Here we are in Easter 2021 and Christians are still talking about the resurrection! What’s the deal?!
In the latest podcast from Bible Feed, released today, Josh and our guest for this episode, Nathan Sutcliffe, discuss the origin of this astonishing claim. They highlight the historical phenomena that simply refuse to be explained by anything else other than Jesus actually rising from the dead.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this world-changing few days in history and what it means to you. You can listen and give us your feedback at BibleFeed.org.
We’ve also prepared the short explainer video below to summarise the evidence for which we think, the resurrection of Jesus provides the best explanation.
From 6pm (British Summer Time) on Thursday 1st April a series of posts will be made, following the events from the Last Supper to the Resurrection of Jesus through the eyes of those involved.
If social media had existed in the first century AD, see what the main characters involved might have posted! Follow the Gospel Online Facebook page to experience how events unfolded over the three days that changed the world.
Some parts of the Bible make great reading, they have action, drama and engaging characters. Other parts are dull as dishwater and sometimes plain weird – like Leviticus!
Leviticus is the third book of the BIble, coming after Genesis and Exodus. It’s all about how to perform sacrifices, what food is clean and unclean, how Israel’s priests should remain holy and Israel’s annual cycle of feasts. Irrelevant to a 21st century Christian right? Well, maybe not entirely…
Firstly, the book is positioned immediately after the end of Exodus where the tabernacle, or tent of meeting, is completed and the record says; “the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle”. So the question that Leviticus addresses is ‘how can God dwell amongst people?’ Secondly, Leviticus is very carefully structured in a symmetrical form with the focal mid-point being chapter 16, the arrangements for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). This single day in the religious calendar of the ancient Israelites is about removing the uncleanness of sin from the people and the sanctuary so that God may continue to dwell among the people. If the book of Leviticus is providing an ancient perspective on the question ‘how can God dwell amongst people?’ then it may well have something to say to Christian communities wondering about how God might be with them.
Positioned on either side of the chapters about the Day of Atonement are chapters which describe two different kinds of impurity or uncleanness.
Ritual impurity Associated with: contact with the dead, unclean meat, corrupting skin diseases, procreation and birth.
Unavoidable parts of daily life Impurity is not permanent The uncleanness is contagious There are procedures to be made clean There is no personal guilt attached to it.
Moral impurity Associated with: idolatry, sexual immorality, bloodshed and murder
They are actions of personal choice They bring personal guilt They leave a stain on the individual, the land and the sanctuary There is no procedure to remedy it If practiced would lead to exile from the land and God’s departure from his people
Source: Klawans, J., 2004. Concepts of Purity in the Bible. In A. Berlin & M. Z. Brettler, eds. The Jewish Study Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 2041.
This seems to highlight two perspectives. Firstly, the ritual impurities recognise the weakness inherent in being a human being and the cycle of death and birth associated with mortality. While it is important to recognise this inherent weakness, it does not prevent God from working with and dwelling amongst people. In fact, large parts of the Biblical narrative are about God continuing to work with flawed people! This is just as relevant to Christian communities today – yes, we must be humble in the face of our inherent weakness but be comforted that God does not hold us guilty for being human, on the contrary, he wants to work with us.
Secondly, the moral failures described in Leviticus show that when people commit to those personal choices they alienate themselves from God and this has an affect on their community. Leviticus shows that the Law had no remedy for these acts and this sets up a contrast between Law and Faith which is drawn out in the New Testament particularly in the book of Hebrews. No legal procedure could deal with these moral impurities but the impact that the sacrifice of Jesus can have on a person’s conscience is able to produce the faith and change of heart that leads to full forgiveness. This is summarised in Hebrews 9:13-14.
“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
So maybe Levitius does have something to say to Christians after all!
We’ve started a new series in our podcasts about discovering Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Dan Weatherall is working through some of the key points, such as, why does Matthew begin with a ‘boring’ family tree and why does it seem to include so many non-Jews and outsiders of questionable character!? We also start to explore the remarkable structure of the Gospel and what Matthew is trying to say when he calls Jesus ‘Immanuel’ or God with us. Tune in and follow the series.
You can listen to our podcast from the Bible Feed website here, or you can search for “Bible Feed” and find us on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon, InTune and probably a few other podcast apps!
The final words of Jesus to his disciples, as he stood on the Mount of Olives before disappearing from their sight were: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
This commission to his followers is clear enough but if you continue reading the book of the Acts of the Apostles you start to realise that it is charting the outworking of that command.
After the introduction in chapter 1, the narrative tells of remarkable events in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when Peter and the apostles spoke to the gathered crowds. Regardless of their native tongue, the people heard a remarkable claim – God has created something new, he has raised Jesus his son from the dead! He had been seen alive again and this was the evidence that he was God’s Messiah, not just for Israel but for “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord” (Acts 2:21). Acts chapter 2 to 7 recount the impact of this extraordinary claim on the people in Jerusalem.
From chapter 8 to 12 the narrative spreads out from Jerusalem to the surrounding countryside – Judea and Samaria. The first non-Jewish converts start to embrace the universal call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g. Cornelius in Acts 10). Communities of believers start to develop, founded on the ground-breaking concept that no temple or building is required to worship God, the very community itself is the temple – a living temple!
The spread of the message of this new way of living which breaks down barriers (between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female) now starts to snowball. Acts chapters 13 to 20 describe the missionary journeys of Paul through the Roman Empire. His church planting achievements are astonishing, but the work for Paul was all consuming, fraught with both physical danger and the emotional stress of guiding the young Jesus-communities. Despite all this, Paul had one further ambition – to take the Gospel of Jesus to the very centre of the Empire that stood for the opposite of Jesus – to take the Gospel to Rome.
Acts chapters 21 to 28 tell of the unexpected turn of events that eventually brought Paul to Rome, where, even while under house arrest, he actively preached the Gospel and supported the church there. And here is where the book of Acts ends. The Gospel had indeed travelled from Jerusalem, through Judea and Samaria and to the other side of the Empire. It had spread from Jerusalem in the backwater province of Judea to the centre of the world – Rome.
But the book also finishes with this description of the people in Rome who heard Paul: “and some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved” (Acts 28:24). It’s almost as if the book is begging the same question of its readers – will you be convinced? Read the book of Acts for yourself, follow the extraordinary history of the spread of the Gospel along with the trials and triumphs of the characters that fulfilled their Master’s commission and perhaps be inspired to take it up yourself!
We think the Bible and its story-line centred in Jesus is the most wonderful thing. We would love to learn with you and enrich your appreciation of the Scriptures, whatever your current level of knowledge! We provide remote learning courses and materials so that you can read, study and enjoy the Bible at your own pace. Please take a look at them here.