Jesus of Nazareth | TBN

Jesus of Nazareth

Watch Jesus of Nazareth
September 12, 2019
26:41

Jesus the Game Changer

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Jesus of Nazareth

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  • The question we should ask is,
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  • 'What did the people who were most close to Jesus do after His ascension to the Father?'
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  • And the answer is they went on mission.
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  • This is Nagasaki Harbour. It's in the south west region of Japan.
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  • Most people know the name Nagasaki because, in the Second World War
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  • this was where the second atomic bomb was dropped,
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  • just about five kilometers north of where we're standing here.
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  • But Nagasaki was also important because it was the first port
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  • opened to foreign traders. Portuguese traders used this port
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  • in the 16th century, as did Jesuit missionaries.
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  • This was the center of their activities.
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  • In Acts chapter 1 verse 8, Jesus is recorded as saying that,
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  • 'You'll be my witnesses to the very ends of the earth' and standing here
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  • in Nagasaki and thinking about where this is in relation to where Jesus
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  • stood when He said those words, this feels like the ends of the earth.
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  • It might only be eight and a half thousand kilometers in a
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  • direct line from Jerusalem to here, but the arduous and dangerous
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  • sea journey was about twenty-five thousand kilometers.
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  • With just two days' notice Francis Xavier boarded a ship to come here
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  • to tell people about the message of Jesus.
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  • From the very beginning of the church, there have always been those
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  • who have taken the message of Jesus to the very ends of the earth for them.
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  • Be that Paul in the 1st century or Francis Xavier in the 16th century
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  • and all the way up to today.
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  • People have always been committed to taking that message
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  • to the ends of the earth.
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  • But why did they do it? What was their motivation?
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  • Why would they face danger and difficulty in the midst of that task?
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  • This series, Jesus the Game Changer, is about the global
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  • reach of the message of Jesus.
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  • And that happened when people took the life and teaching of Jesus
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  • to the very ends of the earth.
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  • Tom, what drew your interest in the Greco-Roman world?
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  • I think the fact that they, the Greeks and the Romans seemed glamorous,
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  • they seemed fierce, and they were extinct.
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  • And for me, it was a kind of seamless progress on from an obsession with
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  • dinosaurs, I was one of those boys who was absolutely obsessed by dinosaurs.
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  • And I think that the qualities of a tyrannosaur were pretty much what I
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  • enjoyed and appreciated in a Spartan or a Roman army.
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  • The experience of actually writing about Greece and Rome,
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  • of living in the minds of a Spartan king or a Roman emperor,
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  • I found them increasingly morally repellent.
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  • The Spartans killed disabled children without a qualm.
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  • They were highly praised for it. This was the index of their moral virtue.
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  • Caesar, when he conquered Gaul, is said to have slaughtered a million Gauls
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  • and to have enslaved a million more. And again, this far from being
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  • held against him, was a measure of everything that he had achieved.
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  • And I began to realize that there was a kind of, a quality of
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  • callousness about classical antiquity that was utterly alien to how I thought
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  • and to how everybody I knew thought and to the moral presumptions
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  • that essentially governed the society in which I lived.
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  • The Romans were ruthless.
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  • They were known for being ruthless.
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  • One of their own historians talks about, his name is Tacitus, and he
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  • talks about how, he quotes from a chieftain in what now is Scotland,
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  • who lamented that the Romans make a desert and they call it peace.
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  • And so, they devastated the land. And people knew that.
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  • So, they were a frightening force, not really a force for peace
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  • in the way that we think of it.
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  • And then secondly, the culture was highly stratified.
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  • So, everyone had their own little rung of the ladder.
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  • And what that meant was you felt your own self-worth based on what other people said about you.
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  • And I think the power of the gospel was that each individual was beloved of God.
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  • Right? As both Paul and Peter will say in the New Testament,
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  • God shows no favoritism. That you would not hear from a Roman.
