Distinctive | Christians believe that Jesus died for a reason, Judaism believes that Jesus died for no reason, and Islam believes that Jesus did not die at all. As the Qur’an states, “[The Jews] said, ‘We have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of God.’ (They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to them.)” .
Prophecy | Isaiah prophesied that the Jewish Messiah would die: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted … like a lamb that is led to the slaughter … he poured out his soul to death” . Isaiah foretold that his death would have a purpose: “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” . Yet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would rise again as a result of his sacrificial death: “When his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” .
Importance | These prophesied truths about the purposeful death and resurrection of the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” .
Lord | The heart of Christianity is that Jesus died for our sins. To reject the death and resurrection of the Messiah, therefore, is to reject the Old Testament and the New Testament. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis reasoned that Jesus had to be more than a teacher: “You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Prayer | Lord, We come to you through Jesus, who had to die so that we could be in the presence of God. Increase our faith in him so that we see him as the prophesied Messiah, who suffered to redeem us. Amen.