Why did the Apostles stand up to the Jewish leaders and risk death to announce Jesus Christ? 


Who was / is this Jesus?


     Jesus did not come to rule over a kingdom in any earthly-political sense; His mission was to conquer sin and Satan, and this end He could achieve only by suffering and dying.  Much education was needed before the apostles grasped this.  However, after the resurrection of their Master and the descent of the Holy Spirit, they stood up fearlessly and preached Christ crucified.  They withstood the temple officials who forbade them to teach.

     "What are we to do with these men?  Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign was done through them, and we cannot deny it.  But so that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us give them a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in this name."  
(Acts 4:16-17)

     So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, "Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.  It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard."  (Acts 4:18-20)

     After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them.  So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.  (Acts 5:40-41)

    It had finally become clear that the kingdom of God upon earth does not consist in ease and glory but in suffering and sacrifice.

     The King of the Jews died upon a Cross. To Him who arose from the dead all power was given in heaven and upon earth. 

To know this Christ, to accept the Church He founded, and to understand that the Holy Spirit guides it in matters of faith and morals, we must examine these six statements. 


I   Did Jesus Really Exist
        It is also important to recognize that in A.D. 70, the Romans invaded and destroyed Jerusalem and most of Israel, slaughtering its inhabitants.  Entire cities were literally burned to the ground.  We should not be surprised, then, if much evidence of Jesus' existence was destroyed.  Many of the eyewitnesses of Jesus would have been killed.  These facts likely limited the amount of surviving eyewitness testimony of Jesus.

    Considering that Jesus' ministry was largely confined to a relatively unimportant area in a small corner of the Roman Empire, a surprising amount of information about Jesus can be drawn from secular historical sources.  Some of the more important historical evidences of Jesus include the following:

The first-century Roman Tacitus, who is considered one of the more accurate historians of the ancient world, mentioned superstitious "Christians" (from Christus, which is Latin for Christ), who suffered under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.  Suetonius, chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian, wrote that there was a man named Chrestus (or Christ) who lived during the first century (Annais 15.44).

    Flavius Josephus is the most famous Jewish historian.  In his Antiquities he refers to James, "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ."  There is a controversial verse (18:3) that says, "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man.  For he was one who wrought surprising feats. . . . He was (the) Christ. . . he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him"  One version reads,  "At this time there was a wise man named Jesus.  His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous.  And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples.  Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.  But those who became his disciples did not abandon his discipleship.  They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders."

      Julius Africanus quotes the historian Thallus in a discussion of the darkness which followed the crucifixion of Christ (Extant Writings, 18).

     Pliny the Younger, in Letters 10:96, recorded early Christian worship practices including the fact that Christians worshiped Jesus as God and were very ethical, and he includes a reference to the love feast and Lord's Supper.   

     The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a) confirms Jesus' crucifixion on the eve of Passover and the accusations against Christ of practicing sorcery and encouraging Jewish apostasy.

     Lucian of Samosata was a second-century Greek writer who admits that Jesus was worshiped by Christians, introduced new teachings, and was crucified for them.  He said that Jesus' teaching included the brotherhood of believers, the importance of conversion, and the importance of denying other gods.  Christians lived according to Jesus' laws, believed themselves to be immortal, and were characterized by contempt for death, voluntary self-devotion, and renunciation of material goods.

     Mara Bar-Serapion confirms that Jesus was thought to be a wise and virtuous man, was considered by many to be the king of Israel, was put to death by the Jews, and lived on in the teachings of His followers.

     Then we have all the Gnostic writings (The Gospel of Truth, The Apocryphon of John, the Gospel of Thomas, the Treatise on Resurrection, etc.) that all mention Jesus.

     In fact, we can almost reconstruct the gospel just from early non-Christian sources:  Jesus was called the Christ (Josephus), did "magic," led Israel into new teachings, and was hanged on Passover for them (Bbvionian Talmud) in Judea (Tacitus). but claimed to be God and would return (Eliezar), which his followers believed, worshipping Him as God (Pliny the Younger).