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  • People who read the Bible, or people who are part of church, talk about
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  • Jesus of Nazareth, which makes Nazareth sound quite significant.
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  • In the Roman Empire where did Nazareth sit?
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  • Probably nobody outside of Galilee had really heard of Nazareth until they heard of Jesus from Nazareth.
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  • Maybe some people in Judea had heard of it but through most of the Roman Empire,
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  • Nazareth was just politically insignificant.
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  • But it turned out to be spiritually significant.
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  • The province of Judea is, relatively speaking, an unimportant one.
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  • It's a backwater. Jerusalem is a city of interest to foreign tourists
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  • because it has this extraordinary temple with this weird god, this odd bizarre cult.
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  • But it's not a massive city, not a huge capital like Alexandria or even Corinth or Athens.
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  • And Nazareth, in turn, is even more of a backwater.
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  • It's absolutely nowhere.
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  • And to the Jews themselves, it's a backwater.
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  • So, the idea that the ruler of the world might come from there is utterly bizarre.
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  • Jesus was referred to as a messiah.
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  • What did that mean?
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  • What did the term messiah mean?
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  • Well the term messiah is a Jewish term.
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  • So, you're not going to have something like that for the Romans.
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  • It means the Lord's anointed.
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  • So, the Jews in their scriptures talk about this messiah figure,
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  • this anointed one who will be king, but also a righteous king who will
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  • lead the people in goodness.
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  • The Jews in Jesus' day also thought that maybe the messiah would overthrow
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  • Rome and kick Rome out, or that the messiah would go into the temple and purify it.
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  • So those were the expectations that existed at that time.
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  • Were there many other people who claimed to be messiahs?
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  • Yes. As it turns out, there were a few.
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  • In fact, we know some even thought John the Baptist was.
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  • But there were others.
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  • And we know of them from one of the Jewish historians of the day called Josephus.
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  • He talks about a couple of men who wanted to be king in kind of that messianic way.
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  • They're tall, powerful warriors, ruthless.
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  • That's kind of how he's describing them.
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  • How did Christian faith become a part of your life?
  • 00:08:22.290 --> 00:08:26.080
  • Many Iranians have the same challenges and struggles for finding the truth because
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  • the only religion that they are exposed to is Islam.
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  • From a very young age we were brainwashed in school.
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  • I remember even before going to our classrooms, they would ask us to stand in lines
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  • and say things like death to America, death to Israel. And just repeat verses from
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  • the Koran and listen to their talks about Islam and the Koran, before going to classrooms.
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  • They were brainwashing children from a very young age.
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  • I was 7, 8 years old at that time.
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  • We had to pray namaz five times a day.
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  • Just repeating Arabic words, which is not our language, Farsi.
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  • And we had to cover ourselves, hijab in Islam and bend in front of God and repeat those words.
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  • And I had lots of questions, why I have to speak to my God in Arabic instead of my native language, Farsi.
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  • I also had many questions about Islamic teachings, about verses of the Koran,
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  • about many verses against women in the Koran.
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  • And I couldn't get any answers to my questions because you were
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  • not even allowed to ask those questions from your teachers.
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  • But I had this passion in my heart, and I was thirsty for finding the truth.
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  • I wanted to have communication with God.
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  • I remember I was praying namaz Islamic prayer, but I couldn't feel the presence of God.
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  • I couldn't hear His voice.
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  • It was just me talking to Him, repeating Arabic words without even knowing
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  • the meanings of the words that I was repeating, and I couldn't feel that I was talking to God.
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  • That's why I became very frustrated and it was a very disappointing experience.
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  • When you think about Jesus as a messiah figure in the Roman Empire,
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  • tell us about the cross because that doesn't seem to fit, does it?
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  • Not at all. In fact, it's a scandal, right?
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  • And it was hard to understand.
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  • Paul will talk about that in his letter to the Corinthians, 1st Corinthians, how people just didn't get it.
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  • The cross, to die on the cross was not simply painful physically, but it was shameful.
