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A Social Earthquake
History records that a literal social earthquake was happening amongst the Jews within only a few weeks of Jesus' crucifixion and his rising from the dead.
A Social Earthquake
We’ve been talking about the circumstantial evidence that points to the truth that Jesus really did rise from the dead. In the last two videos we talked about the transformation of the fearful apostles into men of courage. They were willing to die for Jesus --- and most of them did. We also pointed out the conversion of skeptics such as Christ’s half brother James and Saul of Taursus who became the Apostle Paul.
But history records that a literal social earthquake was happening amongst the Jews. Within only a few weeks of Jesus’ crucifixion and rising from the dead there were over 10,000 Jews who were following him. That might not seem so amazing by today’s standards where people are easily blown from one belief to the other based on little more evidence then that they read or heard something. But when we look at the first followers of Jesus being primarily Jews we have to realize that this was a very big social shift. There is a reason the Jewish nation and culture are still here today – even after hundreds of years as captives in places like --- Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt.
The reason is because they held fast to their cultural structures and religiously passed them along to their children. Throughout the centuries Jewish children watched as their parents took animals to the priests to offer sacrifices for their sins. Parents made sure their children read and studied the Law of Moses and encouraged them to obey it. Every Saturday, Jewish families kept the Sabbath so that they could earn their right standing with God and be guaranteed salvation.“Here O Israel, the Lord our God is one!” You could hear this proclamation of the one true God in prayers all over the world. It would have been heresy for a Jew to say that someone could be God and man at the same time.
It’s hard to just brush off the fact that thousands of Jews were willing to give up these deeply ingrained social structures that they believed had been given to them by God himself.What could have changed to make thousands willing to take a huge risk – the risk of being ostracized by their families and fellow Jews
They had heard Jesus teach and marveled at the authority he had spoken with – it was so unlike the Jewish leaders. They had witnessed Jesus’ life –his humble, gentle ways, his love for all people, and his practical help that made their lives better. With their own eyes they had seen Jesus do miracle after miracle --- and the people healed were still living in their midst as testimony to it. They had watched the jealous and hateful behavior of their Jewish leaders that got their way in having Jesus killed. And now, many had seen Jesus risen from the dead or -----had believed the testimony of those that did.
And so, for these early Jewish followers, the animal sacrifices stopped. They now saw Jesus as the final sacrifice for their sins. Their thinking shifted regarding the law of Moses ---trying hard to obey it was no longer the basis of their being accepted by God. Jesus had fulfilled the law perfectly and HE was now the basis of their being right with God. The 1500 year tradition of keeping the Sabbath abruptly changed. These early believers began to worship together on Sunday. Why? Because that was the day that Jesus rose from the dead.
Within weeks of the resurrection these Jews were worshipping Jesus as God. When a new convert was baptized it was in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. They knew Jesus as a man and now they also knew him as God. And when the believers came together to celebrate what they called Communion it wasn’t a time to celebrate how great Jesus was, his miracles or his teachings. No, they celebrated the fact that he was crucified in a public execution. And why would they do that? They did so because they were convinced that Christ’s death had been followed by his triumph over death. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead meant the beginning of their own new life with God and for them that was great cause for celebration!