Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Jesus is different than any other religious leader who ever lived because He made unique claims that no other religious leader ever made.
Jesus claimed to conquer death. Jesus repeatedly told His disciples that He would be killed by His enemies, but on the third day He would be raised from the dead. Matthew 16:21 says, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” Furthermore, Jesus said the proof that He was who He said He was would be the empty tomb.
In Matthew 12:38-40, some religious leaders said to Jesus, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” Jesus answered, “An evil and an adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” In other words, Jesus was saying, “Just as Jonah was in that great fish for three days, so I am going to be in the grave for three days; but I am going to be raised on the third day.”
You may be thinking, “That is reading a lot into those verses. Are you sure Jesus was talking about His resurrection?” Yes. Even Jesus’ enemies knew He was talking about His resurrection from the dead. That is why the day after Jesus died, the Jewish leaders did everything they could to make sure His body stayed in that grave. Matthew 27:62-64 says, “Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, ‘Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, “After three days I am to rise again.” Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, “He has risen from the dead,” and the last deception will be worse than the first.’” They wanted the tomb secured because they knew what Jesus had claimed. They did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah–they did not expect Him to conquer death–but they did expect the disciples to try to steal the body. So they wanted to make sure His body stayed there.
There is no other religious leader in history who was killed, who was buried, and who rose from the dead and left behind an empty tomb. Not one. Confucius, Buddha, Muhammad–none of them ever died, was buried, and rose from the dead. And not one of them even claimed they were going to do that. Only Jesus claimed He could conquer death and, in fact, did conquer death. And because Jesus conquered death, those of us who believe in Him will as well.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Jesus: Man, Myth, Or Messiah?” ” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
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.