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  • And in the culture of the day shame was to be avoided as much as you could.
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  • And you were hung without clothing on.
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  • You were there just exposed.
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  • And it was a long, slow death.
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  • So it was a way to terrorize, I guess I could put it that way, it was a real terror.
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  • And we know the Romans had that in mind because they would put the crosses along the roads where people would see it.
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  • People now know the cross as like a symbol, they see it around people's necks and on tops of churches.
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  • When the Romans used the cross, why did they use the cross?
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  • The cross was meant to be a humiliating tool of execution.
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  • So, you would kill people by slow torture and you would strip them naked so they'd be there in front of everybody.
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  • If they needed to relieve themselves of wastes, it would just be in front of everybody.
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  • Especially further to the east, like in Judea and Syria, nakedness was considered very shameful.
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  • So, it was meant to deter people from being revolutionaries.
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  • It was meant to execute people who were low class provincials and especially those who,
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  • as the Roman governors decree put it, claimed to be a king or claimed to,
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  • in other ways, have treason against the Roman Empire, or against the emperor.
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  • Well, the fact that the cross is important is really an odd quirk of history outside of understanding the work of God.
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  • Because I mean, people wear these crossess around their neck, it would be the equivalent
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  • of wearing an electric chair around your neck today to celebrate, or a firing squad.
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  • But this symbol of death ultimately becomes a symbol of new life
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  • because the cross, the grave and death couldn't hold Him.
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  • So at the Roman crucifixion, the Romands who crucified Jesus, that's key,
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  • the Romans crucified Jesus as a resoinse to being turned over by the Jewish leaders.
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  • In doing so, they started and launched a movement because God's plan had always been
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  • that God the Son, born Jesus the Christ,
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  • would live a sinless life, would die on the cross for our sins
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  • and in our place, and God would raise Him from the dead on the third day.
  • 00:13:11.020 --> 00:13:14.170
  • So that moment when maybe the Romans, maybe some of the Jewish leaders,
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  • maybe Satan himself thought they had the ultimate victory,
  • 00:13:18.130 --> 00:13:21.080
  • ultimately was Jesus' moment of victory.
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  • Even on the cross He said, 'It is finished'.
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  • But that finishing was vindicated when on the third day, God rose Him the dead.
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  • And this idea that, in a sense, Christ, God is manifest in the very
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  • lowest, the humblest, the weakest, the most vulnerable is an utterly transformative idea.
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  • Because until then, the divine is associated with splendor, it's associated with magnificence,
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  • it's associated, in the Roman world if it's manifest on earth, with Caesar.
  • 00:14:02.290 --> 00:14:07.210
  • So, the Greeks, the Romans, they have no problem with the idea
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  • that a god might have a son and that the son might be on earth.
  • 00:14:13.060 --> 00:14:16.230
  • But the idea that God might have been a slave, might have suffered the death of a
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  • slave, the most miserable death imaginable, that is a really transformative concept.
  • 00:14:26.140 --> 00:14:31.080
  • You know, the miracles are wonderful.
  • 00:14:32.280 --> 00:14:35.160
  • The Bible portrays miracles as a foretaste of the future kingdom, future glory.
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  • But the cross reminds us that even where things look their darkest, even where things look impossible,
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  • the greatest travesty of injustice, God is still at work to bring about His purposes.
  • 00:14:51.210 --> 00:14:56.160
  • The first time that I started doing research about other religions was when I was 17 years old.
  • 00:15:04.290 --> 00:15:09.210
  • There were other branches of Islam in Iran that I tried to attend in some of those meetings.
  • 00:15:12.130 --> 00:15:16.170
  • I tried to find some books about other religions.
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  • It was hard to find the Bible in Iran and I couldn't find the Bible.
  • 00:15:21.200 --> 00:15:26.100
  • I'd done a lot of research about the religions that I could get access to, but at the end I realized that none of those
  • 00:15:26.120 --> 00:15:31.070
  • activities could quench my thirst and I couldn't feel the presence of God.
