DID JESUS REALLY DIE? He compared Himself to Jonah. We know Jonah was alive!

                                                                          

                                                                           QUESTION 14

JESUS COMPARED HIS THREE DAYS IN THE GRAVE TO THAT OF JONAH'S EXPERIENCE. BUT JONAH WAS ALIVE IN THE FISH! DOESN'T THAT INDICATE THAT CHRIST DIDN'T REALLY DIE? (SEE MATTHEW 12:40)

 

          Let us first read the concerned passage of Scripture:

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40) 

          Jonah was preserved alive in the heart of the sea, miraculously, by the hand of the Lord. But Jesus indeed died and was in the heart of the earth (grave) for three days, and came back alive! Listen to Jesus on His experience and victory over death and grave:

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:18)

The word "hell" is from the Greek "hades" which means "grave".

          When Jesus told His disciples about His death, shortly before it happened, they were not ready to receive it, as their conception of the Messiah was different. Matthew records:

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (Matthew 16:21)

          Look at how the passionate, but ignorant, Peter tries to impose his view on this matter:

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. (Matthew 16:22)

Though Peter meant good he was just showing how little he understood the plan of salvation. It is very interesting to note as to how Jesus responded to this suggestion of Peter.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:23)

          Jesus called Peter as "Satan"! Because Satan was using Peter at that time! Satan hated the death of Jesus and still hates the ones who talk about Jesus' victorious death on Calvary, because it was on the Cross the devil got defeated. The death of Jesus saves man from eternal death, and will send the devil there, finally! The apostle wrote:

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. (Hebrews 2:14)

          The centrality of the Gospel is the death of Jesus. That is where the overflowing love of God was seen. Jesus testified emphatically to this:

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:17, 18)

          The death of Jesus was the ultimate demonstration of the Father's love for the fallen race. Paul wrote:

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

          For those who have tasted His forgiving love, His death is the theme of their song. As the apostle said, so also will all of God's redeemed say:

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

          For the ones who have not understood the plan of salvation and have not experienced God's love, the whole issue of His atoning death is a "foolish" matter!

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God... But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23, 24)

          Satan, who is the "father of lies" (John 8:44) was already spreading his lie about what happened at Calvary, and as to how we are saved. The apostle Paul strongly rebuked the ones who were deceived on this subject. He wrote:

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? (Galatians 3:1)

          At the beginning of the epistle he wrote that if any man or even an angel comes down from Heaven preaching something contrary to what Christ and His apostles and prophets preached, they will be lost!

There be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:7-9)

"Accursed" comes from the Greek word "anathema", meaning, "excommunicated" or eternally lost. The phrase "An angel from heaven" is a reference to the devil that can appear as an angel of light. The apostle wrote:

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15)

          It is strange as to how people could not understand that the death of the Messiah had to take place. The very manner in which Christ was introduced to the world by the greatest prophet, John the Baptist, clearly revealed that the Messiah would have to die!

John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)

          Jesus was introduced in the sanctuary language of the Old Testament-the "Lamb" of God. And all who have read their Bibles, especially about the topic of the sanctuary and the ceremonial system of the Old Testament Scriptures, know that a lamb has to die! It is written:

And he shall kill the lamb of the trespass offering, and the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering. (Leviticus 14:25)

          The angels of Heaven are rejoicing over the thought about the victory of the Son of God by His death. John the apostle wrote what he saw in vision:

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:11, 12)

"The Lamb that was slain" is the theme of the angels too!

          ONE MIGHT SAY: Why then did Jesus compare His Calvary's experience to Jonah's experience, when Jonah was alive, whereas Christ was not? Jesus said:

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)

          We need to look as to where the emphasis lies. Our focus should be where it was meant to be. The phrase, "Three days and three nights" is repeated in the above verse. That is, therefore, the point of comparison.

          If we try to compare all things of Jonah and Christ because the Lord drew a parallel, then we are misinterpreting Scripture. For example, Jonah was in a fish, but Christ was not. Jonah landed in the fish because of his disobedience, but Christ was sinless. Jonah worked no miracles, but Christ did more healing than preaching.

          Jonah preached in a foreign land, but Christ basically preached in His home country. Jonah did not bleed when he was in the fish, but Christ was stained with blood, and it was drained out from Him on Calvary!

          Please remember that a doctrine is not built on a text or two. All texts related to a particular subject have to be taken into consideration before interpreting it.

          Satan is good at singling out texts, or quoting just a portion of it, or dropping out a portion of it, and building a theory to make God's word appear to contradict. He did that to Christ in the wilderness temptation. This is what he said to Christ:

If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (Matthew 4:6)

Satan was quoting Psalm 91. He was accurate except that he omitted a portion of it, which made the difference! Look carefully to identify the portion he omitted.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11, 12)

"To keep thee in all thy ways" is what he did not want to quote, because that phrase puts the text in the right perspective. When angels "keep thee in all thy ways" you will not be presumptuous to test their skills!

          Read the following text from the several hundreds that talk about the death of Jesus.

For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. (Romans 14:9)

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (1 Thessalonians 4:14)

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

          A Roman soldiers pierced His side to be sure He was indeed dead.

Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. (John 19:32-35)

          God knew that Satan would come up with a theory that Christ did not actually die; therefore He wanted the death of His Son to be even confirmed by two important men in the Roman army-Pilate and the Centurion--who were not Jews!

And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. (Mark 15:44, 45)