly be overcome?
The Suffering Servant: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Central to Isaiah’s wonderful picture of God‘s redemption is the strange picture of the Suffering Servant. We have previously considered this central figure in the prophecies of Isaiah. Looking back now, how do you see Jesus completing the mission of this figure?
Resurrection: Ezekiel 37
In Ezekiel‘s vision, the resurrection of God’s people acts as a metaphor for their resurrection out of exile. In the time of Jesus, the resurrection is no longer a metaphor, but something very tangible: the first fruits of resurrection are visible for all to see. What do you see in this passage that fuels our hope as we look forward to God’s restoration of all things.
We will be like Jesus: 1 Corinthians 15
For Paul, the resurrection is central to the Gospel. Jesus resurrection is a foretaste of what one day all believers will experience. How is your hope in your future resurrection strengthened by this passage?
Reading the whole Bible
|Oct. 1: Acts 1-3|
Oct. 2: Acts 4-6
Oct. 3: Acts 7-9
Oct. 4: Acts 10-12
Oct. 5: Acts 13-15
Oct. 6: Acts 16-18
Oct. 7: Acts 19-21
Oct. 8: Acts 22-24
Oct. 9: Acts 25-27
Oct. 10: Acts 28; 1 Cor. 1-3
Oct. 11: 1 Cor. 4-6
Oct. 12: 1 Cor. 7-10
Oct. 13: 1 Cor. 11-13
Oct. 14: 1 Cor. 14-16; 2 Cor. 1
Oct. 15: 2 Cor. 2-4
|Oct. 16: 2 Cor. 5-8|
Oct. 17: 2 Cor. 9-11
Oct. 18: 2 Cor. 12-13; Gal. 1-2
Oct. 19: Gal. 3-5
Oct. 20: Gal. 6; Eph. 1-3
Oct. 21: Eph. 4-6
Oct. 22: Phil. 1-4
Oct. 23: Col. 1-3
Oct. 24: Col. 4; 1 Thes. 1-3
Oct. 25: 1 Thes. 4-5; 2 Thes. 1
Oct. 26: 2 Thes. 2-3; 1 Tim. 1-2
Oct. 27: 1 Tim. 3-5
Oct. 28: 1 Tim. 6; 2 Tim. 1-3
Oct. 29: 2 Tim. 4; Tit. 1-2
Oct. 30: Tit. 3; Phile. 1; Jas. 1-2
Oct. 31: Jas. 3-5