  • 00:15:36.050 --> 00:15:40.220
  • For the first time, I was around 17 to 18 years old, that I had a dream.
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  • And at that time, I didn't know anything about Jesus.
  • 00:15:48.240 --> 00:15:52.160
  • And it was after that dream that one of my friends talked to me about Jesus.
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  • And she told me that Jesus came to this earth to free us from our sins, and He died on a cross for our sins.
  • 00:16:00.040 --> 00:16:03.220
  • And for the first time when I heard about Christianity, about Jesus,
  • 00:16:07.260 --> 00:16:12.090
  • I became very curious because I'd never heard such a thing about Jesus as a Son of God.
  • 00:16:12.110 --> 00:16:17.070
  • I took the Bible and I started reading the Bible.
  • 00:16:18.220 --> 00:16:21.160
  • At the same time, I started searching about other religions to find out what is the truth.
  • 00:16:21.180 --> 00:16:26.120
  • But after a while, again, I realized, oh my goodness, there are lots of religions in this world.
  • 00:16:29.000 --> 00:16:33.220
  • And if I want to do research, maybe all my life, I need to spend time to find the truth.
  • 00:16:35.290 --> 00:16:38.230
  • And I had the experience of being healed for the first time.
  • 00:16:40.070 --> 00:16:45.060
  • I really strongly believe this.
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  • When you are looking for the truth, when you want to have close relationship with the true God,
  • 00:16:49.280 --> 00:16:53.070
  • He is powerful and He's a mighty God, He has many ways to reveal the truth to us.
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  • He asks in the Bible, you know, 'Knock and you will find the truth'.
  • 00:16:59.250 --> 00:17:02.070
  • And it happened to me.
  • 00:17:02.090 --> 00:17:03.070
  • And it wasn't just the death, but obviously the resurrection.
  • 00:17:11.260 --> 00:17:14.070
  • Absolutely, yes. The death is that atonement piece.
  • 00:17:14.090 --> 00:17:19.060
  • But it's nothing without the resurrection.
  • 00:17:20.100 --> 00:17:22.200
  • It's the resurrection that validates that God has, in fact, accepted the sacrifice.
  • 00:17:22.220 --> 00:17:27.170
  • And so, Paul will say again to the Corinthians, this is at the end of the letter,
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  • that if Jesus is not raised, then we're still in our sins.
  • 00:17:31.270 --> 00:17:36.010
  • And we're pitiful because we're believing a lie.
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  • The resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith.
  • 00:17:40.290 --> 00:17:43.020
  • I mean, if Jesus simply was executed for high treason against the majesty,
  • 00:17:43.040 --> 00:17:47.140
  • the emperor, for claiming to be king, then well He's like a lot
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  • of other people who were crucified for that.
  • 00:17:53.170 --> 00:17:55.200
  • He had some great teachings about being nice to people, loving people, loving everyone.
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  • But if He rose from the dead, then God the Father vindicated Him.
  • 00:18:03.120 --> 00:18:08.070
  • And Jesus is still alive and the witness of those who knew Him is true, Jesus is alive, He is also Lord of
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  • the universe and reigns, and we owe Him our lives.
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  • Did you ever struggle believing in the resurrection?
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  • You know, I think as a kid, I just assumed that it might be true.
  • 00:18:40.030 --> 00:18:43.210
  • I think probably a lot of us in the world assume what I believed as a kid,
  • 00:18:43.230 --> 00:18:46.270
  • that, you know, there was a God out there somewhere, I just
  • 00:18:46.290 --> 00:18:49.020
  • couldn't know Him personally. And that He probably came back from the dead somehow.
  • 00:18:49.040 --> 00:18:53.220
  • I went to church on Easter, so I know something took place there.
  • 00:18:53.240 --> 00:18:56.230
  • But, you know, it would take me years later to realize that if there was a guy
  • 00:18:56.250 --> 00:18:59.240
  • who was dead on Friday and on Sunday, not so much, then I want to follow that guy.
