Tell Me the Story
Published April 5, 2023
“For 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.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
“Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word; tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.” These words from the great hymnist Fanny Crosby remind us that there is no story so glorious, no news so wonderful, no message so sublime as the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unbelievers mock us for turning to the same story again and again. In their blindness, the children of darkness scoff, but those whose eyes have been opened, who have drunk deeply from well of living water, who have tasted the words “sweeter than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10) never tire of hearing the gospel, for the glorious grace displayed at Calvary is inexhaustible. He who has an ear, let him hear the gospel again.
“Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.” The divine Son, the second person of the Trinity, coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, took on human flesh and became a man, yet without ceasing to be God. This God-man was born of a virgin, lived a completely sinless life, and then willingly went to the cross to atone for our sins. In the words of a popular worship song, “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.” The physical suffering alone—the beatings, the crown of thorns, the agony of crucifixion (one of the cruelest forms of execution ever devised and from which the word excruciating is derived)—staggers the mind, but it pales into comparison to the weight of our sin and the wrath of God that was poured out on Him.
In one sense, the cross was the greatest tragedy in history. There was no act more evil, heinous, or abominable that the murder of the Son of the God. Yet in another sense, the cross was history’s greatest triumph. Though evil men were gathered against Jesus, they unwittingly carried out “whatever God’s hand and God’s plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:28). The proof lies with the fact that Christ’s death was “in accordance with the Scriptures.” The details of His death were declared beforehand—details such as His pierced hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Isa. 53:5; Zech. 12:10), the casting of lots for His garments (Psalm 22:18), and even the specific taunts of the watching crowds (Psalm 22:7-8). The Old Testament also prophesied of the significance and purpose of the cross, namely, to atone for our sins. “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” (Isa. 53:5). This demonstrates that the cross was God’s plan for salvation all along.
“He was buried.” Fixed between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is Jesus’ burial. We sometimes overlook the significance of His burial, but Paul considered this a matter of “first importance,” a key component of the gospel. Why then was Jesus buried? The Heidelberg Catechism gives the following answer: “His burial testifies that he really died.” Because “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) and “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22), only Jesus’ death could fully satisfy the wrath of God and atone for our sins. Jesus’ burial puts to rest any doubts that He truly died.
His burial also fulfills the Scriptures. According to Jesus Himself, Jonah’s three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish prefigured Jesus’ three days in the tomb (Matt. 12:38-41). The Scriptures also predict that the Messiah would be buried in the tomb of a rich man (Isa. 53:9).
Christ “was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). The significance of the resurrection cannot be overstated. It is the single most important event in history, and without it, there is no Christianity. Paul tells us that “if Christ is not raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 15:17).
Through the resurrection, Christ was “vindicated by the Spirit” (1 Tim. 3:16). The resurrection vindicates Jesus’s claim that He was the Son of God, for He “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). It also vindicates Him of all charges of sin and proves His innocence, for Christ could not pay the penalty for our sins if He Himself was a sinner. The resurrection also demonstrates that His sacrifice on our behalf was accepted by the Father, for He was “raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25). Lastly it guarantees the resurrection of all true Christians (1 Cor. 15:20). All of this was “in accordance with the Scriptures.” David “foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption” (Psalm 16:9-11; Acts 2:25-31).
If you are hearing the gospel for the first time or have heard it before but have not believed, I urge you to place your trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Your sin has separated you from God and you are under His wrath, but the good news is, Christ died for sinners. Repent of your sins and turn to Him.
For those of us who are already in Christ, may we meditate on the marvelous work that our Savior has accomplished on our behalf. May we never tire of saying, “Tell me the story of Jesus.”