     There is overwhelming evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, both in secular and biblical history.  Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus did exist is the fact that literally thousands of Christians in the first century A.D., including the twelve apostles, were willing to give their lives as martyrs for Jesus Christ.  People will die for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be a lie.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/Did_Jesus_Exist%3F_(Ehman)


II   Jesus claimed to be divine;
for which He was condemned to die.

Gospel Writers chapter and verse

    But Jesus remained silent. The high priest then said to him: “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”  Jesus answered: “It is you who say it.  But I tell you this: Soon you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  “At this the high priest tore his robes: “He has blasphemed!  What further need have we of witnesses?  Remember, you heard the blasphemy.  What is your verdict?”  They answered, “He deserves death!”  (Matthew 26:63-66)

    But Jesus remained silent; he made no reply.  Once again the high priest interrogated him: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”  Then Jesus answered: “I am; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”  At that the high priest tore his robes and said: “What further need do we have of witnesses?  You have heard the blasphemy.  What is your verdict?”  They all concurred in the verdict. “Guilty,” with its sentence of death.    (Mark 4:61-64)

    At daybreak, the elders of the people, the chief priests and the scribes assembled again.  Once they had brought him before their council, they said, “Tell us, are you the Messiah?”  He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I question you, you will not answer.  This much only will I say: ‘From now on, the Son of Man will have his seat at the right hand of the Power of God,’”  “So you are the Son of God?”  they asked in chorus.  He answered, “It is you who say I am.”  They said, “What need have we of witnesses?  We have heard it from his own mouth.”  (Luke 22:66-71)

     Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus.  “Are you the King of the Jews?”  he asked him.  Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or have others been telling you about me?”  I am no Jew!”  Pilate retorted, “It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me.  What have you done?”  Jesus answered; “My kingdom does not belong to this world.  If my kingdom were of this world, my subjects would be fighting to save me from being handed over to the Jews.  As it is, my kingdom is not here.”  At this Pilate said to him, “So, then, you are a king?”  Jesus replied: “It is you who say I am a king.  The reason I was born, the reason why I came into the world, is to testify to the truth.  Anyone committed to the truth hears my voice.”  (John 18:33-37)

     It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.  And he said to the Jews, "Behold, your king!"  They cried out, "Take him away, take him away!  Crucify him!"  Pilate said to them,  "Shall I crucify your king?"  The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar."  Then he handed him over to them to be crucified."  (Jn 19:14-16)


III   Jesus proved he was divine. 

Raised Lazarus from the dead

     So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.  It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.  Jesus said, "Take away the stone."  Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him, "Lord, by now there will be a stench; be has been dead for four days."  Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?"  So they took away the stone.  And Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you  for hearing me.  I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me."  And when he had said this, he cried out in a aloud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"  The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.  So Jesus said to them, "Untie him and let him go."  (John 11:38-44)

Cured the leper

    Suddenly a leper came forward and did him homage, saying to him, “Sir, if you will to do so, you can cure me.  Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him and said, “I do will it.  Be cured.”  Immediately the man’s leprosy disappeared.
(Matthew 8:2-3)

Girl brought back to life

     Before Jesus had finished speaking to them, a synagogue leader came up, did him reverence, and said: “My daughter has just died.  Please come and lay your hand on her and she will come back to life.”

