Throughout history, when leaders of popular movements died, their followers would band together to keep their messages and their missions alive.  But when Jesus was crucified, the movement he began came to a screeching halt.  The mission died with him because he was the mission.  Rather than a list of “believe that’s”, Jesus centered his teaching on a single “believe in”.  Jesus called his followers to believe in him.  Not his ideas.  Jesus reflects this theme in some of his most popular statements:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   – John 3:16

“I and the Father are one.” – John 10:30

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” – John 14:9

- How does Jesus’ statements about himself make him unique?

-What do they tell us about him?

-Why was Jesus death particularly devastating for the continuation of his message?

It should come as no surprise that when Jesus’ disciples watched him die, they watched the movement die with him.  Messiah’s don’t die.  Sons of God can’t be killed.  But there he was.  Nailed to a Roman cross.  When Jesus died, no one believed he was who he claimed to be.  When Jesus died, there were no more Christians. 

This is where the story becomes both unexplainable and undeniable.  It’s unexplainable because there’s no good explanation as to why Jesus’ disciples would later risk their lives to reengage.  It’s undeniable because here we are about two thousand years later discussing it.  What’s most important for our purpose is to understand that the hinge (the thing that makes all the difference) was not something Jesus taught.  It was something Jesus did. 

He came back to life. 

Jesus rose from the dead and nobody was outside his tomb waiting.  Not even his most loyal followers believed he had come back to life until they saw him.  And upon seeing him, they believed.  With the resurrection of Jesus, there was a resurrection of faith. 

-How does the disciples’ behavior lend credibility to the claims of Christianity?

- Why wasn’t Jesus’ sacrificial death and forgiveness of our sins enough? In essence, why is the resurrection essential to the Christian faith?

-How has your view of Jesus been impacted after reflecting on his death and resurrection? 

- Getting practical: How can the message of Easter work itself out in your everyday life?