  • 00:18:59.260 --> 00:19:04.230
  • That's the guy that ultimately is worthy of all praise, glory and honor.
  • 00:19:06.250 --> 00:19:09.080
  • And that's the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the true ruler of the world, Jesus the Christ.
  • 00:19:09.100 --> 00:19:12.270
  • One day I did a simple prayer, I just knelt and I prayed and I told God, 'You are my God, You created me.
  • 00:19:18.020 --> 00:19:22.240
  • And You know what is the truth in this world.
  • 00:19:26.060 --> 00:19:29.010
  • If Jesus is the truth, please help me to find the truth and help me not to be misguided in this world'.
  • 00:19:29.030 --> 00:19:33.250
  • And I remember it was after that simple prayer, miracles started happening in my life.
  • 00:19:37.280 --> 00:19:42.220
  • I remember one day I was alone at home.
  • 00:19:45.280 --> 00:19:49.170
  • My sister came home. She had a little booklet in her hand.
  • 00:19:49.190 --> 00:19:52.110
  • The name of the booklet was 'His Name is Wonderful'.
  • 00:19:52.130 --> 00:19:55.090
  • And she gave the booklet to me.
  • 00:19:55.110 --> 00:19:57.150
  • She said she had received it from a man of the church near her university
  • 00:19:57.170 --> 00:20:00.290
  • And she had read the booklet on the way back home and she had some
  • 00:20:01.010 --> 00:20:05.110
  • doubts about the way that the Bible introduces Jesus as the Son of God.
  • 00:20:05.130 --> 00:20:10.030
  • That's why when she handed the booklet to me, she said, 'Just read it, but don't read the last page
  • 00:20:10.050 --> 00:20:14.280
  • because it's a conversion prayer for those who want to become Christians'.
  • 00:20:15.000 --> 00:20:19.030
  • At that time, I remember I was very exhausted from searching for the truth and I just took the booklet from her.
  • 00:20:19.050 --> 00:20:23.280
  • I said, 'Don't worry'. I went to my room.
  • 00:20:25.050 --> 00:20:26.180
  • I shut the door and I started reading that little booklet.
  • 00:20:26.200 --> 00:20:29.110
  • It was just part of the book of Luke, it was 20, 30 pages.
  • 00:20:29.130 --> 00:20:34.100
  • You know, I don't know what happened that day in my room, but I just remember,
  • 00:20:36.150 --> 00:20:39.160
  • from the first page that I was reading, I felt a strong presence in my room.
  • 00:20:39.180 --> 00:20:44.120
  • It wasn't just like reading those words in that booklet.
  • 00:20:45.290 --> 00:20:48.080
  • I believe that Jesus that day revealed the truth to me because
  • 00:20:48.100 --> 00:20:52.210
  • every word that I was reading, I felt that it was talking to my heart.
  • 00:20:52.230 --> 00:20:56.240
  • I remember I was in my room for two, three hours reading that little booklet.
  • 00:20:56.260 --> 00:21:00.290
  • I was crying because I could feel the very presence of Jesus in my room and right in front of me.
  • 00:21:01.010 --> 00:21:05.220
  • And when I got to the last page of the booklet, I remember without any doubt
  • 00:21:07.270 --> 00:21:12.120
  • I prayed the written prayer and I gave my heart to Jesus.
  • 00:21:13.290 --> 00:21:16.050
  • When we see the whole scripture, we realise God is a missionary God.
  • 00:21:19.140 --> 00:21:24.110
  • And the Bible is a missionary book.
  • 00:21:28.010 --> 00:21:32.060
  • The things He taught, the task He has given to the church, 'Go and preach the gospel and make disciples'.
  • 00:21:32.080 --> 00:21:37.000
  • When you see the Bible and you see that between Jesus' resurrection and ascension,
  • 00:21:42.150 --> 00:21:47.090
  • He gives a series of short talks almost all of them centered around mission.