     When Jesus arrived at the synagogue leaders’ house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a din, he said, “Leave, all of you!  The little girl is not dead.  She is asleep.”  At this they began to ridicule him.  When the crowd had been put out he entered and took her by the hand, and the little girl got up.  News of this circulated throughout the district. (Matthew 9:18-19, 23-25)

Cured Blind Bartimaeus

    They came to Jericho.  And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.  On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me."  Jesus stopped and said, "Call him."  So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, he is calling you."  He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.  Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?"  The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see."  Jesus told him, "Go your way, your faith has saved you."  Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:46-52)

Raised the Widow's Son

    Soon afterward he journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.  As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.  A large crowd from the city was with her.  when the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, "Do not weep."  He stepped forward and touched the coffin, at this the bearers halted, and he said, "Young man, I tell you arise!"  The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.  Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, "A great prophet has arisen in our midst," and "God has visited his people."  This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.  (Luke 7:11-17)

Cured the Paralyzed Man

     One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing.  And some men bought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set (him) in his presence.  But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus.  When he saw their faith, he said, "As for you, your sins are forgiven."  Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies?  Who but God alone can forgive sins?"  Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, "What are you thinking in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk!"  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" - he said to the man who was paralyzed, "I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home."  He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God.  Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, "We have seen incredible things today."  (Luke 5:17-26)


Rose from the Dead

    After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.  And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.  His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow.  The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.  Then the angel said to the women in reply, "Do not be afraid!  I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.  He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.'  Behold, I have told you."  Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.  They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.  Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid.  Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."  (Matthew 28:1-10)

    When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.  Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.  They were saying to one another, "Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?"  When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large.  On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed.  He said to them, "Do not be amazed!  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been raised; he is not here.  Behold, the place where they laid him.  But go and tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.'"  Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment.  They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  (Mark 16:1-8)

    But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to tomb.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.  They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.  They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead?  He is not here, but he has been raised.  Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee.  that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day."  (Luke 24:1-7)


IV   Jesus gathered an Inner Circle.

Explained his teaching to the Apostles

    This is why I speak to them in parables, because 'they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.' (Mt 13:13)

    "But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.  Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." (Mt 13:16-17)

V  He told them to teach all nations.

    He said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.  (Mark 16:15-16)

   He sent out His apostles not as the head of an earthly principality but as the sovereign ruler of the universe.  They were to preach the good news of His Gospel to Gentile nations, as the prophets had foretold.  The Church they were establishing should embrace the entire world and continue to the end of time.  The world was not destined to remain pagan, it was to be transformed in Christ.

VI They would receive the Holy Spirit who would guide the Church until the end of time.


The Ascension

    Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

    Then he led them as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them.  As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.  They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.  (Luke 24:50-53)

    So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.  (Mark 16:19)

    Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."  (Matthew 28:18-19)

    But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.  He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.  He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.  Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.  (John 16:13-15)

    "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."  (Matthew 28:20)

Nevertheless, the kingdom of God heralded by the prophets, founded by Jesus and proclaimed by His apostles does not immediately bestow the beatitude of heaven.  During the first centuries thousands offered their blood in testimony to their faith in Christ and His Gospel.  Down to this very day Jesus is preached as the Crucified, and men accept and obey the despised and persecuted Son of God.  Opposition to God continues, as once upon the mount where Jesus was tempted.  Bread, fame, and power are promised Christians if they but fall down and adore.  Princes and people continue to rise against God and against His Anointed.  Again and again it appears as if victory was theirs.  But Christ remains King of the world.  He shatters His foes as a potter's vessel.

    Why do the nations protest and the peoples grumble in vain?  Kings on earth rise up and princes plot together against the Lord and his anointed:  "Let us break their shackles and cast off their chains!"  The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord derides them, then speaks to them in anger, terrifies them in wrath: "I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain."  I will proclaim the decree of the Lord, who said to me, "You are my son; today I am your father.  Only ask it of me, and I will make your inheritance the nations, your possession the ends of the earth.  With an iron rod you shall shepherd them, like a clay pot you will shatter them."  And now, kings, give heed; take warning, rulers on earth.  Serve the Lord with fear; with trembling bow down in homage, lest God be angry and you perish from the way in a sudden blaze of anger.  Happy are all who take refuge in God!  (Psalm 2)




    And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  (Matthew 24:30)