Did Jesus Really Die?

By: Waylon Bailey ~

Somehow, the question almost seems silly. When you look at the biblical record and when you remember the common experience of all mankind, you wonder how anyone could think otherwise.

The actual facts are that many people in the first and second centuries questioned whether or not Jesus died. For the most part, these were Gnostics, a Greek word meaning “to know.” Gnostics believed that all matter is evil. Since they believed Jesus to be good, they did not believe that He was human. He only “seemed” to be human (this is Docetism, which comes from the Greek word for “seem.”)

Doesn’t it seem strange to modern ears that they believed Jesus to be God but not man?

The teaching of the Gnostics would deny the resurrection.

The apostle John, who lived during the beginning stages of this heresy, made it clear that Jesus was fully human as well as fully divine. That Jesus was fully God and fully man is the orthodox teaching of the Christian church. John’s Gospel combated the theories behind this heresy.

How do we know that Jesus really died?

First, John the Apostle witnessed the crucifixion and the death of Jesus. He testified that he saw this and that his testimony is true. He was an eyewitness to the events and along with many others gave his testimony that Jesus had been fully human and that he died on the cross (John 19:35).

John also testified in his epistles that the One they saw, heard, touched, and lived with for three years was indeed human flesh.

Second, the rushing of blood and water from the thrust of the soldier’s lance showed that Jesus had already died. John records this to combat the false teaching.

Third, the Roman soldiers knew life and death. They were not simply peace keepers. They were professional killers. They knew death. They would never have allowed the body of Jesus to be taken from the cross if he had not died. They did not break the legs of Jesus because there was no need to do so.

Finally, the testimony of Joseph and Nicodemus proved that Jesus had died. He did not simply seem to die. He actually died.

If you lived in Jerusalem during the events of these days you would find it difficult to know anyone more trustworthy and believable than Joseph and Nicodemus. They would be known by most of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They were part of the ruling Council of the Jews. They were respected leaders. The fact that these men buried the body of Jesus shows that He actually died.

For you and me, of course, the death of Jesus has significance beyond any of this discussion. We understand He took our place on the cross. He who had no sin became sin for us. He died for us, the righteous for the unrighteous, that we might know God.

We give thanks for the life of Jesus and for His atoning death on our behalf.

Have a blessed week of worship and praise as we move toward the Day of the Resurrection!