  • 00:21:47.110 --> 00:21:52.060
  • He says in John 20:21, 'As the Father has sent me so send I you'.
  • 00:21:53.280 --> 00:21:56.150
  • These are in chronological order.
  • 00:21:56.170 --> 00:21:58.180
  • He says in Matthew 28:18-20, 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
  • 00:21:58.200 --> 00:22:02.090
  • baptizing them, teaching them all these things'.
  • 00:22:02.110 --> 00:22:09.110
  • But the whole understanding that Jesus had of who He was and why He was sent,
  • 00:22:18.060 --> 00:22:22.100
  • in that He was immersed in the background of the Old Testament
  • 00:22:22.120 --> 00:22:26.220
  • and the sense that Israel was God's chosen light to the nations.
  • 00:22:26.240 --> 00:22:31.180
  • And He took that understanding on Himself and believed that He was
  • 00:22:33.060 --> 00:22:36.220
  • the servant of God that we read about in the end of the book of Isaiah.
  • 00:22:38.150 --> 00:22:42.030
  • That He was the servant who was destined to bring the light of God's blessing to all nations.
  • 00:22:44.000 --> 00:22:47.070
  • And He then commissioned the disciples to carry on that mission of bringing the blessing of God to all nations.
  • 00:22:49.260 --> 00:22:53.110
  • And the spirit came to enable them to fulfil that mission, to be those who carried on the mission of Jesus to the world.
  • 00:22:57.260 --> 00:23:02.200
  • When you look at that great flow of story and its climax in the Lord Jesus, He comes and says to His people,
  • 00:23:08.220 --> 00:23:13.140
  • 'Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations'.
  • 00:23:18.010 --> 00:23:21.270
  • It makes sense when He says it, when you see the flow and when you understand
  • 00:23:21.290 --> 00:23:25.140
  • what God's been at from Genesis all the way through.
  • 00:23:25.160 --> 00:23:30.020
  • And when Jesus says to the disciples, 'You are my witnesses, and by His spirit,
  • 00:23:30.040 --> 00:23:34.290
  • go out into the nations and make this gospel known',
  • 00:23:36.140 --> 00:23:40.050
  • the whole flow of the Bible and the story propels us
  • 00:23:40.070 --> 00:23:45.040
  • out across the street, across the world with this message of
  • 00:23:46.210 --> 00:23:50.200
  • who is Jesus and what did He do and what does it mean for you and for me?
  • 00:23:50.220 --> 00:23:54.240
  • I decided to share this message with my friends, my family members,
  • 00:23:56.130 --> 00:24:01.080
  • because I tasted the love of Jesus in my life and I wanted to share
  • 00:24:02.290 --> 00:24:05.140
  • this love with other people, with my family members.
  • 00:24:05.160 --> 00:24:08.290
  • I like the term Jesus is the game changer because, I remember I was living in darkness and Jesus brought light to my life.
  • 00:24:09.010 --> 00:24:13.280
  • And I always tell people that's the greatest miracle that happened to my life.
  • 00:24:17.230 --> 00:24:21.270
  • I remember for years there were people in my life that I couldn't forgive.
  • 00:24:21.290 --> 00:24:26.240
  • My heart was full of hatred.
  • 00:24:27.210 --> 00:24:29.250
  • But as soon as I gave my heart to Jesus and He revealed the truth to me,
  • 00:24:29.270 --> 00:24:34.160
  • my heart was full of love for those people, even without trying.
  • 00:24:36.090 --> 00:24:39.120
  • That's why I always believed that I was living in darkness for many years when I was living in Islam.
  • 00:24:39.140 --> 00:24:44.060
  • But after I converted to Christianity and I invited Jesus and His love to my life, I really could see the change.
  • 00:24:46.280 --> 00:24:51.160
  • And He changed my life.
  • 00:24:56.130 --> 00:24:58.040
  • And that's the way I see Jesus as the game changer.
  • 00:24:58.060 --> 00:25:01.110