“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
-1 Corinthians 15:55
WHEN JESUS WILLINGLY went to the cross, he proved that he deeply loved us. But, if Jesus was just a moral teacher with no hint of divinity or just some lunatic who claimed to be God, then honestly, who cares? I have better thing to do with my time than studying the life and ramblings of a madman. On the other hand, if Jesus truly was God as he claimed, then his death on the cross has tremendous significance! Unbelievable significance! Utmost significance!
The apparent question then lies in how the God of the Universe proves to a skeptical humanity that He is who He says He is. Would fulfilling prophecy convince the skeptic? Not if the people were looking for a political king instead of the King who conquers sin. Would miracles suffice? Evidently not since the masses still sought to kill him despite the numerous healings and miraculous signs they witnessed. Would His profound wisdom and deep spiritual insights convince the hearts of men? Not really since many thought His teachings were confused and even blasphemous. The sad truth was that even his own disciples who were eyewitness to his fulfilled prophecies, public miracles, and transcendent teachings were not convinced enough of his divinity to stay courageous beside their Lord when the world pressed hard against him. The only way it seemed for God to convinces the doubters was to do the unthinkable—rise from the dead!
On Easter Sunday, Jesus proved His divinity and mocked death. His resurrection was the final nail in the coffin of all doubt (including Thomas’ doubt). And it was also the final nail in the coffin of death itself. The Law was satisfied, the penalty was paid, and the pain of death was now reduced from eternal separation from our Father to just a mild sting.
And, regarding his disheartened and confused disciples, something amazing happened. These simple men transformed almost overnight from meek skeptics into bold visionaries because of the truth of Jesus’ divinity confirmed by his resurrection. Even Thomas, whose doubt was displayed for all the world to see, went to his death preaching the exclusivity of Jesus in a land that claimed home to millions of deities. None of these disciples, save possibly one, died naturally (and that one died in prison). These simple fishermen and tax collectors were martyred because of their passionate faith in Jesus. Before the resurrection, they feared death. After the resurrection, they feared nothing. As firsthand witnesses to the death of death itself, what was there to fear?