Felix, the Roman governor of Judea, was well informed about had become known as “the Way” (Acts 24:22). His successor, Festus, not so much. Though he would not release Paul for fear of the Jews, Felix would hear Paul repeatedly (24:26b) on matters concerning “the subject of faith in Christ Jesus” (24:24). Two years later, Festus would also hear Paul because, though Felix was gone, Paul was still there in prison. And so, Festus himself heard the case against Paul presented again by his accusers. And, at the end of the day, he was “at a loss” as to what to do with “a dispute over such things” (Acts 25:20). A dispute over what kind of things?
. . . they [the chief priests and elders of the Jews] had some disagreements with him [Paul] about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, a dead man Paul claimed to be alive.
(Acts 25:19 ESV)
Jesus, a dead man alive. No wonder poor Festus was at such a loss.
For all the legitimate and eloquent ways we might present the gospel, doesn’t it sort of come down to this — Jesus was a dead man who now is alive? At the root of the good news is a promised Messiah, a substitutionary and atoning death, and an empty burial spot. Empty not because He was moved to another spot where His body returned to the earth, but empty because He rose from the grave, is alive, and has ascended to heaven.
Sounds crazy if you step back. But isn’t it the core?
. . and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith.. . . if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
(1Corinthians 15:14, 17 CSB)
A dead man alive. The foundation of our faith. If that is true, then He is to be believed and the Scriptures which testify of Him are to be received.
Chewing on the wonder of the resurrection this morning. He is alive!
And because He is alive, when He says that the atoning work sufficient to save my soul is finished (Jn. 19:30), it is! Because He is alive, when He says that I will live too (Jn. 14:19), I will. Because He is alive, when He says that He will live in me and through me (Gal. 2:20), He will. All because a dead man — the man Christ Jesus, Immanuel, God come in flesh — is alive.
Oh, what a Savior!
What grace to not be at a loss over such things, but in wonder and worship over such things.
To God be the glory!