For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
—1 Corinthians 11:23–26
How do you explain the evidence for the resurrection? Consider the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and baptism.
I bet most of you have never thought about this. But almost immediately after Jesus died His followers started meeting together—not just weekly but sometimes they met together daily to go through these rituals called the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Now, there’s nothing strange about that. All religions have rituals associated with them. But think for a moment what these particular rituals symbolize. When we take the Lord’s Supper, we take the bread or cracker, we break it, and we say, “This represents the broken body of Jesus Christ.” Then we hold up the grape juice and say, “This represents the blood flowing through Jesus’ veins that was spilled for your sins.” We are celebrating the death of Jesus.
In baptism we see the same thing. What’s the first part of baptism? We take somebody and say, “You are buried in the likeness of His death,” and we dunk their body down into the water. The picture is of the person being buried, the way Jesus was buried after His death. In baptism we are acknowledging the death of Jesus.
The early church immediately started two ordinances to celebrate the death of Jesus Christ. Do you realize how weird that is? Dr. Moreland explains it this way. He invites us to imagine that the greatest supporters and fans of John F. Kennedy wanted to meet together once a year to commemorate his life. So every November 22 the followers of John F. Kennedy got together to remember his life. There are a lot of things they might talk about at that gathering. They might talk about his courage in standing up to the Russians during the Cuban Missile Crisis. They might say that he was a leader of civil rights for blacks in America. They might talk about a lot of things about his life, but do you think that these followers of John F. Kennedy every November 22 would talk about and celebrate the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered him? Imagine them coming together and reenacting his death. Or imagine them singing songs to celebrate the death of John F. Kennedy. Can you imagine doing that? Of course not. You wouldn’t celebrate the murder of John F. Kennedy. Yet every time we gather together for the Lord’s Supper we are celebrating the murder of Jesus Christ. We are celebrating his death by putting people into the water during baptism. Why do we celebrate the Lord’s murder? Why is Good Friday good?
Here’s why; because the story doesn’t end with an empty cross. It ends with an empty tomb. That is why we’re able to celebrate the death of Christ. And both of those ordinances, the Lord’s Supper and baptism, link the death of Christ with the resurrection of Christ. We see that in the Lord’s Supper. Yes, we eat the bread and drink the cup, but we say we are doing this to remember Him until the Lord comes again. We’re expecting His soon return. Or when we baptize someone and dunk them into the water, we don’t leave them down there. The person is raised up out of the water—buried in the likeness of His death and then raised to walk in newness of life.
The fact that the early church started celebrating the death of Christ is a strong proof for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Simple Answers to Sincere Questions,” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.